First in War, First in Peace, Last in the American League. Washington Senators we are not. (2003 Minor League 1B)

Cowboy Up! Kevin Millar is our incumbent first baseman. He slipped off a little from his careeer track (-.014/-.014/-.023), but that can be easily attributable to (a) a new league, and (b) a new full-time position. With Florida, he was just a filler first-baseman (around 5 games a season). This past year, he played 101 games as a Boston first-baseman. Even though he was slightly off his career mark, he still had a solid year and had 96 RBI. Millar should recover easily this year and continue to be a clubhouse force. The Red Sox will make every effort to resign him for the years to come. There is a mutual option for 2005 for $3.5 million which becomes guaranteed if he has a minimum of 800 plate appearances from 2003-2004. Considering he had 544 AB’s this past year, it should be rather easy for this mutal option to be gained.

David Ortiz, or as I call him, the Naked Gorilla (there’s a story behind that. Remember in the 2003 season, when there was a gorilla that escaped from the zoo? Well, my cousin said one day: “This just in. They have caught the Naked Gorilla. He is David Ortiz.”) Anyways, the NG was a great story for the Red Sox this season. He had a career year, hitting .288/.369/.592 with 31 HR in only 449 AB’s! I really hope it wasn’t an aberration. If it wasn’t, then we are IN for a treat for the years to come! (Which is good, because first base is not exactly a strength in the Red Sox farm system.)
Brisson, Dustin – For Portland, Brisson did not impress. He was very solid for Augusta, though, where he spent the minority (117 AB, as compared to 223 for Portland) of the season, hitting .274/360./.462. He showed okay power in Augusta (5 HR, 7 2B) but stepped it up in Portland, hitting 4 HR with 15 2B, even though he hit .223/.274/.351. He is a solid fielder, however. If he becomes the hitter he was in Augusta, he should have a productive career.
Headley, Justin – Headley is like Brisson, only weaker. He’ll probably be a AAA lifer.
McGowan, Sean – Sean McGowan is rather promising. He spent the majority of his time in Portland, amassing 299 ABs. He hit .311/.351/.441 (6 HR, 21 2B). In 50 games as a 1st baseman and 12 as an outfielder, he had 8 errors. There’s just one catch – he’s 27.
Bailie, Stefan – See Headley.
Calitri, Mike – Spending most of his time at Sarasota, he had a .264 AVG but made it up with a .383 OBP and .393 SLG. There is not enough known about him to make a fair judgement, but he looks like someone to keep an eye on.
Ontiveros, Jeff – Ontiveros is in the mold of Calitri. What is with all those similar first basemen types? It’s a little strange, you’d think there’d be some variety. I really don’t think it’s a good idea to stereotype positions. I would rather have John Olerud as my first baseman and Ichiro Suzuki as my outfielder than have Andres Galarragga and Greg Vaughn. The latter fulfill what the position is supposed to be, but they are (clearly) loads worse than the former. I think it’s unfair to everyone. If a second-baseman hits like a third-baseman, he’s one of the best 2Bs in the game. If a third-baseman hits like a second-baseman, he’s so bad, it’s horrible. But if those two people are on the same team, what’s the trade off? None. It’s why I get annoyed when they say Shea Hillenbrand wasthe worst first-basemen last year…and yet he’s one of the best third-basemen? Position stereotypes don’t matter. Winning matters.
West, Jeremy – West has promise, hitting .280/.369/.398 for the Lowell Spinners. He seems to have the highest ceiling of them all.
Expected to battle for the first-baseman spot in AAA Pawtucket is someone that was signed on November fourth – Brett Roneberg. He will be 25 by the time spring training rolls around, which is not too late to make an impact. Last year, for the Altoona Curve for AA (Pittsburgh), he hit .281/.338/.432 with 10 HR and 29 2B. He had 61 RBI in 125 games. He’ll definitely make the majors somewhere, and could land a starting job for a couple of years.

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