Monday, December 03, 2012

Red Sox Signing Mike Napoli

According to sources, the Red Sox and Mike Napoli have agreed to a 3 year deal worth $39 million. Napoli would primarily play first-base for the Sox.

I'm not a huge fan of Mike Napoli. A few weeks ago when the Sox were rumored to be pursuing Napoli I wrote about the price of the deal being everything. Napoli isn't worth big money, nor is he worth a long-term deal.

I can live with a 3 year contract at $39 million. That's less money per year than David Ortiz gets. And Napoli can play the field (at multiple positions), and probably won't take 20 weeks to recover from minor injuries. He turned 31 this past October, so he has at least 3 years left in the tank, especially if he plays mostly first-base.

Napoli has a career SLG of .507 and a career OBP of .356. He's shown the capability of being a .600 SLG and .400 OBP kind of guy. But his seasonal performances fluctuate significantly.

He does hit well at Fenway Park. He's slugged .710 in his career at Fenway, and hits a homerun every 10.4 plate appearances. Hopefully that's due to the ballpark more than it's due to the pitchers he's been facing.

This acquisition doesn't propel the Red Sox into World Series contention, but it does fill the gap at first-base, and gives the Sox some flexibility at the catcher position. And it does so without committing a large amount of money for a long time. This is a decent contract for a decent player. One thing the Sox lacked in 2011 and 2012 was decency, on the field and off it.

This isn't a tremendous leap forward, but it's a step in the right direction. Here's what the potential Sox lineup looks like right now.

1. CF Ellsbury
2. 2B Pedroia
3. 1B Napoli
4. DH Ortiz
5. 3B Middlebrooks
6. C Saltalamacchia
7. RF Nava
8. LF Gomes
9. SS Iglesias

It's getting better. Imagine how much Josh Hamilton would beef up the middle of that order. And how Cody Ross would anchor the bottom.

BC Splits Weekend Series With BU

BC coach Jerry York could have tied and broken the all-time wins record for college hockey coaches this weekend. It would have required beating BU twice, and beating BU coach Jack Parker, who is #3 on the all-time wins list. That's a tall order.

BC lost 4-2 on BU's ice Friday night in a chippy, physical game. Saturday night at BC, the Eagles won 5-2 and made sure their coach was able to at least celebrate tying Ron Mason's win record on home ice.

Boston College won thanks to their Power Play. They scored 4 times with a man advantage, and amassed a 4-1 lead after 2 periods. Their 5th goal was the only goal of the game by either team to be scored even-strengthed.

BC's leading scorer Johnny Gaudreau didn't have a point in the 5-2 win. His teammates had to step up on offense and they did. Bill Arnold scored twice. Kevin Whitney had 3 assists. Defensemen Michael Matheson and Teddy Doherty each scored Power Play goals.

Johnny Gaudreau has been driving BC's success this season. But they need offense from other sources to step up when he and his line cool off.

Jerry York will likely break the wins record on the road. The Eagles are in Providence Friday night, then play a tournament in Minnesota.

And despite being 9-2-0 in Hockey East, BC is only 1 point ahead of UNH. And UNH has a game in hand. Those teams meet on January 11th.

Rich Gagnon

Patriots Win Game, Hats, and T-Shirts

The Patriots have now won 10 AFC East titles with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. This franchise won 5 divisional titles before Belichick and Brady. The team's total has tripled to 15 since then. What was once exceptional and rare, has become expected and routine.

It's just a step, though. They don't award rings or throw parades for divisional titles.

One positive to take from this win is that the Patriots can rush the ball. Maybe not at will. But when the opportunity to move the ball on the ground is there, they're capable of capitalizing. Steven Ridley's 19 carries for 71 yards put him past the 1,000 mark on the season. He accumulated a good chunk of those yards on a clock killing drive in the 4th. That drive secured the victory.

Another positive is that despite injuries in every department, this team is able to find ways to win. As not-pretty as this win was, it was without a Pro Bowl tight-end, two offensive linemen, a talented rookie defensive end, another good defensive end, and so on.

Some negatives include Stephen Gostkowski. He's missed 3 of his last 7 field goal attempts. He's 80.1% on the year which is 21st in the NFL. All 5 of his misses have been between 30 and 49 yards, so these are kicks that an NFL kicker should make.

And don't forget that the Pats are a 42 yard Gostkowski miss from being 10-2 instead of 9-3.

Speaking of inconsistency, the offense that spoiled us with 40+ point games struggled to move the ball at times yesterday. Give significant credit to Miami's pass rush for that.

For this team to be successful, everyone needs to do their job. The field goal kicker needs to kick field goals. The wide receiver needs to catch the ball. The defensive players need to prevent points.

When everyone does their job this is the best team in the NFL. From this point on, it's all a question of execution.

Pats host the Texans next Monday night.

Photo Credit:
AP Photo/John Bazemore