After hearing some of the reaction, you'd think the White Sox just acquired Adrian Beltre, not a mediocre (and that's being generous) defensive third baseman hitting .233/.315/.377 this season.
Kevin Youkilis might prove to be a bargain, as some have described him. At the cost of Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart, Youkillis will be a bargain if he hits and the White Sox make the playoffs. I think he might hit, and I think the White Sox might make the playoffs. But Youkilis is 33, has a bad back and has seen his wins above replacement totals drop from 5.9 in 2009 to 4.1 in 2010 to 3.7 last year to 0.0 thus far this season. And he's joining a team that's 4 games over .500, which is good enough to lead a bad division, but it hardly makes the Sox a postseason lock, whether or not Youkilis produces.
I do think the Sox had to do something. They've gotten less offense out of their third basemen than any team in Major League Baseball has gottten out of any position. Injured starter Brent Morel hit an anemic .177/.225/.191 before going down. At least Morel can play a good third base. Orlando Hudson may not even be a better defender than Youkilis at third, and he's hitting .170/.247/.284 since coming to Chicago. Even the replacement-level version of Youkilis that the Red Sox had for the first three months of this season would be an upgrade.
It's very possible that, with regular playing time and if his back continues to feel better, Youkilis will resemble the guy with a career .875 OPS again. You know he'll walk — his career OBP (.364) is more than 100 points better than his career batting average (.262). Youkilis has never had elite power, but he averaged nearly 36 doubles per season in the last six and exactly 23 homers per season in the last four. His power has probably eroded some since he slugged .564 in 2010, but he'll have value if he can produce at anything close to that level for a three-month stretch at U.S. Cellular Field, and I wouldn't be at all shocked if that happens.
I do like this trade for the Sox. I think it's a good gamble. But it's just that —a gamble. The Sox are gambling that Youkilis can be healthy and productive for three months, and neither they nor anybody else know if he can realisticially be either of those things.