Will Mike Napoli play for Boston next season?Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor

Last week, I had the bright idea of starting a Fire Brand mailbag. I thought I would have some fun with it, but mostly, it would focus on legitimate Red Sox analysis in a way Nick Cafardo typically fails to provide.

I… was wrong.

You can read the first part here. Among the carnage, I made a few trade suggestions, challenged Kevin Pereira to a fight (he did not respond), and decided on what Crayola color best fits Alfredo Aceves.

That’s far from the end of the trolling, of course, but over the span of the past week, I received some additional serious questions, including some from Fire Brand’s nifty new Mailbag feature right here on your right-hand column. So we’ll handle those first.

From the sidebar:

If Mike Napoli continues this great season what type of offer, if any, will the Red Sox make to him next season? How much money? I could see a one year with a player option type deal.

-Sam Reilly

I think it’s highly likely Napoli could end up in a similar situation to Cody Ross this past offseason, in that the Red Sox will not hesitate to let him walk if the price gets too high. After all, Napoli will be 32 years old and playing on a degrading hip.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see him return on a one-year deal at the right price, however, but the team’s reluctance to give him the original three-year contract once they discovered the hip issue tells me he’s not viewed as much more than a rental for this season.

One thing that will be interesting moving forward: the play of Mike Carp, who could be in play for a starting job should Napoli leave this offseason.


This is a question I’ve been wondering myself lately. Given the struggles the team has had in long relief so far this year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him join the pen as reinforcements in September – he couldn’t be worse than Alfredo Aceves.

That said, I wonder if he might be better suited remaining in AAA to work out some kinks in his game. As I look at the stats, there are still some areas of concern – notably, a lofty FIP (4.70) and walk rate (4.17) could use some work. He could certainly have some use in the bullpen this year, but I would prefer to see him prepped for a possible rotation spot next season.

Poor life choices, probably.

Perhaps I’m stubborn, but I still want to see Xander Bogaerts open his MLB career at short. If he can prove to be even league average at that position, it would be a major boost in terms of positional value and organizational flexibility.

That said, should he outgrow the shortstop position, third is the natural landing spot. I like Middlebrooks’ ability to field the position, but I would have no problem with shifting him to first to accommodate Bogaerts.

Looking at it realistically, Daniel Nava is already 30 years old. While I love the guy and his story, I’m not so sure he has a whole lot more improvement left in him.

I don’t think he’s quite as good as his stats at the moment, but I would not be surprised to see him level out at around a .270/.370/.450 mark, which would make him a more than palatable starting corner outfielder. He’s a guy I want to see in the Sox lineup for several more years, but I’m just a bit lukewarm on how much better he can realistically become.

I think this season is the last we’ll see of Ellsbury in a Boston uniform before he (and Boras) nab the biggest offer that comes their way this offseason in free agency.

And that’s okay with me. The organization has a natural heir to the centerfield position in
Jackie Bradley Jr, and Ellsbury’s statistics haven’t suggested he’ll be worth what he’s likely going to receive this winter. Ellsbury’s Boston tenure was a roller coaster ride with plenty of peaks and valleys, and this offseason seems like a natural parting of ways for both parties.

As for Boras, I think he’s more like a Dementor from Harry Potter, devouring team’s souls with his clients’ inflated contracts.

It really lends perspective to how remarkable Ortiz’s resurgence has been when you consider that he’s now 37 years old, doesn’t it? A few springs ago, the answer to this question likely would have been “zero,” but his new approach at the plate and a newfound effectiveness against left-handed pitchers makes me think he’s still got a decent bit left in the tank.

For now, I’ll say he plays out his current two-year contract. Whether or not the Red Sox choose to retain him from there is unclear, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to provide value in a Jim Thome sort of way after that.

I would say he’s a “Ron Artest.”

Put it this way, if the Sox had won a title two years ago, I wouldn’t have even blinked if he thanked his psychiatrist in postgame interviews.

Asking somebody to explain Jonathan Papelbon is like asking somebody to invent a new color. It’s just impossible. Better men than I have been driven insane trying to do so.

The way I see it, Trey Ball is going to lead to oh-so-many “Ball Don’t Lie” jokes from your’s truly, so I ask you, so who really got the better deal out of this draft, us or the Astros?

Nah, man. Joey Votto. I hear the Reds hate that guy. I’m sure they’d happily take Aceves for him.

Good idea. This will be especially effective now that Iglesias will be a .400 hitter for the rest of his career.

Did you expect me to go with anything other than Don Quixote?

Well, that’s all for the inaugural edition of the TrollBag. If you’re interested in seeing it continue, I’m planning to make it a monthly series from here on out, and you can submit questions on our new sidebar feature up there on your right, on the Fire Brand Twitter account, or on my own personal account.