Time to Move on From Mike Napoli?

Mike Napoli

The Boston Red Sox 2015 campaign is in full force and their lineup has been pretty much what we expected it to be to this point. One guy who just hasn’t been able to come around at the plate, and continues to punch out almost two times a game, happens to be Mike Napoli.

Napoli’s struggles this year aren’t anything new, but they come as a bit of concern. Napoli batted .248 last season which was the second lowest average of his careerMike Napoli dating back to 2007. Napoli also accumulated a slugging percentage of .419 which was the lowest of his career. There was no hiding it—Mike Napoli struggled big time in 2014, but so did a lot of Red Sox hitters. The concern that I have is that Napoli had facial reconstruction during the off season to help cure his sleep apnea issue that has been haunting him for much of his career. Napoli decided to get the surgery during the off season because his struggles at the plate were magnified by the Red Sox struggles as a team. Napoli seemed like he had turned the corner, and was ready to really break out in 2015 as he hit above .300 this spring with a couple of home runs, but he’s back to the same.

Napoli is currently hitting .132 on the season with no home runs and no runs batted in and is posting a .267 on base percentage to go with a .184 slugging percentage. Yes, Napoli is great with his glove and draws a lot of walks, but he’s hitting in the heart of the Red Sox order and is being called on to drive in runs which he is not.

My solution to this would be giving Allen Craig a shot at first base for a series or two. I am higher on Craig than a lot of people, I think. Craig to me is a star sitting behind an aging veteran who is just not getting the job done. Baseball fans seem to forget that while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, Craig hit .315 with 14 home runs and 96 runs batted in. The year before that Craig hit .307 with 22 home runs and 92 runs batted in. Both years Craig was in the middle of a heated NL MVP candidacy, but lost out. I don’t know how many Red Sox fans I speak for, but I think it’s time to give Craig a shot; if he can be half of what he used to be I’ll take it.

Anthony Ranaudo Makes Texas Debut

Anthony Ranaudo

During the off season, in the wake of all the acquisitions to this years pitching staff, general manager Ben Cherington made the move to trade away 25-year-old Anthony Ranaudo to the Texas Rangers. Boston acquired left-handed specialist, Robbie Ross Jr. in return from Texas.

The Ranaudo trade to Texas caught a lot of Boston fans by surprise. Anthony Ranaudo ranked in Anthony Ranaudothe top-three of pitching prospects in the Red Sox organization and seemed to be on the rise. Ranaudo was outstanding in 2014 while pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox, posting a 14-4 record to compliment a 2.61 ERA en route to International Pitcher of the Year honors. Ranaudo also had a nasty curveball—winning best curve ball in the Boston Red Sox organization for two straight years. Ranaudo got some brief time with the MLB club down the stretch, going 4-3 with a 4.81 ERA in seven starts.

Ranaudo’s brief struggles in the show weren’t necessarily the reason he was dealt, but more or so the reason of where does he fit in? Boston was able to bring in veteran starters, Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley in the offseason leaving no room for Ranaudo in the rotation. Boston also has top-tier prospects named Henry Owens, Brian Johnson and Matt Barnes knocking on the door so, in the big scheme of things, Ranaudo didn’t have a spot; Boston had a need for a left-handed reliever.

Ranaudo made his first start for a depleted Ranger rotation on Wednesday as he was opposed by Hector Santiago of the Los Angeles Angels. He would only go 1.2 innings in this one, allowing six hits, six runs to go with a 1-1 strikeout to walk ratio.

After a relatively smooth first inning, Ranaudo struggled heavily in the second. David Freese’s single to center lead to a Chris Iannetta walk, followed by a walk soon after- making it bases loaded with one-out. Angels second baseman, Johnny Giavotella, would deliver the big blower with a liner to left field scoring two and it would just get worse from there. Los Angeles was able to tack on four more runs off of Ranaudo en route to a 10-2 win.

Obviously Ranaudo wasn’t as prepared for this start as he would have liked to have been. It’s also obvious that he still needs some work down in the minor leagues before he can come up and make that impact the Rangers need him to make.

What Would it Take To Get Doug Fister?

Doug Fister

With nine games in the books, the Boston Red Sox have taken two out of three games three times this season. Yes, now two out of three is nice, but Boston seems to be relying on their offense way too much. Teams that have done that in the past, most notably the Toronto Blue Jays, have not been able to succeed down the stretch.

Three times in nine games this season, a Boston starter has allowed over seven runs and that’s something to be worried about. Well, Washington has a pretty good pitcher named Doug Fister Doug Fister that could be up for grabs.

Right-handed Doug Fister, 31, is entering his second season with the pitching-heavy Washington Nationals. Fister is also entering his last season under contract and will be heavily targeted come free agency. So, what does Washington do?

Washington has shown it’s not going to shy away from committing big time money to big time players, as they gave ace Max Scherzer seven-years and $210 million, but Fister could be in a different situation. Washington’s lineup has really struggled at times this season and we’ve seen Boston go three deep into their bench and still put up ten runs. Washington also has 28-year-old Jordan Zimermann(2.66 ERA in ‘15) up at the end of the year as well.

 Here is my proposed trade:

Boston Trades-

1B/OF- Allen Craig

3B- Garin Cecchini

Washington Trades-

SP- Doug Fister

This trade would be a good deal for both teams. Boston would be able to grab that work horse veteran starter that they desperately need come playoff time. Fister and his 3.32 career ERA would immediately work at the top of the Red Sox rotation, adding an arm Red Sox fans would be comfortable throwing out there come the playoffs. Justin Masterson would be able to slide into the bullpen, where he excels, and also be able to make spot starts here and there. Washington would acquire an a-plus bat in Allen Craig who can fill in for the injury prone, Ryan Zimmerman. Craig would also bolster a thin Nationals bench. Cecchini would serve in a utility player form for Washington, as he can play third base as well as outfield.

2015 MLB Season Outlook: Joe Kelly

joe kelly

Yes, the 2015 MLB season is finally here folks. The Boston Red Sox outlook for the upcoming season is different depending on who you ask, but they all seem to agree two things: Boston’s offense is going to be one of the best in the game and their pitching staff is going to be a bit of a question mark. There is one guy in fact that I’d like to take a deeper look into: Joseph Kelly Jr. or, as we know him, Joe Kelly.

Kelly will be starting his 2015 campaign on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to Joe KellyMarch 27th, meaning he will be able to pitch on April 11th. Kelly is dealing with a bicep injury. When healthy, the sky is the limit in my opinion for this kid. Kelly was one of the top pitching prospects in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system before being dealt to Boston last season. Kelly has a steady repertoire of pitches including a power sinker that can top-out at 96 MPH and locates the inside of the plate very well. Kelly, to date, has a career record of 21-16 including an impressive 3.41 ERA. Kelly’s best season by far was his 2013 campaign. Kelly posted a 2.69 ERA to compliment his 10-5 record. Kelly appeared in 37 games for the Cardinals, while starting in 15 of those. Kelly was also slated to start Game 7 of the World Series against Boston, but we all know it didn’t get to that point. Arm and elbow injuries cut down a lot of his workload in St. Louis making it hard for him to ever establish himself as a viable starter.

There is no doubt that Kelly does not lack in confidence; he has already come out and stated he will win the AL Cy-Young. “Yeah, I’m going to win this year. That’s what I told the radio guys,” Kelly said Saturday at the Baseball Winter Weekend at Foxwoods Resort Casino. “They didn’t believe me, so sucks to be them.”

My predictions for Joe Kelly in 2015—31 games started, 15-7 record, 2.99 ERA and 165 strikeouts.