Remember December 3rd ?, that was the day the Red Sox and Mike Napoli agreed to a 3 year deal for 39 million for him to come in and assume the void at first base. If my math is right that's 40 days and counting and no one has seen neither hide nor hair of him. He's been harder to spot around the baseball world than Waldo is in the classic "Where's Waldo ?" books. All along it has been assumed that he has a hip issue (the body part not whether he's cool or not) that was the question mark of his physical exam and that the two sides have been renegotiating the deal. The talk was the Sox wanted some out clauses in the contract to protect themselves like they worked out with J. D. Drew, but MLB Network's Jim Bowden reported yesterday that the organization wants to restructure it to a one year guaranteed deal. Obviously it's raised a red flag to the rest of the league since it doesn't look like anyone else is pursuing him during this time where he truly remains a free agent.
The team passed on free agent Adam LaRoche due to the fact he's a left handed bat and signing him would have cost them a precious 2nd round pick as well as impacting the total amount of bonus money that could be offered their draftees due to the new MLB rules. There isn't a first baseman waiting in the wings in the minors either. The closest option there was slugging 1B/OF Jerry Sands who was acquired from the Dodgers in the blockbuster deal last August that sent Nick Punto and those other three throw-ins westward. Sands had 55 HR and 195 RBI over the last two seasons in AAA, however he was recently dealt to Pittsburgh so the Sox could obtain their 2nd closer to go with the three catchers they have stockpiled. Sox management has been enamored with Napoli for sometime due to him hitting 7 long balls in his 19 game career at Fenway, not much of a sampling is it ? Truth is he does have one of those swings from the right side that's tailor made for that big green wall (see Mikey Lowell and Cody Ross).
Honestly though I'm a little skeptical of this whole thing, with the health issues, being below average defensively at 1st, coming off a year that he hit .227, and averaging just 110 games played over the last two seasons. But as we all know if this is who Larry Lucchino wants this is who he'll get, Lucchino wanted Bobby Valentine and he got him. We all know how that turned out too, right ? Don't give up hope just yet Sox fans, I'm figuring by opening day that John Farrell will indeed have a name to pencil in on the lineup card to play 1st base, Go Sox !! Jim Beale 1/12/2013 06:38:00 PM Tweet