Tennessee Jed wrote:What has Youk done in the past 10 or so months that guarantees him a starting gig? If I'm Bobby V, I'm playing the better option, and right now it's Middlebrooks. Wally Pipp'd.
Agreed. And based on what went down earlier in the year, I doubt Bobby V has any sense of loyalty to Youk just because he happens to be the veteran incumbent. As long as Middlebrooks is raking, it would be foolish to remove him from the lineup. Hell, let Youk be the utility man--over his career he's manned every position save for SS, CF, and C. You don't take one of the hottest hitters in baseball out of the lineup just because the veteran he replaced, inferior in every regard, and to whom the manager has shown no real allegiance, nor has any reason to do so, comes off of the DL.
I for one think moving Middlebrooks to the OF would be a terrible idea. He has always been a 3B--take his natural position away from him and who knows how it might affect the rest of his game. Baseball players are funny like that. For the most part they dislike change--routine is very important to many of them and the smallest change can really mess with their head and hence their performance. If, for example, he is moved to the OF and struggles, all of a sudden he might have a confidence issue which could very easily carry over to the offensive side of the game. Think about it... Would you feel more comfortable at the plate having just made a nice play at your natural position to end the previous inning or having committed an error at an unnatural position that led to one or more unearned runs being scored in that inning. The answer is obvious, obviously, as the question was rhetorical. So much of baseball is mental and small changes can have very undesirable effects in the mentality/mental toughness of a given player. Moving from the position you've played your entire life to a position you've never played is a large change and in this case not even remotely worth making, let alone considering.
Bottom line. As long as the kid is hitting and fielding his position well, don't change a thing. Youk is owed nothing, and given the new manager, has not yet earned anything.
Just my 2 cents.