Free agency overview: First base

Free agency overview: First base

By Sean McAdam

Here is a look at the Red Sox' options at first base. See links at the bottom of the story for an analysis of other positions.

Youkilis is expected to be fully recovered from thumb surgery, which cut short his year in August, and has signaled a willingness to play either corner infield spot -- so long as he doesn't have to move back and forth between the two during the season.

There's no shortage of possible first-base options on the market. And remember, with Adrian Gonzalez headeded for free agency after 2011 -- to say nothing of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder -- the Sox might be wise to have Youkilis move to third permanently and concentrate on a short-term fix at first. Then they could either open their checkbook and sign one of the premium first basemen next winter, or see if top prospect Anthony Rizzo is ready to take over the position in 2012.

FREE AGENT TARGETSPaul Konerko is the best of the potential free agents, but because he'll be seeking a multiyear deal for serious dollars (and will turn 35 in March), we're ruling him out of the running here. Same for Adam Dunn, who as a first baseman remains a pretty good DH.

Adam LaRocheLaRoche is seemingly forever linked to the Red Sox. He was obtained in a deal with Pittsburgh at midseason in 2008, only to be sent off at the deadline when the Sox got Casey Kotchman. Then, last summer, with Youkilis out and the Sox not getting much production at the position, they gave thought to bringing backLaRoche at the Aug. 31 deadline to acquire players who would be eligible for the postseason, a move which was ruled out as they drifted further from contention.

LaRoche enjoyed his time here and would have an interest in returning. But after a career-high 100 RBI with Arizona last season, will he settle for a one-year deal?
Carlos Pena
Pena could well be this year's Adrian Beltre - a player who takes a short-term deal with the hopes of having a bounceback season, then returning to the market again the following winter. He had decent production for the Rays (28 homers, 84 RBI) but his average was an embarrassing .196 and even his slugging percentage was off sharply (.407, down from .537 the season before).

Pena was here before, of course, and has local roots, having played at Northeastern and grown up in Haverhill. His play at first has dipped some, but he's hardly a liability.

One potential problem: if the Sox are fortunate enough to land Crawford and then add Pena at first, they would have five everyday regulars who are left-handed (Crawford, Pena, Ellsbury, Drew and Ortiz).

Lyle OverbayLike LaRoche, Overbay was on the Red Sox' watch list in August as a potential late-season pickup before an injury took him out of consideration.

Overbay has less power than the other candidates, having never hit more than 22 homers and failing to collect as many as 70 RBI in any of the previous four seasons. He's more of a doubles-hitting first baseman, and is adequate at first. But, at 34, Overbay is more likely to agree to a one-year deal than, say, LaRoche.

Other names of noteDerrek Lee, Ty Wigginton.

OUTFIELD---> Will the Red Sox be willing to spend on the bigguns?

THIRDBASE ---> How will Theo Epstein deal with a thinmarket?

FIRSTBASE ---> Could a former Sox slugger be the answer in2011?

CATCHER---> Is there a bargain backstop to be had on thecheap?

BULLPEN---> Which relievers could be headed toBoston?

SeanMcAdam can be reached at Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”