Mike Napoli Will be Missed for More Than His Bat


I knew that we had been in on Mike Napoli when his original deal with the Red Sox fell apart. (3 year, $39 million deal now an incentive laden one-year contract worth a reported $5 million — as much as $13 million based on certain incentives.) As it turns out Napoli has a pretty serious medical condition with his hips. It’s called avascular necrosis. A side note, in reading up on the condition, there are many possible causes but one of the first ones on the list is steroid use.  There are many others, I just found that interesting in diagnosing such a big guy with one great year.

Regardless of that or the lack of being nowhere close to his 2011 numbers in 2012, Napoli brought something to the team that we had been sorely missing. We had Michael Young’s quiet lead by example leadership, but Napoli was the on-field cheerleader. He could get the team and the crowd fired up at the drop of a dime.  Who does that now? Kinsler? Andrus?

Will anyone step up with Mike Napoli like fire?

(photo credit: wija.com)

It’s an important asset that you can’t just assume. But the fans bought it. There was the chant NAP-OH-LI. It worked. He was active on Twitter and his battle with C.J. Wilson as the season started last year set the tone and gave us a real “knock this off I dare you” mentality.  We watched Napoli basically do that for the Angels against us in the years leading up to his Ranger time. There was no chant at the Ballpark then. In fact he was so lethal against us, it was a simple but resounding chorus of boo birds.

It remains to be seen if it was good or bad for the Rangers to not be able to give Napoli what he needed to stay a Ranger. Right now, it looks like sound judgment in erring on the side of caution. That was our theme during all of the off-season.  But losing Napoli we lose over 20 homers which is probably replaceable, but something that isn’t as easily replaced.

Wrapping things up, you have to wonder if the Diamondbacks weren’t insistent on Andrus or Profar until they ultimately traded Justin Upton to the Braves. Whatever the reason, according to reports we were in it until the end of Kevin Towers self-imposed “I have to go on my vacation Friday” deadline. But now the question for Ranger fans to ponder. Do we give up a draft pick and Boras dollars for Bourn? Do we try to make a deal for Jason Kubel when Towers gets home from vacation? Or do we stand pat and pray Nellie Cruz has strengthened his legs even more and going with Craig Gentry and Leonys Martin in center field?

Still some things to ponder in the remaining 27 days before pitchers and catchers report.