The Boston Red Sox have taken time this off-season to completely rebuild the franchise. With the signings of Shane Victorino and Ryan Dempster, they seem to be continuing to do just that. After a miserable 69-93 season last year, and with their club house in chaos, how will the Sox recent acquisitions fit in with the team chemistry?
On the check list for general manager Ben Cherington, Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli were top priorities. Though both were reportedly signed to 3 year/$39 million dollar contracts, Mike Napoli hasn’t been officially confirmed.
It was reported that Napoli has a problem with his hip which has made the Sox gun shy from pulling the trigger on the deal. It was also one of the reasons why Napoli’s former team, the Texas Rangers, and the Seattle Mariners didn’t pursue him as strongly as expected.
Napoli saw a significant drop in production last season with the Rangers, after having a career year in 2011 with 30 HR, 75 RBI and a .320 BA. For a player of his caliber, Napoli then posted a decent 24 HR, 56 RBI and a .227 BA in 2012. Though it was not a superior season in the eyes of many for Napoli, the Red Sox may have to agree to disagree.
Napoli had been known as a “Red Sox killer” throughout his career. Only a select few have been given this title and Napoli is most definitely one of them. The Red Sox are hoping that by bringing Napoli to Fenway, he will now use that power towards opposing teams.
Mike Napoli may not have a contract right now, but veteran Shane Victorino does and seems to be enjoying his introduction to Boston quite nicely.
In a recent interview, Victorino stated, “I’m going to be fun. I’m going to be loud. I’m going to talk a lot. You’re going to get what you get,” he said. “It’s going to be me. I’m going to go out there and play 100 percent.”
The Sox have seen this type of comical, laid-back attitude before, and in the past, it has worked to their advantage. Does Keven Millar ring a bell?
Millar was known for his out-going personality and at sometimes may have been looked at as obnoxious. Though Millar seemed to have not taken the game as seriously, his performance showed otherwise. Millar finished with a career .274 BA, and a .674 OPS. He lightened the tension and the nerves in the clubhouse and on the playing field. Boston will hope that Shane Victorino can do the same.
Ryan Dempster was another notable target for the Red Sox this Off-Season. At age 35, Dempster’s talents have still valued him at $26.5 million over two years. At the very least, in the eyes of Red Sox management.
Coming off a modest season last year, with a 12-8 record and a 3.38 ERA, Dempster especially showed to have performed fairly well in the American League, with the Texas Rangers. Though Dempster had a high ERA at 5.09 , he was still able to keep a respectable 7-3 record in the AL.
Like Victorino, Dempster is a light-hearted, relaxed player who has shown to contribute both on the field and in the clubhouse. The Red Sox hope that Dempster can continue a positive transition to the American League and help guide the Sox young rotation.
Along with Napoli, Victorino and Dempster, the Sox have also acquired a few other players this off-season. Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew and David Ross were all brought in to fill minor roles in the Red Sox lineup. The most recent move for the Sox was trading for two time All-Star Joel Hanrahan.
Hanrahan was brought in to fill a gaping hole in the bull pen. The Andrew Bailey experiment didn’t work out for the Sox, and they felt like they needed a more reliable pitcher who can consistently close out games. Hanrahan fits the bill.
Coming off a good year last season with a 2.72 ERA and 36 saves, like Dempster, the Sox will hope that he can adjust to a tough AL East.
With big signings this off-season, Boston hopes that they can sneak past the rebuilding process and go back to being play-off contenders once again. Will these “new kids on the Sox” be the difference? Stay tuned.