Found December 03, 2012 on Boston Sports Then & Now:
Napoli will feel at home at Fenway Park The Red Sox reached a 3-year agreement with 1B/C Mike Napoli today, a player long-coveted by Ben Cherington and the Red Sox front office.  The 31-year old right-handed hitter will provide some much needed pop in the middle of the Red Sox order.  Napoli hit 24 home runs last season and hasn’t hit below 20 since his 2nd full year in 2007.  All tolled Napoli has 146 home runs over his 7 year career.  The 24 homers that Napoli hit last season would have been second on the Red Sox last season, 1 behind catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  The Red Sox sorely needed that right-handed pop to complement David Ortiz in the middle of the lineup and Napoli should slide nice into the #5 spot in the order. Much has been made about Napoli’s numbers at Fenway and for good reason – they are ridiculous.  He has an astronomical 1.107 OPS at Fenway.  He has a .306 average, a .397 OBP, a .710 slugging percentage and 7 home runs in 73 plate appearances in Boston.  It’s a small sample size and you certainly can not expect him to keep pace with numbers like that over the course of 81 home games during a regular season but it does bare noting that the guy likes to hit at Fenway.  He’s a Jim Rice type hitter…A guy with a lot of bulk who can muscle the ball all around the outfield at Fenway, particularly the left field wall.  You would have to think that moving from Arlington to Fenway will give Napoli at least 3-5 extra home runs a year which moves him from a low-mid 20′s home run hitter to a high 20′s-low 30′s guy.  The Red Sox have been looking for a guy like that since they lost Manny Ramirez and Jason Bay. Napoli should get the lion’s share of playing time at 1B Perhaps the most encouraging thing about the Napoli deal is that it is exactly the type of deal that the Red Sox should be making in the post-Dodgers trade era.  Napoli fills an immediate need in both the lineup and at first base and it didn’t take a long term commitment to do it.  He got 3 years, enough to find a replacement and try to develop him while there shouldn’t be any significant drop-off from Napoli in the meantime.  After 3 years you could maybe even look to bring him back as a full-time DH when David Ortiz rides off into the sunset.  And the money – 13 million dollars a year – isn’t so bad when it’s only a three-year commitment.  That is exactly the financial flexibility that the Red Sox bought when they made the trade with the Dodgers last August.  Spend a little more in the short term to invest in the long term. Will the Napoli acquisition propel the Red Sox to the AL East title or even a wild card berth?  No but it’s a start.  Do they need to add more pieces?  Yes but Napoli was one of the pieces that they needed to add.  Rebuilding the Red Sox from what happened over the past year and a half (still not sure how to describe that mess) will be a complex puzzle that will take time and smarts to put together.  Napoli seems to be a piece that fits nicely into the puzzle.  He can play 1st base, help out at catcher, and add some pop into the middle of that lineup.  Also his career .356 OBP will be a welcome addition to a lineup that has gone away from getting on base. There is still more work to do but it’s always good when a picture starts getting clearer.  Don’t discount the timeliness of this deal, it gives the Red Sox pretty much the entirety of the Winter Meetings to work on other things, hopefully multiple starting pitchers being high on the list.  The best compliment you can make about a transaction is that it makes sense and you didn’t overreach.  You can definitely say that about this Mike Napoli deal.  That makes it a win in my book. Follow me on Twitter
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