— Juan Nieves was named pitching coach of the Red Sox Wednesday. Nieves served as bullpen coach of the White Sox from ’08-’12. His selection came as a bit of a surprise as pitching guru Rick Peterson was the lead dog prior the announcement yesterday. The 47-year old Puerto Rico native once tossed a no-hitter for the Brewers in 1987. He has some New England roots too. Nieves spent his high school years attending Avon Old Farms Prep in Connecticut. But it was ultimately the relationship he formed with a 24-year old highly-touted Indians prospect he met while pitching in the Puerto Rican winter league.
That kid was John Farrell.
—- Last year, Mike Napoli had an extremely disappointing, injury-plagued season. He finished his 2012 campaign with a .227/.343/.469 slash line. The bulky right handed hitter still contributed 24 home runs. Consequently, the Rangers chose not to make Napoli a qualifying offer (one-year, $13.3MM).
What does this mean for the Red Sox?
Well, they can pursue Napoli knowing that they will not have to relinquish a draft pick. GM Ben Cherington will be looking for a first baseman with some pop, and Napoli can catch a little bit too. He’s 31-years old and is less than stellar defensively. Nevertheless, it would be wise of Cherington and the Red Sox to pursue Napoli who will not be looking for an overly long-term pact.
—- Rumors swirled Wednesday evening concerning Justin Upton who is perpetually on the trading block. Like almost every free agent or semi-available player, the Red Sox seem like a good fit. Reports indicated that they would be in on the 25-year old right fielder. Upton is a quality player who is under control for the next three seasons. It’s hard to blame the Diamondbacks for shopping Upton, given the haul he would bring in return. And one can understand why a plethora of teams would stand in line for a shot at obtaining his services.
But when it surfaced that Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers would be looking for some combination of a starting pitcher and third baseman, the Red Sox essentially fell out of the Upton sweepstakes. The Sox are certainly not swimming in quality young pitching, and Will Middlebrooks is not going anywhere.