Nov 26, 2012|
WEEI.com's Rob Bradford and Alex Speier explore why the Boston Red Sox seem to be so interested in free agent catcher/first baseman Mike Napoli. The guys discuss what needs Napoli would address for the 2013 Sox team.
Transcript - will not be 100% accurate
It's total for the Bradford finals right now phone WEEI they don't. Welcome to another edition of Bradford files were going to be talking hot stove and season today and -- is Alex spear my colleague at WEEI dot com welcome on -- Alex. Well I know that you had to drag me kicking and screaming -- them all but congratulations on -- yet another thing I guess for the I would just on you no matter where you. No matter doesn't -- down the street across the nation. You are the person I wanted to talk to you about all this stuff. Which is Red Sox. Baseball does for you closed with a winter meetings which next week. It becomes more and more hot button topic and not only in. In baseball world but in the sports world it's the Patriots Celtics and Bruins this is where it's that. And really the hottest name that people are talked about as we sit here. In the world of sports in Boston maybe I believe it or not is the former blue Jay. For four -- Former -- Former Angel Mike Napoli. Every new you're absolutely right like who and who the hell. Including the Napoli family would've thought that he would be subject. You like. This whining indicting toward it would have been meeting across the country literally coast to coast with -- like owner is in front offices of various storied franchises. It's. It really is you know what do those unpredictable circumstances that no one could have -- seen it. When the Blue Jays made an incredible trade to dump Vernon Wells. And then they got Mike Napoli back from the Angels but then spun him off to the Rangers still four days later for Frank Francisco. -- close to being the best trade in the history of trades by. They've come through fruition but I will say this what also makes it unique he talked about the Mike Napoli tore. Is that this is the guy who wasn't he'd been offered a qualifying offer of one year thirteen point three million dollars. By this team and and that is oh the position if you if you are -- -- free agent. Or perceived to be an elite free agent you're gonna usually get that offer but he can get that offer yet now also and he's being treated as we please. Although there's a cause and effect chicken and -- type of thing going on as we do pull apart comfortable seats and from the -- different parts of season when you think about it. Part of the reason I Torii Hunter was like grade a stock in par threes might Mike Napoli is greatest -- -- is because they didn't get the qualifying conference -- I was like wait a second you're telling me that I can get Mike Napoli who puts up better -- guess numbers on a year to year basis. Then Adam LaRoche and I don't have to get a give up a draft picks so chicken and egg white. Yeah I agree with the -- guess the things that you have to look at is. Is that it's dark horse sense -- it. The guys who are gonna get qualifying offers aren't going to be considered deal -- create so of course -- -- get off -- The other guys cut in the middle. I think there was nobody may be in the middle or who caught more people by surprise him he didn't get the qualifying offer maybe in -- Would you agree that. Shortlist I would put him him Edwin Jackson I think was a real shock for me in some respects because. You know he was coming off the one year ten million dollar deal. And and I think hunter was also real surprised me but you know as he -- that's just kind of a matter of preference like. You say any one of those three was the most surprising and not gonna disagree. Yeah at the the the editor Edwin Jackson won I think it's more legitimate because you talked about position by upward and we've said this time and time again about. How baseball has changed and how a player like Mike Napoli. Mike player positioned there is the hardest to get in baseball. And -- -- leads us to. Especially with the Rangers which is beat you might lose Josh Hamilton there was a reason they were you on would have been in on David Ortiz because they need that type -- guy. So it didn't send up. At least a few red flags when -- in -- get the qualifying offer. But all that said it looks like he's gonna be back in demand. Because of all the things that we talked about would mean one was that you more unique players on the market. He's he is a legit slugger like whether or not you have identified him as that in the past his performance so he got a -- horrible year in 2012. You know not exactly what you wanna go -- free agency with. Yet he still had you know he's still had an on base percentage that was an excess of 350 which made one of the more attractive OBP guys on the market so had no yes that was better than 800 which makes him. Which puts him in a pretty select group of guys in that category and then over a broader period of time he's a guy who passed up Cordero PS of better than 850 this guy who. Who you know -- is who really is the delivers the production relative to what we're seeing in baseball these days of a power hitter he's a guy who averages. You know something like eight in his Rangers curry averaged one homer every four games he played. If that I can stay in the middle of the field -- -- -- -- have a field he's he can be a difference maker especially because not just power with him as you pointed. Every you what's amazing is every once said Elliott this down year him and you gotta think some of -- tribute to. Some injuries on a even though he did -- September pretty strong. But he says hit it down year by he's hitting 220 but he's OPS was -- converts to. And and it's one of these he's not only unique because he's a power hitter and there's just not a lot of power hitters in baseball ought certainly to the degree that you just talked about. But he's the type of guy who can put the lineup and all the sudden now you guys for the Red Sox anyway. The you're going down the road you want to in terms of grinding at bats and I would guarantees that if you just. Took someone of baseball in artistry he's had Mike Napoli. Yeah you know he hits with power is the guy is on bonds and his shirt down to his belly button everything else. What's what's your take on that by the way him and Johnny Jones you know what he what do you think of you know go and seventies on us in. You know throw in a few medallions around -- that I alone if you gonna do it no one this year. Just some gold chains are you talked about like the folk carpet of tested fast optimistically like a little -- Thanks for that you know like that that Francona used to have soda in two Curtis is is known for his own zone under his skin just -- class. Revelations that we can have never been a little ways out from -- so so despite. You will we would think the the home run capabilities of power potential. But people and saying this is the guys it takes as many pitches Kevin Youkilis stakes and but that's the case he's that type hitter and that's I think. All leads to why with John -- there well. That's what the reason John Henry was there this -- yeah that was a a pretty startling revelation I think the idea that the Red Sox. Owner who rarely is involved in the in the PR push we've heard about it with Teixeira for instance we've heard about it. To a lesser degree with with him kind of interacting with Schilling but he didn't you know that was things giving so he wasn't making the trip but. You rarely hear about John Henry being present for these negotiations -- it was again Mike Napoli who is being wined and dined. You know at that level does tell you a lot and it's interesting to me because I remembered a couple of years ago when. You know in deep when the Red Sox were remaking themselves in the in the form of defense ever I was like OK you had a crappy defense that was costly thing in your 95 win season in 2009. You can improve upon that and talk to someone who said yeah OKC defense may be. The undervalued asset in vote in Major League Baseball right now maybe in a few years' time it's going to be back to softball league slugger as well ignored. Have -- if well in in to speak to the John Henry being at the meeting and conversation. Lol -- there the realities of the Friesen Red Sox is at -- might have to call in the big guns a little bit more than they have in the past me Torii Hunter was a good example of that. Not to say that the Red Sox are finalists for Torre under but the pro we want some interest in and by what we draw. Away from it is that Torii Hunter wanted to go somewhere he thought he was gonna win. And you may be same thing with Kuroda we we haven't heard all of the whole story with Kuroda. Because you would think I am pretty sure the Red Sox -- competitive offer there I would have to think if they can offer. More and perhaps significantly more in the Yankees did and it was a mistake a waste of their time Wright is so my point is is that. Free agency is gonna be a little trickier for the Red Sox I think. I'm guessing here but I'm thinking that might be the reason when they maybe took this alternate path where -- -- in the shows up but that's that's a great African -- I'm not just saying that because of my boss. Or that it that I -- cue from the always. In kidnapped it was cold -- I was actually happy to come in the book but is nobody have to think about in in the players were this close on the player's radar. Throughout the course of that season. He Jon -- Some of these other guys Clay Buchholz who said hey listen you know -- it. This is them last year right now and we are legitimately worried for you are gonna wanna come here now do. The responses that is don't go with the money's right but if the money's relatively equal then what's it going to be well. That we hear about which means maybe not extending that next year 'cause if you want Mike Napoli you just offer an extra year if you you know if you wanna make sure do you get that but. If you don't wanna offer that extra year you -- kind of not separate yourself in length from your competitors. Then you have to sell him on you know on a larger upon on a larger. A -- image of what he's getting into and and -- your point it exactly right I think that John Henry's involvement is a reflection of where the Red Sox are that if a guy's making a is not trying to decide between. You know between competitive offers he wants to get that signal that this is an organization it's going to be well run from top -- -- and -- to -- match against. Not only it's going to pay him really well and Mike Napoli will get paid very well but did -- but -- also is going to be well run and give me a chance to win not that good stuff. Yet and so to go back to OK you fight -- -- -- Mike -- but the -- and you -- -- court and you wanna put his name on the Jumbotron. Highlight -- and everything -- So why do you wanna do that and the news. Is burying. Levels of discourse when it comes to Mike Napoli and people say you'll go to Nick Swisher Nick Swisher is more valuable because he's more personal. Healthier he's healthy year he's a better defender. He's switch hitter. It's oh yeah he played you know in a market like this. So that's why am I. How is classified Mike Napoli defense at first base which is what we should talk about it at catcher. Sure he can play thirty -- catcher. But that's really if he signs of the Red Sox he's not he's not personally -- -- is actually being. In some ways comparable to Victor Martinez when he ended up signing with us signing with the Tigers he'd gone and free agency saying I'm a catcher I'm a catcher and catcher and in fact -- caught -- hundred plus games with the Red Sox. In his walk year in 2000 what was it 2010. It seems like so long ago 2000 det 2010. Yes right -- you got like a hundred games -- so for the Red Sox that year and he he'd talked about how his I -- he was kind of wrapped up in being catcher but you know what the tiger said -- party -- 52 million dollars. First the Red Sox who offered I think it was four and 42 and he said I am a Detroit tiger earlier this group has slipped my catching -- to bed I guess he did he was a backup catcher in that first year with the Tigers but. Beyond that they viewed him as being a full time. First baseman DH the Red Sox actually probably would have given him more of an opportunity catch. Had he remained here but. You know I view I view the nap though it's absolutely traditional shift -- -- -- a little analogy in in. Post classified by one executive music he's okay at first base Mike Napoli that is. -- so if you will be dip I was OK if any position -- -- saying the new deal with that its first base probably. So. Fielding a sign. I'll go off on a tangent here and say that I believe at first base defense is actually drastically underrated okay you know well packed full position on the diamond because. I had no more so than what other position and we are going off off the -- where Edwards is going to cruise right off we're going to steer into retreat. I haven't looked at it relative terms but I I would. I I would venture a guess. That first base is -- more impact -- defensive position and third base just is aghast. Bodden in the reason being that you know what you can do in order to spare your infielders from. From bad plays and you know in from you know what what you can do by adding value with scooped balls that sort of thing at first base. Can be remarkable. The the example that -- kind of crystallize that for me was John -- -- back in the day when he was like. Which is like 151004. Wingspan and he was like slapping the left fielder in the face which was awesome. He would in back to back years. The Mariners set a record for fewest unearned runs in the season and then the Mets set a record or maybe it was vice Versa and the Mets set a record for fewest unearned -- this season. Common denominator John Olerud at first base and the reason was because he was saving just a boatload of runs. By with the rest of his defense is that. Look it's -- flip side is that. The year you have some good points but the problem is is that the ability to play the position. Is it. Yet the fact that in that in as well because in let's look at Kevin Youkilis Kevin Youkilis gold glove first baseman. You move him over. He's not a gold glove third baseman. Although I think -- -- -- he has -- on our foot birdie you Mike Napoli is never gonna play third base. And I see whenever you go through third and they say yeah. So the -- guess the point is is that. If you're going to be able to take someone from another position and put him somewhere else. It's probably going to be at first base. By it we can talk about the value first base another time my point is is that is that. Fielding a side that this is what the Red Sox and they need right now the need that type hitter. For the reasons of the power the -- you're potential but also the ability to work counts it's everything that you need in. Pop in my opinion in this lineup right now Knicks which is a nice player. I think mix which is also gonna cost oh larger investment that might now. Because of the health because of the you -- because of the versatility -- that sort of thing because -- superior defensive abilities for -- reasons I I agree write it in. We haven't really talked about this that you but it. You're brought up with Victor Martinez one of the things about Victor Martinez. Signing -- Would remain palatable for the Red Sox is that -- OK you know what you do this for a year or two and then you're the solution after the Dave Ortiz contract. You're the next designated hitter and I I don't know they're thinking this far down the line -- -- he's two years. What if you sign right now plea to a three maybe wanna commit to four are you saying you gonna justify that fourth year by saying. That's a DH there's a DH solution right there. I don't know I that's kind of maybe -- a little bit of a reach but some -- think about at least I thought about what he brought Victor marte. Sure I mean if you if you assume as you show that there's going to be some kind of decline in terms of positional defensive value as a guy ages and you know Mike Napoli is not getting younger and he does have catching in this past and so you know in so the likelihood is that you know that. He there's a chance to remain at first base but if he's not he's not going back to catcher announcement is. So it would be. Ever I think you're looking thirty game. A year catcher I can see him being more with five of the Rangers Mariners no idea yet I'm just saying what he should be. Yeah you know in and yeah although although the hole like I guess that part of that gets into the question of catchers ERA in that sort of thing -- He did lead the he did leave it leave the major leagues in catching ERA in 2011. India has the best winning percentage of any catcher. In baseball in his start -- last TS in you're coming off -- year where you normally issue. And also. You want you to your paying Mike Napoli. I mean this is what you're paying him yes there yes so you're you're you value and that someone. The more you catch when you agree that. I think there's a strong case remade their yeah I mean he played 108 games this past year yet if he can get him as an everyday first baseman and he's -- 140 games a year guy. Who can hit a home run every four games that's -- if you as you point out if he's on the field he hit home runs it's amazing. Do -- Red Sox have the Dodgers and Josh Beckett in the league -- if the yes no we will not have a added I'll -- -- the days of having awkward moments of batting stance guy Josh Beckett and with the subject of my. Napoli -- -- again ashamed at Barden are betting since guys in Southern California -- mean he could he could just go over to the Dodger Stadium and yes yes -- hitter they can relive the the magic show that would be a -- It's. Don't usually very attention inspected daughter whose teams have -- magical moments. So so I think we're pull -- of the same mind in what Napoli I. You know it makes me think like they've signed Johnny Gomes who's a defensively deficient dude that's a tripled the defensively deficient dude who can -- If they -- Napoli like is this a 2003 redux formula is that the case that they're going back to you you know screw defense like screw Carl Crawford complete player you know we've seen we've seen what happens -- me go that direction. Let's concentrate our resources on just guys who have a proven track record of of matching. And you know. Forget about the whole player thing. Well he comes back to a couple things number ones and those type players are hard to get now they just are there. There is one of the most difficult things again in baseball maybe it recognize that it's their chance to do that. Tom and the other thing is is as a wrote about today. There are certain aspects of this team what they have improved upon from last year which they were -- that in the past. Playing at Fenway is a lot of in you are gonna find out. I know Jonny Gomes is success against left handed pitching -- also if you look at his spray chart yarder to find more of a pull hitter based now. He's like he's like a a lesser version of Gary Sheffield. He's -- -- well. Yes a lesser version of cash field at what level last that we keep does -- turn -- But it yet so all we know how well Mike Napoli hits and finally art we know. The type hitter Jonny -- is part bald guys. Our guys who were gonna get on base David ross' two is in really the priority with him isn't going to be. Hitting so much by years ago I also rotate sees a fair amount of pitches as well. So I think to the point that you -- a good one they do need to grinding plate appearances I think that you mentioned -- her column today. That the Red Sox went from you know from being one of the top couple of teams in the major leagues in terms of pitches per plate appearance. To all of a sudden having this. -- mean their played approached they have no played approaches team this past year. And significant stretches of the year once. They weren't planning nine necessarily going from. Marcus could go to my -- they weren't necessarily planning on going from Kevin Youkilis to will middle Brooks they weren't planning necessarily on going from. But I guess they did have salty to salty. Led you know it was. Just startling. How briefed those at bats work what. It's also mostly be felt almost like. There's saying we can get guy with this player because he's a good player he might not fit now mauled -- he's a good player. And they kept doing that with players also and you end up -- -- a lineup which isn't what the time the one be like -- -- mentioned the names. -- realists and I'm not saying he is a priority in terms of getting used to starting shortstop. Eating in scholars who. A lot of people thought he was that way yet he remlinger more first -- and -- completely. Drastically altered his approach in a way that I've never seen a healthy player Alter his approach -- one year ending Carl Crawford who was never perceive truly two very good player in different kind of game. So I don't fewer green without it they slowly get away from that because they figured. Your point he had Youkilis. Ortiz -- along those lines Pedroia was along those lines Ellsbury enough. But there was no school row there anymore. There was notes and some of these of the the catching situation has evolved into something else so it what it and that's what -- the last right. And the interesting thing is that they've kind of been starting. At the back of the roster right like David Ross Jonny Gomes you know these aren't the guys were going to get 600 plate appearances in the year but what they give them. Is it any of their first tier players go down if you know whoever their primary catcher is where -- Ryan a -- way or Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Then. It's still put of those guys gets injured then they have a fallback option who can also grind out plate appearances. In Jonny -- if they have a primary left fielder who's going to be. You know who's gonna be their guy against right handed pitching that if he gets injured Johnny Gomes. Isn't as good -- hitter against against right handed pitching but he still grinds out deep at bats against right handed pitchers so what they've done is they've given themselves roster depth and protection. In case they have those injuries they are going to cease to be that they aren't they're going to be an unrecognizable team which is what happened to them last year with their injuries. I agree that it be interesting to see as they move along in the get some of the primary pieces. In Napoli would be obviously -- primary piece but he fits that mold. Are they going to be along those lines if that resigning Cody Ross and he's an awful on those both lines that they feel OK you know want. It might not be the pitches per plate appearance as a Mike Napoli. -- but he's good enough he's that type of player that we want. Solo home but I'd be interesting what do you do -- shortstop. Because. The of the okay we'll get by with a Jose Iglesias. Well right now Jose Iglesias who is and that type -- guy it would be interesting to see if he can evolve into that guy but right now I don't know how you feel about that but it. I feel like -- couple signings that are kind of dependent you know it's like Iglesias okay you wanna see -- right -- you are. In the rest of your lineup if you wanna see. How you know how much you have already captured that kind of quote and quote grinding approach to plate appearances many can decide whether -- -- you can stomach. A -- Hughes is transition to being an everyday big leaguer. Or you know let's say that. They feel like they've turned to if they they've gone into right handed the direction vent to someone like a Stephen Drew. Become a more perfect fit who's left handed sees a lot of pitches over the course of an at bat. Gives you lay a solid Major League club at shortstop you know maybe he would be inclined to take the proverbial Scott Boras pillow contract. Am pillows. And it's not a pillow crept back -- That was an uncomfortable moment -- dropped out and yeah but it I think so I think typically the -- his slash shortstop question is dependent one. That is kind of like let's see. Where things stand to let's see if we sign a Mike Napoli and then. If we do sign in Napoli then we can take a shot with a guy like a good ACC does -- -- -- -- -- -- hear from you because you know more about the nineties by. The next wave of guys where they kind of fit into -- small Jackie Bradley junior by all accounts is decked out crazy crazy plate discipline he he went that the greatest the greatest illustrated anecdote about him is that. His fitness summer league guy in a summer league after -- -- assuming his fourteen years old he said I need to get better two strike hitter. So he's at how -- -- be a better two strike hitter. I never swing until I have two strikes. And so that summer he never swore mentally I just got its act as well. Fortunately I went with the numbers were so its lead to yet -- yes yes the other disparity between batting average and on base residents there is considerable -- In -- -- would be the other one. Bogart's. We don't know precisely where he falls on that he was he made considerable strides in terms of his plate discipline in not in Salem this year. When he showed the ability to walk at a good rate. I think better than 10% of his plate appearances. In not in Portland what's his promoted there he walked -- wanna save once in about an old ninety plate appearances or so so there's an adjustment that's going on to the upper levels but. His understanding of pitch of executing as a guy as a hitter. Is such that I would expect him to be a pretty disciplined hitter and I guess the third one would be Bryce Bryant's in terms of position. Yeah he's like he's going to be a more aggressive type of hitter going up he's shown he's made strides in terms of his plate appearance. It in terms of his plate approach this year he was a more patient disciplined hitter and showed some two strike approach the ability to kind of you know state back can not be overly aggressive and swing at everything. But I don't think that he's ever going to be a guy who would be characterized as a quote unquote high walk Greek guy he's more in the middle Brooks mode. All right well I think we're gonna we're gonna move on from here real lot of hot stove stuff talked about in the coming days and hopefully we can knock got a couple more of these. Award winning podcast by if not what we all can hang our hat on is that we do have a hot stove show every single Thursday this Thursday is no exception. Tom and then will be also going to Christmas at Fenway. On Saturday from. One to 3:30 PM one to 330 which is always give it to you like yes there and in also and after that the next day in fact who -- boarding a plane for Nashville and will be Hampshire talking a lot more. From there well do you have a ten gallon hat indoor the -- for mentioned -- that you referred to forward Nashville yeah now I have that in Dallas couple years ago. Where are you resuscitating it Nashville I've been practicing my rail line dancing our outstanding well -- we need to get the we need to get the Bradford camp for Nationalists opposed. Bradford careless ought to press center. As it is but Alex thanks for joining us in. Until next time enjoy yourself in our view. On the hot stove -- don't get burned by that thing.