One Is The Loneliest Number: What To Do About First Base

When the Red Sox jettisoned Adrian Gonzalez to Los Angeles they made a deliberate decision to unload a mammoth salary. They also knew that his replacement, James Loney, was a risk to be a stopgap measure given that he would become a free agent at the end of this season. This brings the organization to the precipice of a tough and fascinating decision; who will be patrolling Fenway’s right infield corner in 2013?

The class of 2013 free agent first basemen present a weird and sometimes not so wonderful collection of iffy to decent fits for Boston. Strap in kids. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Could Youk be back in a Boston uniform in 2013? Highly unlikely. September 19, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis (20) reacts after striking out in the seventh inning of the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE

Adam LaRoche: Nationals (32 years old): .269/.341/.503, 29 HR
Laroche appears destined to decline his $10 million option with the Nats. The pundits think Laroche is a line for a multi-year deal at a salary that exceeds his option. He’ll be on the market. Likelihood factor: 50/50.

Nick Swisher: Yankees (31 years old), .261/.346/.459/.806, 20 HR
Swisher is a 20+ homer guy over the past eight years. The rumor mill is that Swish is looking for a large multi-year deal which, given Boston’s recent disastrous foray into big money multi-year deals, doesn’t seem like a great fit. Plus he’s got that Yankee funk on him. Likelihood factor: Not a snowball’s chance in Yankee Stadium.

Kevin Youkilis: White Sox (33 years old): 104 games, .236/.341/.429/.771, 18 HR
Yup, I said it. If Bobby V is given his walking papers this door may open. The ChiSox do hold a $13 million option for Youk for 2013. Reality and common sense would dictate that this isn’t a good deal for Boston or Youkilis. Then again, there is the 2012 Red Sox season to consider. If a one-year deal could be struck, Youk may find his way back home. Likelihood factor: With a new manager anything is possible.

Mike Napoli: Rangers (31 years old): 92 games, .223/.343/.429/.771, 17 HR
I like this guy. He’s a dirt dog. His free agent timing has sucked. He’s been injured since early August and has posted his lowest numbers of his career. He can play first and catch. Likelihood factor: Less than 50%.

Eric Chavez: Yankees (34 years old): 99 games, .282/.341/.480/.820, 13 HR
In a platoon role with the Yankees he’s put up decent numbers. His power numbers won’t be the same in Boston as they are in Yankee Stadium. Likelihood factor: More Yankee funk won’t waft this way.

Mark Reynolds, Orioles (29 years old): 115 games, .228/.347/.456/.804, 21 HR
He’s younger than most of the class, has gotten appreciably better at first base in 2012 and both walks and strikes out a lot. Living in the mid-Atlantic I’ve been able to watch him down the  stretch in 2012. He has been a beast in some very important series. If it was all about hurting the Yankees in years past, Baltimore has been good enough this year so that some blocking moves could drive deals. Likelihood factor: Wishing and hoping (wait that’s just me).

Carlos Pena: Rays (34 years old): 140 games, .190/.321/.341/.663, 17 homers
And speaking of striking out, Pena does it a lot. He’s currently number four in the majors with 170 whiffs. He’s solid defensively but with his power numbers down and strikeouts up he’s a hard sell. Likelihood factor: D-d-d-don’t do it.

James Loney: Red Sox (28 years old): 128 games, .256/.299/.347/.646, 5 homers
Like Napoli, Loney is suffering through an ill-timed career-worst year in 2012, hardly the kind of performance that spurs a bidding war. He is the youngest in the class with potentially his best years ahead of him and enough of a track record  behind him to make a rational GM think that this year has been an aberration. If he signs with the Sox, it most likely would be a one year deal. Likelihood factor: More a prediction than anything; Loney will be in a Red Sox uniform on opening day.

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It’s the loneliest number since the number one

No is the saddest experience you’ll ever know
Yes, it’s the saddest experience you’ll ever know
`Cause one is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do
One is the loneliest number, worse than two
- One Is The Loneliest Number, The Dog Night 

Topics: Boston Red Sox, Feaured

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