Yeah, at this point Middlebrooks is clearly the better option. I'm going to miss Youkilis, but it was time for a change. And I really wasn't expecting a huge return for him, given his age, recent health issues, and declining stats. So a decent utility infielder and an inconsistent pitcher with high upside isn't too awful, IMO. I don't know if both Nick Punto and Brent Lillibridge will still be wearing a Red Sox uniform in August, though. They seem kind of redundant.
Like I said, there's no reason to trade Youkilis at his absolute lowest point of his career with more than a month before the deadline. And it's not like Youkilis was blocking Middlebrooks, because nothing in the world says they had to be playing the exact same position -- just stash Youkilis in left, or put Middlebrooks in right (unless you think it's imperative to get guys like Nava, Kalish, McDonald, and Ross playing time. I don't think it's very necessary, but apparently the Sox do).
It just makes no sense
to trade Youkilis right now, when at the deadline, they could have put some pressure on teams who needed a guy with a great career at the plate and isn't into his twilight years. At the very least, they could have taken a flyer on some A ball or AA player who at least has a shot of turning into something, rather than two guys who on their best days are a utility guy and a 5th starter.
And the Boston smear machine is already in full gear, with "unnamed" officials saying Youkilis was a clubhouse cancer. Go figure.