Skip to content

Jonathan Papelbon questions the Phillies fundamentals

Jun 20, 2013, 8:23 AM EDT

Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

Jonathan Papelbon blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth in yesterday’s Phillies-Nationals game. And he did take responsibility for not making the right pitches to Jayson Werth who singled in the tying run. But he also called out his entire team and, it seems, coaching staff, for playing poor fundamental baseball.

Jim Salisbury has the story at First, Papelbon questioned Ryan Howard‘s positioning in the ninth when Denard Span reached on an infield single:

“I was thinking on a 3-1 count our infield would be back and I was expecting to turn around and run to first base and catch a underhand throw,” Papelbon said.

So he was surprised Howard was even with the bag?

“Yeah,” he said.

Then he expounded on fundamental baseball:

“Everything from the pitchers making the correct pitches, to pitchers backing up the right bases, to the outfield moving on counts, to the infield moving on counts. Everything that goes into every pre-pitch. We’ve got to do better.

“I’m not pointing fingers at anyone. It’s a team effort here. To be able to win and be in the forefront of the playoff race, you have to play good fundamental baseball and do the little things, and the little things are before the pitches are thrown. There’s 150 pitches thrown by our pitchers and before every one of those we have to make sure we’re putting ourselves in a position to be the best we can before each pitch.

“I’m seeing some of the same mistakes. I think for us we have to make the fundamental plays were supposed to make.”

He’s not wrong on the merits. The Phillies have been playing quite poorly. But it’s pretty unusual for a team’s closer to be the one talking about this. Normally it’s the manager or a position player who is viewed as a team leader who says stuff like this. Then again, Papelbon has previously called out the Phillies clubhouse for suffering from a lack of leadership, so maybe he feels like he’s filling a vacuum here.

Any comment Charlie Manuel? Ryne Sandberg?

  1. philswfc08 - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:30 AM

    This guy is such a d0uche. Yeah, Howard should have been able to get that ball AND Galvis made a terrible throw to Pap while covering the bag (which still would have got the tying run scorer out), BUT you don’t say this to the media. If you have a problem with someone you confront them in the clubhouse.

    Trade this d0uche (if possible with that ridiculous contract) while he has some value. What is the point of having a $50M closer when you can rarely maintain leads in the 7th/8th to get to him. He usually only gets save opportunities when the starter goes 8 strong.

    • anthonyverna - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:44 AM

      I think you had two separate thoughts:
      1) That a player doesn’t complain to the media about how the team is playing (which seems silly on its face as many players do that often).

      2) Trading Papelbon is a good idea because he is expensive – a luxury on a Phillies team whose ship has been sinking and the rest of the relief pitchers have issues getting to the closer. On that, I’ll agree with you – this team appears to be in need of a new philosophy and its veterans no longer seem able to get the job done.

      • philswfc08 - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:20 PM

        On #1 – upon reading that first comment again, I may have wrongly took it as Papelbon taking a back-handed stab at Galvis on the bad throw. So yeah, his comments weren’t bad. He’s still a d0uche though, always has been.

        #2 – wonder what they can get for him. Probably not much if they don’t eat some of that contract.

  2. unclemosesgreen - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    When Jonathan Papelbon questions you and he’s correct – it’s time for some serious soul searching.

  3. proudlycanadian - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    I think that he is angling for a trade.

  4. chacochicken - Jun 20, 2013 at 8:56 AM

    Wolfman got a little nibble of your face there, Papey. Watch out for the next full moon.

  5. stlouis1baseball - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:01 AM

    I don’t care of you like Papelbon or not.
    But you can’t disagree with his take on the fundamentals.
    Further, I don’t see how you can disagree with the manner in which he went about touching on it.
    Dude is on point.

    • heyblueyoustink - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:17 AM

      I do like him, and he’s right.

      That particular play where Span is safe, was a total lapse in baseball fundamentals and positioning.

      Charlie got us a ring, and I cherish the 2008 season, but if he’s not going to get on these guys to be as sharp as can be, because there *is* talent on this squad, then he has to go. He’s not doing his job. If everyone is in proper position, Span never makes it on base and the Phils sweep the Nats.

      Let’s not forget folks, they did take 2 out of 3 from them.

    • bdawk20 - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:59 AM

      This is spot on. This team hates when you insult their play because they like to dwell on their past success. They don’t adapt to declining ability and try to win the same way they did in 2008. That goes for the players and for Charlie Manuel, who still coaches this team the same.

      • therealtrenches - Jun 21, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        They won in 2008 with a starting rotation that consisted of Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, J.A. Happ, Joe Blanton, and a bag of doughnuts.

        Since then, while they have kept the core of Rollins, Utley, and Howard, they have slowly re-constructed their team around pitching. How that constitutes “trying to win the same way they did in 2008” is beyond me.

        And can you cite an article or a quote from someone on “this team” that demonstrates how much they “hate when you insult their play?”

        Can you also name a team that *likes* it when you insult their play?

        Didn’t think so.

    • philswfc08 - Jun 20, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      Agreed, I read between the lines a little on the 1st quote and took it as a blast on Galvis’ throw and the coaching. Fine with his comment. Needs to be traded though, not point in paying him $50m on this team.

  6. vegasdestroyer - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Goodbye, Charlie. Goodbye, Papelbum.

  7. chaseutley - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Yes grasshopper, but you are forgetting the single most important fundamental of all: “There’s no crying in baseball.”

  8. gallaghedj311 - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:14 AM

    Don’t like that he did this in the media, but he is 100% correct. Sorry Charlie, u gotta go man. Shoulda been gone years ago. Like after 2009. One of the worst game day managers in the league. We were built for a dynasty except for the damn manager…..

  9. paperlions - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:31 AM

    I wonder how much of this rant is based on the fact that Papelbon went from an organization with a large analytical department, that used Hit FX data to position players from hitter to hitter and pitch to pitch….to an organization that prides itself on not have an analytical department (or having one the barest trace of one), that likely doesn’t use Hit FX data much (if at all) to position its defense.

    My guess would be that the difference in philosophy with respect to this issue is quite stark between his two experiences.

    • historiophiliac - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:17 AM


  10. nolanwiffle - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    I think what Papelbon is really questioning is the team’s phundamentals. You’re not in Beantown anymore, Johnny!

  11. psousa1 - Jun 20, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    Papelbon sees Andrew Bailey of Boston has had a horsecrap run of it the past week, rumors, probably unfounded, has Boston interrested in reacquiring him, Papelbon who wishes he was still there, where the Boston media, who hates all star ballplayers, made an exception with him and had always portrayed him as a big loveable dopey cartoon character, is trying to shoot his way out of Philly.

    Boston has such good pitching and hitting prospects but I would not give up one of them for Papelbon. If I am PHilly anyway I would look at it as a salary dump and take what you can get. A salary dump, last year, has changed Boston’s team by 180 degrees for the better (and it was just a bonus that Boston acquired two future starters who are pitching very well in AAA – and will both be probably starting in Boston in the next week).

  12. dannycollins2 - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    You have to respect his competitiveness

  13. greymares - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:45 AM

    I’m on my way to Detroit. DO DA DO DA.

  14. hitdog042 - Jun 20, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Boston media hates Pedroia and Ortiz? They hate Garnett? They hate Rask? What a toolbag post.

  15. joebuckiscreepy - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    He should add that baserunners should be told by the coaches to stop turning their heads and watching the ball in the outfield when rounding third base. It has cost them at least 3 runs so far this year. I was taught that in tee ball. Not sure why an entire team of MLB players and coaches is letting it happen.

  16. vicvega422 - Jun 20, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    If Papelbon doesn’t lay one out for Werth to drive in the tying run, then this isn’t an issue. He needs to stfu.

  17. trollingforjustice - Jun 20, 2013 at 2:45 PM

    Sounds like Papelbon is looking for a fast way out of Philly.
    better wear a hardhat in the bullpen…the batteries are about to fly!

  18. dawglb - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:33 PM

    Like it or not, he is 100% correct.

  19. dawglb - Jun 20, 2013 at 10:36 PM

    The bad throw was a direct result of Charlie’s 9th inning substitution. Galvis sat on the bench all night….and either choked or sucked on his routine play.

  20. tackledummy1505 - Jun 21, 2013 at 3:00 AM

    I wouldn’t doubt that Ryan Howard set himself up rather than the coaching staff. Howard is by far the most overrated and over paid player in baseball. I still think Rueben Amaro’s #1 job by the trade deadline is to move Ryan Howard and get what you can for him. He’s only hurting the team financially and with his playing ability.

  21. therealtrenches - Jun 21, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    “he did take responsibility for not making the right pitches to Jayson Werth who singled in the tying run.”

    Hey, good for him. Know what? We’re not even talking about any of this if he steps up, does his job, and gets Werth out. If he does all that, then we’re talking about a sweep of the Nationals by a team that is riddled with injuries but continues to hang tough.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. D. Wright (2457)
  2. D. Span (2305)
  3. G. Stanton (2226)
  4. Y. Puig (2187)
  5. J. Fernandez (2147)
  1. G. Springer (1965)
  2. B. Crawford (1897)
  3. M. Sano (1776)
  4. M. Teixeira (1769)
  5. J. Hamilton (1696)