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Boston Red Sox: Why Mike Napoli Is Not the Answer at First Base

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 02:  Mike Napoli #25 of the Texas Rangers bats against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on October 2, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Zak SchmollAnalyst INovember 8, 2012

The Boston Red Sox are showing interest in free agent Mike Napoli, according to Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe.

He will undoubtedly be one of the most popular names on the market this winter given that he can play first base, catcher and hits enough to be a DH. However, this would not be the best investment of the Red Sox's resources right now, even though they are substantial.

The entire reason that this discussion is taking place stems from the fact that the Red Sox only have unproven Mauro Gomez to hold down the position after the departure of James Loney to free agency.

Granted, in a city where winning has become an expectation, it may seem as if relying on Gomez is dangerous. However, when you consider that he has shown power and average at every step in the minor league level, he seems somewhat less risky. Last season in Triple-A Pawtucket, he hit .310 with 24 home runs and 74 RBI.

He does tend to struggle somewhat on defense, but he is at least worth keeping in the conversation as a possibility. His track record proves that when he succeeds at one level, he has been able to move on to the next.

If the Red Sox do not feel that Gomez is capable of holding down the position, Napoli is still not the best option for their current situation. He absolutely has power, but his batting average does raise a few flags.

For example, he has only had one season in which he hit over .275. While batting average is not necessarily everything, for a player that is surely going to generate a lot of competition in the marketplace and consequently command a higher salary, a team would want all-around production at the plate.

There are other ways to provide value to a baseball team when you consider speed and defense, but Napoli does not excel there, either. Some team is going to end up paying a lot of money for a one-dimensional player. His power is a great dimension, but the Red Sox do not need just power.

If the Red Sox are truly interested in Napoli, they might actually be better off giving Gomez a legitimate chance at first base and reinvesting the money that would have gone to Napoli into a solid starting pitcher.

Gomez seems to be prepared to perform, and there's no reason not to give him that chance. Boston's rotation was a big problem last year, and it makes more sense for the Red Sox to focus their attention on their greater weaknesses.

 

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