This is the first in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Kevin Youkilis was conducted in the Red Sox clubhouse on May 21, 2005. Read the book for exclusive details about how close Youkilis came to being a member of the Oakland A’s before his first at bat.
On the Red Sox farm system under the old ownership: When I got drafted [in the eighth round of the 2001 draft] and a couple of classes before me, and one or two after that, we werenâ€šÃ„Ã´t that good. We didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t have good drafts because [the organization] had spent all the money on the big leagues. They didn’t think about the minor league system when Dan Duquette was here. Theyâ€šÃ„Ã´d rather spend their money on the big league level and not worry about the farm system. We had so many college guys that were getting paid $1,000 because they got drafted later and that was all [the club would] focus on. I was a four-year college guy, and you donâ€šÃ„Ã´t have to pay those guys. There just wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t a lot of talent there. I mean, we were playing against some teams that had four first rounders on the team. We just didn’t have that kind of talent. We couldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t compete. We battled, but we couldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t compete against those teams on a regular basis because they had so much more talent than us.
On learning the game in the big leagues: Last year [in 2004] I didn’t really ask about stuff, I’d just watch. Now I’ll go sit down next to a coach after a play and ask him, you know, “You know, what if, like, I did this?â€šÃ„Ã¹ I talk to Dale Sveum a lot. Papa Jackâ€šÃ„Ã®we always sit up there on that little bench. Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s the big thing for me, just getting knowledge and retaining knowledge of the game.
On the Red Sox’s reliance on statistics: Weâ€šÃ„Ã´ve got a great staff in here. Weâ€šÃ„Ã´ve got a lot of staff members in here that work their butts off. Weâ€šÃ„Ã´ve got more stuff on the computer â€šÃ„Ã¬ itâ€šÃ„Ã´s unbelievable. Theyâ€šÃ„Ã´ve got a war room in there. Theyâ€šÃ„Ã´ve got their own little office in there thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s like a war room. They work to try to give us have an edge and theyâ€šÃ„Ã´ve done a great job with it.
On being known as Moneyball‘s Greek God of Walks: I got so much attention from that book. I mean, I was in AA and I got asked to the futures game, and I was like, â€šÃ„Ãºwhat?â€šÃ„Ã¹ Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ve always had the confidence that I could play the game, but Iâ€šÃ„Ã´ve never thought that I was at the elite status. I thought maybe down the road Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d make it, but then the next year I was in the big leagues. It was such an unbelievable year. All of a sudden this is getting introduced to the whole entire country as being in a New York Times bestseller. I read most of it. I’m bad with books. I’ll read like three-quarters and then put it down.
On playing with Derek Lowe: When heâ€šÃ„Ã´s got his sinker on, heâ€šÃ„Ã´s just deadly. He was great for us as position players. We loved it. When we were playing behind him, we knew we were going to get action in the game. But  was tough. He knew he was going to be a free agent. I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t know if that was the key. You know, sometimes itâ€šÃ„Ã´s mental. Sometimes itâ€šÃ„Ã´s physical. I donâ€šÃ„Ã´t know if he wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t feeling well or â€šÃ„Ã¬ I think it was more a mental strain. The Boston media and the fans and everything â€šÃ„Ã¬ everyone jumps on you here so quick and sometimes some guys canâ€šÃ„Ã´t get out of the hole mentally. Then in the playoffs I think he had a little chip on his shoulder, like I’m going to show them.
On Boston fans: It’s hard to go out. You gotta know where you’re going. You gotta watch yourself, too. You know, if you want to go out and have a drink or hang out with some of your friends, you just gotta know where you’re going because here they got Inside Track and this other stuff and you don’t want to end up in a gossip column. But it’s tough. We all want to go out and do things sometime. Sitting around in your house everyday is not fun.