Archive for the ‘Jonathan Papelbon’ Category

Makes Me Wonder

The three-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins was exactly what the Boston Red Sox needed. The Sox have been going through the motions lately, getting little to no production from Manny, Lugo, Ellsbury, and Varitek. Even Jonathan Papelbon has been getting hit. These guys had looked like a shell of their former selves.

During this series with Minnesota, Boston won the first game 1-0. They rallied back from a three-run deficit to win the second game, and they had the blowout in the third game to cap the sweep. I know that one good series doesn’t make a season, but this could be a turning point for the Sox. They beat a very good team three times, in three very different ways. Boston is finally getting healthy, and this could be when we see the real Red Sox show up.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits:

  • Boston is 34-10 playing at Fenway and 21-29 on the road. Home field is going to be more important than ever this postseason.
  • Some guy named Clay Buchholz is starting for Boston Friday night. I hope that he can do as well as some of the other young pitchers the Red Sox have used this year.
  • Congrats to Evan Longoria for making the All Star team. It’s well deserved and is sure to be the first of many during his career.
  • Speaking of the All Star game… Imagine, if you will, the 9th inning, the AL up by one run. Francona goes to the bullpen, the last All Star game in Yankee Stadium… and out comes Jonathan Papelbon. It won’t happen. But it would be awesome to stick it to the entire state of New York.
  • Dustin Pedroia needs to be in the running for the MVP of the league.
  • Vernon Wells of the Toronto Blue Jays is injured again and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. It’s time for Toronto to concede the season and look towards next year.
  • After dropping three in a row, and losing 13-2 to Cleveland as I write this, you know that the Rays are counting the minutes to the All Star break so they can regroup. This is just a bump in the road. They’ll be competitive all year long.
  • Is A-Rod dating Madonna really newsworthy? Would this even be in the paper if the Yankees were relevant?

How Bizarre

Strange week for the World Champs. First, they received their second World Series ring in four years, and then they welcomed the biggest goat in their storied history back to Fenway Park. Meanwhile, the enigmatic J.D. Drew is crushing the ball, and Big Papi couldn’t hit a fastball if he were swinging a boat oar. Finally, their 2007 team M.V.P. went on the disabled list… and the team got better. Not to mention, the damn Yankees are in town for three games. Welcome back to the U.S.

Quick hits:

  • I can’t turn away from the television when Jonathan Papelbon is in the game. He’s always fun to watch. He reminds me of a mix between Al “The Mad Hungarian” Hrabosky and Nuke LaLoosh from Bull Durham.
  • Breaking News! Julian Tavarez sucks. I wish they had kept Kyle Snyder as their long reliever, and dumped Julian. But who would babysit Manny if he was gone?
  • Speaking of Man-Ram… 10 games into the season, and he’s already ignoring the third base coach and running through the stop sign. He was lucky to score this time. If he pulls this crap again, he should be benched.
  • Manny, please get a damn haircut.
  • Did you see the Sox fan that was building the new and improved Yankee Stadium and buried a Red Sox shirt in the concrete hoping to curse the Yankees? Take that, Hank Steinbrenner. Red Sox Nation is everywhere. Enjoy your new cursed stadium.
  • While I’m on the subject of the Yankees, New York struggled against the mighty Rays and the formidable Royals this week. Let’s see how they do against a real team.
  • I have a feeling Clay Buchholz will bring his A-game tonight. He seems to relish the big stage.

Enjoy the games this weekend.

Go Sox!

Closing Time

One could make the argument that a team’s closer is the most important player on the roster. A good closer is the guy that can come out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth inning of a close game and consistently shut the opponent down. He may only pitch sixty innings a year, but every single one of them counts. He needs to have a short memory, mental toughness, and ice water flowing through his veins.

The pressure of being a Major League closer has ruined the careers of countless pitchers. These guys are special and are a rare breed of ballplayer. Fortunately for the Boston Red Sox, they have such a guy, and they need to lock him up for a long time.

Jonathan Papelbon is entering his third season as the Red Sox closer, and during his short career he has quickly turned into the game’s elite closer, all for the bargain basement price of $425,500 a year. Major League Baseball has a weird salary structure that bases salaries on a player’s initial years of service, so Boston is under no obligation to pay him any more than that. But why take the chance of insulting the best closer in the game?

So why doesn’t Boston lock him up for a long-term contract? The Red Sox have shown that they’re not afraid to spend money. (See Dice K’s $51.1 million posting fee, J.D. Drew’s $14 million a year, Julio Lugo’s $9 million a year.) Why not spend some on the guy that saved 37 games last year and was unstoppable in the playoffs?

Not to mention, Papelbon may be the most liked athlete in all of New England. I grew up in New Hampshire, and I don’t ever remember an athlete doing an Irish jig after winning a big game. I’m not sure what Boston fans find more endearing, his All-Star caliber pitching, or his ability to relate to the common man.

Papelbon reminds me of a combination of Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Karl Childers from Sling Blade, a likable party animal with a mean streak. His recipe for success seems simple: sprint from the bullpen, crazy stare to home plate, 96 MPH fastball. Repeat as necessary. Whether he comes in for one out or two innings, this combination has been the reason that Boston knows that it’s game over when Papelbon enters the game.

So Theo Epstein, please give this guy the contract that he deserves. I can’t bear the thought of him dancing in another team’s uniform.

Don’t push the panic button!

Things don’t look good for the Red Sox right now. The last couple of weeks has taken their AL East lead to a measly 1 1/2 games. They have Youk, Coco, Okijima and Man Ram on the bench with injuries. Tim Wakefield and Dice K have looked tired their last three starts. To make matters worse, their bats have gone cold.

So why am I not worried yet? Here’s why: the Sox have a lot of character on this team. Guys like Varitek, Youk, Pedroia, Pap, Lowell, Papi, and Beckett have shown me a lot this year. These guys have carried the load day in and day out. These guys will pick up the slack and turn this thing around. This is a bump in the road. Every team goes through at least one during the season. What magnifies this current stretch, is that unfortunately it’s happening in September. If this were June no one would care. Also New York is playing good ball at the most opportunistic time. They can’t keep this going.

They may have taken 2 out of 3 last weekend in Boston, but they were not the better team. The first game they had one good inning. The second game the Yankees had their asses kicked. The third game, Schilling pitched one inning to many and gave up the Jeter home run. The Red Sox outplayed them that weekend. It’s unfortunate it didn’t translate into wins.

This team is going to be great for years to come. They’ll have a rotation of Beckett, Dice K, Lester, and Buchholz going into next year. All young guys, all character guys that will be part of this team for years. Youk, Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Papi aren’t going anywhere any time soon. This team is only going to get better. This team is set up to start collecting AL East crowns.

The final thing that the Red Sox have going for them is the best fans in the world. Fans that aren’t fair-weathered like Yankee fans. Fans that know baseball. Fans that stick with their team, through good times and bad.

Let’s remember this during the final games of the season and into the playoffs.

And the people that keep bringing up 1978…. can kiss our asses.

In Theo We Trust

When the 2007 MLB trade deadline came and went without the Red Sox upgrading their offense, I was more than a little disappointed. I couldn’t see why G.M. Theo Epstein wouldn’t part with a couple of promising minor leaguers to land guys like Jermaine Dye or Mark Teixiera. I mean, these guys are proven all-stars who would make any lineup better. I thought the Red Sox wanted to win this year, not hope that these “kids” will make it to the show and provide Boston with a solid lineup for years to come. I was more interested in a 2-year rent-a-player who could help the team now. It felt like playing the stock market, hoping the future would be prosperous.

I was wrong.

Throughout this season, players like Pedroia, Papelbon, Delcarmen, Lester, Ellsbury and now Buchholz haven’t just contributed to the Sox lineup, they’ve solidified it.

Let’s take a look at the potential Red Sox lineup 2 years from now and how old each player will be:

Pitchers:
Beckett 29
Dice K 29
Lester 25
Buchholz 25
Delcarmen 27
Paplebon 29

Fielders:
1B: Youkilis 30
2B: Pedroia 26
OF: Crisp 30
OF: Ellsbury 26
OF: Moss 26

This core of players has the potential to be all-stars for the next several years. Maybe there is something to be said for having players mature and progress through your farm system, instead of selling off your talent for the high-priced flavor of the month. Just ask the Yankees how that has worked out for them.

The future is now in Boston… and the future looks bright.