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MLB Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox Miss Anthony Rizzo

Anthony Rizzo

Mark J. Rebilas-USA Today Sports

That picture says it all, doesn’t it?

The Boston Red Sox first basemen of the present and future playing in the World Baseball Classic, and neither one of them still in the organization.

Looking at Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo, it is easy to wonder how things went so wrong so quickly. While fans of the Red Sox may currently lament that Gonzalez is now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, the player that they should really be pining for is the 23-year old Rizzo.

Rizzo is exactly what the Red Sox are looking for — young, cost-controlled talent that Boston could nurture and develop and bring to the majors and avoid high-priced free agents. He was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May of 2008 at the age of 18 during his second season in the Red Sox organization, and successfully recovered from cancer to hit 12 home runs in 2009.

In 2010, Rizzo started to blossom. As a 20-year old, he hit 25 home runs while advancing up to Double-A. That season made Rizzo the centerpiece of the Gonzalez deal with the San Diego Padres.

When the Red Sox traded Rizzo to the Padres on December 10, 2010 for Gonzalez, it was viewed as a win-win for both organizations. The Red Sox got the marquee slugger that they had missed since trading Manny Ramirez, and the Padres received young talent to build around in Rizzo and Casey Kelly.

Two years later? Not so much. Gonzalez has already been moved by the Red Sox, and Rizzo has already been traded to the Chicago Cubs. Kelly looks like he is on the brink of Tommy John surgery.

San Diego seemed to quickly lose patience with Rizzo after a poor 49-game stint at the major league level, even though he had hit 26 home runs in Triple-A at age 21.

Last season, after the trade to the Cubs, Rizzo finally put it together at the major league level. He hit 15 home runs and had a slash line of .285/.342/.463 in 87 games. It is a sign of things to come.

The Red Sox have Mike Napoli manning first base for this season, but it isn’t hard to imagine what the team would look like right now with Rizzo at first, Dustin Pedroia at second and Will Middlebrooks at third with Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts on the brink of the majors.

The one thing that the Red Sox lack throughout the entire organization is an elite first base prospect. Funny how that works.

Sometimes a picture says a thousand words, and so much more.

Jon can be reached:

Twitter: jcullen71

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