Red Sox may be looking to the leftTuesday December 4th, 2012
NASHVILLE — The Red Sox viewed Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes as important additions to their offense, believing that righthanded power was a key component to build a successful team at Fenway Park.
The Sox are 79-83 at home the last two seasons with lineups that seemed almost intimidated by the dimensions of Fenway instead of taking advantage of them.
Napoli is a career .306 hitter at Fenway with seven home runs in 73 plate appearances. Most of those swings came against pitchers who are now teammates, but clearly his dead-pull swing is a good match for the Green Monster.
But 81 games will be played on the road, which means the Red Sox need to find some balance to a lineup that is now tilting very much to the right.
Among the projected starters, only Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz are lefthanded hitters, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia a switch hitter.
As the Sox search for a right fielder, that factor could come into play.
“We would like to find some balance,” general manager Ben Cherington said Monday at the winter meetings. “I’d rather have the right players than just add a lefthand hitter just to say we added a lefthand hitter. I guess it’s a balancing act. We’d be hopeful that we could find some ways to add a lefthand bat somewhere to complement the current group.”
The premier lefthanded hitter available is outfielder Josh Hamilton. The Red Sox have discussed Hamilton but are balking at the idea of a long-term, eight-figure contract.
Switch hitters Nick Swisher and Shane Victorino are available and the Sox have been in contact with their agents. Swisher is not likely to sign until after Hamilton does, as that will better define his market.
Cody Ross, a righthanded hitter who had a strong season for the Sox, remains in contact with the team. But adding Gomes and Napoli may signal Ross is heading to another team. The Yankees have inquired about him.
“We’re working on it,” Cherington said. “I’m not sure I could classify the progress. We’re working on free agent alternatives, trade alternatives. Different flavors of ice cream. We’d like to add in that area.”
Talks with Mets
The Red Sox had Tim Wakefield on their roster for 17 years and a few weeks ago added Steven Wright to their 40-man roster. They are not afraid of knuckleballers, clearly.
That’s why Cherington, sources said, met with the Mets Monday to discuss a possible trade for National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey.
Dickey has one more year on his contract and the Mets would be willing to trade him if they cannot come to an agreement on an extension. Dickey, who lives in the Nashville area, spent time with Mets officials Sunday.
According to reports out of New York, the Mets asked for shortstop Xander Bogaerts and outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., two of the Red Sox’ top prospects. It is highly unlikely the Red Sox would agree to that.
But the Mets also need a catcher and the Red Sox could be willing to deal Saltalamacchia or Ryan Lavarnway for a starting pitcher. The Mets also are taking offers on lefty Jon Niese.
Person of interest
Oakland GM Billy Beane reported no progress on the idea of retaining righthander Brandon McCarthy. Given McCarthy’s value on the market, the Athletics could be a long shot to keep him.
McCarthy, who is recovered from the head injury that ended his season, could be a candidate for the Red Sox. McCarthy has a 3.29 earned run average over 281⅔ innings the last two seasons.
Four are signed
The Red Sox signed four players to minor league contracts. Righthanded starter Terry Doyle, a Concord, Mass., native who played at Boston College, left the White Sox for the Red Sox. He finished last season in Japan. The Sox also added utility player Drew Sutton, who was with the organization in 2011 and played in 31 major league games. Righthander Oscar Villareal has 258 games of major league experience with the Diamondbacks, Braves, and Astros. The Sox also added righthander Jose De La Torre . . . Infielder Pedro Ciriaco left his winter league team because of a sore right shoulder. He was checked out in Boston last week and is fine.