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Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Mike Napoli could be a short-timer


The Angels talked about trading Mike Napoli to the Boston Red Sox last month. That deal didn't work out, but as I watched Napoli interacting with his teammates in the clubhouse today I couldn't help thinking he's in his final days in that room.

My opinion didn't change when Napoli hit the home run off the Texas Rangers C.J. Wilson that tied Wednesday's game 1-1 in the seventh inning.

Too many things are conspiring to make the Angels want to dump this guy. I'd be surprised if he's not gone by the winter meetings in early December.

First, Napoli is making $3.6 million. That's a reasonable price to pay for a guy who hits 26 home runs. In fact, it's more than reasonable. But Napoli will be in his second season of arbitration this winter, meaning he'll probably get a sizeable bump, probably doubling his salary.

It would be one thing if Napoli were a good enough catcher to play that position every day, but he's got an unreliable arm and he's too bulky to block the plate well.

Look deeper into Napoli's numbers and you realize a lot of what he does is flash without substance. His bat isn't reliable enough to make him a desirable designated hitter or first baseman. He has batted .268 with the bases empty this season and .211 with runners on. Against right-handed pitchers, he's hitting .210. His RBI total -- 67 -- is paltry given all those home runs.

In other words, Napoli is a "tweener," too inconsistent strictly as a hitter, not reliable enough as a catcher. I'm guessing he's a tweener somewhere else next year.