Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Trails, Paps.

We can now add Jonathan Papelbon's departure to Philly to the growing list of offseason things that are both sad and unsurprising. The closer's new contract joins:
  1. The scapegoating and firing of Terry Francona
  2. The departure of Theo Epstein to Chicago
  3. The ever-growing list of rumors about the bad behavior of players
  4. The fact that we have lost another starter to Tommy John (regardless of personal feelings about John Lackey, looking for a starter in this market is rather depressing)
We all knew this was coming.  Paps never wanted to take a home-town discount, and the Red Sox were perfectly content to go year-to-year with him in arbitration.  The strategy makes sense, especially when you looks at the recent lack of success the Sox have had with long-term contracts for pitchers.  Being bankrolled by John Henry and Co., the Sox can afford to overpay year after year; it's the failed gambles that trap them in terms of years that they're wary of.

But even though it all makes sense from a clinical point of view, it stings.  Papelbon was one of the few players this season who didn't make excuses, who worked his butt off all season, and who was reasonably consistent (his heartbreaking final inning notwithstanding), and I for one am going to miss him.  I trust new GM Ben Cherington to figure this out, and whtehr Bard steps in as the closer permanently or he finds someone via trade or free agency, I don't think we'll be without someone for the ninth inning.

Dan Shaughnessy (which, hilariously, my auto-correct just tried to change to "Haughtiness"), said it poignantly last week: "A natural in front of the cameras, Papelbon was Cinco Ocho. He was the guy who put the cardboard 12-pack box on his head when the Sox clinched the pennant at home against the Indians in ’07. He was the guy who wore the kilt when he rode the duck boat."

Paps loved the spotlight, and I think Philadelphia will be good for him.  We'll see if they regret giving him all those years, but one thing is for sure: the Red Sox will miss him.