Travis Shaw Making His Case for 2016

The good thing about the Red Sox being so far out of playoff contention at the moment is the team getting a good, hard look at some of their guys down on the farm. Notably, guys like Henry Owens and Travis Shaw have gotten an extended look at the big league level, and for the most part they have responded pretty well.

Especially Travis Shaw. With Mike Napoli traded to the Texas Rangers, there is now an Travis Shawopportunity for a guy like Shaw to fill in, and he has responded very well. Since his August 1st call up, he’s hit .372, and has hit all 5 of his big league home run since his call up. Overall, he’s hit .321, 5 home runs and 10 RBI’s in 21 big league games for the Red Sox.

For the time being, Travis Shaw has dismissed any doubts about bringing up Allen Craig from the Pawtucket Red Sox or potentially moving Hanley Ramirez over to first from left field. And, for the time being, can anyone complain about that? His production more than warrants his place in the lineup at the moment, and the other 2 possibilities are far less appealing at the moment.

Hanley’s offensive production has been there for the most part, but his defense is an entirely different story, and the idea of moving him to one of the most important on the field scares me. While Allen Craig might be a better defensive option, his performance at the plate has been pretty disappointing for the most part since being sent to Boston in the deal that sent John Lackey to the St. Louis Cardinals at the 2014 trade deadline. While Travis Shaw is still finding his feet with the big league team, he is the team’s best option at first base at the moment, outside of possibly Brock Holt, who has shown he can play just about every position.

There is plenty of time between now and Opening Day 2016, but right now, I would put Travis Shaw as the front runner to start at 1st on Opening Day next April. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then, but I would be happy with him as our Opening Day first baseman.

Mike Napoli Headed Back to Rangers

On Friday, Mike Napoli was dealt to the Texas Rangers along with cash considerations for a player to be named later or cash according to ESPN. Mike Napoli became the latest member of the 2013 World Championship team to be dealt, joining the likes of Jon Lester, Jonny Gomes and John Lackey from last year, and Shane Victorino this year.

While this seemed inevitable, I can’t say I wasn’t a little disappointed and sad that he’sMike Napoli going back to the Rangers. He was big for the Red Sox in 2013, both on and off the field. Off the field, he was one of original guys who started the beard trend, and of course that was a big part of the culture change from 2012 to 2013. On the field, he hit .259, but more importantly, he hit 23 home runs and drove in 92 runs that year. He struggled a bit in the postseason, but he did hit a big home run off Justin Verlander in the ALCS, and a big 3-run double in game 1 of the World Series.

So, yeah, I’m sad to see him go. The struggles he had this season  were definitely unfortunate, but he is still a fan favorite. He’ll always be one of the guys that stands out for me from the 2013 team. At least now he has a chance to compete for a potential playoff contender, as well as a team that he is familiar with. He was extremely close to winning the World Series MVP with the Rangers in 2011, but the Rangers lost out to the St. Louis Cardinals that year.

The Rangers are 3 games out of the 2nd wild card spot at the moment, and a guy like Napoli could really push them over the top if he plays well. Even just having a guy who has played in 2 World Series, and won 1, should be a big help for the Rangers.

See ya, Nap. Thanks for what you did in 2013.