Jonathan Papelbon made an appearance for the Philadelphia Phillies this week for the first time since his big dust up with umpire Joe West and Phillies fans. Papelbon, who was last seen by the Philly faithful grabbing his crotch and yelling at the crowd served a seven-game suspension and made his comeback against the Marlins in Miami. His appearance went smoothly, but we are left to wonder what his first home appearance will be like since the incident.
During Pap’s tenure with the Phils, he has not exactly been a fan favorite. Nicknames such as Papelblow are commonly heard to reference his tendency to blow leads in the ninth inning over the past two years, but this year has been different. Papelbon has been one of the best closers in baseball, and if not for his attitude, there would not be many complaints about him. Unfortunately, with Papelbon, a team needs to take the entire package (attitude included).
Jonathan Papelbon has an ERA of 1.16 and has converted 38 of 40 save opportunities this season, but this latest blemish might be too much for the club to handle. With back-to-back poor seasons the Phillies have seen attendance decrease, and there does not appear to be any fixing the current team without a complete overhaul of the roster. Papelbon’s actions may have come at the worst possible time.
I was a bit surprised the Phillies did not shut down Jonathan Papelbon for the remainder of the year to avoid bad press or any more blow ups. The team has its closer of the future in Ken Giles, and it would not hurt for the team to get him as much big-league experience now so they can make a decision about him and Papelbon in the offseason. However, for now it looks like Giles will pitch the eighth inning and Papelbon will remain the closer for the last week of a horrible season.
So, where do the Phillies go from here? There’s no question regarding Jonathan Papelbon’s talent. The question is, will a team that has refused to make the transition to younger talent finally bite the bullet and part ways with Papelbon in any way this offseason. The Phils are going to have to pay off a chunk of the remainder of his contract because it is unlikely a deal can get done without it. Who even knows if Paps wants to remain with the club next year.
Papelbon is sure to hear plenty of jeers this weekend in Philadelphia. Hopefully, he just bites his lip and does not engage fans who are looking to take out a year of disappointment on one player. But this probably won’t happen — since when does Paps ever bite his lip? One thing is certain: Jonathan Papelbon is going to go out with a bang in any way possible.