2013 American League East Division Breakdown

Beasts From the East: With Spring Training underway and baseball back in full swing, I thought I’d do a top to bottom predictions and projections piece on the AL East Division. Here’s a look at what the 2013 season has in store:

American League East Division Standings (by seasons end):

    1.  Toronto Blue Jays        92-70

    2.  New York Yankees       89-73

    3.   Boston Red Sox          85-77

    4.  Tampa Bay Rays          83-79

    5.  Baltimore Orioles         80-82

Team by Team Rundown: Post-Season Chances, Award Winners, and Prospects to Watch:

Toronto Blue Jays

Post-Season Chances: I have the Blue Jays winning the American League East by a small margin over the New York Yankees to capture their first AL East crown since 1993. The Blue Jays were big spenders this off-season and inked the likes of SS Jose Reyes, SP R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buerhle, plus 2B Emilio Bonafacio.

When you add those names just listed above to a team with guys like OF Jose Bautista, OF Melky Cabrera, OF Colby Rasmus, 1B Edwin Encarnacion, as well as SP Brandon Marrow and Ricky Romero, this team is scary good…on paper.

The Blue Jays have what appears to be a well balanced team with a solid rotation/bullpen. Also, the Blue Jays have roster depth with guys like INF Mark DeRosa and Maicer Izturis as well as DH/1B Adam Lind and OF Rajai Davis. I feel as though all of these factors will lead Toronto to an AL East title and a potential deep post-season run.

Award Winners: Despite the Blue Jays potentially having one of their most successful seasons since the early 90’s this year, I don’t foresee any MLB hardware being handed out at the end of the year in Toronto.

Prospects to Watch: According to CBSSports,com SP Sean Nolin and Aaron Sanchez will be a pair of arms to keep an eye on this season. Nolin could potentially help bolster the back end of the rotation to give guys like Morrow, Romero, and even Buehrle a break.

The 23-year-old Nolin posted a 2.04 ERA with 108 strikeouts surrendering only 27 walks in 101 innings pitched in the minors last year. Sanchez, 20-years-old, also shined last year in his professional ball debut posting a 2.47 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 90 innings of work, allowing 64 hits all season with 51 walks. Both are players to keep track of in Toronto.

New York Yankees

Post-Season Chances: While the New York Yankees were quiet spenders in this year’s offseason, they managed to make the right moves to address their team needs. The Bronx Bombers picked up former Red-Sox free agent OF Kevin Youkilis and DH Travis Hafner (former heavy hitter for the Cleveland Indians).

This year’s Yankees team will not have Alex Rodriguez (barring a medical miracle) but that doesn’t mean the Yankees won’t find their way to the playoffs. Minus A-Rod this is the same team that won 95 games and the AL East crown last season.

Plus Youkilis should fill in for A-Rod just fine at 3B. Not to mention Hafner could return to his heavy hitting ways at the shorter fenced Yankee Stadium and add even more pop to an already potent lineup. Moreover, the Yankees will find a way into the post-season once more. Most likely by way of securing a Wild Card spot.

Award Winners: The 2013 MVP award goes to… NYY 2B Robinson Cano. That’s correct, I have Cano as my pick for this year’s MVP. While the other logical picks of rookie sensation Mike Trout or Triple Crown King Miguel Cabrera might be more suitable choices, I think Cano can steal the show.

The reason being: Cano is in the last year of his contract and will have a big payday coming at seasons end. So, what better way to make that payday extra sweet than by not only being the best power hitting 2B in the free agency, but to also have a career year and win MVP?

Cano finished 4th in last year’s MVP voting with a 313. average, 33 HR and 94 RBI and should be primed to try and win this year’s coveted award.

Prospects to Watch: According to minorleagueball.com C Gary Sanchez and OF Mason Williams are two future pinstripe prospects worth your while.

The 20-year-old Sanchez split time last year between Low-A and High-A ball in Charleston and Tampa hitting for a combined .289 average 18 HR and 85 RBI in 116 games. Williams, 21-years-old, also split time in Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa with a combined .298 average, 11 HR and 35 RBI. If numbers like those continue to rise these two could see early call ups to the big show.

Boston Red Sox

Post-Season Chances: Everything in my “sports gut” tells me the Sox have a shot at sneaking into the post-season via the last Wild Card spot. However, fanship aside, with Boston realistically only winning roughly 85 games this season by my count, that leaves them on the outside looking in come October.

Award Winners: Unless the MLB creates a new award for “Comeback Team of the Year” I don’t see any award winners on this year’s roster.

Prospects to Watch: SS Xander Bogaerts and OF Jackie Bradley Jr. are without question the top two prospects to keep tabs on this year. Bogaerts and Bradley Jr are already impressing the Sox in Spring Training. Bogaerts went 1 for 4  and Bradley Jr. went 1 for 3 with an RBI.

Bogaerts hit for a .307 average with 37 doubles, 20 HR 80 RBI and 71 runs between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland, while Bradley Jr. batted .315 with 42 doubles, nine HR, 63 RBI, and 90 runs also playing with Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. Both are on a fast track to Fenway and should be exciting to follow throughout Spring Training.

Side note on Bogaerts: He played 3B for the Sox in their recent 11-1 drubbing of Boston College to prepare for his role on Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. The WBC is set to begin on March 2nd. While Bogaerts focus for the Red Sox will be to play SS, he will likely be moved over to 3B for the WBC, as Jurickson Profar (Texas Rangers and the MLB’ number one prospect) will hold down SS for Team Netherlands.

Tampa Bay Rays

Post-Season Chances: Granted, the Rays did manage to win 90 games last season, and were only edged out by the Baltimore Orioles by 3 games to miss the post-season. However, with a weaker bullpen this year, and a lack of roster depth, I don’t have the Rays making it to the post-season this year.

The Rays have key cogs like SP David Price (2012 AL Cy Young Award Winner) and 3B Evan Longoria, as well as role players like SS Yunel Escobar, OF/INF Ben Zobrist, and SP Matt Moore. All of whom will easily help this ball club win close to 85 games, but unless their bullpen improves and they add another solid bat to the lineup, this team will struggle in 2013.

Award Winners: With David Price winning last year’s AL Cy Young Award, he should be poised to attempt the first AL pitcher to win back-to-back Cy Young Awards since Pedro Martinez in 1999 and 2000.

Price, however, will not win the 2013 Cy Young Award, as I see his numbers dropping a tad this season. He will finish 3rd in the voting behind Justin Verlander and my 2013 Cy Young Award winner: Jered Weaver.

Prospects to Watch: According to baseballprospectus..com OF Wil Myers and P Chris Archer are at the top of the crop . Archer started in 4 major league games last year for the Rays, pitching in 6 total. Archer produced a 1-3 record with 36 stirkeouts and a 4.60 ERA. Archer faired better in 2012 in Triple-A where he had 139 strikeouts with a 3.66 ERA and finished with a 7-9 record.

As for Myers, he exploded last year in the minors putting up big numbers in both Double-A and Triple-A. Myers combined for a .314 batting average with 37 HR and 109 RBI. Myers performance last year landed him in this year’s top 10 MLB prospects list. Both could see playing time at Tropicana in the near future.

Baltimore Orioles

Post-Season Chances: The Baltimore Orioles surprised the MLB last year as they made the playoffs for the first time since 1997. They managed to win 93 games and beat the Texas Rangers in last year’s AL Wild Card Playoff Elimination game. So, logically Baltimore should have similar success in 2013 right? WRONG, the Baltimore Orioles will not only miss the playoffs this season, but will finish in dead last in the AL East and here’s why:

2012 Batting Totals for Baltimore:

Finished 20th in the majors for batting average with a .247

Finished 23rd in the majors for on base percentage with .311

Finished 15th in the majors for runs scored with 712

Finished 11th in the majors in slugging percentage with .417

2012 Pitching Totals for Baltimore:

Finished 14th in the majors for team ERA with a 3.90

Finished 21st in the majors for quality starts with 78

Finished 16th in the majors in WHIP with 1.29

Finished 16th in the majors in BAA with . 252

Those middle of the pack numbers simply won’t cut it in this year’s AL East if the Orioles want to make another run at the post-season.

History Often Repeats Itself:  Here’s a few more statistical nuggets to make my case a bit stronger:

Since that 1997 playoff season (in which the O’s won 98 games to clinch the division) Baltimore has only broken the .500 mark once (in 2012) and has finished dead last four times, fourth place nine times, third place once, with the highest finish since 97′ coming last year ending the 2012 season in 2nd place.

One more fun fact I should mention…Where did the Orioles finish the season after they clinched the AL East in 97′? The Answer: fourth place with a 79-83 record. The only reason they didn’t finish in dead last in 1998 is because the then “brand new to baseball” expansion team Tampa Bay Devil Rays who finished in last going 63-99 ( 98′ was Tampa Bay’s first season in franchise history).

Lastly, one of the keys to Baltimore’s success and overall record last year was closer Jim Johnson, who finished 2012 with 51 saves. Those 51 saves helped account for more than half of the Orioles wins in 2012 (93 wins divided by two equals 46.5, and since a save equals a win Johnson’s 51 saves translates into helping the O’s win more than half of their games in 12′). Unless Johnson can put up another 50 spot, Baltimore will have a setback season in 2013.

Award Winners: Given that I have the O’s finishing in last place this year, I also have them collecting no awards in 2013.

Prospects to Watch: According to baseballprospectnation.com  SP Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman are a pair of arms you should watch closely as they are the top two prospects on Baltimore’s charts .

In fact, Bundy is ranked as the top pitching prospect in the majors. Bundy went 9-3 in the minors last year with an ERA of 2.08, 119 strikeouts, and a 0.92 WHIP. Bundy also pitched in two games for the O’s in 2012, for a total of 1.2 innings of work allowing 1 hit and 1 walk with a 1.20 WHIP. Gausman pitched in just 5 games last year in the minors but managed to total a 3.60 ERA allowing 11 hits, 1 walk, with 13 strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.80.

While Gausman will certainly need more time in the minors, Bundy will most likely see action sooner than later with Baltimore, as he has proved last year he is ready to make strides in the majors. Bundy may be the young solution this year’s shaky Baltimore rotation will need, should things fall apart the way I’m predicting. Regardless, Bundy’s future in Baltimore, for now, is very bright.

Final Thoughts: The AL East Division will no doubt boast as one of the most competitive and toughest divisions in the MLB this season (as it has proven to be in seasons past). This division can legitimately have four of the five teams finish with above .500 records (the way it did in 2010 and 2011). So, let’s hear it…how do you see the AL East shaking down this year? Leave a comment below.

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Red Sox Add Mike Carp Via Trade

Shipping Up to Boston: The Boston Red Sox acquired OF/1B Mike Carp this week from the Seattle Mariners, after agreeing to trade a player to be named later or a cash consideration in exchange for Carp. Carp will join the Red Sox in Fort Myers, FL tomorrow (Friday February 22nd) to begin his Spring Training.

Carp’s Numbers: In 2012 Carp batted .213 last year with 5 HR and 20 RBI in just 59

games. That’s a steady decline from 2011 when he batted .275 for 12 HR and 46 RBI in 79 games. Carp missed the majority of the past two seasons with the Mariners due to shoulder injury issues. Carp is a .255 career hitter with 18 HR and 71 RBI.

Can Carp Contribute?: Yes, yes he can. While Carp’s numbers certainly don’t leap off the stat sheet, he was acquired by the Red Sox to primarily add depth to first base and the outfield. Something the Sox certainly need this season.

The addition of Carp allows for breathing room at these positions, should Napoli’s hip injury re-surface or one of the outfielders go down. At 26 years-old Carp is a young platoon-type player that the Red Sox can work with and get solid production from, for little cost.

Final Thoughts: I like the addition of Carp in that the Sox aren’t giving up much for him and he could have tremendous upside in Boston. I look at it this way: If Carp (who has yet to play a full MLB Season) can stay healthy and provide the depth the Sox need, the trade is a great payoff. I have a feeling Carp could be the surprise of the season for Boston.

One last note on Carp coming to the Red Sox, in order to make room for him on the 40-man roster Boston had to put OF Ryan Kalish on the 60-day disabled list. Kalish you may remember is still recovering from right shoulder surgery.

Can Carp help the Red Sox this season? Leave a comment below

Red Sox Sellout Streak at Fenway Park: The End is Near

Say It Isn’t So: I wish I could, but according to Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino  and ESPNBoston.com the longest sellout streak in U.S. pro sports history is likely to end. Lucchino was quoted by ESPN saying ” It’s going to rest in peace sometime in April, I suspect. Some people have been guessing about it.” Lucchino said “Historically, for all of baseball, the second game of the season has been the toughest game to sell tickets for, so it could be as early as that. I have no doubt Opening Day will be a sellout.” (Opening day is April 8th, the second home game of the season is April 10th)

Going Streaking: Since it began back on May 15th of 2003 the Boston Red Sox have totaled 793 regular season consecutive sellouts. The Sox surpassed the previous record holding Portland Trailblazers mark of 744 this past June. During the nearly 10 year streak, the Red Sox have had seven 90 or more win seasons, six playoff appearances and two World Series championships.

Unfortunately during last few years of this stellar streak, the Red Sox haven’t made it to the post-season since 2009, saw a crippling September collapse in 2011 to miss the playoffs, and suffered a last place finish with a dismal 69-93 record in 2012.  As a result, ticket sales are down for the 2013 season.

Final Thoughts: While it would be sad to see this streak come to a close, one must remember that in sports, all good things must eventually come to an end. The Red Sox have held on to one of the most impressive streaks in sports history for nearly a decade. Regardless of when this streak ends, we will continue to watch, cheer, and believe in the Bo-Sox, the same as we always have.

Do you see the streak ending? When do you think it will end? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Spring Training 2013

As players continue to practice this week for the beginning of Spring Training at Fort Myers, FL, here’s a rundown of what to watch for and prospects to keep tabs on this year :

Pitching Could Be Promising: According to Red Sox Ace Jon Lester, the Sox pitching staff will be ready to prove last year was a fluke and that they will be better than advertised. Lester was quoted in an article from ESPN.com saying “We can sit there and talk about it every year,” Lester said. “It’s a matter of going out and doing it. As far as potential, as far as that possibility, it’s all there. It’s just a matter of going out and actually executing and doing what we’re supposed to do.”

According to ESPNBoston.com Lester, Clay Bucholz, newcomer Ryan Dempster, even John Lackey, all showed strides of improvement in their practices this week. Lackey reportedly shed some weight this offseason and appears to be in the best shape of his career. As I mentioned in my Red Sox preview this pitching staff can absolutely get the job done. Consistency will be the key for this group of hurlers. For now the jury is still out on the rotation. However, news that Lester and Co. are fired up for this season is always good news.

Prospects to Keep An Eye On: Spring Training not only allows the returning veterans and every day lineup guys to “get back into the swing of things” , it also allows for young prospects to have a shot at proving their potential. Here’s a list of players to watch according to bleacherreport.com and ESPN’/Scouts Inc’ Keith Law:

SS Xander Bogaerts: According to ESPN’s Keith Law, Bogaerts is the fifth best prospect in the MLB. In 2012 Bogaerts hit for a 307 average with 37 doubles, 20 HR 80 RBI and 71 runs splitting time with Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland. Bogaerts is considered by most to be “the” top prospect in the Bo-Sox farm system. He could very well find himself donning a Red Sox uniform in the near future, but for now we’ll see how this spring and the minors go.

 

OF Jackie Bradley Jr.: Bradley Jr. has been making a buzz in the Bo-Sox minor league system for his outstanding defensive abilities and his play at the plate is an attention grabber as well. In 2012 Bradley Jr. batted .315 with 42 doubles, nine HR, 63 RBI, and 90 runs splitting time between Single-A Salem and Double-A Portland like Bogaerts. Keith Law has Bradley Jr ranked as the 40th best prospect in the majors and 2nd among Red Sox prospects.

Bradley is expected to begin the season in Double-A Portland with a possible promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket by seasons end. Depending on the future of Jacoby Ellsbury (who is a free agent at seasons end) Bradley Jr. may be coming up faster than expected.

Photo courtesy news.soxprospects.com

SS Deven Marrero: Marrero is making history with the Red Sox, as it marks the first time since the 1991-1992 season in which the Sox invited Scott Hatteberg to Spring Training after drafting him the year before.

Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington, was quoted on the decision and said while they normally don’t invite recent draftee’s they felt given the scouting history with Marrero and watching him perform at multiple levels in the game, he wanted to get Marrero familiar with their major league staff.

Marrero hit .268 with 45 runs and 26 stolen bases in 64 games with Single-A Lowell last year. Marrero, of course, has a ways to go before being called up. Nevertheless, he is certainly a prospect to keep track of in the near future.

Other players to watch this Spring include: SS Jose Iglesias, INF Pedro Ciriaco, P Allen Webster, P Rubby De la Rosa, OF Daniel Nava (who has been fielding balls at 1B in practices), and C Ryan Lavarnway.

Nava, Lavarnway, Iglesias, and more recently (last year) Ciriaco have had success in platoon/backup roles for the Red Sox and could see more games this season. Webster and De la Rosa (both acquired in the Beckett, Crawford, Gonzalez deal with LA) could and should work their way into the starting rotation at some point in the season.

Side note on Iglesias: His timeframe for earning a starting role at SS or 2B is dwindling. With recently signed SS Stephen Drew being the Sox everyday guy, and  up and comers Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero in his rear view mirror, Iglesias is in a bit of a pressure cooker to perform.

Final Thoughts: Spring Training is always chock-full of interesting developments and has produced a plethora of players who have become household names today. It will be interesting to see how these and many other invitees perform for the Red Sox in the weeks to come. Who do you think will shine this Spring? Leave a comment below.

Boston Red Sox 2013 Season Preview

With pitchers and catchers meeting in Fort Myers, FL this Sunday (Feb.10th) baseball season is officially back!! Well alright, “technically” it’s not back until Feb. 21st when the Red Sox  play Northeastern in their first scheduled Spring Training game. Nevertheless, with the season, and spring, right around the corner; I thought I’d give the Fenway Faithful a preview of what 2013 should look like for the Bo-Sox.

Likely Lineups:

1.OF Shane Victorino

2. OF Jacoby Ellsbury

3. 2B Dustin Pedroia

4. DH David Ortiz

5. 1B Mike Napoli

6. OF Jonny Gomes

7. 3B Will Middlebrooks

8. SS Stephen Drew

9. C Jarrod Saltalamacchia

Granted this is just a rough draft of what the lineup “could look like”. Only John Farrell will truly be able to assemble a proper lineup when spring training is complete. For now, the above lineup is my take on where Farrell may go with the batting order.

The lineup could very well have Ellsbury and Napoli batting Cleanup at 3 and 4 which would then likely shift Dustin Pedroia to bat 2nd in front of Ellsbury and have Papi batting 5th after Napoli. Also, Farrell may choose to have a healthy Ellsbury be the lead-off hitter, which Ellsbury has certainly had success at in seasons past. However if Ellsbury puts up 2011 numbers this season, having him 2nd or 3rd could be more beneficial for the Red Sox as far as RBI production is concerned.

Lastly, the bottom of the order is subject to change as well. Middlebrooks, Gomes, and Drew could all bat lower or higher based on their spring training results. Salty will stay at the bottom of the order until he can prove he’s the switch hitting prodigy he was supposed to be. Only time will tell what the everyday batting order will eventually look like.

5 Man Rotation:

1. Jon Lester. 2. Ryan Dempster. 3. Clay Bucholz. 4. Felix Doubront. 5. John Lackey

While the pitching rotation isn’t exactly terrifying to many teams in the majors, this assembly of arms can get the job done for Boston. Lester and Bucholz will have to bounce back, Dempster will have to pitch more consistently than in seasons past, Felix Doubront will have to prove he wasn’t just a one year wonder baller, and John Lackey will have to return to his prime if the Sox want to get the most wins out of this group.

The rotation may change throughout the season, as it often does, as the Red Sox have options should one of these guys fold. Boston can bring up the likes of Rubby De la Rosa or Allen Webster from Triple-A Pawtucket if those two show they are primed for a big league day job.

Also, Boston could add to the Rotation if they choose to sign still-free-agent starting pitcher Kyle Lohse (formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals). Again like the lineup above, only time will tell what is working, and what needs to be worked out.

The Pen:

Relievers: 1. Andrew Bailey 2. Koji Uehara 3. Daniel Bard 4. Craig Breslow 5. Alfredo Aceves

Closer: Joel Hanrahan

The Red Sox Bullpen as it stands right now is the strongest weapon Boston has entering this season. While the 5-man rotation could use some re-tooling, and our lineup is still missing a big bat or two, the pen looks to have great promise in 2013.

Boston went out in the off-season and added the likes of relievers Koji Uehara and Craig Breslow, and new closer Joel Hanrahan to sure up the 7th,8th and 9th innings for this year. All of which were inexpensive upgrades that should ultimately pay off for the Red Sox.

Win-Loss/ Post-Season Projections:

Though I’m a die-hard Red Sox fan to my very core, I must blog with a sense of realism in making these next few predictions.

Win-Loss Record: 85-77 (I didn’t just come up with this record out of thin air just so you know. I went through the entire schedule and chose game by game what I thought were wins and losses for the Red Sox.)

AL East Finish: I sadly have the Red Sox finishing third this year just ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays by a few games. I see the Toronto Blue Jays meeting everyone’s expectations and winning the east with the Yankees somehow frustratingly finishing in 2nd place. The Orioles return to their usual spot, in the AL East’ cellar in last place.

Postseason: With the Sox finishing third by my count, there will be no post-season play for this Red Sox group. I have the Blue Jays clinching a spot with the division crown and the New York Yankees beating out Boston for the final of two Wild Card spots by a few games.

Final Thoughts: I whole heartedly hope I’m way wrong about my season predictions for the Red Sox. I hope some how, some way, the Red Sox can bring back some of that 2004 magic and sneak into the post-season. Realistically though, I only foresee a minor improvement for Boston as this is a rebuilding year. I look at it this way, ANY results this season should be better than last seasons 69-93 last place finish. How do you see the 2013 season going for Boston? Leave a comment below.

Pedro’s Back

The Red Sox have signed Pedro Martinez! However, it’s not to pitch for us, even though he is probably still better than 90% of our team. His new position will be Special Assistant to the GM. This is the second former player that the Sox front office has brought in, after Jason Varitek was given the same title over the off-season.pedro zimmerThese two have been brought in to assist with the development of young pitchers. Pedro won 2 Cy Young Awards here and a World Series ring. In his career, Pedro is 219-100 and recorded 3154 strikeouts. We all know all about his fun attitude and intensity for the game. Why not bring in some leaders that can still relate to the players? Especially when they are proven champions.

Ellsbury, Red Sox Avoid Arbitration Agree To $9 Million Deal

Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury successfully avoided arbitration this week as the two sides came to terms on a 1 year deal worth 9 million dollars. Ellsbury missed most of last season with a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for 79 games.

Ellsbury will look to bounce back this year and put up numbers like he did for Boston back in 2011. In 11′ he finished runner up in the MVP race with a .321 AVG, 32 HR, 105 RBI, and a .928 OPS. Ellsbury will join a Sox outfield that will include off-season acquisitions Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino.

Final Thoughts: Signing Ellsbury to avoid Arbitration was a great move by Boston. It shows Ellsbury that the clubhouse will be willing to negotiate a bigger payday at seasons end (which is when Jacoby becomes a free agent). Which in turn, should have Ellsbury feeling good and ready to put up big numbers again.

The biggest key for Jacoby, as we all know, is just to stay healthy in 2013. What do you think? Will Jacoby bounce back this year? Can he stay healthy to play a full season? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox, Napoli Finally Agree To 1 Year Deal

Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox have finally come to terms with free agent catcher Mike Napoli as the two sides agreed to a 1 year deal worth 5 million dollars with Napoli potentially earning 13 million dollars based on his regular season performance.

The original deal from the winter meetings signing was a 3 year deal worth 39 million dollars. However, after a hip injury surfaced from a failed physical, the deal went stale. After 6 weeks of  re-negotiating, Nap is on board now and will be used to help out primarily at first base. Napoli will likely also be catching some nights to give Jarrod Saltalamacchia a rest.

Naps Numbers: Napoli’s numbers fell slightly last season with a .227 batting average and 24 HR from his career year in 2011 when he hit .330 with 30 HR. The Red Sox also hope his numbers at Fenway Park continue, as Nap has hit 7 HR with 17 RBI and a .710 slugging percentage in 19 games at Boston. Napoli is a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI.

Final Thoughts: Nap should be a solid addition to the Red Sox clubhouse. If nothing else, Napoli offers flexibility for the roster, and a solid bat in a lineup that could certainly use some pop. Also, getting Napoli for 5 million dollars is an inexpensive move by Boston that should ultimately pay off. Worst case scenario, he doesn’t pan out and is gone at seasons end. What do you think? Will Napoli help the Red Sox or be another Bean-town bust? Leave a comment below.

Red Sox Whip Up an Early Winter Meetings Deal

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Done Deal: The Boston Red Sox wasted no time on Monday in making a deal happen with free agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli, as the MLB Winter Meetings kicked off in Nashville.

The Sox and Napoli have agreed to a three-year contract worth a reported 39 million dollars. With the signing of Napoli, the Sox now have flexibility at both the catcher and first base positions. Napoli will most likely play first if Boston plans to keep Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the clubhouse. Should Boston trade Salty, Napoli would then likely catch with newly acquired back up catcher David Ross, and clubhouse young gun Ryan Lavarnway sharing time at the position.

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Nap’s Numbers: Napoli batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI, he’s a career .259 hitter with 146 HR and 380 RBI. Also, Napoli should fit into the batting lineup during home games just fine, as he is a .306 hitter with 7 HR and 17 RBI in 19 games at Fenway Park lifetime.

Final Thoughts: In my opinion this was a great move for the Sox as they’ve added another experienced veteran at a good price to not only help bolster the roster, but add flexibility as well. As always, I want to hear back from the fans on this one. What do you think about the Sox signing Napoli? Who should they sign next?

Recap of the Red Sox Winter Meetings Moves

The Boston Red Sox broke out their checkbooks last week, and made some off-season deals that didn’t break the bank. The Bo-Sox came away with three players in the 2012 Winter Meetings held in Nashville.

Boston signed free agents Mike Napoli (catcher/first base), Shane Victorino (outfielder), and Koji Uehara (reliever). These moves will help to bolster some of the holes on the roster. Here’s a breakdown of what each player brings to the team:

Done Deals:

Mike Napoli: The Sox signed Nap to a three year deal worth 39 million dollars. Napoli batted .227 with 24 HR and 56 RBI in 2012. He brings flexibility, as he can play either catcher or first base, as well as a solid bat in the lineup for Boston. Which position he will spend more time at, depends on what Boston plans to do with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. If they trade Salty, Napoli would likely become the starter at catcher. If they rotate Nap and Salty, expect to see Nap on first some nights and Salty behind the plate. At age 31, Napoli brings veteran experience and a clubhouse presence. Something the Sox could certainly use.

Shane Victorino: The Sox also inked Victorino to a three year-39 million dollar deal. Victorino batted .255 with 11 HR and 55 RBI in 2012. His numbers were down from 2011 (.279 AVG, 17 HR, 61 RBI) however, Victorino is a veteran outfielder who offers years of experience and is well known for being active in community work around the city in which he plays for. Boston most likely looks at Napoli and Victorino (along with Jonny Gomes) as guys who can come in and set an example for the rest of the team. Victorino will mainly offer another bat to the lineup, and if his numbers have an uptick in 2013, he could prove to be a smart move by the Sox when it’s all said and done.

Koji Uehara Koji Uehara #19 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the sixth inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 26, 2011 in Anaheim, California.

Koji Uehara: The Sox and Uehara agreed to terms on a one year- 4.25 million dollar deal. Uehara was regarded as one of the best relievers last year playing for the Texas Rangers. Uehara posted a 1.75 ERA with a 0.64 WHIP with 43 strikeouts in 36 innings of work in 2012. At 37, Uehara brings a veteran arm to an already solid bullpen. This was a nice, inexpensive move by Boston.

Less is More: Total Money Spent at the 2012 Winter Meetings: 82.25 million dollars. Which isn’t bad considering how much money Boston dropped in 2011 (roughly over 300 million dollars) and we all saw how that panned out. Maybe “Less is More” will actually be true for the 2013 Red Sox.

Final Thoughts:What Red Sox fans should take away from these deals is this. The Red Sox are trying to piece together a balance of talent and character in what is the first of many building blocks to rebuilding this team. Napoli, Victorino, and Uehara will help mold the foundation, but the Sox still need a few more pieces before they can begin constructing a house.

What do you think? Did the Sox make the right moves in this year’s meetings? What would your next move be if you were Ben Cherington? Leave a comment below.