Who plays third base for the Sox? Middlebrooks or Youkilis? It's a question designed for sports radio. It's an old formula for a contentious debate. The new kid who's tearing it up versus the seasoned veteran who is torn up.
It's a stupid question to ask right now because Youkilis won't be coming back any time soon. His back problems seem to require extensive rest.
And also, as promising as Middlebrooks is, he's not going to hit like this forever. Sox fans are drooling over his .409 average, his 1.000 SLG, his 3 homers and 4 doubles in 5 games. But if you think he'll end the season with numbers anywhere close to these, you're insane. I'm surprised Sox fans aren't debating whether or not to retire #64 now, or wait for Middlebrooks to receive a real number and retire that one.
So Youkilis won't be back for some time, and Middlebrooks will come down to earth in some time. So it's a silly question to seriously think about right now. It's smarter to wait to see how Middlebrooks is performing when Youkilis is healthy. Then make the decision.
It's pointless to even think about, until GM Ben Cherington does something stupid and gives an answer to a question that doesn't need answering until Youkilis is healthy:
"If Youk returns in a week and is ready to go, he plays third base. He's been here. It's great that Will has come up and done a good job and we like him a lot and he's a big part of our future. But Youk's on the DL and he didn't lose his job because he got hurt."
Imagine if someone said the same thing about Wally Pipp.
I don't agree with Cherington's answer. If Middlebrooks is producing close to what he is now, it's his job to lose. He belongs in the lineup. It should be just as tough for Youkilis to dislodge Middlebrooks as it would be for Middlebrooks to dislodge Youkilis. I know this will sound ludicrous, but the best players should see the field. Youkilis needs to earn his spot in the lineup.
How do you logically justify taking someone out of the lineup when they're hitting over .400?
Youkilis could still find his way into the lineup, giving Ortiz or Gonzalez a day off. Gonzalez could use a few days off, actually. And Middlebrooks has this nagging hamstring complaint that could give Youkilis a chance to play third.
And anyway, Cherington shouldn't be answering such questions now. There's no point. Youkilis isn't coming back today, or next week. Let sports radio and bloggers debate irrelevant questions like this one. Why stir the pot now. You can at least wait until Middlebrooks' slugging percentage has dipped below .800. Maybe wait for him to play a game without an extra-base hit. Why talk about sitting him when he's scorching hot?
So I don't like what Cherington's decision is, I don't like any decision being made at this point, and I don't like Cherington disclosing his decision to the Media.