Brendan Donnelly is signed. J.C. Romero is signed. Along with Timlin, Okajima, Delcarmen, Tavarez, Snyder, Corey and Hansen, the bullpen is almost complete. J.D. Drew (probably) and Julio Lugo fill out the lineup, and Daisuke Matsuzaka rounds out the rotation. The team for 2007 is complete except for one vital, important position- the closer. And quite frankly, neither Red Sox fans nor the front office really have any clue where this spot will be filled.
Chad Cordero was visited, but idiotic Jim Bowden seems to think he can score Jon Lester, Dave Murphy and Bryce Cox for him. Mike Gonzalez from the Pirates has been discussed, but they want Wily Mo Pena, and the Yankees seem to be closer on a deal for Gonzalez than Boston. Eric Gagne was a contender from Day 1, but smartly Boston was not able to guarantee Gagne the money he was looking for. Baltimore scraped away potential candidate Danys Baez. With no incumbents ready to take over on the current roster, and a free agent class with no B.J. Ryan, the Sox will have to pull something out of their hat to secure wins in the ninth inning.
Or is the answer as complicated as we all think?
Theo persisted from Day 1 that Jonathan Papelbon would be a starting pitcher in 2007. Last October, I was all for that idea. We needed to use his potential in a way to gain the most out of the prized pitcher, and elongating Papelbon to 200 innings as a starter was a trivial solution. He came up through the minors as a starter and always figured he would play that role in the big leagues. Epstein and his partners figured, obviously, that using his undeniable talent as a starter means more wins for the Red Sox. Starting pitchers throw numerous more innings than closers.
Now the situation arises where the closers spot is a blank slate. Contrary to some people, I value a closer as an extremely valuable asset for a contending team. The playoff teams last season had reliable closers to turn to and shut down games, and this was evident with St. Louis