More: Curt Schilling has already blogged:
No it wasn't a rash decision brought about by uncertainty. I can promise you there were many meetings involving many people that occurred before this took place. ...Obviously, his health is the most important thing and from Papelbon's quotes this spring, his shoulder is doing very well. There has also been talk that his development of a third pitch has not been progressing as well as the team hoped.
Since he was hurt last year, like any smart athlete, he has taken the time to get educated on exactly how his shoulder works, and how best to address it and take care of it. The great part about that is that in my experience it's always taken a major surgery to get young pitchers with unhealthy shoulders to see the light, and that's not the case here.
I still believe that 200 innings of Pap is better than 70, though of course there was no guarantee he'd be able to get near 200 innings this year. And I suppose if they wanted to move him to the rotation for 2008, that would still be a possibility.
There is a lot we don't know about this yet. Was this a serious possible plan all winter/spring? Who is our 5th starter? Is it better to have a closer and a questionable 5th starter or Papelbon in the rotation and a questionable closer? How does Jon Lester fit into this? (This also will likely rekindle the Clemens discussion.)
How good would Papelbon have been in the rotation? Is it wise to take a potential #1 or #2 starter and move him to the bullpen? Team don't usually do that with an ace starter. I would have liked him to get a few starts in April before doing this.
The Red Sox and Papelbon are also talking about strict usage patterns. Pap has mentioned only one inning per outing and probably no more than three games per week. (So we're moving this guy out of the rotation for three (maybe four) high-leverage innings per week? This is where the "Closer/Questionable 5th starter vs. Papelbon/Questionable closer" debate gets sticky.)
Does that mean absolutely NO 4-out saves? What about five outs once a month? Who closes when Pap clearly cannot go? Can Tito stick to this plan, even if it means passing him over and giving the ball to someone else in a nail-biter against the Yankees?