Francona: I’m OK with Kotchman at first

WEEI pays Terry Francona to give Dale Arnold and Michael Holley some opinions every week and he gave them a good one today: He said he was comfortable starting the season with Casey Kotchman at first base. To paraphrase, the manager would be fine with Kotchman playing good defense and hitting at the bottom of the order.

Unlike everybody else, it seems, Francona is not counting on Jed Hoyer coming to his senses and trading Adrian Gonzalez to the Sox for Clay Buchholz and a bag of rocks.

(By the way, I’ve yet to hear a good reason why the Padres need to trade a 27-year-old franchise player who is signed for two more years at only $10.35 million now. Why can’t they trade him in July? Or next winter? When is there ever not going to be a market for a player like that?)

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Francona also mentioned that Kevin Youkilis has always seen himself as a third baseman.

So perhaps the Sox are finishing beyond adding some spare parts to the bench and bullpen. Youkilis will shift to third and Kotchman will play first. But after sneaking John Lackey past us, who knows what Theo Epstein is up to?

The parts are there to make a deal for Gonzalez. Some combination of Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, Ryan Westmoreland, Casey Kelly and Ryan Kalish could get it done. Nobody should be surprised if it happens at some point. Or they could swoop in and sign Adrian Beltre or even Matt Holliday if the price was right.

 But as it stands today, the Red Sox are a better team than the one that won 95 games a year ago and they may have the best rotation in the game. They’ve also protected all of their prospects and collected some extra draft picks.

After speaking to Theo Epstein yesterday and hearing Francona today on the radio, I did not get the sense that the Sox felt a pressing need to hold any more press conferences this winter.

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