Tag Archives: Mark Melancon

Hoping to Finalize the Contract, Is Napoli Really the Answer?

When signed, will Mike Napoli continue to mash at Fenway?

When signed, will Mike Napoli continue to mash at Fenway?

Since the Red Sox and Mike Napoli informally agreed to terms on a 3 year $39 million contract, the NHL Lockout has been settled, the Patriots are hosting a home playoff game this Sunday and Rajon Rondo has been suspended twice.  Now we know why the deal has not been settled. The Red Sox like always, are pushing for either less money or less years for Napoli’s services, whose injury history is well known. The Sox brass seems to be worried about his hip.  Neither side has real leverage. Napoli, if sent back to the open market would be seen as damaged goods, if the Red Sox do not finalize an agreement within a few weeks.  The Red Sox need a first baseman and do not want to give up a draft pick to sign Adam LaRoche.  This relationship is rocky from the start, even with the marriage seeming destined to happen once the season ended.

Napoli, I feel, will finally sign with the Red Sox sometime next week as arbitration hearings on unsigned and controllable players are coming up.  Those seem to be settled as every player with get a raise, even Andrew Bailey.  Napoli is no defensive wiz at first base but, the Red Sox feel the rest of the infield defense can pick up the slack. Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks can carry the weight and help the pitchers out, making the majority of routine plays.  Three years and $39 million is vastly overpaying for a guy who didn’t hit above .230 last year.  The Red Sox are paying him solely on the fact that he mashes at Fenway Park and is a good clubhouse presence.  Almost all of the money saved from the Dodgers blockbuster trade has been spent on five players, if this deal is ever settled.

When Napoli is signed, where will he hit in the order? I feel the way the Red Sox lineup may go has him hitting fifth in the order, which I do not like at all but that is just how the roster is. The batting order I envision would go something like this:

  • CF Ellsbury
  • 2B Pedroia
  • 3B Middlebrooks
  • DH Ortiz
  • 1B Napoli
  • LF Gomes
  • RF Victorino
  • C Saltalmacchia
  • SS Drew

Give or take a few moves the batting order could look like that.  The Red Sox no longer have a 40 homer 120 RBI threat.  Ortiz cannot reach those numbers anymore.  I love Middlebrooks and his potential but he is not a thumper the Red Sox need, at least not yet.  Jonny Gomes as a six hitter scares me.  He has never started regularly and is making more this year than he has in his eleven year career.  I understand contracts in baseball are almost never lived up to.  We had our own examples in town last year, but throwing money at empty holes does not solve anything.

As much as the offense will be talked about, last year they did still score runs.  The pitching was abysmal. Bring in Ryan Dempster and Joel Hanrahan and all things are solved? Not quite.  Dempster is an innings eater but the AL East may change that.  He will not be asked to be an ace though.  Hanrahan has been announced as the closer already and hopefully that does not get to his head with Andrew Bailey ready to step in if needed.  With the acquisition of Hanrahan the trades for relievers last year in Bailey and Melancon (traded for Hanrahan) have been admitted as failures.  I still feel the Red Sox need to add some pitching depth possibly some minor league deals to Jair Jurrjens or Jeff Karstens.  Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales will be the long men but bouncing back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation is not easy for everyone.

With spring training just five weeks away, many key free agents remain unsigned like Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse, which the Red Sox figure to stay away from both.  Once those players sign, the market for other players I feel will materialize and the Red Sox will add some depth to the rotation. The real question is, what else will happen between now and when the Napoli signing is finalized? With hockey and baseball on the horizon and football playoffs in full swing, it is a good time to be a sports fan.

Red Sox Show Money Isn’t An Issue Early In Offseason

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Mike Napoli will get to know the Red Sox starters in Spring Training.

After the Red Sox made the blockbuster trade with the Dodgers last August everyone had to know the Red Sox would not stay quiet this offseason.  Not spending money and letting the younger players play wouldn’t have bothered me as a Sox fan, but they are the Red Sox and will always have money to spend so I am not surprised.  In this market the question is raised can they compete every year? The answer is they should.  With the addition of the second wild card, a team hovering around 85 wins has a chance for a playoff game.

With the Winter Meetings having been this week rumors were widespread across baseball.  The Red Sox seemed to be the destination for Mike Napoli all along as he signed a three year deal with the Red Sox to be their primary first baseman.  The deal may have been an overpay as they are paying Napoli, who couldn’t hit above .230 last year 13 million dollars each year for the next three.  They held out on the four year deal though sticking to the new philosophy of no long term contracts. The Red Sox will almost certainly trade one of their catchers now. Napoli who has been a full time catcher the last two years in Texas and will get familiar with the pitchers in Spring Training according to Red Sox manager John Farrell.  Napoli’s history at Fenway Park has been widely talked about but a small sample size against Red Sox pitching I feel isn’t justified and now did that outlook work for Julio Lugo?

On the second day of the Winter Meetings the Red Sox struck a deal with outfielder Shane Victorino.  Victornio had a down year last year between the Phillies and Dodgers but hopes to come back strong in 2013. He signed for the exact contract that Napoli signed for so three years of Victorino in right field. Unless of course the Red Sox trade centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury who is in the last year of his contract and almost certain to walk after this season. His value is relatively low.  If the trade yesterday of Ben Revere to the Phillies for Vance Worely and a top pitching prospect says anything it’s that Ellsbury’s value cannot be much more than that as Revere will be under Phillies control until 2017 where Ellsbury would be a rental player.

With the meetings wrapping up Thursday the Red Sox signed right handed reliever Koji Uehara.  Uehara spent the last year and a half in Texas after spending time with the Orioles.  He has been proven he can pitch in the AL East which is a good track record.  He is age 37 but on a one year deal it isn’t too much of a risk.  If Andrew Bailey is the closer next year Uehara could be a nice 7th or 8th inning setup man. What does this mean for Daniel Bard and Mark Melancon? One of them could be packaged in a deal for a starter similar to the Jordan Walden for Tommy Hanson trade last week between the Angels and Braves.  Health is always a concern so maybe the Red Sox keep everyone in the bullpen and find out in spring training how the bullpen will go.

The Rule 5 draft occurs on the last day of the Winter Meetings.  The draft is for players with four or five years of minor league experience who were left off their teams 40 man roster.  Giving them a chance to stick with another major league club.  The Red Sox lost reliever Josh Fields who was taken first by the Houston Astros who most certainly will give him a shot at a job in their bullpen.  Fields was a part of the Erik Bedard deal to Boston that didn’t quite work out.  The Red Sox also lost Ryan Pressly to the Twins ,a right handed reliever who never made it above Double-A Portland. Both pitchers may never work out but both throw hard so there is a chance they will work out.  The purpose of the Rule 5 draft is for players like Fields and Pressly to get a chance.

Now Red Sox seem to be set now at every position on the field.  I still think they need to add a starter who can slot in  between or after Lester and Buchholz.  Starting pitching is huge now and the Red Sox bullpen suffered last year from bad starting pitching.  If the Red Sox go into the season with Franklin Morales and Alfredo Aceves being prepared to be starters that will help depth wise but they need another proven start in the big leagues whether it be Edwin Jackson or Kyle Lohse.  Starting pitching wins in October just ask the San Fransisco Giants.  If the Red Sox do not add a starting pitcher look for much of the same like last years Sox. So Ben spend money on the pitching staff, the offense will score runs.

That’s A Wrap On Bobby V In Boston

Junichi Tazawa deserves a spot in the Red Sox bullpen in 2013.

Today the Red Sox fired manager Bobby Valentine.  That was a surprise to no one as the team has it’s worst season since 1966.  Valentine may have been brought in as just a flashy name and pose as damage control.  Well more drama happened this season than an episode of  Jersey Shore.  Between the players not liking Valentine, the coaches not acknowledging Valentine, and everything in between.  Some of the stories that came out, you just could not make up.  Between Gary Tuck not answering the phone in the bullpen to Bob McClure not telling Valentine what he said to the pitchers on the mound.  Pedroia saying “that’s not how we do it around here.” Alfredo Aceves slamming the office door after not closing a game, in which the night before he gave up five runs.  All of these were problems this season the team has to be happy it is finally over.

The Red Sox need to work faster this off season. Last off season they were in recovery mode after the collapse and took their time.  With Valentine already fired they need to start interviewing candidates for the managerial position. All this talk about John Farrell I believe is ludicrous but the team seems to be going after him.  First off he was here before.  I believe the team needs some new blood in there. Get rid of the whole coaching staff and let the manager and Ben Cherrington decide on a staff instead of having Valentine and Francona leftovers.  Second,  I understand the AL East is not the easiest division to play in but the Blue Jays have not won under Farrell’s lead.  Why will the Red Sox win under his lead?  I believe the Red Sox need a culture change and that starts with a manager that may not be too familiar with the players in that clubhouse, but knows how to communicate.

Tim Bogar was passed on by the Houston Astros, there must have been a reason.  DeMarlo Hale has to be a little upset he was passed on again but maybe he will come in for an interview as well.  Terry Francona is projected to get the job with Cleveland so that may lead to an opening for Sandy Alomar Jr. This manager will be hired by Ben Cherrington this time around and not Larry Lucchino.  Cherrington needs a manager in place by November 1st, which leaves him plenty of time. This manager will not be a one year stop gap like Valentine, so Cherrington needs to be allowed to make the right choice by ownership.

Now that the manager is gone from the 2012 team, which players will be back for the 2013 season? I break it down by position:

Starting Pitchers

Jon Lester, Clay Buccholz, Felix Doubront, and John Lackey will almost certainly be back next season.  Gone will be Aaron Cook and Daisuke Matsuzaka and it won’t be a sad goodbye.  To address the need for pitching the Red Sox will need an innings eater who is a number two starter at worst.  Lester did not have a good year and Lackey will be an end of the rotation pitcher the rest of his career.

Infielders

Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks are the only locks are their positions for next season. Shortstop has been the question since the trade of Nomar Garciaparra and it will be no different this off season.  Mike Aviles saw almost no playing time this September, as he watched Jose Iglesias make great defensive plays and have some horrible at bats.  Iglesias’ bat can be tolerated if the Red Sox acquire a power hitter in the middle of the lineup.  Aviles was disrespected by the team so he may want to play elsewhere and maybe they could get a relief pitcher for him.  James Loney was in the Dodgers trade as fill in and maybe will be brought back on a short term deal.  He wasn’t hitting all that great with the Dodgers and that continued in Boston. I think the Red Sox should look elsewhere.  Pedro Ciriaco is not an everyday player but should be on this team next year as utility player who has plus speed.

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Keep ‘Em Or Trade ‘Em – Red Sox Pitchers And Catchers Edition

Let’s get right to it…

Beckett will likely not be on his way out of town

SP Josh Beckett – I’ll get this one out of the way early.  Josh Beckett is not going anywhere.  For starters he is on the DL.  Then there is the fact that he is still owed upwards of $40 million over the next 3 seasons.  Thirdly he’s got 10/5 no-trade rights that gives him the right to refuse any trade.  That is probably the most important factor because surprisingly Beckett still likes pitching in Boston.  Maybe it’s the atmosphere, maybe he likes the bar scene, maybe all of the hate keeps him motivated.  Who knows?  What I do know is that many people close to the veteran right-hander think that he’s none too anxious to waive his no-trade.  Due to the contract the return would be nothing special anyway and let’s face it, Beckett has been one of the most consistent starters for the Sox this season.  Of his 12 starts 8 have been quality starts.  Only Jon Lester has more quality starts, with 9 in 15 starts.  Beckett will probably play out his contract here so people should probably get used to him sticking around for a while.

Verdict – Keep Him

SP Jon Lester – This is similar to people saying that they should trade Pedroia.  I don’t really see the point…you don’t dump a guy after a poor 1/2 season.  He’s by far the most durable starter for the Sox over the past 2-3 years so I see little sense in giving him up when you have a lack of starting pitching depth.

Verdict – Keep Him

SP Clay Buchholz – I could copy and paste the above in this spot.  Like Lester he’s only 28 and signed to a team-friendly deal.  He had a bit of trouble coming back from his back injury from last season but he seems to have put that behind him.  He’s missing his scheduled start today because of the flu but that shouldn’t keep him out too long.

Verdict – Keep Him

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What Is Next For The Red Sox?

Ellsbury Catch

Jacoby Ellsbury could net the Sox some good prospects.

After the trading of Kevin Youkilis on Sunday, everyone now turns to what the next move is for the Red Sox.  It is not that simple to pinpoint.  Will Middlebrooks pushed Youkilis out of his job and the Red Sox are paying nearly all of his salary for the rest of the year.

Will someone else go?  If Jacoby Ellsbury were healthy, I believe the team would have looked at moving him.  His value was sky high at the end of last season, and he is expected to command a big contact.  Can the Red Sox afford both him and Carl Crawford? I don’t believe so.

If Beckett is lights out will the team look to move him? It has to be at least talked about.  If Beckett is traded the package in return would be much better than the package for Youkilis.  Beckett is still effective in the AL East which proves he is the real deal.  This is now Ben Cherrington’s team and the roster is what he wants to make of it.

What about Daniel Bard? His trade value is all but lost.  He cannot find the plate at Triple-A.  If he is not effective in Triple-A how will he be in the major leagues?  Mark Melancon seemed to figure it out in Pawtucket, why can’t Daniel Bard?  The team made a mistake making him a starter and are now suffering the consequences.  He thought he could be a starter and now feels an adrenaline rush coming out of the bullpen.  He is a reliever, throws hard for one inning maybe two.

Being six games behind the Yankees in the AL East should not be a tall mountain to climb.  The everyday lineup is taking shape now with Youkilis gone.  Gonzalez will play first everyday and Middlebrooks will play third.  Seems like Cody Ross will play right field and Daniel Nava will play left until one of the surplus of outfielders comes back.  Carl Crawford will be back after the All Star break and hopefully he can find a spot in the lineup unlike last year.  He has said he does not like to lead off, neither does Dustin Pedroia.  This could present a problem as we don’t know when Ellsbury will be back as he will most likely hit lead off upon his return.

With the trade deadline just five weeks away a lot can happen during that time.  Injuries are almost certain and performance will be a big part.  With four outfielders due to come of the disabled list someone will be out of a job.  In order to make noise in the AL East the Sox will need to beat the up on their divisional opponents and so far this year, they have not done so well. The loser of this series with the Blue Jays will leave Fenway in last place so winning the series is very important.

After Wednesdays game the Sox fly out west and will have seven games with the Mariners and Athletics.  Leaving that trip winning less than six games should be seen as a disappointment.  Shoot for being five games above .500 at the All Star break and hope to recover from injuries in the second half.

 

Red Sox Finally Climb Out Of Last Place

If someone told you at the beginning of the season that the Red Sox would be situated in last place in the American League East division from opening day until June 2nd you would have probably gone into full-blown panic mode.  The truth of the matter is that despite being in last place for two full months the Red Sox climbed up into 4th place last night and now stand only 2 games behind the 1st place Orioles and Rays.  They are only .5 game behind the Yankees at this point for 3rd place as well.  Such is life in the American League East this year.  No one team is much greater than the rest and once the Red Sox bounced back from a horrid start and the Orioles came back down to earth a bit the division has been bunched up together for the past few weeks and it will probably stay that way for much of the remainder of the year.

Things are looking up for Bobby V.'s Red Sox

One thing that’s for sure at this point is that it’s time for Red Sox Nation to give the devil its due.  Bobby Valentine has done a phenomenal job these past few weeks to get the Red Sox back into the AL East race.  He had a rocky start and he certainly heard it from the fans but after settling in Bobby V. has really found his groove.  He has had to maneuver around a minefield of injuries, many significant, and has done an excellent job.  He had what amounted to a patchwork bullpen at the beginning of the season after the injury to Andrew Bailey and ineffectiveness of Mark Melancon and has done an excellent job maintaining with what he has back there.  He’s worked well with the starting pitchers.  For the better part of the last month Bobby Valentine has seemed to push all of the right buttons and it’s time he gets his due.

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