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Boston Red Sox: Did They Overspend at the Winter Meetings?

Breaking Down the Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino Deals

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Boston Red Sox: Did They Overspend at the Winter Meetings?

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Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

COMMENTARY | Long-time fans of the Boston Red Sox must be scratching their collective heads after a couple of big-money signings of average players at Major League Baseball's Winter Meetings in Nashville.

While addressing the need for a first baseman and an offensive catcher with their signing of Mike Napoli, the fact it cost them $39 million for three years is a bit puzzling.

Add the fact they basically signed Shane Victorino to the same deal and you really have to wonder what it is the Red Sox front office is trying to accomplish.

Yes, they are wonderful clubhouse leaders, but they also are coming off mediocre seasons in 2012.

An All-Star last year, Napoli only hit a career-low .227 at the plate and struck out 125 times. Even with his 24 home runs, he only drove in 56.

Not great numbers, but with James Loney departing for Tampa Bay, first base is a need the Red Sox had to fill, and Napoli's ability to catch an occasional game really does not make this a horrible contract money-wise.

Victorino, on the other hand, is a bad decision at first look.

He does not hit well against right-handed pitching at all. In a season that only saw him hit .255, Victorino only hit .229 against righties. That comes to an OPS+ of 69, or 31 points below league average.

Unless the Red Sox really do decide that they are going to trade center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury between now and the start of the season, signing Victorino to play right field daily makes even less sense.

In 1,002 career games, Victorino has only played 148 of them in right and--unless you have a cannon of an arm--Fenway's expansive right field is really not a good place to learn the position.

Sure, Victorino is a premier base-stealer, but he is not a leadoff hitter at this point in his career and played himself out of Philadelphia as the Phillies traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline for prospects.

With all the movement made by the other American League East teams this offseason, only the most diehard of fans must think the 2013 Red Sox have a real shot at the playoffs.

The question going forward for Boston is this: After ditching millions of dollars in bad contracts last season, are they taking big-money deals for a team that is not likely to be better than fourth next season?

Ron Juckett is an online sports columnist that writes extensively on baseball and golf.

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