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Red Sox to trade Kevin Youkilis? Ben Cherington denies report

Kevin Youkilis has been the subject of trade rumors ever since starting off the season slowly, going on the disabled list, and seeing his replacement tear it up.

Will Middlebrooks is a top prospect in the Red Sox organization and has crushed the ball since being called up in May. The 23-year-old has hit .316 with six home runs, 21 RBIs and delivered a .922 OPS. His emergence has led to speculation that the Red Sox could deal Youkilis, who is making $12 million this season and due $13 million next year.

CBS Sports’ Danny Knobler tweeted on Friday that the “Red Sox are telling teams they definitely intend to trade Youkilis.” He also wrote that the Dodgers could be interested in making a play for Youk.

Sox GM Ben Cherington denied Knobler’s report.

“That’s inaccurate,” he told WEEI.com via email Friday afternoon. “Some teams have checked in on him. We haven’t told any teams we plan to trade him. It’s our job to listen if teams have interest. He’s swinging the bat well since coming off the DL and [is] a big part of our team and lineup.”

You would expect Cherington to deny the report for a few reasons. One, you don’t want your players being distracted by rumors. Two, if he says they’re not dealing Youk, it could persuade teams interested in acquiring the third baseman to offer more than normal.

If the Red Sox are planning to trade Youkilis, I imagine it won’t be for at least another month until teams are more aware of their standing relative to the trade deadline. Meanwhile, Youkilis has been hitting the ball well since being activated by the team and is boosting his value. Both SoCal teams should be interested.

H/T Hardball Talk
Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Bobby Valentine calls reported rift between him and Ben Cherington ‘lazy journalism’

When Bobby Valentine interviewed for the Red Sox managerial position, he knew exactly what he was getting himself into. Overreaction among the Boston media is second nature. In fact, it’s practically part of the job description. We all know how boring spring training can be, so when a report surfaced that Bobby V. and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington are caught in a power struggle — despite the fact that the regular season hasn’t even started yet — none of us were surprised. Valentine wasn’t surprised either, but he certainly doesn’t agree.

“I think it’s lazy journalism,” Valentine said in response to the article according to Boston.com. “That’s what I think. I think it’s an easy story to write. It has no validity. Absolutely none. I could have written it in on December 3. Are you kidding me? There are some guys who are lazy and some guys who are clever. It was a clever journalist that set that all up, too. It comes with the territory.”

While there may be some truth to the rumors that Valentine and Cherington disagree on what to do with Daniel Bard and Jose Iglesias, I’m inclined to agree with Bobby. The story was an easy one to write in that every team has these issues in spring training. There isn’t a team in the league that doesn’t have roster disagreements in spring training. Everything just happens to be a bigger deal in Boston.

That being said, nobody would be surprised if Valentine and Cherington eventually butt heads. It is a known fact that the Valentine hire was the work of John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and the Red Sox front office. Cherington wants to run the team the same way that Theo Epstein did, but having an ego like Bobby V.’s around could make that a challenge.

Photo Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Ben Cherington and Bobby Valentine reportedly already in a power struggle

Is it possible for a manager and a general manager to have a falling out before a team has played a single regular-season game under either person’s rule? Prior to Saturday, I would have told you it’s highly unlikely. That was before the Boston Globe reported that new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington and new manager Bobby Valentine are already experiencing a power struggle.

Two young players appear to be at the heart of the disagreement. For starters, Valentine is reportedly not thrilled about the idea of having Daniel Bard as a starting pitcher, and after what he has seen throughout spring training he may already be planning on having him return to the bullpen at the start of the regular season. Cherington’s plan for the future of the team includes Bard as a starter.

The other issue involves 22-year-old shortstop Jose Iglesias. Iglesias is said to be a tremendous fielder, but many believe his bat is not MLB ready, as he is batting .200 this spring with one extra-base hit. According to the Globe, Cherington would rather see experienced utility man Mike Aviles at shortstop to start the season while Valentine is ready to let Iglesias have the position.

Depending on how the differences play out, this could be much ado about nothing. Perhaps Iglesias will begin the year in the minors. Maybe Bard will start and hold his own or return to the bullpen and dominate. Winning heals all, but from the sound of it the relationship between Cherington and Valentine — who was the choice of Boston’s ownership and not Cherington — is not all that strong. At the very least, this will be one of many story lines to monitor as the season gets underway.

Photo Credit: Justin Neohoff-US PRESSWIRE

Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Josh Byrnes, Ben Cherington Play GM Musical Chairs

Being a baseball GM as of late has become something of a merry-go-round ride. Still in the thick of the World Series, MLB is getting dizzy with management changes within big-name ball clubs.

The official announcement came Friday night: Theo Epstein is leaving the Red Sox to become the Cubs’ president. That was the first domino.

With a big hole to fill, Boston quickly slotted assistant GM Ben Cherington into Epstein’s former seat. Both teams will hold press conferences on Tuesday, the next off day in the World Series, to present their new bosses.

Another domino fell when Epstein decided to poach long-time friend (and former Red Sox assistant) Jed Hoyer, the Padres’ GM, and bring him into the fold. This would be Epstein’s first move as President since he managed to swing a deal where Hoyer comes in as the Cubs’ GM.

So in one decision, Epstein has rocked the executive world of three franchises. And, it seems, a lot of nepotism was in play since Cherington and Hoyer worked together as co-GMs during Epstein’s absence from the Red Sox in ’05. Remember too, it was Hoyer who traded All Star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.

The good news for the Padres is that they get a few players in exchange for letting Hoyer go. The San Diego club is turning the reigns over to Josh Byrnes — another former Theo Epstein assistant — who was the Padres’ former Vice President of Baseball Operations.

All this and baseball hasn’t even hit the off-season yet.