Found January 08, 2013 on Boston Sports Then & Now:
When signed, will Mike Napoli continue to mash at Fenway? Since the Red Sox and Mike Napoli informally agreed on terms of a 3 year $39 million contract, the NHL Lockout has been settled, the Patriots are hosting a home playoff game this Sunday and Rajon Rondo has been suspended twice.  Now we know why the deal has not been settled, the Red Sox like always are pushing for either less money or less years on Napoli who’s injury history is well known as they are worried about his hip.  Neither side has real leverage. Napoli, if set back on the open market would be seen as damaged goods if the Red Sox didn’t finalize an agreement within a few weeks.  The Red Sox need a first baseman and do not want to give up a draft pick to sign Adam LaRoche.  This relationship is rocky from the start even after it seemed like the marriage was destined once the season ended. Napoli, I feel will finally sign with the Red Sox sometime next week as arbitration hearings on unsigned and controllable players are coming up.  Those seem to be settled as every player with get a raise even, Andrew Bailey.  Napoli is no defensive wiz at first base but the Red Sox feel the rest of the infield defense can pick up the slack. Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks can carry the weight and help the pitchers out as well.  3 years and $39 million is vastly overpaying for a guy who didn’t hit above .230 last year.  The Red Sox are paying him solely on the fact that he mashes at Fenway Park and a good clubhouse presence.  Almost all the money saved from the Dodgers blockbuster has been spent on five players if this deal is ever settled. When Napoli is signed where will he hit in the order? I feel like the way the Red Sox lineup may go has him hitting fifth in the order which I do not like at all but that’s just how the roster is. The batting order I envision would go something like this: CF Ellsbury 2B Pedroia 3B Middlebrooks DH Ortiz 1B Napoli LF Gomes RF Victorino C Saltalmacchia SS Drew Give or take a few moves the batting order could look like that.  The Red Sox no longer have a 40 homer 120 RBI threat.  Ortiz cannot reach those numbers anymore.  I love Middlebrooks and his potential but he is not a thumper the Red Sox need, at least not yet.  Jonny Gomes as a six hitter scares me.  He has never started regularly and is making more this year than he has in his career.  I understand contracts in baseball are almost never lived up to.  We had our own examples in town last year, but throwing money at empty holes does not solve anything. As much as the offense will be talked about, last year they did still score runs.  The pitching was abysmal. Bring in Ryan Dempster and Joel Hanrahan and all things solved? Not quite.  Dempster is an innings eater but the AL East may change that.  He will not be asked to be an ace though.  Hanrahan has been announced as the closer already and hopefully that does not get to his head with Andrew Bailey ready to step in if needed.  With the acquisition of Hanrahan the trades for relievers last year in Bailey and Melancon (traded for Hanrahan) have been admitted as failures.  I still feel the Red Sox need to add some pitching depth whether if be with some minor league deals to Jair Jurrjens or Jeff Karstens.  Alfredo Aceves and Franklin Morales will be the long men but bouncing back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation may have been there past strength. With spring training just five weeks away many key free agents remain unsigned like Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse which the Red Sox figure to stay away from both.  Once those players sign the market for other players I feel will materialize and the Red Sox will add some depth to the rotation. The real question  is what else will happen between now and when the Napoli signing is finalized? With hockey and baseball on the horizon and football playoffs in full swing it is a good time to be a sports fan.
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  • Is he the Answer? LOL, in a word NO!
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