Napoli's hot streak may maximize trade value for Red Sox


Mike Napoli could be heating up at just the right time.

A week ago, it seemed silly to be giving Napoli playing time, with the Red Sox desperate to gain some traction in the A.L. East race and Napoli unable to offer competitive at-bats.

But he began to show some signs of life in Anaheim -- at least putting the ball in play regularly and making better contact -- and now, it seems, he's about to start one of his patented hot streaks.

Napoli had three hits in Thursday night's 5-4 loss in Houston -- including his first homer in more than a month -- and has a post All-Star slash line of .389/.421/1.143 with a homer and three RBI in five games.

That Napoli is again driving the ball is a positive sign. It shouldn't solidify more playing time for him over the final two months of the season. After all, little would come of giving him that, since the Red Sox are obviously going to move on from him after the season as he heads to free agency.

But if nothing else, Napoli's offensive stirring should entice some team with playoff aspirations to take a chance on him. If Napoli has truly fixed himself at the plate, he could be a nice addition for a team looking for help at first base.

If he hasn't -- and this is merely a two-week mirage -- at least it could give the Red Sox a slightly better return at the deadline.

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