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Fantasy Fix: Spare Part Or New Start?

Our White Sox picked up Kevin Youkilis for spare parts last week, though the enthusiasm for the deal was tempered in some quarters by the belief that Youkilis himself may be no more than a spare part.

When Youkilis came to Chicago, he had 4 HRs, 14 RBIs and a .233 average - the making of a career-worst year in which he already had seen himself benched in Boston in favor of a rookie. In fantasy terms, he has been a non-factor, still kept as a bench player in many leagues, but giving no one a reason to play him.

Does anything change with his arrival in Chicago?

Trading season hasn't really kicked off yet, or at least to this point has involved more buzz than real action. Youkilis is one of our first test cases this season for how a fresh start with a new team in a different park and different city can affect bottom line stats. Change of scenery is something that teams involved in a trade of marginal players rarely talk about, but must always be thinking about.

On the surface, there is not much reason to think things will change dramatically for Youkilis. He hasn't changed leagues, and while having more games at The Cell always suggests an increase in HRs, going long has never really been Youk's strong suit. For that reason alone, I've tended to avoid drafting him in fantasy leagues, but he does have value: Getting on base is his strong suit, or used to be anyway.

If the Sox remain committed to batting him second, as they did in his first two games, ahead of their big bats, Youkilis could see a nice bounce in his OBP and runs-scored (of course, someone needs to remind those big bats to start hitting again). Getting extra at-bats by going early in the order might also otherwise help him work out the kinks in his performance.

All this is pretty speculative, but if you've still got Youkilis on a fantasy roster, I don't see any reason to drop him now, and if you're short-handed at 1B or 3B, you might want to watch him closely for the next couple weeks to see if a change of venue coincides with an offensive rebound.

Expert Wire
* SI.com reports on our two favorite call-ups: our very own Anthony Rizzo and Arizona pitcher Trevor Bauer. Can they handle the major league glare?

* Full Spectrum Baseball thinks Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta is ready to turn around his season.

* Bleacher Report assesses the Reds' rebounding Mat Latos, finally unburdened by hype and doing well. Also, BR finds Youkilis lacking.

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Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.

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