Yahoo! Sports Ranks Sox No.19 In MLB

In his examination of every MLB team leading up to the start of Spring Training, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports posted his bit on the Red Sox today.  The first half of his article blasts last season and this past offseason, understandable, but he offers up a reminder of what’s ahead:

“…shortstop Xander Bogaerts and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and right-hander Matt Barnes will arrive soon, and it will be the first large infusion of homegrown talent in almost half a decade. And that flexibility? Well, it will be there, all right.

Only Victorino and Buchholz have guaranteed deals in 2015. And the Red Sox have not a single contract for 2016. This year’s team may not be what it should, and next year’s, either, but the time is coming where with the right sort of management, the Red Sox can once again be scary. This time in a good way.”

Passan lists the Red Sox as No.19 in the MLB rankings and like so many others, he has zero faith the team makes any sort of impact this season.  It’s all good though, I’m just banking articles such as this and I’ll be sure to bring them all back up at the end of the 2013 season.  I’m not delusional and not calling for a World Series but I don’t think the 2013 Red Sox are due for half as bad of a season as many outsiders are predicting.  I just think it’s way too easy to look take last season, completely ignore the previous 2-3 seasons, and point out all the bad shit in making the world’s worst prediction.

We’ll see…

Four Red Sox Make Provisional WBC Roster

Provisional rosters for the 2013 World Baseball Classic have been released and the names of four Red Sox are included.

Shane Victorino will be returning to Team USA while Alfredo Aceves will proudly suit up for Mexico.  Even more exciting is Xander Bogaerts appearing on the Netherlands roster, perhaps giving us all a reason to cheer for the Dutch once again.  Those who remember the 2009 tournament should recall the Dutch team emerging as somewhat of an underdog during the Pool Play round.  But most importantly, Red Sox Nation may get a chance to see our young, stud shortstop play against big league caliber players and on an international stage.  Right-hander Jose De La Torre is also slotted on Puerto Rico’s roster; however he seems least likely to remain as rosters are trimmed and finalized.

There is a slight disappointment in regards to the Team USA roster.  As great as it is to have Shane back, the 2013 roster isn’t as star-studded as the previous tournaments.  Players like Big Papi, Pedroia, and Jeter, are taking much-needed time to heal up for the new MLB season while younger studs like:  Kershaw, Posey, Trout, and Bryce Harper have passed for one reason or another.  Don’t get me wrong though, the red, white, and blue do have a very good team gearing up.  R.A. Dickey, David Wright, Jimmy Rollins, and how about this…Justin Verlander my join depending on how he feels after some early Spring Training work.

Formal rosters aren’t due till February 20th, so I expect quite a few changes before then.  It’s also worth noting back-to-back champion Japan is going with a straight-up domestic roster.  No Ichiro, no Darvish, and definitely no Dice-K.

AND IT’S DONE!!!

48 days and some hours after the initial $39 million offer and Mike Napoli is officially a member of the Boston Red Sox.

A huge “hats off” to Ben Cherington for not only keeping the negotiations going this long but negotiating his way to a one year deal worth $5 million.  Benny and the Sox took took a lot of criticism for the initial offer and of course the news of the bad hip but instead of caving and seeking an alternative, Mr. Cherington didn’t leave the table.  And to his credit, Mike Napoli was patient and settled for a deal that I think works for him just as well as it does for Red Sox Nation.  We may never know exactly how deteriorated Napoli’s hip but Napoli walks into a 2013 where his contract is potentially worth $12 million, thanks to incentives.

This is clearly a “win win” situation.  The Red Sox get a stop-gap at first base, Mike’s brings a pure power-hitting swing to Fenway, and under a low risk-high reward contract.  As for Napoli, him not being required to hop behind the dish will help keep that hip together, longer and his power numbers should see a slight increase while batting clean up for Boston.  I’m willing to bet Napoli takes in around $8 or $9 million this season when all is said and done, to be immediately followed by the chase for a two-to-three year deal for 2014.

 

Napoli Marathon Nearing Finish Line

Anybody thrilled to be on the last leg of the Mike Napoli marathon?

After a contract negotiation that has covered some 47 days, sources are reporting to ESPN’s Jim Bowden that a deal is near completion.  Even better is news from CBS’ Jon Heyman who expects Napoli’s deal to be completed as early as next week.

We still aren’t hearing too much from either side of the table but it’s been speculated the Red Sox would attempt to bring down the initial three year, $39 million offer to two years or even better, a one year deal with option.  To this point we’ve known Ben Cherington has maintained confidence a deal would be completed and Mike Napoli obviously wants to play for Boston.  Oh, there’s also that reality the market has dried up and Napoli’s best chance to get paid remains at Fenway.

As much as I’m looking forward to my pending four day weekend, I anxiously await next week and hopefully news of a press conference.  Not only can I wait to see Napoli put on the cap but I’m dying to know what the deal has morphed into.  It’ll also be nice to actually hear all about the negotiating process, what the deal is with the hip, and of course, the modesty I’m sure both sides will spew into the microphone.

I have a lot of faith Napoli will be a great stop-gap for us at first base but at this point I want the guy on the Sox roster, if anything, to make this long wait somehow seem worth it.  I also want to stop hearing players like Carlos Lee and Casey Kotchman being speculated as fallback plans.

UPDATE:  Several Boston beat writers, (to include Gordon Edes), are reporting Napoli’s deal is for one year and less than $13 million.  If true, it certainly says a lot in regards to the condition of his hip.

Tito’s “Tell All” Sheds Some Negative Light

In a perfect world, everything that happens in the clubhouse…stays in the clubhouse.  We do not live in this world.

So Terry Francona has written a book and in it, he takes some jabs at the Red Sox organization.  Excerpts have been released by WBZ’s website, which includes the following:

“Werner talked about slumping television ratings and whined, ‘We need to start winning in more exciting fashion…’”

“They told us we didn’t have any marketable players, that we needed some sizzle. We need some sexy guys,” Epstein said. “Talk about the tail wagging the dog. This is like an absurdest comedy. We’d become too big. It was the farthest thing from what we set out to be.”

The above highlight of a meeting between Francona, Werner, Lucchino, Theo, and John Henry, is just one of several interesting barbs focused on his time in Boston.  Francona’s book is due out on January 22nd.

While I’m not surprised Tito sold out to write a “tell-all”, I am displeased at how soon.  Chances are he had a book deal in place prior to his exit from Boston but something about him dime’ing out the business while he’s still so much a part of it just doesn’t sit well with me.  And speaking of business  nothing about the attached quote surprises me.  As we know, there’s many expectations to an organization so big and turning a profit via putting on a show is no exception.  Slumping television ratings is a huge problem for the Red Sox, it’s directly related to winning, and in turn, adversely effects the income of the team.  Not sure what Tito’s point is but hey, baseball is a business.

In Tito’s defense, the negative quotes are usually the first and few which are pulled from every biography and slapped around by the media.  I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of good things Francona has in his book and although I’m not a fan of the situation, I can’t wait to read it.

Yeah…About That Mike Morse Thing…

A few days ago the Red Sox were linked to an inquiry on Nats’ first baseman Michael Morse.  Since this time, a large chunk of Red Sox Nation has decided acquiring Morse is the better option than finishing the Napoli.  This is causing slight dissension among the ranks and I am specifically targeting those of you who have taken to the internet with the delusional armchair GM talk.

Now I do like Morse’s bat and I am extremely intrigued by what he could do at Fenway; however, his acquisition just doesn’t make sense for the Boston Red Sox.

Michael Morse is going to be 31-years old this season, still has terrible patience at the plate, and his contract calls for $7 million in 2012 and then free agency after.  Given the market as is and the constant need for power bats, it’s fair to say Morse is looking at a three-t0-four year deal worth anywhere from $8-10 million, depending on what he does this season.  Considering his high .OPS and what the Nationals typically target in trade, we can also assume an asking price to include us at least one of Doubront, Morales, or Bard.  And no, we wouldn’t be able to swing a one-for-one swap either.  Morse will most certainly cost a package and we need to keep in mind the Nats don’t need to move him, they are merely playing with the idea, feeling out his value.

Ben Cherington has dedicated the next few seasons to injecting the club with some much-needed youth.  He’s putting a hold on the big time, long term contracts in favor of holdover veterans and bringing up prospects.  That said, how does acquiring Morse make any sense at all?  Some would point to the Hanrahan deal as the same situation but the reality is Ben literally stole him from the Pirates.  I have no idea what the plans with Hanny are after this season but acquiring him with Brock Holt was worth way more than the prospects we gave up.  A Morse deal would cost another trio of ‘spects but this time the price is significant.

A lot of fans are still under the impression our Farm system is weak; a huge misconception.  Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, and Jackie Bradley, all rank in the top 40 of The Baseball Haven’s Top 50 Prospect of 2013, and let’s not forget about the solid arms we acquired during last season’s mega-deal with the Dodgers.  Bleacher Report ranks the 2013 Red Sox Farm System 10th in all of MLB, while Baseball America’s Jim Callis put ‘em at No. 5 in his preliminary ranking of the new season.  Make no mistake about it Red Sox Nation, we do have a bright future ahead and given the current emphasis and younger talent, it’s bound to boast brighter.

There’s just no reason for Cherington to give up such a package for a stop-gap at first base and there’s no potential to sign and trade Morse longer term as his age doesn’t fit into current plans.  Think back to the couple seasons following the 2004 World Series.  Once that “idiots” roster went stale, it was the Lester’s, Papelbon’s, and Pedroia’s who came along and propelled The Nation to another championship in 2007.  Does that happen if we’re making Morse-type deals?  Now I’m not trying to compare the 2007 club to what will be 2013 but the point is, if we’re going to keep playing “Yankee Ball”, then we’re only going to get more and more frustrated with watching the younger, cheaper teams of the AL East get farther each season.

The last thing I’ll say today is this: I know we aren’t used to being division bottom-dwellers, having modest offseasons, and drafting in the top ten, but that shouldn’t give any member of Red Sox Nation a reason to be so pessimistic about what’s ahead.  When you sit back and relive the disappointment of the 2011 collapse and the utter failures of 2012, there should be no reason why this new direction under Ben Cherington is anything less than exciting and full of optimism.

Our club doesn’t need 25 mega-stars in the dugout to win championships.  We need guys who are willing to get their uniform dirty, stay focused…a desire to win more than the other team does.  These are the guys we’re breeding, these are the guy we’re bringing in.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, 2013 is the return of the Dirt Dogs and not a minute too soon.  Now let’s do our part and restore the faith Red Sox Nation.

Report: Sox Want Napoli On One Year Deal

According to ESPN’s Jim Bowden, the situation with Mike Napoli’s hip is so uncertain the Red Sox want to cut their offer down the one year.

With all this “hip language” both sides have apparently been working through for so long and now it seems we may have finally reached a crossroads.  With Napoli news resurfacing and the news of Boston shopping around for alternatives at first base, it appears we’re heading for a “take it or leave it” scenario.

My guess is Ben settles on a two-year offer with a mutual option for the third.  The annual salary may be lower when compared to the original, three-year, $39 million offer but incentives should make up for it.  The Red Sox want to ensure Napoli won’t end up on the DL for a majority of his stay and it’s only fair they protect the investment by going shorter term.  Of course, there’s still the potential of a Michael Morse trade and depending on how those talks come along may further take money and years away from Napoli’s table.

And if the Red Sox ultimately fail to finalize a deal with Napoli, are we looking at a grievance filed by the MLBPA?  I would assume so and even worse, Napoli would have a good case.  It’s obvious the Red Sox screwed up big time by agreeing to a deal in principle, prior to executing medical due diligence   The market has since dried up for Napoli-type players and it seems his best option, perhaps only option, remains to stick with Boston negotiations.  It also feels like Ben Cherington know this, hence the mutual patience towards the deal.

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