Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mike Napoli Trade Analysis

This week I’ll give my analysis on the trade that the Rangers made with the Blue Jays.

On Tuesday, January 25th, the Texas Rangers acquired C/1B Mike Napoli from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for RP Frank Francisco.

Analysis: I really like this trade. With Mike Napoli, the Rangers are receiving a power bat off the bench that can crush lefties. In his career, Mike is a .251 hitter, with a .238 average in 2010. Neither of those averages are very good, but neither of them are awful. Against left-handed pitchers, however, he hit .305 last season, and has a .287 career batting average. Napoli is also a very good hitter at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, having hit .292 in the ballpark over his career. Last season, Mike hit 26 home runs, and has hit 92 over his career in only 5 seasons, including 66 in the past 3 years.

Napoli is not a very good fielding catcher, but that is not really important, as he should see much more time at 1B and DH, as both Yorvit Torrealba and Matt Treanor are ahead of Mike on the catching depth chart. In fact, over the past two seasons, 76% of stolen base attempts were successful, which is higher than Torrealba’s 63% in 2010, and Treanor’s 72% last year. Other catchers in the Rangers’ organization with major league experience are Taylor Teagarden (69% career rate), Kevin Cash (72% career), and Robinzon Diaz (73% career).

Frankie Francisco was the Rangers’ closer to start off the year in 2010, but after blowing multiple saves in a short time period, he quickly became the set-up man for the team. Frankie had a 3.76 ERA in 2010, but only got to pitch 52.2 innings due to missing a large chunk of the season, along with the playoffs, with an injury. In his career, Francisco has a career 3.75 ERA, so his 2010 ERA was almost exactly the same as his career ERA. He showed flashes of being able to be a shut-down set-up man last season, but was just so inconsistent that you didn’t know what you would get out of him from game to game. Another reason that Francisco should not be too large of a loss is the Rangers’ bullpen depth, as the Rangers bullpen has Neftali Feliz, Arthur Rhodes, Darren O’Day, Darren Oliver, Alexi Ogando, and plenty more depth. Pitchers who could step into Frankie’s role could be pretty much any of the pitchers I just mentioned, along with Tanner Scheppers, Yoshinori Tateyama, and Mark Lowe.

Grade: A, I don’t feel like the Rangers are losing too much in Francisco, and in return, they are getting a 1B that can really punish left-handed pitching.

Come back next week for for my offseason grades for each of the 30 major league teams or possibly another interview.

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