Why is Mike Napoli Still Playing?

As Red Sox fans try and grapple with the fact that the team did not score a run in 8 calendar days, many have to begin to question the moves the team has made and the lineup card that John Farrell continues to roll with on a regular basis.

The 2015 Red Sox are a prime example of the need for youth on your roster. Although Mike Napolithey have some future stars in Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts, the Red Sox have had trouble developing prospects at certain positions, the main one being first base.

Mike Napoli continues to get at bats as the team hopes some team will see something before the trade deadline so the Red Sox can sell high on him. Although he had two hits in the second game of Monday’s double header, Napoli was still pinch hit for by Brock Holt late in the game. Napoli had recently sat out a week while the Red Sox went as far as putting David Ortiz at first base and Hanley Ramirez served as the DH.

Napoli is in the second year of a two year deal that pays him $16 million, there is no question he will not be in a Red Sox uniform come 2016, so why are they continuing to throw him out there? Dustin Pedroia is back from the disabled list so, Brock Holt could play first base. Holt did start Saturday night at first with Napoli getting the starts in the other three games of the Angels series. Holt does not profile as a first baseman for the long haul though with limited power.

The Red Sox have two players who are under performing defensively and could make the move to first base—Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez. Sandoval, a catcher coming up, could make the move to first more easily than Ramirez in my opinion as the move to left did not work out with Ramirez. He continues to look worse, with a ball sailing over his head in Monday’s afternoon game, after he froze on the ball off the bat. If this is David Ortiz’s last year, I want Hanley as my DH and Pablo at first and find a third baseman. The Sox could even play Travis Shaw at first for the rest of the year to see what they have in Shaw as he has seemed to have proven himself in the minor leagues.

Mike Napoli’s days with the Red Sox could be numbered but with them being in last place and likely sellers at the deadline will anyone take him? Napoli is hitting .197 on the year with 83 strikeouts in 83 games played. A player who was a hero for the 2013 World Series team and a man of the people on the streets of Boston, just no longer is producing at a high level, worthy of a spot in the Sox order, but when will John Farrell and Ben Cherington finally pull the plug?

Juan Nieves Fired, Edward Mujica DFA’d

Juan Nieves

The Boston Red Sox looked a little bit different Friday night against the Toronto Blue Jays after a 3-6 homestand thanks to two moves the Red Sox announced Thursday.

The first move came of a little bit of a surprise as the team designated right-handed reliever Edward Mujica for assignment. The veteran had struggled with a blown save to go along with a 1-1 record and a 4.61 ERA so far this season. In 75 games with the Red Sox, Mujica owns a 4.06 ERA and just eight saves (all in the 2014 season.Juan Nieves

The 30-year-old was signed prior to the 2014 season for two years and $9.5 million, but he never lived up to his numbers with the St. Louis Cardinals the year before. He never really flourished in Boston and always seemed to give up those inopportune runs which made winnings games almost unattainable.

The team planned to make the move while in Toronto on Friday and Matt Barnes is likely going to be the bullpen arm the Red Sox need going forward. Barnes has appeared in 11 games for the Red Sox over the last two seasons and has allowed a total of four runs while striking out nine and walking two. This season he has struck out one and allowed two hits in two innings of work back on April 25.

In another pitching-related move, the team elected to let go of pitching coach Juan Nieves. The Red Sox rank second-to-last in the entire majors with a 4.86 ERA and are dead last in team ERA in the AL. The only team worse is the Colorado Rockies at 5.38.

With already 28 games in the books and a 13-15 record after a 9-5 start, Nieves showed that he did not have a handle on the pitching staff like he did when he was hired in 2013. The passive approach to pitching away to nearly every hitter was not the right approach as at least every pitcher in the starting staff has allowed four or more runs in a start at least once.

The list for pitching coach replacements is short, according to media reports after a John Farrell conference call on Thursday. The team is in the process of sorting everything out so, expect a new pitching coach sometime on the current 10-game road trip.