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Monday, December 03, 2012

Full Count » Mike Napoli’s three-year deal continues rebuilding of grinding Red Sox lineup

I’m pleased with the pick-up. Mike Napoli is not a guy to excited over, however.

According to multiple major league sources, the Sox have reached a three-year deal with free agent Mike Napoli. (Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the deal is for $39 million.) Napoli thus becomes the third signing by the Red Sox this winter who fits the profile of a power hitter who exhausts pitchers with tenacious at-bats.

Jim Furtado Posted: December 03, 2012 at 12:25 PM | 231 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: mike napoli, red sox

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   1. SG Posted: December 03, 2012 at 12:51 PM (#4315227)
The road toward .500 has begun!
   2. RJ in TO Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:02 PM (#4315239)
This is a surprisingly reasonable contract. I expected at least 3/$45, if not 4/$60.
   3. The District Attorney Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:20 PM (#4315260)
Sounds good.
   4. BDC Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:24 PM (#4315267)
Indeed. Still puzzling over the lack of a QO from the Rangers: seems like leaving money (or rather a draft pick) on the ground. All the best to Napoli! He was a hero here in Arlington, and could have a big year or three in Fenway.
   5. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:28 PM (#4315271)
Meh. If this is the team's intention, per ESPN, I'm not that excited:

Napoli, who visited Boston late last month, is expected to play primarily at first base for the Red Sox.
   6. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:31 PM (#4315279)
Congratulations to AJ Pierzynski on his new $50M deal with the Yankees.
   7. Walt Davis Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:32 PM (#4315280)
Napoli, who visited Boston late last month, is expected to play primarily at first base for the Red Sox.

Given Ross, Salty and Lavarnway all in-house already, this was rather obvious.

Napoli thus becomes the third signing by the Red Sox this winter who fits the profile of a power hitter who exhausts pitchers with tenacious at-bats.

Sorry, I've been sleeping. There's Napoli and Ross and?
   8. JJ1986 Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:33 PM (#4315281)
Sorry, I've been sleeping. There's Napoli and Ross and?


Probably Gomes.
   9. Kurt Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4315285)
Ortiz.
   10. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4315286)
It must be Jonny Gomes. That .344 career OBP belies his bulldog-like tenacity and pitcher exhaustion powers.

On a related note the Red Sox "active roster" currently contains five catchers, none of them Mike Napoli. Are they that worried about losing Christian Vazquez in the Rule 5 draft? Who is Dan Butler?
   11. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:38 PM (#4315290)
There's nothing better than a night at the old ballpark watching hitters stand there and exhaust pitchers. Nothing electrifies a crowd more than a foul ball.

Except maybe a 15-pitch walk.
   12. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:42 PM (#4315297)
Butler is a defense-first catcher who has steadily if unspectacularly wound his way through the system. He's useful depth and seems like a guy destined to get some time as a backup catcher.

The Sox are supposedly pretty high on Vazquez. He's not a future star or anything but he had a good year at Hi A Salem.

Catching is at such a premium around the game there really is no reason to give up on it if you don't have to. My guess is that either Saltalamacchia or Lavarnway is gone before Spring Training. They seem like useful enough trade pieces to generate some return.
   13. BourbonSamurai Is a Lazy Nogoodnik Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:45 PM (#4315303)
Still puzzling over the lack of a QO from the Rangers: seems like leaving money (or rather a draft pick) on the ground.


I've been surprised by a number of those choices. No offer to Edwin Jackson from the Nats, for instance.
   14. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4315309)
The road toward .500 has begun!

Hey, I made that post on the Gomes signing topic. Now how am I supposed to have a shtick?
   15. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4315310)
Tenacious O?
   16. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:48 PM (#4315311)
Try "The final piece!"
   17. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:50 PM (#4315316)
I'm not liking this roster construction or seeing how they're building a winner here, exactly. Players like Ross, Gomes, Salty, and NapoliTheFirstBaseman are useful spare parts or part-time players. They're not the core of a championship team.

Which potentially core players do they have? Pedroia, Ellsbury, Ortiz, Lester. I don't really think Middlebrooks fits. But this team sucks right now, and they need to blow it up all the way and start over, not sign part-time platoon first basemen to $40 million contracts.
   18. JJ1986 Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:52 PM (#4315320)
I'm not liking this roster construction or seeing how they're building a winner here, exactly.


They are waiting for the rules change forcing teams to only use left-handed pitching against them.
   19. Kurt Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4315331)
Tenacious O?

I'm probably dating myself by admitting that when I hear the word "tenacious", the first person I think of is not Jack Black, but Clyde Frazier.
   20. jmurph Posted: December 03, 2012 at 01:59 PM (#4315338)
I think this is a good signing, but I do agree (EDIT: with Ray's point) that they need to bring in more core talent under the age of 32 with actual upside. Which means no Swisher.
   21. Famous Original Joe C Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:05 PM (#4315343)
I guess I'd rather have Napoli than LaRoche.
   22. SM Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:12 PM (#4315353)
You guys keep mentioning Ross, but Ross hasn't signed, has he?
   23. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:13 PM (#4315355)
Napoli will not be a part-time, platoon, or otherwise spare part player. All indications are that they plan to give him ~660 PA's at first.

But this team sucks right now, and they need to blow it up all the way and start over


They already did that.
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:15 PM (#4315358)
but I do agree (EDIT: with Ray's point) that they need to bring in more core talent under the age of 32 with actual upside.


That's not exactly agreeing with him considering that Napoli is under 32 and does have actual upside.
   25. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:17 PM (#4315359)
You guys keep mentioning Ross, but Ross hasn't signed, has he?

He's one of the five catchers on the active roster.

Jerry Sands is also on the active roster, but James Loney is gone already and Ivan De Jesus is off the 40-man, if we're keeping track of those guys.
   26. SM Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:30 PM (#4315383)
Oh oh, I thought you guys meant Cody Ross.
   27. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4315386)
You guys keep mentioning Ross, but Ross hasn't signed, has he?


Couple weeks ago it looks like. The deal was originally announced on the 10th and apparently signed on the 15th.

EDIT: Never mind.
   28. Dan Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4315387)
You guys keep mentioning Ross, but Ross hasn't signed, has he?


David, not Cody.
   29. Rickey! In a van on 95 south... Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:35 PM (#4315391)
Catcher/DHs are the new market inefficiency? It's like someone watched "Moneyball" and thought "An entire roster full of Scott Hatteburgs would be AWESOME!"
   30. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:38 PM (#4315400)
That's not exactly agreeing with him considering that Napoli is under 32 and does have actual upside.


Napoli has no upside, especially not at first base. What are you talking about? We can pray that he repeats his career year, but that is not "upside." Prospects have upside. Napoli is not a prospect.

Napoli is a good signing *as a catcher*. Once you plan to overplay him at first base, you strip him of much of his value and his edge as a player. The drop from C to 1B is huge.
   31. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:42 PM (#4315407)
Napoli has no upside, especially not at first base. What are you talking about? We can pray that he repeats his career year, but that is not "upside."


What the hell is the difference?

He might have an OBP/SLG of .370/.580 - that is his upside. If you want to call it a different name go right ahead but it makes no actual difference. Furthermore, he has upside in the sense that his level of hitting might improve without the physical demands of catching.

If you want a prospect with a lower upside than .370/.580 just because he is a prospect and you can use the word 'upside' with purity than you have strange priorities.
   32. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4315419)
Nate: Yes, it does. "Upside" is when a young player progresses. Napoli has long since finished his development stage. And so expecting him to repeat his career year is wishful thinking at best. It's not like he has repeated the 170 OPS+ or turned in a few seasons close to that level. This is equivalent to signing a Kenny Rogers and expecting him to repeat his career year - only not really, because you're moving Napoli to 1B.

There's some disconnect in people, where they hear statheads say for years that Player X is underappreciated, and they become excited about Player X signing with their team, without stopping to realize that this isn't Player X. It's Player X'. The edge to Napoli was the fact that he *played catcher*.

   33. BDC Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:52 PM (#4315431)
Once you plan to overplay him at first base, you strip him of much of his value and his edge as a player. The drop from C to 1B is huge

It's huge in theory, but if you have catchers who can hit at least as well as your previous 1B options, and then add Napoli, it doesn't matter where the heck any of them play, in practical terms; the team will improve. The better receivers should catch. Of course they expect Napoli to be a 30+ HR, >>.500 SLG kind of guy, and of course that could blow up on them. But if he does hit that well, 1B is as good a place as any; it's not like that kind of hitter is thick on the ground.
   34. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:53 PM (#4315432)
Napoli's track record; .259/.356/.507 with a 126 OPS+ would be just fine as an AL 1st baseman. Last year only 3 (Fielder, Konerko and Pujols) were better than that OPS+ according to BBRef. Even if he doesn't improve by moving out from behind the plate his bat can play there.

I would agree with Ray that "upside" doesn't really exist for Napoli but I think the "downside" is also relatively low. Even his bad year in 2012 wasn't horrible though of course it would not be ideal.
   35. jmurph Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:55 PM (#4315436)
Nate: I'm somewhere between you and RDP on this. Again, I like the signing, I think it's a good deal. But now I'd prefer to see them bringing in a guy or two entering their prime (or in the early part of their prime), rather than another guy in the Swisher mold (which is probably kind of obvious- I guess I'm just saying I don't want them to be conservative now that they've got Napoli done).
   36. JJ1986 Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:57 PM (#4315442)
Napoli's track record; .259/.356/.507 with a 126 OPS+ would be just fine as an AL 1st baseman. Last year only 3 (Fielder, Konerko and Pujols) were better than that OPS+. Even if he doesn't improve by moving out from behind the plate his bat can play there.


That should go down a little if he plays full time. He's faced lefties almost 1/3 of the time, while full-timers Konerko and Pujols faced them only 1/4 of the time last year.
   37. Danny Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:58 PM (#4315443)
they need to bring in more core talent under the age of 32 with actual upside

Every team in baseball would like to bring in more young stars.
   38. JJ1986 Posted: December 03, 2012 at 02:59 PM (#4315446)
Are the Red Sox linked to J. Upton at all? The Dbacks apparently want young 3B and SS, which the Sox have in spades.
   39. Dan Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:06 PM (#4315459)
That should go down a little if he plays full time. He's faced lefties almost 1/3 of the time, while full-timers Konerko and Pujols faced them only 1/4 of the time last year.


Playing full time in the AL East means facing LHP about a third of the time:

The Yankees have Sabathia and Pettitte
The Blue Jays have Romero and Buerhle, maybe Cecil or Laffey as fifth starter too
The Orioles have Wada, maybe bring back Saunders, might start Matusz and/or Britton some
The Rays have Price and Moore

So that's ~40% LHSP over nearly half the schedule.
   40. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:10 PM (#4315463)
Nate: Yes, it does. "Upside" is when a young player progresses. Napoli has long since finished his development stage. And so expecting him to repeat his career year is wishful thinking at best. It's not like he has repeated the 170 OPS+ or turned in a few seasons close to that level. This is equivalent to signing a Kenny Rogers and expecting him to repeat his career year - only not really, because you're moving Napoli to 1B.


Expecting a prospect to reach a big upside is the exact same wishful thinking. For veterans, if you want to call it 'ceiling' or whatever word you choose, go ahead, but it makes no meaningful difference.

No one is counting on Napoli repeating his 170 OPS+. The upside I listed was well below that, and no one is banking on that (you can't sign FA's who are very likely to have a 150 OPS+ for $13 million - no matter what the position).

Once you plan to overplay him at first base, you strip him of much of his value and his edge as a player. The drop from C to 1B is huge.


Okay, if the Sox play him at C, who do they play at 1B?
   41. Dan Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4315472)
Of course Ray is quick to dismiss any possibility of Napoli hitting better at Fenway or hitting better due to no longer playing a demanding defensive position. He'll obviously hit exactly like he hit playing in Arlington as a catcher and how he hit playing half his road games in Oalkand, Anaheim, and Seattle. Moving those games to NYS, Rogers Center, and Camden Yards won't affect his production either, right?
   42. The Ghost fouled out, but stays in the game Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:28 PM (#4315485)
I thought perhaps the Red Sox believe he'll hit better with less time behind the plate, so I checked his time at various positions in 2011 (career year) vs. 2010 and 2012. Well, those stats didn't support that theory. Never mind.
   43. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4315490)
Of course Ray is quick to dismiss any possibility of Napoli hitting better at Fenway


I presume you mean that his offense will play better as a RH hitter in Fenway with the wall. I am not dismissing this as a possibility; I am dismissing it as something to bank on when signing a player.

or hitting better due to no longer playing a demanding defensive position.


Come on. He was playing 70 games a year at catcher. This isn't Piazza or Biggio or Torre or Simmons moving out from behind the dish. He was a part-time player there, at best.

He'll obviously hit exactly like he hit playing in Arlington as a catcher and how he hit playing half his road games in Oalkand, Anaheim, and Seattle. Moving those games to NYS, Rogers Center, and Camden Yards won't affect his production either, right?


Exactly correct. We can adjust for park.

Or are you arguing that not only will he uniquely take advantage of Fenway given his skill set - above and beyond standard park adjustments - but also of NYS, Rogers, and Camden?

And Fenway is a _worse_ park for hitters than Arlington.
   44. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:37 PM (#4315504)
If I thought the Sox could reasonably get 140-150 games from Napoli with him catching half- or full-time, I would want the Sox to do that. Napoli, however, has done that only once in his career. For his age 31-33 seasons, I think it is entirely unreasonable to expect Napoli could maintain a Joe Mauer style workload.

Given that, and given that Napoli projects as an above average hitter for a 1B, I think it makes the most sense to play Napoli at 1B full time. I think it's reasonable to hope that Napoli with fewer defensive responsibilities could play 140-150 games as a regular. Even if you don't project him to improve his hitting rates as a 1B, I think it's reasonable to expect him to improve his bulk games played at 1B.
Come on. He was playing 70 games a year at catcher. This isn't Piazza or Biggio or Torre or Simmons moving out from behind the dish. He was a part-time player there, at best.
Tango's study found the greatest effect of moving out from behind the dish for part-time catchers.
   45. The Ghost fouled out, but stays in the game Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:41 PM (#4315511)
Tango's study found the greatest effect of moving out from behind the dish for part-time catchers.


Oh, interesting. Maybe the mental prep, knowing your pitchers and the opposing batters is a significant factor.

Many players resist moving down the defensive spectrum. Wonder what promises they made to him. Or perhaps he didn't ask for any.
   46. Dan Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:46 PM (#4315522)
And Fenway is a _worse_ park for hitters than Arlington.


Because park effects are one size fits all and don't depend on handed ness or batted ball profiles or spray charts, right?

Fenway is pretty much the best park in MLB for a right-handed dead pull fly ball hitter like Napoli. Or Cody Ross. Or Jonny Gomes.
   47. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4315529)
Because park effects are one size fits all and don't depend on handed ness or batted ball profiles or spray charts, right?


You don't bank on this when signing a player.

Fenway is pretty much the best park in MLB for a right-handed dead pull fly ball hitter like Napoli. Or Cody Ross. Or Jonny Gomes.


Then why were you talking about NYS, Rogers, and Camden? I don't know how Rogers plays, but NYS and Camden don't favor RH pull hitters, from what I recall. And how many stadiums could a hitter possibly be uniquely suited for? Once you start to name half the stadiums in the league you might as well just go to park effects.

Also, was Arlington not a good park for RH pull hitters?
   48. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 03, 2012 at 04:00 PM (#4315537)
Because park effects are one size fits all and don't depend on handed ness or batted ball profiles or spray charts, right?


You don't bank on this when signing a player.


Why not? Napoli is a right-handed, fly-ball hitting pull hitter. Why would you expect that NOT to be useful at Fenway? Serious question here. It's not like bringing in a pull hitting lefty and thinking "with the Monster he'll be more inclined to go the other way," this is a case of asking a guy to keep being who he is.

There are counterarguments to be had. There is a fear that he'll go overboard looking to pull the ball and maybe the Sox could have gotten a less known RHB pull hitter (e.g. Cody Ross) for less money and similar production. But the Sox aren't asking Napoli to change anything so the move to Fenway should at least impact his numbers some.
   49. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 04:08 PM (#4315550)
But the Sox aren't asking Napoli to change anything so the move to Fenway should at least impact his numbers some.


I think Ray's point was that most of that impact is already accounted for by the park adjustments.

(the chance that fenway helps him much more than other righties is part of his upside, heh heh. His career numbers at Fenway are amazing, but I assume that shouldn't be a factor in evaluating the signing considering the sample is so tiny.)
   50. ellsbury my heart at wounded knee Posted: December 03, 2012 at 04:25 PM (#4315574)
I think Ray's point was that most of that impact is already accounted for by the park adjustments.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but park adjustment only adjusts rather crudely for run environment, right? In my understanding, they aren't adjusted for handedness or any individual hitter characteristics. It may not be a huge factor, but one might predict players with a certain batted ball profile to do better or worse in a given park beyond what park adjustments can tell us. It's probably a little more speculative, but it seems like a reasonable assumption.

EDIT: Or what Jose and Nate said.

For this money and this number of years, I'm cool with it. It's not like Napoli blocks any 1B superprospects or anything. Even if someone does rocket through the system, this is a short and cheap enough deal to trade or just eat.
   51. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 04:30 PM (#4315579)
Even if someone does rocket through the system, this is a short and cheap enough deal to trade or just eat.


Or put Napoli at DH if Ortiz is gone after his deal ends.
   52. Dan Posted: December 03, 2012 at 04:47 PM (#4315598)

Then why were you talking about NYS, Rogers, and Camden? I don't know how Rogers plays, but NYS and Camden don't favor RH pull hitters, from what I recall. And how many stadiums could a hitter possibly be uniquely suited for? Once you start to name half the stadiums in the league you might as well just go to park effects.

Also, was Arlington not a good park for RH pull hitters?


The point is that while Arlington is one of the best hitters' parks on the planet, Napoli is likely to lose very little in the shift from Arlington to Fenway as home park due to the type of hitter that heis. In addition, a large proportion of his PA over his career have come in the other parks in the AL West, all of which are pretty tough on right-handed flyball power hitters. Even going from those parks to neutral parks should benefit him quite a bit. And while NYS, Camden, and Tropicana Field are all pretty neutral for RH power, Rogers Centre has a pretty high HR factor for RHH IIRC.
   53. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4315665)
You've got a 31 year old part-time hitter with old player skills who has played one full season in his career and whose offense in 5 of his 7 partial, platoon-heavy seasons wouldn't have helped you at 1B.

And if his offense slips he's toast for the position.

The career year was based on a .320 batting average and a .344 BABIP, and he has shown utterly no ability to sustain those numbers. Let alone to hit at a 1.044 OPS clip against RHP.

A good rule of thumb for a free agent signing is: Throw out his best year. Would you still want him to play [1B] for you?
   54. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4315685)
You've got a 31 year old part-time hitter with old player skills who has played one full season in his career and whose offense in 5 of his 7 partial, platoon-heavy seasons wouldn't have helped you at 1B.


(A) 31 is not old.

(B) His OPS+ in his worst seasons was better than the Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays got out of 1B last year, and was only a hair worse than what the Yankees and Jays got out of 1B - so yes they would have helped. Of course, the other 2 years happened as well.

(C) Where, specifically, are they going to find a 1B who will hit better than Napoli and doesn't have old player skills?

The career year was based on a .320 batting average and a .344 BABIP, and he has shown utterly no ability to sustain those numbers.


Let me repeat: no one is counting on him slugging .630 like he did in 2011.
   55. Danny Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:08 PM (#4315693)
A good rule of thumb for a free agent signing is: Throw out his best year.

That sounds like a great rule for being able to criticize any free agent signing and an awful rule for actually deciding whether or not to sign a free agent.

There's no reason to throw out what a player did in 2011 when projecting what he'll do from 2013-2015.
   56. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:09 PM (#4315695)
(A) 31 is not old.

(B) His OPS+ in his worst seasons was better than the Red Sox, Orioles, and Rays got out of 1B last year, and was only a hair worse than what the Yankees and Jays got out of 1B - so yes they would have helped. Of course, the other 2 years happened as well.

(C) Where, specifically, are they going to find a 1B who will hit better than Napoli and doesn't have old player skills?


Yes, he is old, and (A) and (C) are linked; if they found a young hitter with old player skills they wouldn't have to worry as much that he will hit the cliff. That's the whole point of noting a hitter's old player skills.

As to (B), a 110 or 115 OPS+ at first is mediocre.
   57. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:13 PM (#4315698)
There's no reason to throw out what a player did in 2011 when projecting what he'll do from 2013-2015.


No, but there is when deciding whether to sign him. Throwing out his best (and worst) season is a good rule of thumb. It puts the idea in focus that you shouldn't be thinking about his career year.

The sea changed on this signing when they decided to play him at 1B. The calculus changes on how Napoli is to be viewed when you plan to play him at 1B.
   58. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4315703)
I repeat, where, specifically, are they going to find a 1B who will hit better than Napoli?

A good rule of thumb for a free agent signing is: Throw out his best year.


This is the sort of illogical superstitious thing you usually rail against - I'm surprised at your irrationality. Also, that is a terrible rule of thumb.
   59. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:24 PM (#4315717)
As to (B), a 110 or 115 OPS+ at first is mediocre.

If by "mediocre" you mean average, yes it is. But that still is helpful. For $13M, you should only expect to be getting a 2-3 WAR player.
   60. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:25 PM (#4315720)
I repeat, where, specifically, are they going to find a 1B who will hit better than Napoli?


I don't understand the point of the question. Are there no 1B who will hit better than Napoli available for trade? Why do I have to tell you specifically what they should do? I'm not at the winter meetings making deals for the Red Sox.

And I think it's a mistake to take a part-time player and assume you can just project him to full playing time and with the same OPS+.
   61. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:29 PM (#4315729)
Are there no 1B who will hit better than Napoli available for trade?

No, if a 1B hits better than Napoli (126 career OPS+) most teams are thrilled with him, unless he's vastly overpaid.
   62. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:35 PM (#4315736)
I love this signing. I bet he hits at least 20 HR's at Fenway next year.
   63. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:36 PM (#4315740)

And I think it's a mistake to take a part-time player and assume you can just project him to full playing time and with the same OPS+.


How else should you project him? I'm fine with some decline for the experience of playing everyday but do you really think it should be that dramatic? I haven't seen anything in his game that makes me think he'll be massively exposed. He's been over 400 plate appearances for four consecutive seasons so it's not like he's an unknown quantity.

This isn't a guy who was getting 200-250 plate appearances a year to playing every day. He's been a near-regular for a few years now.
   64. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4315742)
The name I've had rattling in my head all day is Nick Esasky. This just has a similar feel to it.
   65. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:37 PM (#4315744)
I don't understand the point of the question. Are there no 1B who will hit better than Napoli available for trade? Why do I have to tell you specifically what they should do? I'm not at the winter meetings making deals for the Red Sox.


Well because you act as if this signing was made in a vacuum. The Sox are talent-poor at first base (and possibly in general), and are cash-rich. If they trade for someone, they have to give up talent plus the salary of the other guy. And if you are under the impression for some strange reason that 31 is old, and that young-player skills are important for a 1B, and that 110 OPS+ is mediocre for a 1B, then there are going to be very few acceptable trade targets if any.

They have to play someone at first. So, removing the 'specifically' from my question, what in general could the Sox have done at 1B that is better than Napoli?
   66. The Yankee Clapper Posted: December 03, 2012 at 06:54 PM (#4315763)
Are there no 1B who will hit better than Napoli available for trade?

Not a trade, but Boston could probably have had Adam LaRoche for the Napoli money. LaRoche is a year older, but he's coming off a better year.
   67. OCD SS Posted: December 03, 2012 at 07:14 PM (#4315779)
Not a trade, but Boston could probably have had Adam LaRoche for the Napoli money. LaRoche is a year older, but he's coming off a better year.


... and costs a draft pick and has a worse offensive profile for Fenway.
   68. RJ in TO Posted: December 03, 2012 at 07:23 PM (#4315791)
... and costs a draft pick and has a worse offensive profile for Fenway.

And has been a worse hitter for his career than Napoli.
   69. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: December 03, 2012 at 07:24 PM (#4315793)
Well because you act as if this signing was made in a vacuum.

If we don't act as if the signing was made in a vacuum, we can't precisely quantitate how good a signing it is! It might as well be anecdotal evidence! You can see the bind we're in.
   70. PreservedFish Posted: December 03, 2012 at 07:43 PM (#4315815)
I don't think Ray is saying anything outrageous here. Not sure why there's so much push back against him.
   71. Dan Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:18 PM (#4315856)
I don't think Ray is saying anything outrageous here. Not sure why there's so much push back against him.


Throwing out a players 2 best seasons out of 7 before using the remaining numbers to criticize the signing may not be "outrageous" but it's pretty stupid:

"You've got a 31 year old part-time hitter with old player skills who has played one full season in his career and whose offense in 5 of his 7 partial, platoon-heavy seasons wouldn't have helped you at 1B."
   72. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:36 PM (#4315874)
#71, I "threw out" one season - his career year in 2011 - to ask the question whether you'd still want him as your starting 1B if we remove that year. And I think that is a perfectly legitimate question to ask. And I think an organization had damned well better be asking it before making a signing.

I didn't throw out two seasons; in the above quote I talk about what his baseline is; in 5 of the 7 seasons his offense wasn't such that, coming from 1B, it would push you towards a championship.

Again, for the bazillionth time, the point I am making is that he is a potentially special player _as a catcher_. (Or at least splitting time between C and 1B.)

----

BTW, Ron J, if you're lurking - do you plan to re-start the Transaction Oracle pieces?
   73. PreservedFish Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:36 PM (#4315875)
I don't think Ray is throwing anything out. He's not saying that those seasons didn't happen or that they don't inform our projections. He's just saying that a cautious approach would consider that he might not ever play that well again.

Although I agree with most of Ray's points here, I disagree with the conclusion. The "rule of thumb" seems designed to protect against the Aaron Rowands or Gary Matthews Jrs, but if you throw out Napoli's career year you still get a guy that pretty much hits the snot out of the ball. He might not look so hot against the average first baseman's offense, but they're not paying him all that much either. I've watched too many terrible corner hitters on my own team to keep judging players against the average - average corner hitters are not actually easy to find at all. If Napoli is a 830 OPS guy at first for the Sox, it's not great but it's also not really a problem.
   74. JJ1986 Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:40 PM (#4315878)
Why would you possibly throw out a player's best season when projecting him? You obviously don't want to only look at his best season, but that's just as dumb.
   75. PreservedFish Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:43 PM (#4315880)
Why would you possibly throw out a player's best season when projecting him?


He never said that. The point (I think) is that you ought to consider whether or not you still want this guy even if you know that he will never repeat his best season.
   76. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:49 PM (#4315887)
He never said that. The point (I think) is that you ought to consider whether or not you still want this guy even if you know that he will never repeat his best season.


But you never know that he won't repeat it (or come close) when it is the 2nd-most recent season and the player is only 31.
   77. JJ1986 Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:53 PM (#4315889)
He never said that.


I doubt he meant it. He very much did say it (post 53).
   78. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 08:54 PM (#4315892)
in 5 of the 7 seasons his offense wasn't such that, coming from 1B, it would push you towards a championship.


But coming from the Sox current situation, it would push them towards a championship, i.e. he makes them better. And his 2 very good years obviously would too. What would you rather them do for first base?

Again, for the bazillionth time, the point I am making is that he is a potentially special player _as a catcher_. (Or at least splitting time between C and 1B.)


This may still be their plan. The 1B-only thing is, at the moment, only speculation. But it is the premise we are considering right now. How much more valuable he would be as a C is independent from how we value him as a 1B-only.
   79. KT's Pot Arb Posted: December 03, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4315916)
It must be Jonny Gomes. That .344 career OBP belies his bulldog-like tenacity and pitcher exhaustion powers.


I thought Jonny Gomes only wore out his own teams pitchers?

And I'm confused over which seasons we are to throw out. Before 2011 Mike Napoli had career 119 OPS+, since then he's had a 142 OPS+. His last 3 years have averaged a 132 OPS+.

Which cherry do we pick to make him a 110-115 OPS+ hitter?

Edit: is it the one where we expect him to always repeat his 2012 BABIP, but never repeat his 2011 BABIP?
   80. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 03, 2012 at 09:30 PM (#4315918)
But you never know that he won't repeat it (or come close) when it is the 2nd-most recent season and the player is only 31.


Ah. I was right. You do kind of expect him to repeat that.
   81. villageidiom Posted: December 03, 2012 at 09:43 PM (#4315935)
I don't understand the point of the question. Are there no 1B who will hit better than Napoli available for trade? Why do I have to tell you specifically what they should do? I'm not at the winter meetings making deals for the Red Sox.
2008-2012, at least 50% of games at 1B, min 400 Games Played, born 1982 or later, active, OPS+ of 110+, per BB-Ref:

OPS+  Gms  Name              Salary (AAV)
----  ---  ----------------  ------------
 
159  792  Miguel Cabrera    $22 mil
 156  704  Joey Votto        
$21 mil
 150  806  Prince Fielder    
$24 mil
 145  800  Adrian Gonzalez   
$21 mil 


That's the whole list. If you drop the 1B restriction to 15% of games, and expand to birth year of 1981 (Napoli's birth year), you also get:

OPS+  Gms  Name              Salary (AAV)
----  ---  ----------------  ------------
 
128  582  Justin Morneau    $14 mil
 125  761  Billy Butler      
8 mil
 117  612  Edwin Encarnacion 
$10 mil
 116  533  Garrett Jones       arb 


...the four of whom have OPS+ lower than Napoli, and one of whom (Morneau) is considerably more part-time than Napoli. A quick glance at BB-Ref dWAR suggests Napoli might be the best 1B defender of this last bunch, though (a) I haven't checked Fangraphs, and (b) Napoli's is certainly a small sample at 1B. The point on defense isn't that Napoli is the best, but rather that none of these 4 players seem to be making up on defense the advantage Napoli has on offense. (Butler's offensive performance over that time is very consistent and not far off from Napoli, while the trend on Morneau is not promising.)

To me, this suggests the strawman* of a younger player who will hit better and in more games is plausible in the sense that some such players exist - at exorbitant salary, and only available by trade. So, as alternatives to Napoli they can sacrifice talent in trade plus higher salary (for Votto, etc.), or they can sacrifice hitting prowess to get more games out of someone whose reason for missing games in the past 5 years has mostly to do with Mike Scioscia's incompetence. If they'd rather give up prospects than money they could have traded for Billy Butler, assuming KC would entertain trading him away; they would have had a slight drop-off in batting and fielding (and less positional flexibility, as Napoli can ostensibly still play C) in return for lower cost and more certainty in playing time. Otherwise Napoli seems one of the better options for 1B, and $13 million seems decent for what they're getting, and 3 years isn't a remarkably long commitment.

So, basically, the realistic alternative to Napoli at 1B, if you want younger and potentially better and possibly available, is a trade for Billy Butler. He is also not the core of a championship team.

Interestingly, if you expand the last list by moving birth year one year back to get players a little older than Napoli, you get Pujols and Teixeira... and Swisher. The interest in Napoli and Swisher makes me think the team is getting back to the positional flexibility days of 2003.

* To be fair, Ray has said that they should get someone younger, that they should get someone better, and that they should get someone who isn't part-time. He hasn't actually said that the alternative to Napoli should be all three simultaneously. It's conceivable that a combo of some of those, but not all, is acceptable. Likewise, he hasn't said signing Napoli isn't bad, but that signing Napoli for 1B is. But my point above is that given the parameters of age, performance, and cost, Napoli is actually a decent option for 1B. If he plays C at all, and his playing time does not suffer for it, it's possibly an even better signing.
   82. Nasty Nate Posted: December 03, 2012 at 09:52 PM (#4315947)
But you never know that he won't repeat it (or come close) when it is the 2nd-most recent season and the player is only 31.




Ah. I was right. You do kind of expect him to repeat that.


No, you were wrong, and I don't.

Again, where are the Sox going to get this younger and better 1B?
   83. MHS Posted: December 03, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4315990)

I presume you mean that his offense will play better as a RH hitter in Fenway with the wall. I am not dismissing this as a possibility; I am dismissing it as something to bank on when signing a player.


You certainly want to account for it if you have skill identifying players who are likely to outplay their projection due to this factor. I question if this organization at this time has that skill, but thats a different question.

A separate claim is that if Napoli is a full time first baseman much of Napoli's value is eroded. I think most will agree with that is a true statement, but it is an issue of degrees. How much of his value is eroded?

Using baseball reference data Napoli has 16.8 war in 2653 PA's. If you project Napoli to 550 PA's that gets you to 3.5 WAR. Now he played 4300 defensive innings at catcher, that works out to about 3+ seasons. The positional difference between catcher and first baseman is roughly 2 wins a seasons, so that means you can effectively reduce Napolis 16.8 war to about 11 - you prorate that to 550 PA's you get 2.2 WAR. (if you take out his best season like Ray suggested 1.25 wins)

So the Sox are paying something like $6mm a win.

One could argue that the is probably an overpay for a player with the risk profile of Napoli.
- Poor athlete
- Undefined defensive skill
- Fragile

How much of a discount? I think the big one is fragile, and over the last 3 years he has averaged 450 PA's playing mostly catcher - so 550 isn't a huge stretch. I don't think I would account for risk profile discount.

So $6mm a win seems like a pretty reasonable number, but we will no more once we see where other free agents are signing for.

I didn't think I would like the signing until I went through this exercise, and now that I have looked at it I think it makes sense for the Sox. It seems like fair value, based on Napoli's track record with some upside if: he picks up surplus value in the park shift or is able to stay in the lineup more than 550 PA's or the shift from catching adds some additional value. So their are a few ways you can "win" on the deal and only the typical ways to lose on a free agent contract.

Based on where the Sox are this seems like a reasonable bet to make.
   84. Darren Posted: December 03, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4315992)
I'm okay with this, I guess, but it's a bit rich for an okay player. Hopefully, it will come out that this a 3/35 with a with a 1/10 option or a 4M buyout. But overall, I'm a bit worried here. They've signed Gomes and Ross and now Napoli, but the Boston media guys all seem to think they're also going to sign Cody Ross. Are the Sox really going to have those 4 guys on the field most of the time? Gomes and Ross in the same OF--egads, that's a nightmare.

Plus, I worry that they are repeating their mistake of valuing depth and flexibility over getting the best players on the market.
   85. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 04, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4316106)
Plus, I worry that they are repeating their mistake of valuing depth and flexibility over getting the best players on the market.

Agreed. 2 WAR players are nice, but you need some 4 WAR guys on the diamond somewhere. You can't just rely on Pedroia and Lester and hope Ellsbury, Middlebrooks, and Buchholz all turn into consistent 4 WAR players every year. Also, I sure hope they are bringing in some SP help, because in spite of these signings, it's still just an 80 win team.
   86. Dan Posted: December 04, 2012 at 01:10 AM (#4316122)
I think the noise around (Cody) Ross is mainly misdirection and/or doing him a favor by appearing to show interest so he can get his big contract elsewhere. This FO might not be the best in the business at the moment, but I really don't think they're dumb enough to think Cody Ross is an everyday RFer for this team. I expect them to sign Swisher or Hamilton still.
   87. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: December 04, 2012 at 04:10 AM (#4316157)
Barely on-topic, but Mike Napoli is a total Object of Lust on my gay softball team.
Mike Napoli: Bear Sex Object. True story.
   88. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 08:10 AM (#4316187)
hey've signed Gomes and Ross and now Napoli, but the Boston media guys all seem to think they're also going to sign Cody Ross. Are the Sox really going to have those 4 guys on the field most of the time? Gomes and Ross in the same OF--egads, that's a nightmare.
It also makes no sense from a roster construction perspective. Both Gomes as Ross are part-time players. Neither should be starting against most RHP (Gomes shouldn't be starting against any RHP at all). Running two platoons in corner outfield is really difficult under contemporary roster norms. The Sox have typically used a four-man bench - C, CI, MI, OF. If you're running two platoons, then you either need to sacrifice your backup CI (hello Pedro Ciriaco, first baseman), or you need one of your platoon outfielders to be a competent backup 1B/3B. The Sox have plausible platoons for both RF and LF on the 40-man, but neither Nava nor Kalish can play the infield.

The other big problem with Ross is that one of the reasons he's a good acquisition for the Sox is his Fenway swing. You'd want to play Ross in as many games at Fenway as you can, while sitting him on the road against RHP. The problem is that you can accept Ross covering RF in most parks, but he's a left fielder in Fenway. So against LHP, to get Ross' bat in the lineup, you'd need to run out a terrifying lineup with Gomes in left and Ross in right in Fenway. It just doesn't make sense on any level.

I remain hopeful that this really isn't happening, since it doesn't make any sense.
Mike Napoli: Bear Sex Object. True story.
That makes all kinds of sense, on reflection. He's got that Tom Colicchio body type.
   89. Paxton Crawford Ranch Posted: December 04, 2012 at 10:03 AM (#4316244)
I know Napoli hasn't hit better when playing 1B, but I wonder if some of the benefits of not catching would only show up over a longer period away from the rigors of the position. It seems like the reason catchers hit worse -- the constant dings and dents, especially to the hands -- would still be in effect, even if taking a game or two off at 1B/DH. Napoli's 1B/C splits could also have other confounding factors -- maybe the days Napoli played first he was too banged up to catch, thus dragging down his 1B numbers. I'm looking forward to seeing how he can hit playing mostly 1B.
   90. villageidiom Posted: December 04, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4316248)
Plus, I worry that they are repeating their mistake of valuing depth and flexibility over getting the best players on the market.
It's not clear they value one over the other. I mean, if we're going to look at the signings to date you could make a stronger argument that they value backup catchers more than they value starting pitchers, simply because they have signed 2 potential backup catchers now and haven't acquired a single starting pitcher yet.
   91. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 10:22 AM (#4316257)
Plus, I worry that they are repeating their mistake of valuing depth and flexibility over getting the best players on the market.
Can you explain what you mean by this? It seems like the problems with the 2011-2012 Red Sox arose from having "the best players on the market" perform somewhere between poorly and terribly. The Sox turned bad because their best players got hurt or weren't good, they failed to turn hits and walks into wins at expected rates, and their manager was unutterably bad. I don't see where overvaluing "depth and flexibility" played much of a role.

I also don't view Mike Napoli is a depth/flexibility signing. Either Napoli or LaRoche is the best 1B on the market. I prefer Napoli. There aren't any known 1B trade targets of obviously greater talent. Napoli isn't a great player, but he's a good player, and I don't think it was particularly reasonable to expect the Sox to get a better 1B.
   92. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:06 AM (#4316306)
I also don't view Mike Napoli is a depth/flexibility signing. Either Napoli or LaRoche is the best 1B on the market. I prefer Napoli. There aren't any known 1B trade targets of obviously greater talent. Napoli isn't a great player, but he's a good player, and I don't think it was particularly reasonable to expect the Sox to get a better 1B.

I also like the Napoli signing, but I think you could argue Swisher would be a better get. Never had a season like Napoli's 2011, but he's very consistent, and can play RF, which is a bigger need for the Sox than C.
   93. Ron J2 Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4316310)
BTW, Ron J, if you're lurking - do you plan to re-start the Transaction Oracle pieces?


I do, but I'm having access issues at home making it tough to do pieces in a timely manner. Until I get them resolved, it's just not going to happen. I have promises, but...

I of course back Ray's stance on career years -- having taken a broadly similar position. And yes, I'm aware of Tango's study on career years (treat as any other -- regressing them).

The idea is that the really attractive players have lots of good years to pick from. Takes the focus off that single shiny year.

And all of the work I've seen on park shifting suggests that the stathead community has almost no ability to identify a player suited to take unusual advantage of their park. (Eric Walker did identify that you can slightly improve the results by using multi-year PF broken down by handedness, but the gain isn't large and it is a lot of extra work) And while Bill James used to talk about it a lot in his early days he eventually came to the conclusion that the best you could do is not sign players clearly unsuited for the park.

Maybe teams have private tools. Color me skeptical as to their effectiveness. I doubt anybody has done more work on the problem than Szym and I don't think he thinks he can identify whether a player is particularly well to a park with any great confidence.

All in all it's a meh signing. They're as likely as you can be to not regret the signing which isn't a bad place to start and they sure aren't blocking anybody.
   94. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:19 AM (#4316324)
The idea is that the really attractive players have lots of good years to pick from. Takes the focus off that single shiny year.


One thing about Napoli is that he's been pretty consistent. For a guy who has been a semi-regular most of his career he doesn't have particularly dramatic peaks and valleys;

110
107
148
120
115
110
173
110

Obviously 2011 and to a lesser extent 2008 stick out but he's not all over the map. I think the Sox can feel fairly comfortable with what they are getting and given the economic environment, the Sox needs and the Sox' specific financial circumstances he makes a ton of sense. Even if you put him between 115-120 OPS+ without 2011 he still fits reasonably well among AL first basemen. If he gets any benefit from Fenway and/or catching less often he's going to look like a good signing.
   95. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:20 AM (#4316327)
I also like the Napoli signing, but I think you could argue Swisher would be a better get.


You watched him daily, do you like him? Swisher strikes me as the kind of guy who looks good in spurts and his overall numbers are solid but is incredibly frustrating on a daily basis.
   96. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:27 AM (#4316339)
I also like the Napoli signing, but I think you could argue Swisher would be a better get. Never had a season like Napoli's 2011, but he's very consistent, and can play RF, which is a bigger need for the Sox than C.
That is true, I forgot about Swisher. He projects as a better hitter by several runs - slightly worse rate stats, but a lot more playing time - and there's more certainty of production.

The problem with Swisher on the Sox is that he can play right field in Yankee Stadium, and he can pass as a right fielder in a number of other parks, but Fenway's RF requires near-CF range to play effectively. I was interested in Swisher as a left fielder in Fenway, at the right price, but I don't see him as a fit for right. And now with Gomes on the roster, the Sox are apparently planning on running a platoon there, so Swisher would have to be a right fielder for the Sox.

I've been assuming all offseason that Swisher would be significantly overpaid - 5/75 minimum, which is well above my ceiling for him - but if that isn't happening, he could be a very nice signing.
   97. Ray (RDP) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:31 AM (#4316345)
Plus, I worry that they are repeating their mistake of valuing depth and flexibility over getting the best players on the market.

Can you explain what you mean by this?


I didn't write it but I think what he's talking about is that they are building a roster based on useful/undervalued players who best serve as filler, not as everyday core players. If you've got a contending team and need to fill a couple slots, these are the guys. If you've got a contending team and someone goes down, these are the guys. If you've got an 85 win team that you're trying to push towards 90 wins and maybe a contender, these are the guys.

But if you've got a team that lost 93 games last year, and you've already gutted three of your core players, signing the Napolis and the Gomeses and the Rosses (both of them) is going to do jack sh^t and is going to anchor you to 90-loss teams for the foreseeable future. These are not core players, they do not turn 90-loss teams into contenders, they're old, they have flaws, and they shouldn't be relied on to fill several key lineup spots.

That is why I said that rather than go down this silly road where they're signing Napoli-1B and such, they should simply blow the team up all the way (not just half way), trade off the rest of what they have that is useful and "of a certain age" (that includes Pedroia), and just build a contender from the ground up.
   98. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:37 AM (#4316354)
That is true, I forgot about Swisher. He projects as a better hitter by several runs - slightly worse rate stats, but a lot more playing time - and there's more certainty of production.

The problem with Swisher on the Sox is that he can play right field in Yankee Stadium, and he can pass as a right fielder in a number of other parks, but Fenway's RF requires near-CF range to play effectively. I was interested in Swisher as a left fielder in Fenway, at the right price, but I don't see him as a fit for right. And now with Gomes on the roster, the Sox are apparently planning on running a platoon there, so Swisher would have to be a right fielder for the Sox.

I've been assuming all offseason that Swisher would be significantly overpaid - 5/75 minimum, which is well above my ceiling for him - but if that isn't happening, he could be a very nice signing.


I don't see any evidence for Swisher being any worse than an avg. defensive RF. BRef has him at -1 run p.a. over the last 3 years, FG at about +3.5.

Now if you're saying you need an above average defender in RF in Fenway, fine. But, Swisher is a good bit better than being able to "pass" as a RF.

Johnny Gomes in LF is going to make Swisher look like Roberto Clemente in RF.
   99. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:39 AM (#4316355)
But if you've got a team that lost 93 games last year, and you've already gutted three of your core players, signing the Napolis and the Gomeses and the Rosses (both of them) is going to do jack sh^t and is going to anchor you to 90-loss teams for the foreseeable future. These are not core players, they do not turn 90-loss teams into contenders, they're old, they have flaws, and they shouldn't be relied on to fill several key lineup spots.

Ray, I think you are grossly over-rating the amount of talent in MLB. Napoli is a solidly above average player. Ross may be the best platoon C in the game.

These are not spare parts, and you're not paying them like stars.
   100. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 04, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4316358)
That is why I said that rather than go down this silly road where they're signing Napoli-1B and such, they should simply blow the team up all the way (not just half way), trade off the rest of what they have that is useful, and just build a contender from the ground up.


How often does that work? I don't expect the Sox to contend in 2013 but 2014 and definitely 2015 are years where they should expect to contend and I think having guys like Pedroia, Lester, Buchholz and potentially Ellsbury helps to that end. MCoA noted earlier in the off-season that it's easier to go from 69 to 83 to 90 than from 69 to 69 to 90. I was and remain a bit skeptical but I'm altering my thinking somewhat.

I'm fine with keeping room for blossoming prospects and have advocated that. It's not like there is this huge pool of superstars out there in the FA market, this isn't 2000/2001. Hamilton and Greinke are the only impact guys on the market and there are very legitimate reasons to be skeptical about both. Contracts like the ones they've given to Napoli, Ross and Gomes are not blocking prospects and should not be a drain on financial resources if an opportunity exists to land a true superstar in a trade.

Mike Napoli is better than Mauro Gomez. That makes his signing an improvement. Would I rather have Joey Votto? Of course but he is not available.
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