Mike Napoli will be with the Boston Red Sox at the start of the 2013 season. Let that sink in for a moment. This comes after a long drawn out signing process with the former Texas Rangers catcher and first baseman. A process that was exhausting for both Red Sox fans as well as management.
As the organization prepares to “officially” announce the addition of Napoli to the team roster, I wonder if his signing will dramatically change the outcome of the 2013 season. Judging by the media attention his signing has garnered I’d say Napoli was the second coming of Mark Teixeira to Beantown, too soon?
Nonetheless let’s take a look at four headlines that will follow Napoli through the 2013 season.
It’s all in the hips: What in the world happened to Napoli’s hips? The fact that he failed a physical raises more flags than the opening ceremony of the Olympics. This will be something to watch throughout the season. If Napoli lands on the DL early you can rest assure that Red Sox Nation will start having flashbacks to Carl Crawford. For the love of God no!! If Napoli can keep his 90 year old Betty White hips pain free he’ll keep himself out of our cross-hairs.
1st is the worst: Napoli has been billed as the saving grace for first base (rhyming without even trying, man I’m good). Yet in six major league seasons Napoli has only started at first base a whopping 118 times. To his credit he’s only committed ten errors during his occupation of first base. Moving forward Napoli’s play at first will be high scrutinized and under-appreciated so let’s hope he likes to fly under the radar.
Back in the day: 2011 was the year of Mike Napoli. He had career highs in every major offensive statistical category. Here’s where a problem could develop. Napoli can’t take Marty McFly’s DeLorean back to 2011, he has to perform now. In Boston we care about the “what have you done for me lately” not the “what did you do before me.” Napoli will need to perform offensively on a consistent basis.
The ticking time bomb: The standard question for any new player coming to play in Boston is this, “Can he deal with the pressure?” Of course the standard answer is “Yes, I love the big stage. I’ve wanted to play in Boston my whole life and can’t wait to step onto the field at Fenway.” Then within a few short months we get a glimpse at the player behind the canned, press conference, answers. Will Napoli be able to handle the pressure? Only time will tell.
With considerable attention being paid to the signing of Mike Napoli I hope we’re ready to spin the Wheel of Fortune. At this point I’m not sure what the Sox are getting, but for what it’s worth I hope it’s a flashback to 2011 - at least for Napoli’s sake.
Follow Scott Levesque on Twitter at @levyskew.Scott Levesque 1/18/2013 01:59:00 AM Tweet