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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sox Make Late Arrival to AL East Hot Stove Party

 

Sox Make Late Arrival to AL East Hot Stove Party

The 2012 season is still very fresh in the minds of fans from the AL East. The Yankees were the Yankees, wining the division and making it to the ALCS. Tampa rode its pitching for most of the season staying competitive but ultimately falling short. Baltimore with new GM Dan Duquette was the surprise of the league making the playoffs and giving the Yankees everything they had for 5 games. Then were were the Red Sox and Blue Jays who duked it out all season long for the right not to be considered the worst team in the division.

Fast forward to December, the heart of MLB hot stove and four of the 5 teams had made moves to maintain or inporve their prospective clubs. The Yankees re-signed pitchers Kuroda, Pettitte and Rivera. The Orioles retained all save for Mark Renyolds with youngster Manny Machado ready to step into a full time gig. The Rays added 1B James Loney. They Blue Jays, the most active of the group, rehauled the entire roster curtosey of the Miami Marlins with the additions of Johnson, Buehurle, Bonifacio, Reyes and others. That left just the Red Sox out in the cold just standing pat waiting for markets to develop.

My what a difference 48 hours made. With the general manager's meetings in full swing the Sox finally snagged two key free agents in Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino.

Napoli is now a full time 1B after spending 8 seasons at catcher with the LA Angels. He brings the potential for a powerful bat from the right side and should fill a bit of the void left by Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Ross. The downside: Napoli is coming off a personal worst offensive season hitting just .227. The good news: Napoli is only one season removed from a .320 with 30 homeruns.

So which player is he? Likely somewhere in between - good news for the Sox as that projects somewhere in the .270 range with 25 home runs. At 3 years - $39million the Sox will take that production all day long.

In the past 24 hours the Sox made a second move locking up outfielder Shane Victorino. Victorino, like Napoli is coming off a subpar season but brings at lot to the table. His plus defense and arm gives the Sox a great option for right field or center should they swing a deal to move Jacoby Ellsbury. He also has the speed and on base ability to hit in the 2 hole in the line-up allowing to bump Dustin Pedroia down to 3 and making the top of the order very contact and on base oriented.

Are the additions of Napoli and Victorino enough to jump the Red Sox back into the thick of things in the Al East? Only time will tell. One thing is for certain this is going to be one wild ride going forward and the Sox have made their announcement that they are done watching and want to be a part of it.

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