Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

WOULDN'T IT BE NICE?

The Red Sox have been searching for an answer at first base since the end of the season. Heck, they were searching for an answer during the season as well. Kevin Millar seemed to get old overnight, and John Olerud is even older. Did you see him run the bases last year after off-season foot surgery? Sure, Olerud can still play some excellent defense and still hits well too. But he is not a long term solution. He could be a temporary fix and would make a fine veteran back-up next season.

Paul Konerko has proclaimed his desire to stay in Chicago or go to the West Coast. The Angels would happy to oblige him. The Mets just picked up Carlos Delgado in a trade, which removes him from the market and could put Manny Ramirez out of the Mets price range too. The Angels won't pay Manny $20 million to DH, and if they land Konerko, Manny would be removed from their wish list anyway.

So the Sox will likely (hopefully) end up with Manny playing left field again next year. Johnny Damon will cost them if they hope to keep him, and they've just committed $18 million to Mike Lowell over the next two years. What this all adds up to is the Sox needing an affordable, young first baseman, who can provide some much needed punch from the position.

Adrian Gonzalez just might be that guy.

Two major league sources have revealed that the Sox and the Texas Rangers have spoken about a trade that would send the first baseman, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2000 draft, to Boston. A lefthanded hitter, the 23-year-old Gonzalez, tore up Triple A Oklahoma last year, hitting .338 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs. When he was called up to Texas at the end of the season he cooled off considerably. In 150 at-bats for the Rangers, he hit .227 with 6 homers and 17 RBIs. So he didn't exactly light up big league pitching, but how often does a team get a chance to snag a 23-year-old former No. 1 pick? Not often. The Rangers like Gonzalez, but he's become expendable due to the emergence of All Star Mark Texiera.

Hopefully the Rangers can be persuaded to swap Gonzalez for Triple A catcher Kelly Shoppach, a Texas native. The Sox will have no use for Shoppach for at least the next couple of seasons, and they are known to have shopped him last summer.

If the Sox acquire Gonzalez, they could platoon him at first-base with the righthanded-hitting Kevin Youkilis. That might be good for Youk because he's not a natural first baseman. Both players are young and hungry, and they could push each other to be their very best.

The Sox need to continue their youth movement, blending those youngsters with their seasoned veterans. That'll make for a very nice compliment of players, and the young guys come cheap. Perhaps Adrian Gonzalez could be one of them. A young, inexpensive infield comprised, for the foreseeable future, by the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Adrian Gonzalez. Wouldn't it be nice?

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