When the New York Yankees signed Kevin Youkilis to be a temporary replacement for the injured and overpriced Alex Rodriguez, it seemed to be a low risk/high reward kind of deal.
For only one year and $12 million, a contract that perfectly suits their mission to get under the $189 million luxury tax by 2014, the Yankees would add a player who is on the downside of his career but only three years removed from his last productive season with the Boston Red Sox in 2010 when he hit .307 with 19 home runs. Plus, he has always been a terrific fielder, whether at first base or at third base.
Right now, though, with only one month until the All-Star Break, Youkilis does not look to be worthy of the investment.
Due to nagging back problems, Youkilis has only been able to play in 25 of the 63 games the Yankees have played this season and has not been productive when he has played. He is hitting just .239 and has just two home runs and eight RBI.
The men who have played in his place on numerous occasions, Jayson Nix and David Adams, are hardly tearing the cover off the ball, but each has found a way to make more of an impact than Youkilis has for a fraction of his paycheck. Nix has a higher batting average (.255), on-base percentage (.324), twice as many RBI (16), and has proven to be a very versatile infielder. And even though Adams is a rookie with an injury history of his own (ankle), he has hit as the same number of home runs as Youkilis has (two) in 30 fewer plate appearances.
Of course, there is still plenty of time for the proclaimed “Greek God of Walks” to turn his season around and make a significant contribution to the Yankees. However, it has become clear that he is a shell of himself, and it is highly unlikely that he will ever return to be as productive as he once was.
General Manager Brian Cashman took a lot of chances to accomplish the previously mentioned 2014 goal, and for the most part they have worked, even though Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner are in the midst of horrendous slumps at the plate.
Youkilis, on the other hand, has yet to show the same sort of promise as the Yankees continue to pay him the same amount of money that could have been used to re-sign one of the numerous power hitters they lost during the offseason, like postseason hero Raul Ibanez or catcher Russell Martin.
You can’t go back now, though. Youkilis is not leaving, and all Yankees fans can hope for is that the injury issues are behind him. Hopefully he can tap into whatever he has left to help the team until Rodriguez comes back.