Around the Bases with Red Sox
Napoli on Return List?
Mike Napoli has voiced his desire to return to the Red Sox next year (his contract expires at the end of the season). Performance-wise Napoli has delivered for Boston this year.
At the plate, it’s not necessarily pretty (lots of strikeouts, big slumps) but the overall numbers are good (21 HRs, 87 RBIs currently).
And defensively, Napoli has been a pleasant surprise – especially given he has never been a full-time first baseman before this season.
Mark Simon of ESPN Stats & Information called out Napoli as the American League Gold Glover at first base based on a pure statistical evaluation. (subscription required)
Two big factors in a Napoli return:
- The hip. Napoli’s hip issues dragged out contract negotiations on his current deal. The Sox may think going beyond this season will push things outside their comfort zone injury-wise.
- Boston is among the teams scouting Cuban defector first baseman Jose Abreu. Competition for Abreu looks heavy but never count out the Red Sox in a bidding battle if they want him.
Minor League All Stars
No surprise, Xander Bogaerts was named the first team shortstop on Baseball America’s Minor League All Star Team. Other Sox prospects 2B Mookie Betts and P Henry Owens landed on the second team.
The Twins are having a dismal major league season – but have four players on the first team including player of the year Byron Buxton, so maybe things are headed upward in the near future.
Wild Card Fever
Looks like adding the extra wild card team is paying off – in creating excitement. The American League has six teams vying for the two spots right now, including three AL East teams.
And in the National League, the Nationals are inching their way into wild card contention, after disappointing all season.
That said, admit it feels good not having the Red Sox in the wild card battle. Would like to see the Sox have the best season record to get home-field advantage for the playoffs. Although don’t think it matters much to Boston, who are tied with Texas for the most road wins in baseball.
Shout Out to Vlad
Hats off to Vladimir Guerrero who officially announced his retirement.
In his prime, Guerrero was a five tool player. But my favorite thing about Vlad was the cannon-like arm he had in right-field. Should make it to the Hall of Fame.
Will be interesting see – will he land in Cooperstown wearing an Expos (or Angels) hat?
Which teams do you think will get the wild card spots in the American League?