March 22, 2007

ESPN: Papelbon To Close

ESPN reports that Jonathan Papelbon will be the Red Sox closer.

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. ...

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.
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.

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?

25 comments:

Devine said...

I'll say it--I don't like it.

Mind you, if this is true, I'll enjoy the secure feeling in the 9th (how often can he work? back-to-back? shoulder blah blah blah?), but if you believe Papelbon could be a 1 or 2 type starting pitcher (and I do), then why?

Zenslinger said...

Papelbon was talking earlier in the spring, saying that if they wanted him to go back into the closer's spot, it wouldn't be a problem because the strengthening program for his shoulder was such that he should be able to handle it either way. I'm not sure if that holds water or not.

This move is born of what? The non-emergence of a closer candidate; the perceived strength of the other starters; Lester's progress.

Comment on another board: "This can only mean one thing: Clemens." I disagree. He'll probably be in Houston.

Not sure how I feel about this. I was looking forward to seeing him start.

redsock said...

Yeah.

It's seems too early to panic -- but is this a panic move? And why decide this so early?

Lester has to start in AAA. So who's the 5th starter? Snyder? Sexy Lips?

Gotta look for more info.

Jere said...

I was reading Sports Illustrated in a waiting room today and saw Joy of Sox mentioned in it. You can vote for one of four Sox blogs, as you can with every team. I have to find this on si.com to get voting!

Oh, and about Pap: I knew it all along. We'll actually win some games this year, instead of blowing all the great games thrown by our starters. I love this. I hope it's true.

redsock said...

was reading Sports Illustrated in a waiting room today and saw Joy of Sox mentioned in it. You can vote for one of four Sox blogs, as you can with every team.

Get the fuck out of here!

Really?

Jere said...

Dude... they had four for each team--it was you, listed first (!), dirdogs, SoSH, and I forget the other. But when I went to si.com, I found nothing. It said "vote now," though, in the issue (with Dice on the cover). I did notice while there that they link to stories from blogs, and they've got three up from mvn.com, and one from overthemonster. But, definitely, JoS was in print in SI. March 26th is issue date.

Pokerwolf said...

Schilling provides his own opinion, and tells everyone to calm the hell down (without really saying that) about Paps here.

It's very interesting to have a player's take on this sort of thing. Curt has been doing a stellar job of writing his blog. It'll be interesting to see what happens to it during the season.

redsock said...

I'll get it because of Dice, so I'll check it out! I went to SI's site and I see that on the Sox team page, they have links to four current stories from a few blogs -- those must rotate.

If they have a poll in the magazine, it must direct you to the interweb. They don't want you to mail in a slip of paper.

Time to get the vote out again!

...

Those doctors better be damn fucking sure about this, because there's gonna be some serious screaming if Papelbon blows out his shoulder in mid-June.

Matty Matty said...

This totally sucks. The importance of having another #1 or #2 starter far out-weighs "feeling better in the ninth inning."

I don't see what the reasoning is here. If you didn't think Pinero could close why'd you give him $4M? If closer was so important, why didn't you give $5M to Gagne, or give up something to get Cordero?

I love Paps, but I want him to throw 200 innings a year, not 70.

Jere said...

Right, the four stories, that's what I was talking about--and when it said "vote now," yeah, it meant on the web, but I think it just said "si.com." Great article about Dicey in there, too.

Woti-woti said...

Firstly, how does ESPN scoop NESN on a story like this?

Anyway, I wish I had more confidence in the medical profession's exact treatment of this injury (like we'ed all heard of sub-luxed shoulders) and the Sox medical staff's interpretation of same. The alleged constraints on Pap's usage if closing are fraught with peril. Christ, Tito looks like death-warmed-over in the late innings as it is. Way too many holes here.
BTW, it would appear that Paps blew his first save today.

Jere said...

About the "vote":

From commenter AJM at my blog:

"And on another note, it's time to start voting:

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mysi/polls/popup_generic.html?poll=30781&team=red_sox

Silva is apparently campaigning on his piece of shit site. Looks like you'll need to reprise your role as Allan's Campaign Manager."

I just voted for you, giving you 3%. SoSH has the early lead at 60something percent

Sean said...

I love it, he has one pitch, and he's not ready to be a good starter. Now we have a spot for Lester when Pineiro or Tavarez flames out in the #5 spot.

What's not to love? He wasn't going to be much better than average this year, and we get the best closer in the league. Love it.

redsock said...

Clearly, SoSH should win.

Paps has 2 pitches, no?

L-girl said...

This is great. Just pure great. He's a great closer, we need a great closer, and now we have one again. I'm thrilled.

s1c said...

This is the best news of spring. Papelbon (hmm a solid #4 starter or a 45 save closer). You take the closer, a #4 starter is the gil meche type of starter and Paps is much more valuable in the pen then filling up the #4 hole. I expect we will see Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, tavarez and Wakefield. Look for Gabbard or Lester to be called up by mid-june to fill Tavarez's spot.

Devine said...

#4 starter is where they have him slotted. Suppose he hurls to the tune of a 3.6 ERA as a starter. That would make him the #1 or #2 starter, regardless of his initial placement.

Note: I understand the idea that we have a known quantity in him as the closer--though if he has, say, a 2.25 ERA this year, some will be disappointed that he didn't duplicate one of the best rookie seasons ever. #8 ERA for a season ALL-TIME in pitchers who pitched at least 50 innings.

However, if it is true that he does not really have a third pitch that he can rely on, then yes, perhaps closer is where he should be now.

9casey said...

Paps to close...and according to him he wanted more than anyone else...

redsox.com for that info



The Rocket may land soon.....

Devine said...

Yeah, Casey. This seals it. It's times like this I forget how often these guys are human with desires of their own, not cogs in a machine. I couldn't think about anything but how awesome it was that he wanted this so badly when I read his quotes. Go to it, kid.


"I walked into Tito's office and said, 'If you want to give me the ball in the ninth, I want it,'" Papelbon said today."

"Papelbon was insistent that he would not do something that would jeopardize his health just because the team didn't have a clear-cut alternative as closer."

""To make a decision solely based on one year is kind of retarded, in my opinion,'' [Papelbon] said. "This is something I'd like to do the rest of my career. Forget about starting. Go out (as a closer), chase records and hopefully do for the Red Sox what Mariano Rivera does for the Yankees.''"

redsock said...

"... do for the Red Sox what Mariano Rivera does for the Yankees."

That will be fine with me, Jonathan.

James said...

Here's the reason I like this.

Papelbon is a two-pitch guy, pretty much. A fastball, and a splitter. Both of them are great pitches, and they lead to a bunch of strikeouts. He rarely walks anyone. He barely gives up any homeruns.

He had an ERA of .92. He struck out more than a batter an inning. A WHIP of .78. Those numbers are much better than his minor league numbers.

There is no way he can keep that up as a starter. Those two pitches are effective for two reasons. 1) He can throw them as hard as he wants because he's a reliever - he doesn't have to pace himself. and 2) The batter only sees them once.

Papelbon is not Pedro Martinez. But he may be Mariano Rivera. If he has one amazing skill set, let's use him in that skill set.

Steve said...

Someone on ESPN made a good point. Papelbon may only pitch 80 or so innings, but he'll be vital in protecting the 600 innings pitched by Schilling, Beckett, and that new guy from France or wherever he's from.

For some reason, he didn't mention Wakefield, who seems to be ignored by most baseball analysts.

John said...

So now he's ok to close, even as the Sox were adamant that he wouldn't and couldn't close. I don't get it. This brass is more secretive and does more doublespeak than the Nixon administration.

9casey said...

John said:I don't get it. This brass is more secretive and does more doublespeak than the Nixon administration.

Did you read any of Papelbon's comments......they couldn't risk his career until he was on board with the idea of closing....

And obviouslly he is on board......
do you work for the Herald?

redsock said...

This brass is more secretive and does more doublespeak than the Nixon administration.

Or perhaps they have more than one plan, depending on how circumstances change.

Pap's shoulder is 70% -- Sox do W.

Pap's shoulder is 80% -- Sox do X.

Pap's shoulder is 90% -- Sox do Y.

Pap's shoulder is 100% -- Sox do Z.

Timlin goes down - so that means __ happens. Drew gets hurt, so we'll do _____. Pitcher X is available, so _____________.

Plus they are dealing with the Boston media, so they ought to be secretive.