Red Sox nearing decision time with Mike Napoli


The Red Sox have many disappointments of the 2015 season, and one can pick just about any player who has failed to meet fan expectations or even PECOTA expectations. Mike Napoli certainly fits the criteria.

Napoli had off-season surgery that was supposed to make life a bit more tolerable and provide a boost to some lethargic 2014 production numbers. If spring training was an indicator, then expect some serious long ball and RBI activity from the 33-year-old first baseman.

Napoli, a notorious streak hitter, had an abysmal April and then a more Napoli like May. In May, Napoli slashed .242/.361/.516 with the real Big Numbers being seven home runs and 18 RBI. Expect a prolific number of whiffs and a similar number of walks, but with the power production that is certainly acceptable. Napoli being Napoli for the gregarious extrovert.

Napoli is currently second on the Red Sox in strikeouts (68) behind leader Clay Buchholz (91) and ahead of Rick Porcello (67). Too bad Nap isn’t a pitcher.

I did mention streaks and that is what June has become – a regression to April. Is it just time to examine other options? With a contract expiring after the season it might be time to consider such options.

Allen Craig is the most notable possibility. Craig is hitting at the .295 mark at Pawtucket – as in Triple-A Pawtucket. The home run (3) and RBI (11) production are reasonable for 20 games, but certainly not in the standards of the glory days Craig had with the Cardinals.

Craig has an albatross type contract. Offered to every team for nothing – if assuming a 20M contract nothing – there were no takers and Craig was demoted to Pawtucket.

Napoli becomes a free agent after this season and Craig has two years (2016-17) remaining on his contract with a team option or buy-out for 2018. Craig offers a bit more flexibility defensively as he can play first reasonably well and can patrol the corner outfield slots with minimal embarrassment. A good arm and not so good glove.

So what do you do with Napoli?

The Red Sox are going nowhere. If they play close to .600 ball the Sox could reach 85 wins. Good luck with that. But Napoli may have some value to a contender in the power-hungry world that now exists at the MLB level. The Red Sox primary goal would be some payroll relief as Napoli is in the 16M range. Getting a player of any value in return is simply not in the crystal ball.

With failure comes opportunity. The Red Sox failure could result in determining if Craig is a 30-year-old wash out or a talented player who has had ramifications of prolonged injuries.

Statistics through 6/26 from baseball-reference

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