It’s now been three weeks since Mike Napoli agreed to a three-year, $39 million contract with the Red Sox and no official announcement has been made, leading to lots of speculation about what might be causing the holdup.
Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Napoli “has a problem with one of his hips” which also “led the Mariners to back off their pursuit of him” earlier in the offseason.
Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has avoided any meaningful comments on the situation, saying stuff like “we’re working through some issues” when asked why Napoli remains unsigned, which Rosenthal speculates means the pre-signing physical exam revealed some red flags and Boston wants to re-work the language in his contract to lessen their long-term risk.
That’s similar to what the Red Sox did with J.D. Drew years ago, when they waited nearly two months to announce his signing and ended up putting a clause in his $70 million contract that protected them should his shoulder problems become a major issue.
For now at least there’s no indication that either side will try to back out of the deal completely.
The Athletics made room for J.D. Drew’s little brother by shipping Rickie Weeks’ little brother back to the minors.
Jemile Weeks, who has struggled all year as Oakland’s starting second baseman, was sent down to Triple-A Sacramento on Tuesday to open up a roster spot for the newly acquired Stephen Drew.
Weeks was an impressive rookie for the A’s last year, hitting .303/.340/.421 with 22 steals in 406 at-bats, but he just wasn’t able to recapture that success. The 25-year-old was batting .220/.305/.302 with 15 steals in 437 at-bats this season.
Jemile doesn’t have the same kind of strikeout problems as his brother, but he also doesn’t possess anywhere near the same amount of power. That he had upped his walk rate in a big way this year — he walked 4.8 percent of the time as a rookie and 9.9 percent of the time this season — helped convince the A’s to stick with him as long as they did, but he’s going to have to start collecting more singles and doubles to be of much use. He’ll be back with the team in September, and if he can get hot at Sacramento, the A’s might give him his starting job back.
There was no keeping up with all 216 players to show up on the Fenway Park field for the 100th anniversary celebration today. Fortunately, the Boston Globe has a list of all those in attendance.
Among the one-and-done Red Sox there were Carlos Baerga, Mark Whiten, Nick Esasky, Calvin Pickering, Sean Casey, Luis Alicea (I guess it only seemed like he was there for five years of mediocrity), Anastacio Martinez, Nick Green, James Lofton (no, that wasn’t Kenny), Kevin Jarvis, Wayne Gomes, Billy Jo Robidoux, Scott Schoeneweis and Dave Valle (.158 in 76 AB for the ’94 Red Sox).
There were plenty of notable absences, too. We knew Curt Schilling wasn’t coming, and Roger Clemens probably has some other things on his mind. But Wade Boggs couldn’t make it. Semi-active major leaguers Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon weren’t there (Manny’s suspension might not have permitted him to be on the field anyway). Trot Nixon reportedly was attending his son’s Little League game. Yankees employees John Flaherty, Tony Pena and David Cone apparently weren’t willing to put on Red Sox uniforms. Dave Roberts had coaching obligations with the Padres.
Some other former Red Sox missing: Fred Lynn, Mike Greenwell, Ellis Burks, Bill Mueller, John Valentin, Troy O’Leary, Doug Mirabelli, Orlando Cabrera, Mark Bellhorn, Marty Barrett, Rickey Henderson, J.D. Drew, Bob Stanley and Rich Garces.
Carlos Beltran was linked to the Red Sox prior to signing with the Cardinals, but today the veteran outfielder explained to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal why he didn’t end up in Boston:
I did feel that it was going to be a good fit for me. We talked a little bit, and they had interest. They were trying to get something done first with David [Ortiz]. At the end of the day, I wasn’t going to wait until they got that done.
In terms of timelines, Beltran signed his two-year, $26 million deal with the Cardinals on December 23. Ortiz accepted the Red Sox’s arbitration tender on December 7, but didn’t sign his one-year, $14.575 million deal to avoid arbitration until February 13.
And as MacPherson writes, odds are the Red Sox wouldn’t have had room in their budget for Beltran at the money (and years) he ended up getting anyway. Instead they ended up trading for Ryan Sweeney as part of the Andrew Bailey swap and then signed Cody Ross to a one-year, $3 million contract.
All of which is why Beltran will be replacing Albert Pujols instead of J.D. Drew.
My friend Stephen Silver has lived in both Boston and Philly, and is intimately familiar with the respective sports scenes. And he writes something today that is likely to make the fans in both of those cities mad:
… as someone who has lived in both cities and has a lot of family and friends in them, I can say confidently: the Red Sox and Phillies’ fan communities have way more in common than either would probably like to admit. In fact, it’s hard to think of two fan bases in American sports that are more alike.
He goes on to explain. And it’s pretty persuasive. Maybe the most persuasive part is when he says “Both cities love Curt Schilling and hate J.D. Drew, and both drove manager Terry Francona out of town …”
Jeez, what is wrong with you Boston and Philly people?
UPDATE: This ran on NBC SportsTalk last week. How appropriate:
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