With the crashing end to the New York Yankees' run at the paws of the Detroit Tigers, fans such as I have multiple ways to "fix" the club. While many suggestions are knee-jerk reactions, I feel there is one free agent signing that could fill a variety of holes on the team: The Yankees should make every attempt to sign Texas Rangers slugger Mike Napoli.
Napoli is going to turn 31 years old this Halloween, which would make him a relative youngster on this aging Yankees squad. He has spent the last two campaigns with Texas as a catcher, first baseman, and designated hitter. These are all roles that I can envision Mike filling with New York and at the same time, he would be a huge upgrade over the players currently employed as a right-handed designated hitter, backup catcher, and fill-in first baseman.
If the Yankees are willing to spend the money and ink Napoli to a deal, they will no longer require the services of Chris Stewart, the light-hitting backup catcher, or Andruw Jones, the righty designated hitter. This two-for-one transaction will actually be 2 1/2 for one; Napoli can play first base when the Yanks want to give Mark Teixeira a breather. Eric Chavez, who is unlikely to be back after his own horrendous postseason exploits, played some first in 2012.
What I know the Yankees will get in Napoli is a guy with some power who has performed very well on the game's biggest stage. Napoli has clobbered at least 20 home runs over the past five seasons, with as many as 30 with the Rangers in 2011. Napoli strikes out a lot, so he will fit right in with New York. But in the playoffs, he has hit when it has mattered, something nearly every Yankee cannot say over the last two years.
With the Rangers in 2011, Napoli was a force as Texas nearly captured the brass ring. Napoli hit .357 versus the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round of the playoffs, and .250 against the Tigers in the American League Championship Series. Against the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, Napoli knocked in 10 runs and batted .350 with a pair of home runs. I can only imagine manager Joe Girardi being able to call upon Napoli in Game 3 in the ninth inning against the Tigers a few days back rather than having to depend upon lefty Raul Ibanez to hit against lefty reliever Phil Coke. Girardi could have pinch hit for struggling Russell Martin, or even started Napoli in his place.
If New York studies the pros and cons of Napoli becoming a Yankee, I'll bet it might see this my way.
I have been a fan of the New York Yankees since the middle of the 1960s.