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Mike Napoli: The Missing Piece?

Every team is looking for that one piece that will push them to the next level. It can be an ace pitcher at the front of the rotation or a relief pitcher to help solidify the back-end of the bullpen. Other veteran players can provide a voice in the locker room that might have been missing in previous years.

Minnesota is rumored to be interested in veteran first baseman and designated hitter Mike Napoli. Could he be Minnesota’s missing piece in 2018?
Image courtesy of Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The Napoli Connection
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine both got to know Napoli during his time in Cleveland and Texas. There were rumors of the Twins being interested last off-season but he decided to return to Texas. During the 2017 campaign, he hit .193/.285/.428 with 29 home runs in 124 games. While these numbers don’t exactly stand out, Napoli is known for more than his offensive production.

The Star Tribune was told by a source that “the Twins’ interest in him extends nearly as much to the clubhouse as to the batter’s box.” If Napoli were to come to Minnesota, he would serve as a part-time first baseman and designated hitter. Current players Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano will both see time at designated hitter so Napoli could help to bolster the bench.

Current Veteran Pieces
Minnesota currently has Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer to serve in a leadership role. Dozier has clearly become the team’s vocal leader in recent years. Mauer’s quiet nature often makes fans call for him to take on more of a leadership role. Napoli has been part of winning team’s throughout his career. This gives him a different perspective than the Dozier-Mauer combo.

During the 2015 campaign, Torii Hunter returned to Minnesota and helped the club back to respectability. In manager Paul Molitor’s first year on the job, Hunter provided a veteran voice as the club was surprisingly in the playoff race until the season’s last weekend. Napoli might not provide the same kind of fire (see Hunter ripping his jersey off on the field) but he could still fill a role sinilar to Hunter's in 2015.

Houston’s Blueprint
As the Astros were heading toward their first World Series title, it was clear they had found the right mix of veteran pieces to complement their young core. Players like Brian McCann, Josh Reddick,and Carlos Beltran were added to the Astros roster to provide a voice and leadership in the locker room. There’s no doubt that young players like Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers Jr. all relied on those veteran pieces at some point in the season.

In Houston, it took multiple veteran pieces to bolster the roster. Like Napoli, Beltran wasn’t an every day player by the end of his career. In fact, the Astros’ players had a funeral for Beltran’s glove during the 2017 season. Napoli might just be the first veteran piece of the puzzle to help Minnesota in 2018.

Can Napoli be the missing piece for the Twins? What do you think he can add to the locker room? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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45 Comments

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Post-Concussive Blues
Dec 25 2017 09:26 PM
No thanks
    • savvyspy, Twins33, sploorp and 2 others like this

Pass. Vargas should be primary DH with Sano DHing against lefties and Escobar playing 3rd. I have a bad feeling Napoli will lead to losing Vargas on waivers. 

    • savvyspy, ThejacKmp, sploorp and 1 other like this
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nicksaviking
Dec 25 2017 09:39 PM

McCann, Reddick and Beltran were all coming off of strong years and were supposed to be key additions ON the field.

    • Mike Sixel, old nurse and Original Whizzinator like this
He'll probably take Vargas' spot on the 25 man. I'm not a believer in Vargas so I don't really care if that's the case.

I'd very much prefer signing someone who can help next year. Napoli probably isn't that person.
Absolute hard pass. Falvine is overthinking this thing.
    • savvyspy and sploorp like this

I'm all for gaining assets.

 

However... I can't help but wonder what happens to Kennys if Napoli is brought on board.

 

It sure looks like a one or the other type situation. 

 

Vargas is 9 years younger

 

Vargas is probably 6 million dollars cheaper. 

 

Vargas had better stats last year. '

 

I have no idea how anybody is in the clubhouse but Napoli better be good in that clubhouse. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • glunn, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 3 others like this
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nicksaviking
Dec 25 2017 10:31 PM

He'll probably take Vargas' spot on the 25 man. I'm not a believer in Vargas so I don't really care if that's the case.
I'd very much prefer signing someone who can help next year. Napoli probably isn't that person.


I'm just not interested in the lack of versatility. A right handed bat would be useful but doesn't that bat have to have a viable path to platoon with Kepler? If they want an old vet who wasn't good last year to DH, get Jose Bautista, at least he can stand out in RF.
    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 3 others like this

I'm just not interested in the lack of versatility. A right handed bat would be useful but doesn't that bat have to have a viable path to platoon with Kepler? If they want an old vet who wasn't good last year to DH, get Jose Bautista, at least he can stand out in RF.


Yep I'm right there with you. It makes a ton of sense to sign an OF that can take some of Kepler's ABs vs. tough lefties. Mauer and Grossman both do well against LH.
    • Mike Sixel, savvyspy, nicksaviking and 1 other like this

Is he a better pitcher than Giminez? It sounds like it's to take his role.

    • savvyspy, nicksaviking, sploorp and 1 other like this

I don't discount leadership but I know people talked more about Hunter's leadership when he was hitting 3 run homers to win games and not so much when he was taking collars and they were losing games.  

Confidence, swagger and fearlessness. That is leadership in baseball and while that doesn't usually manifest itself in rookies it doesn't need to be in a 12 year veteran either. Just from appearances it looked like Rosario, Santana, Escobar and Kintzler had it but I really don't know either.  

    • Riverbrian and sploorp like this

No, No he is not.

    • Mike Sixel and Shaitan like this

The missing piece is starting pitching.....still. 

    • USAFChief, Jerr, Mike Sixel and 4 others like this

If clubhouse chemistry is their reason for signing Napoli, it really, to me, speaks for their lack of respect and confidence in Mauer and Dozier. Personally, I hope they pass on Napoli. Napoli, to me, at this point, is a step backwards.

 

The other playoff teams are truly making impressive steps to improve, and this FO seems to be hoping for the old and fading to shine bright one more time. I fear this tact is destined for derailing progress in 2018. 

 

Leadership needs to come from the young core now. And growing together. This is really depressing to me. 

    • USAFChief, Jerr, Mike Sixel and 4 others like this

Sigh. The fan base at large is hungry for names they have heard of somewhere someplace. Unfortunately this name fits that bill, and not many others.

    • sploorp likes this

Napoli?I'm sorry, but I just don't get the attraction.I'd rather stick with Vargas - he's a switch hitter and has better numbers than Napoli.He has also earned the shot.Give the guy a full time spot in the line up as a DH and 1st baseman.Lets see what the guy can do when he isn't flying back and forth between Rochester every other week.

    • Jerr, Twins33 and mikelink45 like this

 

He'll probably take Vargas' spot on the 25 man. I'm not a believer in Vargas so I don't really care if that's the case.

I'd very much prefer signing someone who can help next year. Napoli probably isn't that person.

Agree on Napoli.Disagree on Vargas.I'd really like to see Vargas get 500 bats or so just to see what kind of numbers he could put up.

If this is what the new FO achieves I am really frustrated.We have bats for DH and 1B.I would rather have Grossman than Napoli.I remember how TR loved to have reunions with his old players and we kept being the last stop on a career that was already over.I do not want this to be the home for old Indians.  

 

I wish I could think of something more effective than NO, but No is accurate.No to his bat, no to his speed, no to his fielding, no to taking a spot on the 25 man roster.  

 

All the players we have read about this year and now this is the big rumor.Unless Darvish insists on having him as a roommate we do not need him.I believe that we have enough coaches on the team now.

    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, Dantes929 and 4 others like this
I like Napoli, but not enough to sign him for this team. For one thing, Vargas or no Vargas, who I also like, we may end up with Sano as a full time DH for quite some time. I have heard some negative reports on his leg, and his training. That would have to be a consideration. Plus, in this day of a short bench, any non versatile PH type is almost a luxury which I doubt the Twins have room for.

Escobar and Castro can step up and be the Veteran leaders.4 of the 12 should be enough. Grossman, Polanco, Sano Buxton and Rosario have all been around long enough to have a clue. If not, there should be some trades

    • EddieMatthews likes this
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jorgenswest
Dec 26 2017 08:25 AM
The Twins have 5 spots to fill on the bench (plus DH). One of those players has to have options to be easily moved when the need for a 13th pitcher occurs.

Catcher
Middle infield
Sano insurance at 3B
Outfield
13th position player with options.

Without any moves my guess for the 5 would be...

Garver
Adrianza
Escobar
Grossman
Granite

How would Napoli (or even Vargas) fit? Vargas projects better next year but possibly not from the right side.

They could take Grossman’s spot. When Granite is shuttled out Adrianza is the reserve OF. I suppose they could take the spot of Escobar or Adrianza but that is really counting on Sano’s health.

Are there alternatives?

The Twins could bring in a defensive back up catcher and use Garver in the shuttle role. How close is Garver to the bat of Vargas or Napoli?

They could bring in a right handed batting corner OF.

I don’t see how Napoli fits well.
    • BuxtonBandwagon and ClubhouseDanceParty like this

Maybe 32 year old Napoli.Definitely not 36 year old Napoli. Maybe Vargas is the answer.I also don't think Rodney is the answer but Burdi might have been.  

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Original Whizzinator
Dec 26 2017 09:12 AM
Napoli drunk and shirtless roaming downtown Minneapolis? I'd follow that leader!

Is he the special guy to come off the bench in a pinch-hit situation? But then who replaces him in the field.

 

Is he better than Vargas? That is the decision the Twins really have to make. Is there then still a need for, say, Grossman?

 

Longrange, all the names above (including Nap) could be gone anyways come 2019. So it is getting the right pieces.

 

The elephant in the room, though, is Sano. Will he play third, or be starting his quest towards being a fulltime DH who COULD play third in NL ballparks.

 

Of course, if we want to have the Twins spend money...they have the money for a temporary bench bat. But is he truly the msot versatile fit for the team.

 

And they do need a first-rate starting pitcher...no more dumpster diving back-of-the-rotation guys instead of a quality arm.

Leadership, good clubhouse guy and 20+ HR power from the right side. But he can't hit or get OB and is very limited defensively.

No. Just not a fit. A combination of Grossman and Vargas alone outperform him, not to mention others filling in at DH.

Sign someone with a more consistent bat who can play the field somewhere decently or just stand pat.
    • Mike Sixel, BigSkyTwinsFan, Twins33 and 4 others like this
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Original Whizzinator
Dec 26 2017 10:54 AM

Leadership, good clubhouse guy and 20+ HR power from the right side. But he can't hit or get OB and is very limited defensively.
No. Just not a fit. A combination of Grossman and Vargas alone outperform him, not to mention others filling in at DH.
Sign someone with a more consistent bat who can play the field somewhere decently or just stand pat.


This is on point. Napoli may be done. We would need an above average right handed bat to supersede what we already have.

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