Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Perspectives on Paps
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I think Jonathan Papelbon is an excellent closer, and I'm very pleased that he's wearing a Red Sox uniform for the time being. However, I wrote a post yesterday entreating the young pitcher to get some perspective, and I stand by what I said.
Papelbon is one of the top closers in the game, right now. However, closers don't tend to have long shelf lives, and he's already twenty-nine years old. You can toss out Mariano Rivera, because he is either a freak of nature or an android (the jury's out), and Papelbon has yet to touch the dominance that Mo reached his very first year in the majors.
According to baseball-reference.com, Papelbon's most similar player is Takashi Saito, and his most similar player through age 28 is Bryan Harvey (9 seasons in the majors, ending in 1995). The "godfather" Rivera? Didn't crack the top ten on either list, so everyone STOP throwing out that comparison. In fact, if last year was what we can expect in the future, count me out: his walk rate more than tripled, and he was absolutely painful to watch at times (that said, I'll admit that he got it done... except in ALDS Game 3).
Earlier in the offseason, I wrote this piece rattling off reasons Paps could be traded... Not that I think he SHOULD, necessarily, but Theo has done stranger things. Please don't get me wrong: I value Papelbon a lot, but his attitude gets on my nerves at times. Just because the market dictates that he make $9 million dollars does not mean he "deserves" it. (I don't have the time to get into this now, but baseball's pay scale needs an overhaul.) Papelbon is one of the least involved members of the team when it comes to charity, and I think he would benefit a lot from some volunteer work and/or fund-raising. You're nearly thirty years old, Paps... it's time to grow up and realize something we all learn at some point: the world doesn't owe you anything, nor does it revolve around you.