Jonathan Papelbon: Declining or problems with management?

According to MLBTraderumors (Here’s the link) Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe states that Papelbon will be available all year, regardless of standings. My first reaction: Why? So I dug a little deeper into it.

Here is Papelbon’s stats, since he was called up in 2005 at age 24: Take a look but make sure you come back for the rest of the argument.

Are you back yet?

Maybe you found something alarming? Only thing alarming to me was his 3.90 ERA last year. He pitched almost the same amount of innings, games, strikeouts, walks, etc. He gave up 3 more hits than his 1.85 ERA that he stifled hitters with in 2009. Was it homeruns? Nope only 3 more homeruns than last year. Gave up 3 more hits on the year and suffered a 2.15 ERA increase. How does that happen?? I’ll let that sink in.

That’s Papelbon, dominating as a Boston Closer.

You back now? So, what did you come up with? Unlucky? Gave up more doubles and triples? I don’t know, I guess I would have to watch every time he pitched last year to see what it was. Blame it on the defense? The list can go on, but I can’t pin the increase in ERA to his production. He produced. At the same rate he has every year since he came up. Even with that 3.90 ERA, he still has a career 2.22 era. That’s steller and I predict last year was a joke. Once he starts this year off, pitching to his numbers he is accustomed to, I don’t believe they will be looking to trade him while they are winning. (Which we know is a certainty, with the lineup they have put together).

Is it because he doesn’t mold well with Management? Is he too vocal? Is it his 9MM salary? What is it?

One thing for sure…..Rivera is retiring soon from a team the Red Sox would hate to see Papelpon go to. If they trade him (won’t be traded to Yankees, ever by the Red Sox), who’s to say the next team wont trade him to the Yankees? Or when he is a free agent, he signs with the Yankees? This has nightmare written all over it for the Red Sox. All the press saying they want to get rid of him, has Pap cooking even more. He proved he can pitch in the AL East and the Yankees are looking for the next closer Great.



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  1. James,

    You sound like a fan of Papelbon!!!

    That could be very well a possibility, his choice of pitches.


  2. He’s lost two cents on his fastball, and often didn’t use his splitter because he didn’t remember where he put it. A lot more fastballs, and a taking lot more pitches to put hitters away, which leads to more timely hits. Hitters clearly have a new and friendlier attitude toward him, and a closer cannot afford that.

    Plus, what a jerk.

  3. Fair point on the endurance/conditioning. Papelbon is in jig-dancing shape and has an Under Armor endorsement deal. Gagne/Broxton are probably better suited endorsing KFC. I believe in Pap, but I worry when the Sox let Sabermetrics dictate their business decisions.

  4. Duke,

    Pap has more endurance and will last longer than most closers, especially given the potential that he could actually start. Gagne never had that, which is why i think he fizzled out. Rivera has it and he’s still a great closer. I don’t think pap will decline anytime soon, and given his 2.22 career era, he could decline to 3.00 and still be great.

  5. I’d say it’s the $9 mil contract and the opportunity to sell high if Pap is in the sort of sudden decline that can hit top closers (Gagne, Broxton, etc). But why not try him as a starter first?

    Totally unrelated: can Shopshire’s recurring segment be titled “Talking Shop”? It almost has to be.