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Sox sign Napoli and Victorino

The Red Sox were active in this baseball’s winter meetings this year, signing Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. Each signed for $39 million over three years. The moves might be a sign that Cherington was being truthful when he said Boston would have one of the highest payrolls in baseball when the offseason is all said and done. But is this the right move? The answer has to be yes.

The Sox should be competing each and every year with the payroll they can command. New York never stops spending, and neither should Boston. The AL East is too good for the Sox not to be competitive this offseason. That being said, they need to make the right moves, and they’ve already done so with Napoli and Victorino.

Napoli brings power and run production to the lineup and a good presence in the clubhouse. Yes, he had a down year last year, but he’s played well historically at Fenway Park, hitting .306 with seven home runs over the course of 19 games. Napoli can thrive at the plate with the Monster in left field and will add depth to the lineup.

Victorino adds a different dimension to the Red Sox. He brings with him three gold gloves to the outfield and the threat of speed to the top of the lineup. He too had a down year last year as well but still stole a career high 39 bases. He’s proven he can perform well in a high-pressure baseball city before.

Even with the moves this offseason thus far, the Red Sox still have committed less than $100 million in player salaries next season. Their biggest concern now should be to bolster the pitching staff, and they’ve begun to do so with the signing of Koji Uehara, a right-handed reliever from the Rangers.


Benches clear, Rays act innocent

The Tampa Bay Rays play perfect baseball. They don’t do anything wrong, they don’t say anything wrong, and most importantly, they don’t hit opposing players intentionally. Or rather, this is what Rays manager Joe Maddon thinks.

“To be really carelessly incompetent on their side, to truly intentionally hit somebody by throwing behind somebody and hitting them in the leg for all the wrong reasons. They can get their own guys hurt with their kind of behavior,” Maddon said. “Quite frankly I think it was ridiculous, and I think it’s absurd, idiotic, I’ll use all those different words.”

That’s what Joe Maddon said after the benches cleared in last night’s game in Boston. This comes from a guy that didn’t find anything wrong with James Shields intentionally throwing at Coco Crisp and then proceeded to try and hit him with a knockout punch.

(Courtesy to MLB)

He seems to believe that the Rays are innocent in this whole matter. But let’s go back to May 17th, a day after Adrian Gonzalez said he was going to hit a home run.

In response, Rays pitcher David Price retweeted a comment from a fan: Moore should put one right between his numbers. @TBTimes_Rays: Gonzo guarantee: “I’ll homer tonight” @DAVIDprice14@Evan3Longoria #Rays.

Sure enough, in the very first inning and on the very first pitch, Moore hit Gonzalez in the thigh. Of course Joe Maddon claimed that wasn’t intentional, but he can tell us for sure that Franklin Morales intentionally threw at Luke Scott last night.

And I’m sure Maddon thinks that Luke Scott did nothing wrong either when he said Fenway Park was a “dump” and Red Sox fans are “ruthless and vulgar.” His players can say whatever they want off the field and expect to get away with it.

I’m not at all trying to say that the Red Sox are in the right for what occurred last night. That’s far from it. Over the last two series, however, both teams have intentionally tried to hit opposing players. Both teams have been involved in heated situations over the past few seasons. Neither team has acted perfectly. If they did, then these situations wouldn’t occur. But that’s baseball. It’s a long season, rivalries can be heated, and yes, the benches will clear sometimes.

So please, Joe Maddon, don’t try and act completely innocent in all of this, and stop making hypocritical comments like this one.

“Our guys got it. We had every reason to be totally into the push-back right there. We didn’t start anything. We don’t start stuff. We’ll finish stuff, but we don’t start it.”

Of course your guys had every reason to be involved in the shove match last night, but to think your team never starts stuff is absurd. The Rays have been on both sides of this battle, as have the Red Sox. Honestly, I don’t know how all of this got started, but it really doesn’t matter. From Scott’s comments to Moore hitting Gonzalez is proof that the Rays aren’t completely innocent in this matter. But in Joe Maddon’s perfect world down in the sunshine state, his team is a fun-loving, dress-up, group of guys that never does anything wrong.

Sox not going quietly into the night

The 2012 Boston Red Sox were as down in the dumps as a baseball team can be just two weeks ago. They lost two out of three to the A’s, were swept by the Orioles at home and then went on to Kansas City to lose two out of three to the Royals. Plainly put, these are teams the Red Sox should have no problem with. The lowest point came against the Indians when Josh Beckettwas torched for 7 runs and booed off the mound after just 2 2/3 innings of work. The Red Sox were 12-19 and in last place in the AL East.

Courtesy of Eric Kilby

So what does David Ortiz do as the leader of the Red Sox? He calls for a team meeting of course! Yes, the day after Beckett imploded, Papi called a team meeting. I don’t know what happened, I wasn’t there. What happened doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the Red Sox have gone 9-2 in their 11 games since the meeting. The starting pitching has improved, the bullpen has been phenomenal and the offense is rolling. Most importantly, Josh Beckett has been Josh Beckett. He’s gone 2-0 while only allowing one run in his last 14 2/3 innings pitched. If the Red Sox plan on going anywhere this season, Beckett has to continue to pitch well.

The Red Sox now sit at 21-21 and only 5.5 games out of first place. If you think back to the 9 run lead blown against the Yankees and the 17 inning loss to the Orioles, it’s hard to believe how far the Sox have come. They have refused to crumble under the pressure of the fans and the media. Most importantly, they have focused on playing baseball and doing their jobs.

This is all good and well, but the Red Sox are far from being over the hill yet. They need to keep a consistency of winning while waiting for key players to return. If they can find a way to make it to the All Star break and be within five or so games of first, they will have a great shot at winning the division. If this team is healthy come then and within striking distance, the rest of the AL East should be nervous, if they aren’t already.

Key players due to return by the All Star break: Kevin Youkilis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Andrew Bailey, and Carl Crawford.

Time’s up, Youk

Courtesy of Jamie Baker (Fireflyez76)

Kevin Youkilis is playing in his last season as a Boston Red Sox. Or rather, he’s sitting it out on the DL with a bad back. But what else is new? Youkilis has missed 21 of 39 games this season and did not play in 102 games over the previous two seasons. He has only hit .253 since the beginning of last season. Simply put, Youk is not the player he once was, and he can’t stay healthy.

As much as I have loved Youk over the years, he has to go. Whether it be now via trade, before the deadline, or at the end of the season, his time as a Red Sox is done. Either way, Kevin Youkilis will be a free agent at the end of the season and will not be resigning with the Boston Red Sox.

That being said, what should the team do with him now? With the young Will Middlebrooks playing well in Youkilis’ absence, should the Red Sox look to trade now? The answer is, no. Youkilis no longer has the same trade value  he once had. No team would be willing to give up anything significant to get him now.

So let Youk play. Give him the opportunity to prove himself. If he can stay healthy and perform up to his capabilities, he will be of great value to a team like the San Francisco Giants. At that point in time, bring up Middlebrooks and let him play out the rest of the season in the majors. He’s shown some vulnerability the passed couple of games, but I still believe he is the future third baseman of the Boston Red Sox.

Like I said, I love Kevin Youkilis. I love his intensity, and his passion for the game of baseball. He’s been a fan favorite in Boston ever since he stepped on the field and for good reason. Although I will miss the Youk man, I do recognize that his career in Boston is coming to a close.