With of Jonathan Papelbon reportedly close to being shipped out of Philadelphia, let’s look back at his career in Boston which awarded him with a 4-year, $50 million payday from the Phillies.
After being selected in the fourth round of the 2002 amateur draft, Papelbon’s short 58 game stay in the minor leagues was mainly spent as a starting pitcher. After two full seasons between low-A and high-A, the right-hander’s fast track to the majors hit its stride in 2005. Papelbon spent a combined 19 games in double-A and triple-A, and was later summoned to Boston. While Papelbon’s major league debut came as a starting pitcher, the team mainly used him out of the bullpen. Following injuries and ineffectiveness of former closer Keith Foulke, Papelbon’s mid-90’s fastball made him an obvious candidate to take over the position. Subsequently, Papelbon took a liking to his new role, and collected 35 saves and a 0.92 ERA in his first season as the teams closer in 2006.
From then on there was little question who would be pitching for Boston with a lead in the 9th. Papelbon collected over 180 saves and 400 strikeouts from 2007 to 2011, and was selected to three All-Star teams. Even pitching in the postseason didn’t seem to bother the Louisiana native, as he posted a 1.00 ERA 27 innings pitched and locked down the Red Sox 2007 World Series victory.
Following the 2011 collapse of the Red Sox, Papelbon hit free agency for the first time in his career. With little resistance from the Red Sox, the free spending Philadelphia Phillies gave the closer a 4 year, $50 million deal. While the Phillies have been dreadful since signing him, Papelbon has been nails out of the Phillies pen, pitching to the tune of a career 2.45 ERA over his 3 season stay. While allocating $50 million to a reliever is usually ill-advised, especially for a team on the outs like the Phillies, Papelbon has justified his money.
As the Phillies try and regroup as an organization, they’ve taken every measure imaginable to deal the 33-year old closer. For the past two seasons, the team has virtually tried to give him away by agreeing to eat most of his contract, but they’ve failed to find any takers. Most of the concern around the closer is in regards to his open and honest personality. Papelbon has never been one to mince his words or actions, which has subsequently landed him in hot water more times than one. But with the news of a potential deal between the Phillies and the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia might soon rid themselves of Papelbon.
- Winning the 2013 World Series took a lot of heat off of Sox manager John Farrell in his second year at the helm. But after a mulligan was awarded to Farrell following a last place finish in 2014, the 2015 season will not come with the same luxury. Now, Farrell and the rest of the rest of the roster spillover from last season are out prove that 2014 was an anomaly. (Just like his Red Sox team, John Farrell has something to prove in 2015, too)
- After an injury plagued 2014 season, Allen Craig must reestablish himself on the field in order to get his career back on track. However, on a roster that features a mainstay at first base and a logjam in the outfield, Craig is an imperfect fit. In order to maximize his potential for playing time, the 30-year old has expressed a willingness to play third base — a position that he hasn’t played since 2008. (Allen Craig willing to play third; Allen Craig unable to play third)
- Ever since acquiring three news pitchers this winter, Ben Cherington has expressed his comfort with the starting rotation and his indifference towards adding an bonafide ace. The third year general manager maintained his position on the rotation even after the Washington Nationals reportedly began listening to offers regarding their starting pitchers. (Ben Cherington says Red Sox unlikely to go after ace)
- All offseason we’ve heard about the Red Sox unwillingness to trade their young catcher-in-waiting, Blake Swihart. While most of us haven’t actually seen him play, the promise that surrounds the catcher — along with the constant Buster Posey comparisons — give us an understanding of the kind of rarity the Sox hold. Confirmation of Swihart’s promise was given on Thursday, when MLB.com ranked the 22-year old as the best catching prospect in the minor leagues. (Top 10 prospects to watch: Top 10 catchers)
- Tweet of the day: Brock Holt chimes in on DeflateGate