It has been
impossible to not hate the Boston Red Sox for most of the 2015 season.
The team was
losing games in crushing fashion, and it often seemed like the players and the
manager didn’t care a whole lot. They tried the same thing night
after night and we went crazy as we watched it fail to work.
though, the team has been fun to watch, and not just because the Red Sox have
been winning enough to get back into the playoff race.
been easier on the eyes and the heart because manager John Farrell has been making
bold decisions, and those decisions have paid off. The Red Sox passed the point
of riding out the storm, and Farrell has been managing his butt off to save the
season, and possibly his job.
that showed the manager is putting winning first was the benching of first
baseman Mike Napoli, one of the bearded faces of the magical 2013 Red Sox. That
he played 39-year-old designated hitter David Ortiz at first was what really
made the move a stunner.
options the Sox have is All-Star Brock Holt at first base when Dustin Pedroia
returns. A better option would seem to be to put Holt at third and move Pablo Sandoval to first now that the Panda has appeared to snap out of his defensive
not to like how Farrell isn’t afraid to take the lackadaisical — to put it nicely —Hanley Ramirez out of left field
for Alejandro De Aza, who turned out to be a very good pick up by general
manager Ben Cherington.
move left to make by the manager, tough, would be to give Napoli another
chance. He says he will, but, really, you’d have to think that it will be a
very, very short leash if Napoli doesn’t hit right away when he gets back on
been awful, as his .192 batting average suggests. As it is, there is no way the
Red Sox will try to resign him in the offseason, especially at the $16 million price
tag he played under the past two seasons.
Even if he
goes on a tear, the team will likely look for a more reliable option at first
base in 2016.
The thing to
remember, though, is that Napoli is completely capable of going on a tear.
Remember when he was the American League Player of the Week back in late May?
He looked like an MVP that week.
Maybe that week
was a fluke. Maybe Napoli, who still ranks second in all of baseball with 4.3
pitches per plate appearance, will never again be the player who hit those two
big home runs in the 2013 American League championship series.
maybe, though, that week was a sign of things to come. It is definitely worth
giving Napoli the chance to see if it was, even if it is a short leash.
If the Red
Sox really aren’t teasing us with their recent run and they really are going to
make a run, they could turn out to be a very scary team with a rejuvenated Mike
Napoli in the middle of the order.