Tag Archives: Mike Napoli

Love the Glove: Red Sox Infield

Teams in large markets (like Boston) tend to feature at least several players who can swing the bat, and don’t always place a high premium on run prevention. Despite their impressive stable of young pitching, the Red Sox will never be confused for a pitching-and-defense type of team. However, run prevention played just as much a role in the Red Sox’ 2013 World Series run as their league-leading offense. The Red Sox are strongest in the infield, where they feature multiple players who can seriously flash the leather.

Napoli and his beard are rock-solid at first

If there is any weakness in the Red Sox infield defense, it is at the corners. While the eye test generally yields positive reviews (last year’s controversial World Series ending notwithstanding), Will Middlebrooks does not feature impressive defensive numbers over his career at third base: -11 Defensive Runs Saved, -3.1 Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games played. Middlebrooks takes pride in his defense and puts in a lot of work to make himself better, so an optimistic evaluator could see him improve to at least a statistically average third baseman this season. The same could not really be said for Mike Napoli. Despite a reputation as a defensive liability, Napoli was great under the guidance of third base coach and infield instructor Brian Butterfield with the Red Sox in 2013. Napoli (and his beard) earned very impressive 10 DRS and 13.3 UZR/150 for his work at first base. Napoli has turned himself into at the very least a good defensive first baseman, and probably should have gotten more serious Gold Glove consideration.

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Red Sox Report: Sizemore Decision Has Impact On Sox Lineup

Grady Sizemore has done nothing but impress the Sox with his bat and glove.

Who will be leading off for the Red Sox preparing for the first pitch from Chris Tillman on Opening Day in Baltimore? With ten days from the first game of the 2014 season, signs point towards Grady Sizemore winning the center field job as well as the leadoff spot in the Sox lineup. Not something most fans and writers expected back in February when the team reported to camp. Sizemore, who has not played in a major league game since 2011, has looked healthy this spring and this upcoming weekend will play in three straight games for the first time.

With the health and the timetable of Sizemore’s recovery not being questioned at this time signs point to Jackie Bradley being sent down to Triple A unless another move is made to deal outfielder. The Sox like Mike Carp’s bat off the bench and the fact he can provide help at first base. Carp packs left handed punch off the bench that this team needs, and unless they are overwhelmed with an offer he is here to stay. Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes seem to have the left field platoon locked down with Carp getting the occasional start as well. Sizemore of course needs to pass the test this weekend. Starting Bradley in Pawtucket I feel is the better choice than with the big club just to send him down like last season. He could use some more seasoning and work on hitting pitches inside.

With Sizemore leading off who will follow him? Signs point to Shane Victorino taking hold of the second spot in the lineup once again and Pedroia following in the three spot. Pedroia is more of a number two hitter but is hitting third to better the team. After thumb surgery this offseason Pedroia’s power numbers should be up this year. Pedroia did hit second in the World Series last October, with Ortiz and Napoli moving up as well but unless the team needs a shakeup the lineup with have Ortiz in the cleanup spot with Napoli behind him.

With the first five spots taken, expect Nava or Gomes to hit in the six hole in the lineup and possible switch with Victorino who seems to be giving up switch hitting this season and may move down against right handed pitchers. Xander Bogaerts will likely hit seventh to start the season and in all likelihood move up in the lineup if he shows the plate discipline he did last October and so far in Spring Training. Will Middlebrooks, who started last season hitting sixth in the Sox lineup, is expected to start in either the eight or nine spot flip flopping with the catcher that day David Ross or A.J. Pierzynski, depending on the matchup.
Sizemore is the real wild card in the whole lineup. If he starts the season with the team he leads off. If he doesn’t it is likely Jonny Gomes or Daniel Nava will, which might make the lineup suffer. You can’t expect Sizemore to be like he was in Cleveland but there is no question he is going to try to be the player he once was. With Victorino giving up switch hitting the flexibility might be lost when it comes to matchups but Victorino showed last October he could hit right handed pretty well. Pedroia and Ortiz are going to hit and both will start the season healthy together.

Mike Napoli came to spring training with no worries about his hip this year and just focusing on his hitting and defense. If Napoli cuts down on his strikeouts he could be even more of a force than last season, but the real focus is just continuing to have good at bats and work the counts like he did last season averaging over five pitches per at bat. Nava and Gomes can also work the count if they hit behind Napoli which will leave pitchers giving Ortiz something to hit. Bogaerts is already expected to be a top shortstop and the Sox will likely have an advantage against most teams if Bogaerts shows he can a premier hitter as a primarily weak hitting position.

The Sox are hoping the work Middlbrooks did this offseason will translate onto the field.

The Sox are hoping the work Middlbrooks did this offseason will translate onto the field.

Which Will Middlebrooks will the Sox see this season? The one who suffered through a long slump last year eventually getting sent down to Pawtucket and losing his job or the one who when recalled seemed to focus on grinding out at bats and working on hitting the off speed pitches. No question he has the power, the consistency is what John Farrell and the Sox brass are looking for. Pierzynski has gap power which may lead to many doubles at Fenway and has always been an above average hitting catcher throughout his career. Ross, who will see more time than the prototypical backup catcher, is no slouch at the plate either as we saw in October he was a contributor as well.

John Farrell and Ben Cherington still have to ultimately make the decision on Grady Sizemore within the next ten days but in my opinion he makes the team and Bradley starts in Pawtucket. The Sox will grind out at bats just like last season and try to get to bullpens early. If everything follows suit the Sox lineup on Opening Day look like this:

1. CF Grady Sizemore
2. RF Shane Victorino
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia
4. DH David Ortiz
5. 1B Mike Napoli
6. LF Daniel Nava
7. SS Xander Bogaerts
8. C A.J. Pierzynski
9. 3B Will Middlebrooks

If Sizemore doesn’t pass the test weekend and needs more time in Florida to start the year expect the lineup to look like this.

1. LF Daniel Nava
2. RF Shane Victorino
3. 2B Dustin Pedroia
4. DH David Ortiz
5. 1B Mike Napoli
6. SS Xander Bogaerts
7. 3B Will Middlebrooks
8. C A.J. Pierzynski
9. CF Jackie Bradley Jr.

BST&N’s Top 5 Red Sox Moments Of 2013

2013 was a year to remember for Red Sox fans. The team faced adversity right from the start after an emotional month of April after the unfortunate happening of the Boston Marathon bombings. Two experienced closers went down in the Sox bullpen within the first three months and the team turned to high-five king Koji Uehara and there was no looking back. This 2013 team restored the faith in Red Sox Nation. Here are my top five moments of the 2013 season for the Boston Red Sox.

5. July 21st Napoli walks off against the Yankees

In a season full of walk-off hits here Mike Napoli celebrates his eleventh inning home run.

In a season full of walk-off hits here Mike Napoli celebrates his eleventh inning home run.

In a game that was on Sunday Night Baseball, which Adrian Gonzalez might not have liked, this Red Sox, Yankees game fit the bill of drama. The starters for each team were knocked out early, Sabathia for the Yankees and Dempster for the Sox. The bullpens for both teams were huge tossing up zeroes until the bottom of the eleventh, when Mike Napoli hit a walk off home run off the Yankees Adam Warren.  The shot to center field was Napoli’s second of the game and was the Sox 60th win of the season on only July 21st. The walk-off was also the ninth of the season for the Sox in what was a wild season of walk-offs. Drake Britton and Pedro Beato pitched the last two innings of the game and would end up supplying the Sox with some solid innings down the stretch while shuffling back and forth between Pawtucket.



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4. September 20th Sox Clinch the American League East

Jonny Gomes brought out the army helmet for the first of many occasions after the Sox clinched the AL East.

Jonny Gomes brought out the army helmet for the first of many occasions after the Sox clinched the AL East.

Just five months after the first home game after the marathon the Red Sox did something most “experts” did not expect them to even contend for in 2013. The Red Sox clinched the division after their 94th win against the Blue Jays on this Friday night in late September. The hats and t-shirts came out for the first time since 2008 for the Sox and they read “We Own The East.”  Expectations were changed at the All-Star break when the Sox were in contention and they were certainly changed when they clinched the division. Greener pastures were in the future for the Sox. It seemed appropriate that on the night the Sox clinched the division that it was Jon Lester who got the win while turning to Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara to slam the door on the win.

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Red Sox Report: Sox Quiet At Winter Meetings

With the transaction wire more than active last week some expected to annual MLB Winter Meetings to be quiet but some moves went down. The Mariners added Corey Hart and Logan Morrison to hit behind new second baseman Robinson Cano. The Angels, Diamondbacks, and White Sox pulled off a three team trade, which saw Mark Trumbo go to Arizona, Tyler Scaggs and Hector Santiago to the Angles, and Adam Eaton to the Windy City. The Rockie got Brett Anderson from the A’s for a pair of minor league pitchers and Bartolo Colon and the Mets came to an agreement on a two year deal.

Things remained relatively quiet for the Red Sox. Last week with the addition of A.J. Pierzynski the catching situation was taken care of. Edward Mujica addition to the bullpen all but takes away the chance of Andrew Bailey resigning with the Red Sox and along with the early offseason addition of Burke Badenhop, the Red Sox bullpen appears to be set. Matt Thornton is most likely gone after he provided the Red Sox with below average stuff after his acquisition in July and was left off the postseason roster.

Mike Napoli tweeted out this picture of himself, announcing his resigning with the Red Sox on Twitter.

Mike Napoli resigned with the Red Sox last Friday for two years and $16MM per year. This is a raise for Napoli after reaching all his bonuses last season to make $13 million. Napoli again, will be the right handed power bat to protect David Ortiz the Red Sox need. As it stands now Shane Victorino will most likely lead off followed by either Jonny Gomes or Daniel Nava in left field.

The Red Sox seem to be confident in Jackie Bradley in center field and I could not be more happier. Not bringing in a premier outfield bat to replace Ellsbury will have the outfielder believing the team believes in him and he will perform. Of course they will need a more than able back up which I feel is still important. The Sox could always slide of Victorino and play Nava in right with Carp in left. Mike Carp has generated some interest in the trade market and who could blame a team for not wanting him? He had some big hits for the Red Sox in a small sample size and I hope he is back next near unless they can generate a big return for him.

The Stephen Drew market has not surfaced yet as the Red Sox have given no formal offer to super agent Scott Boras. The Mets are rumored to be interested in a shortstop but certainly not for Drew’s asking price. There is no question Xander Bogaerts will be an everyday player next year whether that is at third or shortstop and Drew is really that factor that changes everything. I don’t think this team needs Stephen Drew. His defense was stellar but he is not worth the money he is seeking. Will Middlebrooks had a horrible sophomore season and he knows it. I feel he can bounce back his third year and be something like his rookie year, if he puts in the work. Brock Holt is still on the roster and could be a backup at both positions. The  Sox might want to get a more qualified backup at those infield spots as well.

Stephen Drew is still a free agent and Scott Boras expects there to be a market for him.

Stephen Drew is still a free agent and Scott Boras expects there to be a market for him.

The Red Sox might go through the winter with the pitching depth they have and see how the roster turns out in spring training. Injuries do happen in the spring and teams might seek an experienced starter like the Red Sox have in Peavy, Dempster or Lackey. I think holding onto the pitching depth is a smart plan right now, as you can never have enough pitching and there is no need to make a trade just because you have too many of one position. Remember the Bronson Arroyo trade? Things have been quiet for the Sox in the past week but rumors will continue to swirl throughout the offseason.

Red Sox Report: Moves On The Horizon For The Sox

The Hot Stove season has begun with a few free agent signings yesterday including two players the Red Sox were rumored to have their eyes on. Carlos Ruiz re-signed with the Phillies with a 3 year deal worth $26 million. The Sox were rumored to be there til the end on Ruiz. I feel the Sox did not want to commit more than two years to Ruiz who is 35 years old, and have some catchers coming up through the system possibly ready as early as 2015.

Saltalamacchia will probably get more money somewhere other than Boston.



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Ruiz getting $8.6 million per year has to have Jarrod Saltalamacchia smiling as he is younger and coming off a better season than Ruiz. Salty was benched during the final three games of the World Series leaving Red Sox fans wondering what will happen this offseason at catcher. David Ross will be back as the backup but he cannot handle the workload of an everyday catcher and has had concussion problems. The other free agent catchers out there are Brian McCann and A.J. Pierzynski. McCann I believe will end up with the Yankees, as he will want a lot of money and a long term contract that the Red Sox should not give him. Pierzynski is an interesting option as he will only want a short term deal after coming off a one year deal with Texas. People have questioned his character issues in the past but this Red Sox team focuses on character I feel like he would not be a problem. He can still hit and his ra-ra attitude might actually add to the clubhouse. Ryan Hanigan, of the Reds is available for trade after they signed former Tigers catcher Brayan Pena last week. This could be interesting option as he would be cheap. The team has certainly lost faith in Ryan Lavarnway to handle the workload of being a catcher and he might be traded this offseason for a bullpen piece.

The other shoe to drop yesterday was Tim Hudson who signed with the Giants.  Hudson got a two year deal worth $23 million. Hudson is getting paid less then Ryan Dempster which is shocking.  Hudson is coming off injury and is returning to the Bay Area where he pitched in Oakland for the first six years of his career.  The Sox were rumored to be interested in Hudson but I feel he ultimately wanted to go back to the West Coast.  The Sox interest in Hudson did not seem to go too far as they have starting pitching depth but he would have allowed them to move one, maybe two arms for an area of need should Napoli leave as a free agent.

The Red Sox certainly will have an interesting offseason and hopefully moves start happening this week so the picture is painted a little more.  Moves have been made so it is time for teams to react. The Sox do have two things on their side that could benefit them. Payroll flexibility and assets. With short term deals being the main idea the Sox may be able to extend themselves on a certain player if they choose too. Also with six maybe seven capable starters they could trade one.  I believe the team should look at dealing Buchholz if they can get a good package for him or pool him with a young player to acquire a power bat.  Peavy is a National League pitcher and might be best suited to be traded to a National League team maybe back to the Padres for Chase Headley? Who knows. John Lackey could be an attractive addition to any rotation as for the next two years he is only getting paid $16 million. I feel Lackey should stick as he was your best pitcher for most of last season and Jon Lester might walk after next year.

Will Brandon Workman be a starter or reliever next season?

Will Brandon Workman be a starter or reliever next season?

It will be interesting to see how the Red Sox view Brandon Workman this offseason. He looked great in a small sample as a starter but the team went out and got Jake Peavy so Workman was moved into the bullpen. His move to the bullpen was up and down as he looked spectacular at times and horrible at others.  The postseason for Workman in the bullpen he was forced into roles that many fans didn’t think he was capable of but he stopped the bleeding in a few games and got many key outs on this World Series championship team. I want to see Workman as a starter but if the Red Sox cannot add enough bullpen pieces he will be forced to stay in the bullpen. No question he will have a spot on the Red Sox roster.

Ben Cherington will certainly have some decisions to make over the next few weeks. As we near Thanksgiving I certainly think of how the Red Sox got Curt Schilling over that holiday weekend in 2003. Hard to believe that was ten years ago. Maybe Cherington will have a move or two up his sleeve after some turkey and stuffing.

Red Sox Report: World Series Champs, Now What?

One week ago Red Sox fans sat at the edge of their seats and saw their team capture the teams third World Series in the past nine years. An incredible feat considering the difficult season the Red Sox had last season, which lost many fans interest. The goal of last off-season was to get a team assembled that will no only win on the field but win in the locker room.

David Ortiz stopped by David Letterman this Monday after shaving his beard for charity.

David Ortiz stopped by David Letterman this Monday after shaving his beard for charity.

As the victory tour continues with David Ortiz going on Letterman and Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino going on Conan, Red Sox fans begin to wonder what this off-season will bring and judging from talk radio everyone seems to have an opinion. Keep Ellsbury, ditch Drew, play Bogaerts everyday are some of the things we have heard so far which everyone is entitled to think. The goal this off-season I think should be the same as last year.  Don’t overspend on years. Last year the longest contract signed was for 3 years to Shane Victorino. Ben Cherington has said already that as much as he liked this years team, expecting the same cast of characters to win the World Series again next year is not something he has in mind.



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Free agents Mike Napoli, Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will all cash in this off-season and I do not expect the Red Sox to retain all four. If I had to choose one to keep I would keep Napoli, as right handed power to protect David Ortiz will be hard to find and Napoli is a winner.  You brought him in last off-season for that reason so keep him this off-season.  Jacoby Ellsbury will certainly get $100 million on the open market and the Red Sox should not overpay, with Jackie Bradley Jr. almost fully developed.  As much as Ellsbury means to this Red Sox team I believe Cherington will not pull the trigger on a large contract. If he can be retained for 5 years at $100 million I would do it, but he will certainly want Carl Crawford type money and the Sox should not go down that road again.

Last off-season Sox fans may not have been excited with the signings of the likes of Gomes and Victorino and I expect this off-season will be the same.  Gomes and Victorino were critical parts to this years team and those moves turned out right for Cherington. It is rare to hit on all the free agents you sign but last year Ben Cherington did and to expect the same this off-season are expectations that are too high.  He’s been with the Red Sox longer than the owners and the team is now his to complete.  Finding a catcher if Saltalmacchia leaves I feel will be the most crucial move as David Ross cannot be expected to be an everyday catcher.

Jacoby Ellsbury will certainly cash in this off-season but will it be with the Red Sox?

Jacoby Ellsbury will certainly cash in this off-season but will it be with the Red Sox?

Ellsbury can be replaced with Bradley and a free agent on the short term if Bradley struggles.  If Drew leaves Bogaerts can play shortstop and Middlebrooks will start at third.  I believe Napoli will return for a similar contract he originally signed last off-season before the Sox medical staff “found” a hip issue. Of course the Sox could be active on the trade market as well. Buchholz and Middlebrooks I feel could be packaged together for a nice return.  This off-season will definitely be compelling  for the Red Sox and I endorse Ben Cherington and the moves he will make.

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