Mike Napoli: The Missing Piece?
Image courtesy of Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsThe 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.
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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