FanPost

The Curious Case of Mike Napoli

The main question I have here is, what do we do with Mike Napoli?  Before the season started, he was a lock to start 100 games at catcher, barring injury.  He led the Cactus League in HR's and seemed to handle the pitching staff capably.  Then in a surprise move, Mike Scioscia went with Jeff Mathis as his starting catcher.  This seemingly isn't the same way he favored Napoli in the past, as in Napoli catches 65% and Mathis 35%.  It looks as though this is going to be more of an 80-20 relationship.  Here I will examine the case for each circumstance.

He's on the trade block - The fact is, the Angels are carrying 3 catchers and the one with 40 HR potential is sitting on the bench.  Jeff Mathis has been a hitting machine since October of last year and has made strides in his defensive game, clearly something Mike Scioscia prefers. Bobby Wilson is a defensive-minded catcher capable of playing 1B and 3B supposedly and has put up respectable numbers in the minors.  Hank Conger is down in AAA and his bat looks ready for a major league lineup already.  Napoli's 28 years old and if we can't use him everyday, we'll trade him to someone who can, and we'll get what we need in return.  We have to trade him before Conger gets here anyway, having two offensive catchers with questionable defense on the bench doesn't help anything.  In fact it may even decrease their potential value.

This is a temporary situation - Mike Napoli has proven capable handling a pitching staff.  We're not just going to trade away a brilliant offensive catcher because Mathis has the hot hand.  Napoli will get plenty of playing time this season.  In the early going we're leaning on Mathis because he's hitting the ball and pitchers are somewhat fragile this early in the season.  It's best to go with a solid defensive catcher and pitch caller for right now.  Napoli will more than likely be our everyday DH beginning next season, and he will be needed later in the season.  Players of Napoli's skill set don't just sit the bench, they are stored and kept fresh for a later date.  

He's injured - There's no other way around it.  You don't just bench a possible future HR champion for no good reason.  Mathis is alright, but there's no way Napoli is 100%.  If he was, he'd be playing more.  Have you seen his throws down to second base?  His shoulder has to be bugging him.  It's a long season, better rest him now so he can contribute later.

He's a bench player - Napoli's game is incomplete.  He's not a great defensive catcher.  While he can hit HR's, he also strikes out a lot.  28 year old one dimensional players aren't what win championships.  Mike Napoli is sitting the bench because Jeff Mathis is the better player.  

To be honest, I have no idea what to make of this mess, if you can call it that.  Naps obviously won't just be released or anything, and him sitting the bench is the worst idea I've heard in a long time.  I don't know what we need that we could trade him for without significantly altering our lineup.  That's why I typed this up.  I want to know what you think.

This Fan-Post is authored by an independent fan. Tell us what you think and how you feel.

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