Papelbon Moves onto Phillies – What’s Next for Red Sox?
Closer Jonathan Papelbon got the big money and long-term deal he has been working towards – and is headed off to Philadelphia.
More power to him. Papelbon delivered for the Red Sox.
He was a 4-time All Star. Fan favorite. And stand-up guy when things didn’t go well.
One can’t blame the Red Sox for passing on Papelbon.
The MLB track record on long-term deals for relievers is not that great (especially for hard throwing relievers). Exhibit One: B.J. Ryan and the Blue Jays.
And don’t counter with the longevity of Mariano Rivera. The future Hall of Famer is a freak – in a category all by himself.
David Schoenfield chronicles Papelbon’s performance, writing here are Papelbon’s rankings over the past three seasons among all relievers with at least 150 innings:
- 19th in batting average
- 16th in on-base percentage
- 18th in slugging percentage
- 23rd in ERA
Gordon Edes writes the next manager will have a say on how the closer role is handled.
I look for the Red Sox to take a Kevin Towers approach – focus more on acquiring depth, less on making a splash with a big-name replacement.
Daniel Bard will get a shot but given Boston’s annual expectations (World Series), the team will need to cover its bases.
Bobby Jenks – the team can’t count on him. Anything (positive) he provides will be a plus.
Alfredo Aceves – he gets a well-deserved shot in the starting rotation.
Groom a rookie or two for the back-end of the bullpen – looking at Felix Doubront, Kyle Weiland and Junichi Tazawa. Another name to watch: Alex Wilson as a potential power arm in the pen.
Shop the “bargain table” at the free agent bazaar. Players like: Mike Gonzalez or David Aardsma (38 saves in ’09; 31 saves in ‘10 – show relievers can come from nowhere).
Go find 1 or more “plus arms” that may be able to put it together for a year (building the bullpen is a year-by-year process – don’t count on guys for more than a year). Utilize someone like Jed Lowrie or Josh Reddick to get an arm – potential upside for potential upside.
And wait out the free agent market. There are a lot of relieves available.
See where the market places players like Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton – and look to do a short-term, incentive-laden deal. To get some Bard insurance.