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Will the Sox try to keep Jonathan Papelbon?

Jul 19, 2011, 1:03 PM EST

Jonathan Papelbon Getty Images

It’s all just talk, not news, but over at the Providence Journal Brian MacPherson speculates that the Red Sox and Jonathan Papelbon may very well be together beyond 2011.

His thinking: there are a lot of relief pitchers who will be available this winter, which could depress Papelbon’s asking price on the open market. At the same time, Papelbon has been really good this year, reminding the Sox of just what they’ve had and what they might miss.  Oh, and the Bobby Jenks flop is evidence that you can’t just go out and snag any old closer (and means that Jenks can’t really be counted on to step in and fill Papelbon’s shoes next year).

My mind goes kind of fuzzy whenever I think about the closer market simply because they are so volatile and because the talk surrounding closers is full of so much hokum (e.g. “proven closers” and all that jive).  But MacPherson has me wondering whether what we all thought coming into this season — that Papelbon is gone — is really the case.

  1. dan1111 - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:25 PM

    I’ll believe it when I see it. According to MacPherson, the “crowded field” consists of Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton and Matt Capps. Broxton is on the DL and his status is uncertain. Capps has been terrible. So the field might not be that crowded after all. Papelbon would clearly stand at the top of this list.

    Papelbon has been good this year, better than his ERA suggests. He would be a good player for the Sox to have, but he wants a big contract, and I think he will get it. I would be surprised if the Sox don’t offer him arbitration–they would probably be glad to pay him a high salary for one season. But I don’t think he will be sticking around.

    The Sox already have another elite reliever in Bard. MacPherson’s argument is that the Sox will then have to find a setup man to replace Bard. But it does make their need to sign a closer like Papelbon less urgent.

    • aceshigh11 - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:39 PM

      I’m torn on this issue.

      I don’t think Bard is ready to be a closer yet…and maybe he never will be. He’s a great pitcher, but I don’t know if he has the mental toughness. He’s faltered a bit too much over the past two years.

      And Papelbon is a long-term risk…he’s had a fairly nice bounce-back year, but he’s still too inconsistent and loopy out there, with not enough 1-2-3 “shut ‘em down” saves.

      I suppose it depends on how much and how long Papelbon is looking for.

    • bigharold - Jul 19, 2011 at 6:28 PM

      “The Sox already have another elite reliever in Bard. ”

      Elite? Good yeah but no, not elite. And that doesn’t mean that he’d be as good as a closer. Nor, does that make him “elite”.

      Right now the RS pen after Papelbon and Bard is a shambles. Rebuilding it AND acquiring a new closer is a pretty tall order. Looks like Papelbon will likely get arbitration.

      Papelbon seems to have the leverage now. If he want to stay a RS and doesn’t over play his hand he’ll get a pretty good deal from the RS, .. they don’t have too many options.

  2. schrutebeetfarms - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    Is there a more over-rated position in sports than the closer role?
    27 outs are needed in the game of baseball. The last 3 are just as difficult as any other 3.

    When someone for example Capps, melts down, the way he’s pitching he’s going to stink no matter the inning. It’s not as if he couldn’t handle the closer role. It’s more frustrating to blow a lead in the 9th inning than the 8th but the way he’s pitching he was going to blow it regardless.

    • FC - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:47 PM

      Not all outs are created equal, if they were it would make sense to pitch in reverse order: 1st Inning the “Opener”, the 2nd Inning “Setup Guy”, 3rd Inning “Middle Relief” and then your starter cruises for the next 6 innings.

      I guess the position is accorded this importance because typically as the game progresses your margin for error shrinks. If your pitcher allows 5 runs in the 2nd inning you at least have 24 more outs to recover. If he blows 5 runs in the 9th, you have only 3 outs to recover… and if you’re the visiting team, if he blows those runs it’s over, no chance to recover at all.

      • aceshigh11 - Jul 19, 2011 at 2:29 PM

        That’s a really good description of the how the margin for error shrinks as the game progresses.

        I’m still not sold on the importance of closers and that “save” as a legitimate stat, but you make some great points.

      • Ari Collins - Jul 19, 2011 at 9:45 PM

        The reason starters start the game is you don’t know how many innings they can go. If they go 5, you’ll have to use 5 pitchers. If they go 7, you’ll have to use 3. If they go 9, you don’t need a bullpen. Because of that uncertainty, it makes sense to start them and adjust as need be.

    • kingbuccaneer - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:10 PM

      How many championships would the Yankees have since 96 if they didn’t have Wetteland and Rivera???

      Def. not as many as they did…

  3. FC - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Assuming Ryan Madson returns to form and closes out for Philly the rest of the season that’s another possible FA. And well… if you’re going to include Broxton in the mix, add Brad Lidge, there’s no way Philly is going to exercise that 2012 option.

  4. pisano - Jul 19, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    The rest of the AL East also hopes the Sox keep him, he’s known for giving up the long ball in tight spots.There aren’t many closers with Papelbum’s era of over four. Theo, be good to the rest of the AL and sign him long term.

    • ryanmallettsbluntwrap - Jul 19, 2011 at 3:21 PM

      Pisano , please teach me how to read the mind of an entire division of baseball . You must be pretty damn good to know the rest of the AL East wants the Red Sox to keep Papelbon . Congrats .

      • pisano - Jul 19, 2011 at 5:34 PM

        It’s simple, so simple even you should understand, it’s called ERA, think about it and put it together with BLOWN saves and you should be able to figure it out.

      • Ari Collins - Jul 19, 2011 at 10:11 PM

        If you’re going to cherry pick your stats to try to make your point, you should at least make sure they support it first. Papelbon is 21 for 22 in saves this year, and his career save percentage is 89%.

      • Ari Collins - Jul 20, 2011 at 12:14 AM

        P.S. The AL East GMs don’t think in terms of ERA and BS. And neither should you.

  5. educatedfools - Jul 19, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    I think they should strongly consider keeping him. I’ve written this before, but he has really only had one down year and because every win counts for a team like the Sox he could be the difference between making the playoffs and staying home: http://sexybostonsports.blogspot.com/2011/05/reinvention-of-jonathan-papelbon.html

  6. frankvzappa - Jul 19, 2011 at 2:47 PM

    I don’t see it happening. I bet the Nationals offer him a $200 million, ten-year deal.

    • foreverchipper10 - Jul 19, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      As much as this made me laugh and thumbs up it the Nats coser situation is pretty solid with Drew Storen.

  7. djpostl - Jul 19, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    A closer with ERA of 3.96 and a WHIP of 1.20 is really good these days? The ol’ man in the Bronx is at 1.75 & 1.00 for a lil’ perspective.

    • Ari Collins - Jul 19, 2011 at 10:14 PM

      1. ERA and WHIP are not great stats.

      2. The ol’ man in the Bronx isn’t really good. He’s a cyborg. No one should be compared to him.

      • pisano - Jul 19, 2011 at 10:27 PM

        Right again Ari, no one can dispute that post. He’s not quite what he was, but still the best.

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