Open Season For Closer

Let’s assume the Red Sox are prepared to go into camp without acquiring a proven closer. It’s not a good thing, but it’s worth remembering that the 2003 Sox started the season (by design) with no closer and came a Little short of the World Series after trading for one midseason, and the 2005 Sox made the playoffs despite having a barely effective closer all year long. So, let’s assume and hope one of the following emerges Papelbon-esque from Fort Myers (or, at the latest, Kansas City).

Here are your candidates:

— Holdovers

  • Mike Timlin
  • Manny Delcarmen
  • Craig Hansen
  • Devern Hansack
  • Julian Tavarez
  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Craig Breslow
  • Jon Lester or any of the 37,201 other pitchers who started games for the Red Sox last season (Gabbard, Pauley, DiNardo etc.)

— Acquisitions

  • Hideki Okajima
  • Brendan Donnelly
  • J.C. Romero

Timlin could do the job, and do it well, provided he’s healthy and effective. Considering both are up in the air, and that the Red Sox seem disinclined to even put him in his traditional 8th-inning role because of that, this seems unlikely — unless he blows people away in camp.

Delcarmen did an excellent job last season until a hand injury late in the year (what? A member of the Red Sox with an injury in 2006?). His command improved, and his curveball was nasty. The last time the Sox had a reliever with a breaking ball that good, he saved 46 games and Stephen King wrote a book about him.

Hansen needs time in Pawtucket before returning to the majors, hopefully soon after the All-Star Break.

Breslow I like, and not just because he shares my hometown of New Haven. The southpaw was pretty good last season, although lefties hit him well. He could be great. He could be forgettable, like so many of the young Sox pitchers entering 2007.

Hansack has been bandied around these discussions, but his candidacy for this job seems predicated mainly on one start (albeit a great one) in the last game of a lost season, against the Orioles. Not exactly coming on in the eighth with Jeter at the plate, a runner on third, two outs and the Sox up by a run in the midst of a pennant race. But hey, maybe he’s got the stuff and wins the spot and surprises the world with 35 saves. It’s been done before.

Papelbon was great in the closing role last season, and we all know he can do the job. Theo Epstein said on WEEI that the decision to move Paps to the rotation was based on what was best for his shoulder "at that time." Is that the same as what is best at this time?

Lester appears to be healthy, and it’s not unreasonable to see him channel Papelbon’s success, but all those bases-loaded situations last season were too scary to give him a closing job without some major strides in control.

Gabbard and Pauley should at least be given looks during camp, if nothing else because they’re warm bodies who performed decently in tough situations last season. DiNardo has shown no reason why he should be wearing a Red Sox uniform at all in 2007. You also have to be concerned with bouncing young arms all over the place. Just because Papelbon could do it (we think/hope) doesn’t mean everyone can do it.

Okajima seems to be slated as a possible 8th-inning guy, but the unfamiliarity of most batters to him at least one trip through the league could be enough to buy the Red Sox some time to make an in-season deal if they’re so inclined.

Donnelly isn’t expected to close, at least based on Epstein’s comments upon completion of the trade. Nevertheless, if he’s good enough to shut down hitters in the seventh or eighth, shouldn’t we at least see if he can shut down hitters in the ninth?

Romero was mentioned by someone here as a potential candidate. The Sox seem to think his trouble last season was mechanical, and that he can return to previous dominance. If so, Romero could definitely win the job outright and solidify the bullpen.

Tavarez I left for last because he’s my favorite for this role. Part of his success stems from making sure his arm is tired — the more tired his arm (to a point), the more his sinker does what he needs it to do. The closer’s role seems ideal for creating this strange dynamic, as we often saw Papelbon out there two and three days in a row, often for multiple innings. (Of course, if the Sox go a week with nothing but blowouts, as does happen, what happens to the sinker then?) The Sox might be better served with Tavarez capturing his end-of-2006 spot-starter form and using it as a long reliever — and I could just as easily see Tavarez melting down as a closer — but I wouldn’t be surprised if he not only liked the role but excelled in it.

OK, enough from me. It’s your turn, SFs (and YFs who care). Assuming no major acquisitions, to whom do you think the Sox will turn for their closing duties in 2007?

66 comments… add one
  • Superb post.
    In a curious switcheroo, the Sox pen is stocked with vets (with exceptions) while the Yanks is full of youngsters (with exceptions). Either one or both could be strong, but it’s still up in the air. The Sox have enough guys there that you’d think someone should be able to close, and there’s always Papelbon by default, and if none of these options pan, the Sox do have some chits to work with—if not much more salary space…..

    YF December 30, 2006, 8:41 am
  • …the problem with trading for a closer is that being in short supply, no team will want to trade one, regardless of the “chits” the sox have as trade bait…their options seem to be to trade for a guy they hope can be a closer, hope one of the relievers they already have can become a closer, papelbon, close by committee, or the secret weapon: …guapo [i hear he’s available]…

    dc December 30, 2006, 9:37 am
  • And usually the chits the other teams want in return aren’t the ones the Sox are/should be willing to give up. Wily Mo plus Delcarmen for anyone short of Mariano Rivera 10 years ago is too much.

    Paul SF December 30, 2006, 11:04 am
  • Sally’s or Pepe’s, Paul?
    (The Orc as closer? It’s just so insane it might work; he did surprise everyone with several stellar starts at the end of last year. Or, it might mean the Sox give up 3 runs every time he’s brought in.)

    Hudson December 30, 2006, 11:10 am
  • Maybe the Sox can convince Dave McCarty to leave the broadcasting booth…

    SF December 30, 2006, 11:12 am
  • does anyone really believe theo’s bs? papelbon will be your closer in ’07. it would be damn foolish to move someone that successful into another role.

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 12:37 pm
  • Why call it “BS”? Epstein has never said the closer situation isn’t fluid, that they aren’t trying to figure out what to do, that they are totally set at closer. Saying that Papelbon, at this time, isn’t the closer, is not BS. It’s the situation. For heck’s sake, the guy had to be shut down after closing last year. Is this not enough evidence that he may not be suited to the job over the long haul? Why is it BS for the Sox’ front office to want to avoid causing long-term problems for Papelbon, if this is what closing might do to him? Is it foolish to try to put a player in a position to stay healthy, or to put them in a position where it’s proven they get hurt? He was great at the job, for sure, but not so great that it’s worth risking his viability as a pitcher, if starting is what will help his arm recover. I am no doctor, so I don’t know what the risks are. But he did get hurt by closing, as has been acknowledged by the team and the player.
    If the Sox and their medical staff decide that Papelbon isn’t at risk at this point, then he may be back closing. But none of us are privy to their medical records or their brains. The track record, on the other hand, shows that he was hurt by the role. Again, why is waiting this situation out BS?

    SF December 30, 2006, 1:03 pm
  • Don’t you understand, SF? It’s BS because Theo said it. Duh!
    Incidentally, Hudson, Pepe’s. Went there with my old high school buddies the night before I moved to Texas for college. Good times…

    Paul SF December 30, 2006, 1:17 pm
  • I imagine that Theo is speaking the truth concerning the Sox’ medical staff’s opinion of how to best handle Papelbon’s health (by giving him a starter’s conditioning and routine) but my guess is that if push comes to shove, and Mike Timlin has blown four saves in 10 games, during a 2-12 run, the “expert opinion”‘s of said medical staff will move into the realm of “we will be vigilant about how we use Paps…”
    Also, Timlin’s 9th inning and extra inning numbers are definetely less impressive than his 8th and 7th innings numbers.
    Just saying.

    walein December 30, 2006, 1:24 pm
  • Pepe’s every time.

    Brad December 30, 2006, 1:40 pm
  • i say this with extreme confidence…
    neither Papelbon nor Lester will be closing games in Boston in 2007

    TJ Sox Fan December 30, 2006, 2:06 pm
  • I have to say I also see Paps as the team closer. If closing kills his arm, why wouldn’t 200 ip as a starter? That’s what seems like bs to me. Most pitchers go from starter to pen for health/age reasons, not the other way round.

    YF December 30, 2006, 4:22 pm
  • let’s face it: closers that have years like paplebon did in’06 don’t come along very often. yes, they shut him down at the end of the year, but how much of that was caution, given that the sox were out of contention? mo was shut down too, but if not for the yanks’ comfortable lead, he would certainly have pitched more down the stretch.
    none of us are privy to paple’s medical records, but it seems reasonable that his problem was due to the routine of a closer – with a year’s experience maybe it could (and will imo) be avoided in ’07. do you really think the sox would hesitate to use him this way if an unreliable alternate was compromising their chances?
    theo loves melodrama. i can see it now: timlin has blown several in a row. in comes boston’s finest to escort paple to the mound in the ninth inning of the first game between the yanks & sox at fenway.

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 4:27 pm
  • One person missing on your list of candidates, who is on the team, and has closed before…
    Tim Wakefield.
    With the annual ‘depth’ in starting pitching, do you think any consideration has been given to this?
    I tend to doubt it, but it’s not like he can’t do it. I always liked the idea of a knuckle ball late in the game as a real change of pace…particularly given the power arms the team has in the starting rotation.

    Vic SF December 30, 2006, 4:31 pm
  • …or maybe they have him parachute to the mound from henry’s plane…

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 4:38 pm
  • Theo may “like drama”, or he may not, but I see no reason why that supposed love for drama might be impacting his decision about Papelbon’s shoulder. It’s not a good theory.

    SF December 30, 2006, 5:36 pm
  • And using Mariano Rivera’s being shut down at the age of 34 or 35, after several years as the greatest closer ever, is a totally unfair comparison to make. Papelbon was in his first year in a totally new role, and he suffered because of it, health-wise.

    SF December 30, 2006, 6:02 pm
  • “Papelbon was in his first year in a totally new role, and he suffered because of it, health-wise.”
    Isn’t that what I said: “it seems reasonable that his problem was due to the routine of a closer”?
    The comparison wasn’t so much the pitchers, but the overly cautious handling by their teams,due to the standings.
    IMO, without question anyone who wears a gorilla suit to sneak by the press LIKES drama, to say the least. I think his thespian flair is probably impacting his handling of this situation with regard to the press – say one thing, do another and everyone looks like a hero when Paple returns as closer and saves the day?
    Regarding the shoulder, could it be possible Paplebon’s playing up the problem to vy for a spot in the rotation? Makes a lot more sense $$$ wise for him in the long run. Again, we’re not privy to the medical records, but I don’t believe the shoulder problem was anything out of the ordinary for a pitcher in the first season after switching from starter to reliever.

    Anonymous December 30, 2006, 6:45 pm
  • last post was me

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 6:47 pm
  • could it be possible Paplebon’s playing up the problem to vy for a spot in the rotation
    Come on…

    SF December 30, 2006, 6:51 pm
  • You mean playing it up like this?
    “I’m probably going to be done for the year right now, unless something crazy happens,” Papelbon said. “I just think it’s smart, especially with what happened to (Francisco) Liriano. He’s a young pitcher. If we were in this thing still, I’d go out and pitch.”

    SF December 30, 2006, 6:58 pm
  • Please, you have to do better than that-I’m talking about his dealings with the sox FO, not his statements to the press.

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 7:03 pm
  • “Come on…”
    So to you, it’s completely out of the question for a young guy to lobby for a spot as a starter?? Last I checked, even the top closers lag far behind starters, salarywise. Of course, Paplebon’s in it solely for the love of the game. Silly me.

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 7:06 pm
  • Papelbon was a starter before he was a closer. It’s not inconceivable he wants to go back to doing what he did before, if he likes it better, and if it was something he was really good at (he was). Add on the injury, and it makes total sense why he might perfer starting, if that was an injury-free existence for him – there are a handful of very simple explanations why would be returned to the rotation, both from a health standpoint and a value-to-the-team standpoint.
    Manipulating that into some sort of greed-driven motivation is a huge stretch.

    SF December 30, 2006, 7:33 pm
  • Why didn’t Mariano Rivera lobby to become a starter, way back when, when he was a setup man? Was it because he wanted an existence that was less lucrative? Or was it because a) he was used to relieving, b) good at it, c) healthy doing it, and d) happy doing it.
    What if Papelbon is a) trained as a starter, b) not used to relieving, c) good at it, seemingly, but d) not healthy doing it, and e) not happy doing it? Where’s the beef with this?
    This is another example of someone trying to twist a story into something it’s not: the greedy ballplayer, manipulating a situation for personal wealth. There’s no need for this, in my opinion. There are plenty of examples of this throughout baseball and sports; there’s no need to drag Papelbon through the mud in a situation that has so many other obvious factors at play. I hesitate to generalize about Yankees fans wanting to smear a Red Sox, so I won’t. But I don’t understand the motivation, Andrews.

    SF December 30, 2006, 7:42 pm
  • Rivera broke into the bigs as a starter, and was mediocre. When moved to setup for Wetteland, he was lights-out. I thought he was better than Wetteland, but I can’t argue with the results in ’96. Papelbon will be an interesting study since he’ll be going in the other direction.

    attackgerbil December 30, 2006, 7:53 pm
  • It’ll be interesting to see what will happen if Paps can’t cut it as a starter. I for one think that is a distinct possibility. He will have to dial the velocity down significantly, and I’ve read he doesn’t really have much in way of secondary pitches.
    If Paps fails as a starter, I definitely see him as the long-term plan for the Sox as a closer. And for the Red Sox, I don’t think that would be such a bad thing. Most Sox games were 8-inning affairs last year, and as a Yankees fan, I HATED when Papelbon went to the mound, and was completely overjoyed when Jeter fisted one in front of Trot to tie the game in the Massacre. Overjoyed not in the “knew that was going to happen” sense, but more of a “I can’t believe that just happened” sense. Couldn’t rival the Boone homerun, but I basically jumped up and down and hugged everyone in the room. Mediocre closers blowing saves don’t elicit that kind of response.

    Andrew December 30, 2006, 8:23 pm
  • Relax, my friend. Saying that I think Paple is using the situation to his advantage is not dragging him through the mud. I don’t think he’s greedy, just savvy. I’m not trying to twist anything – just my take on the story.
    In this instance, it’s you who comes up with the unfair comparison: Rivera, as we all know, basically has only one pitch. His only choice was to become a reliever, if he wanted to have a career in MLB. Hard to be effective the third time through a lineup with one pitch.

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 9:05 pm
  • Why does the situation have to be about someone trying to use it to their financial advantage? This is nothing but abject cynicism.

    SF December 30, 2006, 9:08 pm
  • One other thing: from a value to team standpoint, do you really think Paple has more value as a starter for the sox now? When they don’t as yet have a viable closer?

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 9:09 pm
  • “This is nothing but abject cynicism”
    No, it’s not. The guy plays baseball for a living. Shouldn’t he do what’s best for him, from a business standpoint? Who wouldn’t?

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 9:11 pm
  • To repeat: Paplebon will be your closer in ’07.

    Andrews December 30, 2006, 9:15 pm
  • It’s cynicism to ignore the major criteria behind why he’s changing positions, and to make it about something which may not even be an issue to Papelbon, who is not really at all close to free agency or even arbitration.

    SF December 30, 2006, 9:23 pm
  • there’s a reason wake wasn’t mentioned in the closer article… he can’t do it anymore. for the past few years it has taken him an inning or two to lock in the knuckler. just remember the last time he closed… aaron boone.

    Andrew(no s) December 30, 2006, 10:31 pm
  • The way to get the best value out of paps is keep him healthy for the remainder of his long cheap contract. maybe they can blow out his arm the year before he becomes a free agent and makes $8 to 10 million a year.

    andrew(no s) December 30, 2006, 10:34 pm
  • the sox don’t have a closer period…not close…to expect lightning to strike twice in 2 years is too much…papelbon is either done as a reliever, or he will have a rather disappointing year in that role…i agree with andrews that it is naive to think papelbon, with all of his child-like innocence is not thinking about the big dough to be made as a starter, but to give him credit, he probably wants to return to a starting role more because that’s what he’s more comfortable with…typical of sf turning this into a counter-yank godwin beef by dragging in rivera and yf’s wanting to “smear sox”…give me a break, andrews point is a valid opinion to which he is entitled…
    paul, come on…wily mo and delcarmen for rivera 10 years ago?….you’re kidding right?…what an insult to mo…

    dc December 30, 2006, 11:45 pm
  • If you believe Papelbon himself and what he said to the press, he actualy wanted to keep closing until the injury. So, if by “savvy,” you mean “liar,” then I question how you can’t be dragging him through the mud.
    dc, I was exaggerating to make my point. Don’t take it personally. I’m sure Mo doesn’t.

    Paul SF December 31, 2006, 1:57 am
  • dc, hyperbole. But at any rate, 10 years ago, in the 1996 off-season, Mo had had ONE extremely successful ML season as a reliever. Of course, 10 years ago, WMP and MDC were both 14 years old.
    Maybe a better perspective on that, dc, would be if (on another team) MDC and WMP would be a decent return for Papelbon. Opinion?

    QuoSF December 31, 2006, 2:01 am
  • Quo, the Red Sox would be ripping themselves off if they were to make that trade. I’ll leave it at that. You guess which Red Sox team would win that trade…Ok, you said “on another team.” The Sox would win that trade.
    I find it telling that Theo chose the words Paul quotes when talking about Paps. I think, if injury were not an issue, it’s pretty obvious who’d be closing. That said, Papelbon is probably starting next year. As a Yanks fan, I pray that Tavarez is given the closer spot, but I’m guessing Timlin starts the season there.

    Nick-YF December 31, 2006, 2:11 am
  • I hope to God that Timlin does not start the season there. I also have to disagree with any YF or SF who thinks there is any kind of conspiracy theory or whatever regarding Papelbon moving back to being a starter. He was injured at the end of last season. As best the doctors can tell, the injury was due to the unusual and unpredictable workload of being a closer. That’s it. If that weren’t the case, I’d be a lot less surprised than I am now that there are those who think the injury may have been exaggerated in order for Papelbon to get ‘starter money’ or other such nonsense.
    In a financial sense, is it likely that Papelbon will be more richly rewarded as a starter? Sure. Is it fair for him to want that chance and want that money? Sure. Is it reasonable to assume given his comments and seeming relish of the role that he would be happy closing if that were a sound medical decision? Absolutely.
    I understand Andrews, that you’re trying to exaggerate and make your point about Papelbon (not) doing it for “the love of the game”. C’mon folks. It’s guys like Joe McEwing, Chris Coste, etc. who do it for the love of the game. Guys who have no problem bouncing up and down the minors, playing many years before getting their first shot, etc. That kind of thinking is pointless sniping. Most of the players on both of our teams are richly rewarded, negotiate hard for the money they deserve (or don’t).

    QuoSF December 31, 2006, 3:04 am
  • dc:
    the use of Rivera wasn’t in a Goodwin situation (it’s “Goodwin”, not “Godwin” – if I had proposed the idea of Heinrich Himmler closing it would have been “Godwin”!). It was the use of the most readily available, high-profile closer who opted for a position that was less lucrative than starting. It could have been a number of relief pitchers, but I chose Rivera, so I understand how I opened myself up the charge.
    Nonetheless, the bullet points of my post stand, and nobody has answered them on their substance. If all those things in that comment are true, and they seem very clearly to be so, how is it fair to make Papelbon’s switch to starter about money, and not about the 4 or 5 directly pertinent issues at hand in the present? Remember that money is not one, nor really even close to being one for some time. I’d like to hear more on that, not just an avoidance of the issue and further criticism of my tactics. I have only tried to discuss this charge of duplicity (or if not duplicity, at least veiled and clever greed) by Papelbon on the merits of the charge, which I clearly believe are pretty darn irrelevant considering the facts of the situation.
    Simply put: Papelbon was hurt closing. The Red Sox hope to move him out of the position that hurt him, into a starting role, which is what he was trained as, and what they think his arm will be more responsive to: the routine of starting versus the day-after-day violence to the arm from warming up and/or appearing more often. It’s not about the innings, but the incidence of stress. If he can stay healthy as a closer, he’ll probably be closing. So tell us again, how is this about the money?

    SF December 31, 2006, 7:42 am
  • sf,
    actually it’s “godwin”, as in “godwin’s law”, also referred to as “godwin’s rule of nazi analogies”…[courtesy of wikipedia]…which has been invoked in the name of humor on this site before relative to someone eventually turning the argument around on the opposing team [a stretch, but it was used]…kind of like: “…i know you are, but what am i…”…”goodwin”, if i remember correctly, was a very forgettable pitcher for the yankees way back before our time…but that little nit isn’t the main part of the discussion…
    i got a little defensive about rivera because i [erroneously] wasn’t thinking about the rivera from 10 years ago even though that was the example, so i added his value from the past 10 year’s body of work…the benefit of that hindsight when working trades would be quite an asset…given that correction to my perspective, i agree that the proposed trade is not so outrageous…
    you didn’t accuse me of this, but just to clarify, i wasn’t suggesting that papelbon is some greed-driven jerk who is perpetrating a fake injury in order to reap starter money…my comments only suggested that he may envy starter money [stating the painfully obvious], but more likely wants to return to the role that he is probably most comfortable with [starter]…and that may have as much with his own concern for his health than anything else, which you’d have to admit, is about the money…
    i’m not sure what else you posted that needs a response…

    dc December 31, 2006, 9:17 am
  • dc:
    “Goodwin” is the YFSF law that I coined. “Godwin” is the Nazi thing that served as the inspiration. Hence my reference to Himmler. I understand the difference!

    SF December 31, 2006, 9:46 am
  • i wasn’t suggesting that papelbon is some greed-driven jerk who is perpetrating a fake injury in order to reap starter money
    Andrews was, to some extent. I know you weren’t. But saying that his concern for his health is by definition concern for money is silly. Of course his health is directly related to his ability to earn. But that’s true for every player in the entire league, in fact every athlete in every professional sport, so why is there any reason in this particular case with these particular circumstances for anyone to make Papelbon’s potential position change devious? I can’t find one in this case, beyond his uniform.

    SF December 31, 2006, 9:51 am
  • It’s worth noting, and SF alluded to it, that Papelbon would be making exactly the same amount next year, and the year after that, and likely the year after that, as a starter as he would as a reliever — and that’s $335,400, the league minimum. If he turned out to be the second coming of Mariano Rivera during that time, does anyone here think he’ll somehow make less in arbitration than a top-line starter? Considering the scarcity of good bullpen help, I don’t think so.

    Paul SF December 31, 2006, 10:19 am
  • sf,
    re. goodwin/godwin: “…I understand the difference!…”….uh, so did i, but you did correct me needlessly…
    on papelbon, i think we agree that andrews point went a little too far, and made pap’s motives sound way too nefarious…and as you say, it could describe every major league player…which explains why so many guys insist on contracts with guaranteed money…i was just pointing out that he may want to return to starting, partly because he may be more comfortable there, and partly because he has been given a reason to be concerned for his health if he continues to close [neither of those reasons make him seem greedy to me, just properly concerned for his livelihood]…again, probably painfully obvious, but it seems to require restating given the nature of the discussion…

    dc December 31, 2006, 10:23 am
  • paul,
    i’ll admit that i’m not doing the proper research here, but i think you’d have to admit that while pap is due for a huge payday down the road, top-line relievers are not compensated comparably with top-line starters…rivera, considered one of the best, made $10.5m last year [ted lilly money]…

    dc December 31, 2006, 10:31 am
  • How conceivable is it that the RedSox go with a closer by committee; not planned but let’s just say it is not unrealistic that it happens… Now if Lester comes back strong and is ready to go after the AllStar break, Lester could be put into the rotation with a return of Papelbon to the closer role for the second half, after having saved his shoulder some stress for half the season. Does a hypothetical like this have any legs at all?

    soxbraintrust December 31, 2006, 10:32 am
  • What did BJ Ryan make last year, dc?

    SF December 31, 2006, 10:37 am
  • To answer my own question: BJ Ryan signed a 5/47 contract, which this year would have easily been 5/60, or 5/65. Not starter money, but not exactly Ted Lilly money either. What would K-Rod make on the open market? If Papelbon threw like last year for three more years, he’d be in line for a massive payday.
    Let’s put it this way: Papelbon knows he’s an elite closer. Elite closers make tons of money. He has no idea if he’s an elite starter, or even a mediocre one. If he’s not an elite starter, and just Ted Lilly, then he’s going to make less than an elite closer (in this market, at least). One thing he and the Sox do know: he got hurt closing. To me this is pretty much the beginning and end of the story, until the Sox figure out a way to keep him from getting hurt closing.
    And SBT: I think your theory is a reasonable one, totally. But it would all depend if JP is having any kind of year as a starter, or where the Sox are in the standings. Lots of unknowns.

    SF December 31, 2006, 10:43 am
  • BJ Ryan had one good season as a closer under his belt when he signed that deal with Toronto. Rivera is making $10.5M because he signed an extension that was at or slightly below market value in 2004. By comparison, he’s making only $1M less than Mike Mussina, who also could be described as making making Ted Lilly money this season.
    I agree, though, dc, that you’d basically have to be Mariano to think about getting what an overrated starter like Zito just got from San Francisco. Considering Papelbon’s age and salary restrictions in the immediate future, plus his repeated stated comments, the idea that he’s uing his injury to get a bigger payday 10 years from now seems dubious — as you said.

    Paul SF December 31, 2006, 11:04 am
  • If we believe what paple said in the press: ” If we were in this thing still, I’d go out and pitch.”, then your injury claims are surely overstated to try and win the point. I don’t think any of us knows paple personally, so how can you say for sure what is influencing his position on returning as a starter? I sure he has many reasons, comfort and health factors included. It’s also reasonable that finances are considered as well. To suggest otherwise is being disingenuous. I’m not trying to say the guy is greed driven; rather, I’m saying that he is probably using the “injury” as leverage to return to the role he prefers for reasons only he knows: starting.

    Andrews December 31, 2006, 11:23 am
  • Why do you insist on calling it an “injury”, in quotations? Putting it in these terms it seems that you are implying it wasn’t an injury at all. Is this what you mean?

    SF December 31, 2006, 11:26 am
  • I’m implying that it wasn’t as serious as you have tried to make it seem in this discussion. Once again, we are not privy to the medicals, so it’s speculation on everyone’s part. I think, given the quote you provided, that if he could have pitched if the team was still in the race, shutting him down had more to do with caution than a serious injury.

    Andrews December 31, 2006, 5:55 pm
  • I never commented on the depths of his injury, only that there was clearly an injury. The diagnosis (which partly came from the team) was that the routine of starting would be less likely to cause shoulder strain in the long run.
    Who (here or otherwise) has implied that what Papelbon suffered from specifically this year was career-threatening in itself? I speculated based on what I have read, and somewhat amateurishly, that it indicated something about whether or not the relief position was best for him.

    SF December 31, 2006, 6:13 pm
  • More speculation on my part: Theo & Co. say that Pap will start in ’07, filling one of the five available slots, for which you had 6 pitchers (including Lester and Clement). With a full rotation, the sox would be dealing from more of a position of strength in the FA and trade markets…

    Andrews December 31, 2006, 6:27 pm
  • all the above as of the last day of the ’06 season.

    Andrews December 31, 2006, 6:29 pm
  • After arroyo last year i really don’t think the red sox are going to deal any starting pitching this offseason. i don’t think any red sox fans really want to get stuck seeing kason gabbord again if someone goes down. Clement won’t be ready until at least may and its pretty dumb to factor lester into anything yet.

    Andrew(no s) December 31, 2006, 6:36 pm
  • sf, i don’t really think we disagree, but i can’t always tell…my point was [and i did admit it wasn’t properly researched] was that elite closers don’t seem to be compensated at the same levels as elite starters, even though they do make a lot of money, relative to say, me…mo rivera was just one example…looks like bj ryan is another…i don’t think we’ll see closers making $18m, but anything’s possible…

    dc January 1, 2007, 10:55 am
  • Mmmm, Pepe’s. Yummy. Long wait, though.
    I sincerely hope Papelbon isn’t the closer because he was darned good at it (understatement alert!). The Orc… muwahahaha! Of course, just to spite me the ugly sob would probably go out and have a good year.

    Rob (Middletown, CT) January 2, 2007, 8:54 am
    BOSTON — Joel Pineiro reached a preliminary agreement on a $4 million, one-year deal with the Boston Red Sox, who are turning to the former Seattle starter as a contender for their vacant closer’s job.
    The contract includes $2 million in performance bonuses based on games finished, according to a person familiar with the negotiations, who spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the agreement has not been announced.
    Pineiro’s deal also contains a player option for 2008. He must pass a physical for the contract to be finalized.

    TJ Sox Fan January 3, 2007, 6:34 pm
  • God, that’s better news than if they settled with any of the junk pile from last year.
    Thank you Boston, for continuing to move laterally with your bullpen.

    Andrew January 3, 2007, 6:36 pm
  • “… really don’t think the red sox are going to deal any starting pitching this offseason.”
    Just to make my point clear, I was talking about leverage in negotiations to AQUIRE starting pitching

    Andrews January 4, 2007, 1:36 pm
  • ALL i can say is hahahaha. Papelbon is not another greedy baseball player, he went to francona and asked to be put back into the closers role, because that “was where his heart is” its sucks that the greed of the game has made so many fans bitter, but its nice to see a player whos in it because he loves the game(at least for now and its not to say that he won’t get crazy bank when he hits free agency as a closer). Go sox and lets hope Lester gets competely healthy and has a strong year this year.

    Andrew(no s) March 22, 2007, 5:44 pm
  • I’d like to note my own early skepticism for the Papelbon-health-starting scenario so early in the game. :-D

    Paul SF March 22, 2007, 6:00 pm
  • with all the trade talks that red sox were rumored to be for a closer, do you think they will now try to shop around for a 4 quality starter? someone like ben sheets or adam eaton.

    Andrew(no s) March 22, 2007, 10:46 pm

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