Finally! Okay, now we’re in business. I don’t want to necessarily say that the news is big news; I think a year or two ago it would have been really big news, but players age year to year, and last year’s phenom is this year’s solid, all-around acquisition who’s good but doesn’t necessarily have that wow factor anymore. But given our needs and our situation, I’d say Ben’s moves during and after the Winter Meetings were good and much-needed ones. He’s putting together a stable team while maintaining a healthy amount of financial flexibility, and John Farrell is happy with the developments. All in all, I’d say we’re definitely going in a great direction.
Anyway, let’s get down to it. We’ve signed Mike Napoli to a three-year contract worth thirty-nine million dollars. Don’t let last season’s aggregate stats fool you. He batted .227 with twenty-four home runs and fifty-six RBIs with an on-base percentage of .343, but look at his numbers in his new home: .307 batting average, nine home runs, twenty RBIs, and a 1.14 OBP. Admittedly, the sample size of seventy-five at-bats is small, but numbers aside, he’s known for pulling the ball, and his swing will thrive in Fenway. As for defense, he’s a catcher by trade, but don’t expect to see him behind the plate. He’ll probably end up at first.
Our next name is Shane Victorino, the Flyin’ Hawaiian. It’s another three-year, thirty-nine-million-dollar deal. Last year, he batted .255 with eleven homers, fifty-five RBIs, and a .321 OBP. Don’t forget that he bats switch, though, and while he batted .229 as a leftie, he batted .320 as a rightie. But he had vastly more at-bats from the left than the right, so again, the sample size must be considered. Still, versatility has never been frowned upon in our organization. As for defense, like Napoli, Victorino will not field in familiar territory. All trade rumors concerning Ellsbury are patently false, and Victorino will not be playing center. He’ll be playing right for sure. And it’ll be a welcome relief. Fenway’s right field can break any veteran, but Shane has the stuff to handle it. He has three Gold Gloves and a center fielder’s speed and arm, and that combination in right, once he learns the fatal angles out there, will be formidable. It’ll be nice breathing easy with a steady patrol out there.
It’s worth noting that Ben and John met in person with Josh Hamilton, but don’t get too excited. We already have Ellsbury, and Hamilton wants either Texas or a long-term deal, neither of which we will provide.
And we signed Ryan Dempster to a two-year deal worth $26.5 million. Granted, he has spent almost all of his time in the National League aside from a few handfuls of games last season, which he started for Texas. But his ERA was 3.38 last season, and his WHIP was 1.20; not too shabby. Just as important, if not more important, to why we were interested in him in the first place is the fact that, before last season, his last for seasons totaled at least two hundred innings, and last season he clocked 173 innings which isn’t too far behind. That means three things: durability, durability, durability. On the other hand, durability doesn’t mean much unless you’re good, and his brief stint in the American League didn’t go well at all, so I’m concerned as to how he’ll make out in the AL East, which, as we all know, is the toughest division there is, basically. So I’d say we can approach this one with cautious expectations. But at least we got some sort of starting pitcher, which is a step in the right direction. We also added Koji Uehara, who signed a one-year deal. In thirty-six innings last year, he posted a 1.75 ERA and an 0.64 WHIP. That means good late-inning work for us.
We finished the Zach Stewart trade by acquiring Kyle Kaminska from the Pirates and assigned him to the PawSox. We also claimed Sandy Rosario from the A’s, and he has since been claimed by the Cubs. Gary DiSarcina, formerly the Angels’ minor league field coordinator, is now the PawSox manager.
So we had gaps and voids, we identified them, and we set about filling them with solid, stable choices who will fit in both on the field and in the clubhouse. We now have some powerful hitters and defenders in the lineup whose numbers admittedly were not great last year but who stand, given the right circumstances, to do great things, and we have some great additions to the clubhouse as well. We also have a starter who’s spent hardly any time in the AL and whose time he did spend in the AL was nothing to write home about but who has considerable potential. We still have a lot of work to do; we need more and better starting pitching, for one thing. That’s a big one. But slowly but surely we’re getting it done. We don’t need to make the world’s biggest splash to put a team together that can go the distance.
In other news, the Pats beat the Dophins, 23-16, and the Texans, 42-14.