The Kevin Youkilis trade: Who left, and what's left?

Brent Lillibridge had his moments.

In terms of cost, the Kevin Youkilis trade just about mirrors the one that brought Ken Griffey Jr. to the South Side in 2008. Kenny Williams gave up a a reliever who never met his prospect write-ups, and a utility player who seemingly had lost it.

Back then, it was Nick Masset and Danny Richar -- and while Masset exceeded expectations with the Reds, the Sox didn't really lose out on much.

Masset, before a sore shoulder sidelined him this season, turned into a decent middle reliever for Cincinnati, mainly because he found some velocity he had misplaced with the White Sox. The White Sox picked him up as a sidebar in the John Danks-Brandon McCarthy trade because he was a hard thrower, but he never showed it in Chicago. His average fastball sat just under 92 mph.

Upon moving to Cincinnati, Masset started throwing 95 again -- and on top of that, he added a cutter. That turned him into a major-league reliever, and over the last three seasons, he's averaged 74 innings and a 3.15 ERA. What was lacking with the White Sox is something I've always been curious about, but it's not particularly important, since it hasn't been a trend.

Masset came to mind because Stewart's velocity vanished in a similar fashion. According to FanGraphs, his average fastball dropped under 90 mph even after a move to the bullpen, and that means terrible things for his career. Maybe the Red Sox see the source of his decline, but since he went backwards under Don Cooper, it probably means he wasn't going to find what he was missing in Chicago.

And then there's Lillibridge, who seemed to be fine with the trade while watching him answer questions after the game:

It's easy to see why when looking at his stats. Lillibridge hit just .175/.232/.190 with the White Sox in 2012, and struck out 26 times in 70 plate appearances. He couldn't find regular playing time anywhere, and he didn't make a case for it, either.

Moreover, it made his breakout season in 2011 look every bit the fluke it could have been. In his three other years with the White Sox, Lillibridge hit .188/.254/.258 and struck out in 32 percent of his plate appearances.

That fluke year was an oasis of awesome in a sea of sadness. Lillibridge built himself an incredible highlight reel in the outfield, and on top of it, slugged .505 with 13 homers -- many of them of the no-doubt variety. All of it was so completely unexpected, because he was known as an infielder, and Ozzie Guillen always wanted him to bunt. He provided a disproportionate share of the season's high-five moments.

And on top of that, Lillibridge turned out to be a standout individual. After the White Sox announced the trade, the team's official Twitter account posted:

Teammates like Jake Peavy, Tyler Flowers, Jesse Crain and Gordon Beckham echoed the sentiments.

In The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, Bill James wrapped up the decades by listing the leaders in categories both statistical and arbitrary. Two of my favorites were part of a set -- "A Better Man Than a Ballplayer," and "A Better Ballplayer Than a Human Being." Lillibridge could make a helluva case for the former, and with his departure, the statuts of "Most Approachable White Sox Players" is up for debate again.

The remainders

Jordan Danks: This has been an incredible week for Lantern Jaw Junior. When the Sox designated Kosuke Fukudome for assignment, Danks became their primary left-handed bench outfielder. After the Lillibridge trade, he is now the official fourth outfielder, and the team's primary pinch-runner.

Orlando Hudson and Eduardo Escobar: With Hudson's production nosediving (.170/.247/.284), he no longer has an edge over Escobar in any respect, whether it's handedness (they're both switch-hitters), defensive abilities or speed. It's difficult to see how Hudson fits on this team. Escobar might be the fifth outfielder now, too.

Backup first baseman: Lillibridge was the guy to replace Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn in the field after a late-game pinch-running move. I'm guessing Youkilis will fill that need, with Escobar or (gulp) Hudson shifting over to third.

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