Unless the Red Sox can get an impact pitcher for Youkilis, which I am sure they can not, they should keep him. Were Jack McKeon in charge, even the 80-year-old McKeon of today, he would move Middlebrooks to left field the very day Youkilis is ready and would apologize to no one for it.
Post of the year.
When Youkilis comes off the DL, the Sox should send WMB to Pawtucket for a crash course in LF and RF. He runs much better than Youk ever did and the odds are decent that he can play out there.
As soon as he's achieved competence, if he does, he is recalled, and becomes the primary LF, and after Crawford returns, he stays on the roster as the 4th bench player / 10th man.
I've been saying all winter that in addition to Shoppach (or Lavarnway), Punto (or Iglesias), and Ross, the eventual bench needs a LHB who plays 1B and corner OF. By "LHB" I of course meant a guy who could hit RHP well, and RHB who can hit RHP well aren't bench players, they're regulars. WMB hits RHP well, so he fits that description.
And you wanted the guy to be able to play 1B so that he could also back up Gonzalez and Ortiz, but 3B is even better, because now he can back up Youkilis as well, with Youk backing up 1B and DH. The only reason I didn't say we needed a bench guy who played 3B and corner OF is that they don't ordinarily exist.
So WMB would make a fabulous 10th guy. Depending on his defense, he might be a better option in RF than Sweeney versus certain RHP (guys with mild / reverse platoon splits). He can play versus most LHP, giving either Crawford or Gonzalez the day off (occasionally even Ortiz or Ellsbury). He can keep Youk healthy. And if it comes to it, he can become the regular 3B, playing OF as outlined with Youk as the 10th player.
Essentially, what you're doing here is solving the Byrd or McDonald dilemma by filling that roster spot with WMB instead (or with Youkilis if you've determined that WMB is better). Which is an incredibly obvious upgrade; you don't need a CF to fill that spot because Ross is a good defensive backup, Sweeney a perfectly adequate 3rd option, and you've got Lin (and probably Repko) at Pawtucket.
Edited by Eric Van, 08 May 2012 - 10:08 AM.