Thursday, March 19, 2009
2009 RED SOX PREVIEW: FIRST BASE
In my opinion, Kevin Youkilis was the best player on the Red Sox in 2008. .312 average, .390 OBP, .569 slugging, 115 RBI, 29 HR, Gold Glove quality defense at first, and 36 games of solid fill-in work at third. Youkilis just turned 30 a few days ago, and he's truly in his prime. He'll likely be the best offensive player on the team. Oh yeah, he was also 10 for 30 in the ALCS, with 6 RBI.
Sean Casey retired. The Sox acquired Brad Wilkerson, who's played some first base in his 8 year career, but doesn't have much of a bat. He's a career .247 hitter, coming off a .220 season.
Mark Kotsay is another option, but won't be available until at least May. He hit .276 with the Braves and Sox last year. He'll be a welcome addition to the bench when he returns. And his wife will be a welcome addition as well.
The Sox have given Chris Carter a lot of playing time this Spring. He leads the team in ABs. He played in 9 games last year and the Sox seem to be grooming him to be a backup first baseman, either in Boston, or Pawtucket. He hit .300 down there last year, along with 24 HRs. He's 26 years old, and if this is Mike Lowell's last year with the team, Carter might be at first in 2010 with Youkilis shifting to 3rd.
30 year old Jeff Bailey is another guy who could be the #2 first baseman. He's having an outstanding Spring, he's got solid time in The Show already (50 ABs in 27 games last year with a .280 average), and he can play the outfield as well. This versatility makes him a good candidate for the bench, especially before Kotsay returns.
Lars Anderson is a 21 year old prospect shooting up through the organization. He hit .316 in AA Portland last year, along with .317 in A+ Lancaster. He doesn't have much more than double power, but he's got good plate discipline and some day will be a nice addition to a lineup. Either that or trade-bait, but the Sox seem pretty high on him. I doubt he'll get much time in Boston (if any) this year before September call-ups.
The Sox have an MVP caliber first baseman, backed up by some solid young talent. Which is good, because that MVP caliber first baseman might have to spend a good deal of time at third base.