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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

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I'm not surprised at this at all. Doctor or no doctor, sooner or later it would have to come down to Papelbon closing for the Sox.

The only question is how long he can last in that role.

Eric Wilbur's blog is where the initial link is at.
The audio is being played on EEI right now.
It's john Henry leaking that it's Papelbon, and the Werner correcting him because Henry did not know it had not been announced, so Henry receeded.
If it's true, I love it.

Damn. I was hoping for the Sox to have to deal with their version of Jaret Wright. Namely, a miracle if he ever goes 7 innings.

This is not so much a smart move by the Sox, they're just not making a really really dumb one.

I guess the Sox are so used to dealing under the table via leaks they can't even make a straight announcement when they supposedly have nothing to hide.

if true, I admit that it makes the Sox a stronger club in 2007, but the issue of course is how healthy will Paps be in that role. How risky is this move? Are the Sox, a normally responsible franchise, putting a young player's arm at risk for the immediate goal of winning now?

I await the confirmation of this rumor. Maybe the reality is that Dick Radatz is being reanimated.

My big question, if this is true, will be one based in cynicism: how much did the front office lean on the medical staff, and do the Sox employ a medical staff that can be leaned on? I hate to think there might have been some pressure on the diagnosis, but I can't get the idea out of my head.

If Lester is healthy, this mitigates the loss of Papelbon's upside as a starter, since Lester might be able to step in sooner than expected and offer equal performance. I still want the strongest rotation, the closer spot is less important to me. If Lester = Papelbon as a starter, then this is a good move, pending health. If whoever takes Papelbon's position in the rotation sucks eggs, then count me as (speculatively) unhappy.

On another note, CF Coco Crisp showed up with his hair grown out. We all know what happened the last time a CF in Boston didnt cut his hair all season.

Nick, I would imagine that without a clean bill of health, Papelbon would NEVER agree to doing this, and I don't think they would risk the next three years for half of this one, do you?

This is the awesomest thing I've heard since the Sox signed Daisuke Matsuzaka. Presumably, this clears the fifth spot for Lester if he's determined to be healthy. That's just an incredible rotation, to go with a superb lineup and a suddenly remarkable bullpen of Papelbon, Timlin, Donnelly, Okajima, Tavarez and Hansen/Delcarmen.

I do not follow RS spring training but how was he handling the workouts. A doctor changing his opinion on something over such a short period of time does not seem probable and I cannot imagine Paps arm havingchanged that much of the period. Was he having trouble with other pitches? Did John Henry watch Any Given Sunday last night?

Brad, SF posed the question better. I'm not sure what Papelbon would do. Athletes can be risk-takers (did Foulke's career end prematurely because of his 2004 post-season?), and say the team put pressure on the medical staff, then who knows what info he got. All I'm saying is that this is a big turn-around from last fall and of course the cynical side of me is going to ask questions.

the rest of the rumor was that theo tried to make a deal to acquire Lazarus, but when that fell apart, he figured papelbon was the next best thing...

Hey, Paul, it might be a good rotation, if Lester stays healthy, and Papelbon stays healthy, and Curt does well, and Beckett improves, and Dice-K adapts, and Delcarmen improves, and Donnelly rebounds, and Timlin doesn't get hurt, and the Earth continues to spin at current rotational speeds so Wakefield's knuckler knuckles, and if the polar ice caps don't melt, and if we're not invaded by enormous bug-looking aliens like in Starship Troopers, and if Richie Sambora and Denise Richards stay together, and if, and if, and if, and if...

Sorry, channeling a garden-variety Yankee fan there for a second. My bad.

i'm excited about the prospect of tavarez starting. he was lights out when he started some meaningless games at the end of last season. we can't forget joel in the rotation equation as well. my man runelvys is licking his chops.......i never thought i'd be saying these things.

Seth,
I would imagine that the last time that the Red Sox were able to see Papelbon on the mound or assess his strength was October of last year. I don't imagine Papelbon is going to risk his own health, especially when he WANTS to start, if he's not fully capable of closing games. I do doubt the full validity of the whole situation, but I do think that the possibility of Papelbon being stronger this year than last is a real one. He's clearly a bigger guy now than he was this time last year.
I'm not a doctor, and I only play one on TV, but I think it is a real possbility that the kid has gotten stronger and is able to handle the workload.
Obviously there are going to be restrictions on Tito re: him. No more double innings twice a week in July for Papelbon might be in the cards.

If the Sox are forced to bring up KC castoff Runelvys Hernandez, then they are in trouble.

my man runelvys

I'm really hoping that this stems from his name and not his ability. I agree with Andrew on this one.

c'mon andrew...the '06 yankees were the best team they've fielded this century. and they did it with the likes of erickson and ponson. who says runelvys can't contribute?

I'm all for healthy skepticism -- and hopefully the reporters will press Theo, assuming this is true, as to how this quick turnaround took place -- but it would be extremely and unrealistically short-sighted of the organization to lean on the medical team to fill a short-term need that is of less importance than Papelbon's long-term potential. The cost-benefit ratio of jeopardizing Papelbon's health to fill a need that is likely to be filled at least adequately anyway by the end of the season would be beyond stupid. That strikes me as extremely uncharacteristic of the current front office.

I think SF is headed for a MAJOR helping of Crow Pie, after a winter of dismissing, in no uncertain terms and quite vehemently, any suggestions that Papelbon would return to the closer role.

Anyhoo.....

What are you talking about, YF? I have said nothing but that Papelbon should do what the DOCTORS SAY, in order to preserve his health. If they say he can close, and the Sox can replace his performance equally (I have been consistent in my desire for the strongest rotation possible), then that's fine. I have been nothing but consistent on this one, so stop the fight-picking bullshit.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but this wasn't a quick decision, if this rumor is true. The doctors made the decision about Pap's future ability to close at the end of last season, right? The docs just had the opportunity to look at him again after a full winter of recovery and rehab.

mmmm. Crow Pie. Save a slice for Nick re: Wang.
hahah. I kid Nick.

Upon further review (not always a good thing to spout your first impressions as soon as you read something), but I would be sad about losing Papelbon from the rotation, particularly if he were replaced by Joel Piniero or even Julian Tavarez. The idea of having Lester in there, though, is pretty appetizing. I agree that the Sox would essentially be moving Papelbon to a spot where he's overall of less value, but it would also be nice to feel good when the ninth rolls around and the Sox are nursing a lead.

I'm not questioning your position vis-a-vis Papelbon's health. But I am stating for a fact that when other posters to this site suggested that Paps might close this coming season, you were massively dismissive. Are you seriously denying this? It's not bs, and I'm not picking a fight. Just making the record on this one crystal clear.

Brad: If CMW tanks, I'll also take a slice. But I'm not expecting that course.

Yawn...wake me up when something important comes around.

Brad, I think it's been established that you have a more optimistic view of Wang's 2007 than I do.

yeah, Paul I agree. I love him there, but I was definitely looking forward to the chance for him to be awesome in the starting role. Imagine he was to win 18 or 19 games this year with a 3.20 and 230k? It's appetizing for sure, but his need to calm nerves at the end of games is pretty darn demanding as well. I think he's great either way, but I would not have been sad if they would have given the job away for at least a test run.
That being said, that bullpen has the potential to be pretty darn good with him anchoring it, and the thought of Lester holding down 5th street is a great one to me.

mmmmmm....did someone say wang pie?

hahahahahah.

No, I didn't dismiss the idea that Papelbon would close ever, I dismissed the idea that he wouldn't close without a significant change in the medical diagnosis. There's a very important difference between those two statements, and you are trying to mislead here. Cut it out. Seriously, it would take two seconds to search the site, YF. I did a search for "Papelbon Doctor" and this came up.

Why call it "BS"? Epstein has never said the closer situation isn't fluid, that they aren't trying to figure out what to do, that they are totally set at closer. Saying that Papelbon, at this time, isn't the closer, is not BS. It's the situation. For heck's sake, the guy had to be shut down after closing last year. Is this not enough evidence that he may not be suited to the job over the long haul? Why is it BS for the Sox' front office to want to avoid causing long-term problems for Papelbon, if this is what closing might do to him? Is it foolish to try to put a player in a position to stay healthy, or to put them in a position where it's proven they get hurt? He was great at the job, for sure, but not so great that it's worth risking his viability as a pitcher, if starting is what will help his arm recover. I am no doctor, so I don't know what the risks are. But he did get hurt by closing, as has been acknowledged by the team and the player.

If the Sox and their medical staff decide that Papelbon isn't at risk at this point, then he may be back closing. But none of us are privy to their medical records or their brains. The track record, on the other hand, shows that he was hurt by the role. Again, why is waiting this situation out BS?

Posted by: SF | Saturday, December 30, 2006 at 01:03 PM

How about YOU take a big fat bite of that pie, eh?

So if you check that sports blog thing, Edes says everyone needs to chill out. Also, he may have been making fun of either this site or rotoworld for the reaction...heh.

SF, I think the correct statement was that the '06 Yankees won in SPITE of guys like Erickson and Ponson. You're right, there's a couple of gag-worthy players every year on the best teams. 2005 had Tim Redding, Darrell May and Tony Womack (among others), 2006 only seemed to have Erickson, Ponson and Long (Terrence) as players who played enough to make me groan every time they came in.

Our search engine makes it difficult to go through the comments, and i don't have time to cherrypick the several times i recall reading an sf comment to the effect of "get it through your head: paps is not closing in 2007." if that statement, or something along the lines, does not exist, then i apologize and humbly eat crow. as i cannot produce it myself right now, i offer the apology as standing. however, if there's anyone here who recalls being on the receiving end of such a comment, please chime in, and hopefully with the smoking gun.

humbly, YF

guys, I know this sounds silly after all this time, but how do I do what SF just did with the italicised (sp) font?

Hmmmm...I did like the secure feeling of seeing Papelbon close...but Paul, are you really remembering what Lester offered last year. Seems like he'd be a perfectly acceptable 5th starter, but he definitely got worse as he went along (*ahem*, yeah, he had cancer...has anyone (callously) asked him if it affected his performance the latter months he was in the rotation?) and only through luck did as well as he did.

I dunno, man. I prefer Schilling/Matsuzaka/Beckett/Wakefield/Papelbon/not-awesome-closer to S/M/B/W/Lester/super-awesome-closer. But we'll see.

Apparently this is not true according to Edes.

Uhh...once again, Edes just wrote that nothing's changed, and there will be no announcement that Papelbon is closing next season. Werner's line was apparently a joke, and this is what Theo said in the interview that is to air tomorrow on NESN:

"We certainly hope a closer emerges from this group we have, either one of the veterans who have filled in when we needed it in the past, like a Timlin or one of the really talented relievers coming off a bad year, like a Romero or even a Donnelly who is coming off a subpar year for him, or one of the younger guys, like a Delcarmen or Hansen or even someone who may be targeted to start in the minor leagues. So hopefully, someone out of that group emerges. I hope I didn't forget anyone, Julian Tavarez as well as Pineiro coming over, but if they don't we have options. We have options internally, if Jon [Papelbon]'s shoulder progresses to a point we're comfortable it makes sense overall in the scheme of this ballclub and his career. And then we have options outside of the organization as well. We can always pursue a trade. Yeah, it's an unsettling feeling not to have that guy now. I think as that person emerges, we'll all feel better.''

More of the same...and a good thing, too, because I absolutely hate the idea of Lester starting the season in Boston's rotation.

d1,
it has much less to do with the blog, and much more to do with the audio that was on EEI suggesting the above stuff. Edes will not step on toes this early and do something that is going to stop getting him all this nice coverage in Fla. If it's true, which is what the audio suggested, it will come out. If not, then it's not a big deal. Either way, it's news. If anything, Edes is downplaying the blog so he looks like the go to guy if it's announced later in the day, right?
Oh well, it's just a rumor until it happens, so no need to put all the chickens in that basket. I was just relaying what was on the radio is all.

I heard it, and it did not sound like a joke to me. But if it is, I'm sorry to have created a buzz for nothing. The audio genuinely sounded like a huge mistake on Henry's part, and a quick cover-up by Werner to not relinquish info.
Oh well, sorry either way, guys.

I've updated the post to reflect Edes' latest entry.

Not a big deal...I think this was just a perfect storm of Werner/Henry making a joke and the words "internal options" and "Jon Papelbon" being used in the same sentence in an Edes/Theo interview. And then WEEI jumped all over it. It happens.

Anyhow, I'm sure Nick could write a daily baseball column as well, if not better, than Edes with one hand tied behind his back. If it's such a joke, why is EEI still on it and breaking it down to such extremes? Are they in the dark over the "joke" as well? Edes has very little room to call anyone an idiot.

YF: my statement as referenced above is fleshed out and explanatory. It's my position still, it was my position then, and it might be wiser for you to just say you were wrong in your accusations.

Why the unilateral antagonism? Too many flame wars start because someone accuses another person of saying something in direct opposition to what is on the record. As authors of this blog, it seems like we should avoid this at all costs, though I admit it's impossible to avoid; we are human. I started a thread here:

http://yanksfansoxfan.typepad.com/ysfs/2007/02/not_cleared_to_.html

with additional comments that continue to back up my (consistent) position. It's a copout to say that it's too hard to search our archives. And it's even worse to ask our readership to go out and do your dirty work for you, trying to catch an inconsistency.

SF, are you getting enough sleep with the new tike around? You seem on edge today, buddy.

I don't think Edes was being malicious in his recent post...I think he was just surprised by the reaction and probably unaware of the way EEI is jumping all over this; he may have just thought this was an Internet rumor. He came across as more shocked/exasperated than arrogant or obnoxious. At least, to me.

Like I said, I don't really blame him or anyone else for this...it was just a miscommunication/wishful thinking. (Unless you're me...I was so pissed when I read that heading...)

And anyway...EEI seems to have moved on to Tom Brady's baby and some Manny-bashing. Well, it was exciting for a little while...

yep. Gave us something to talk about for the past two hours, which is more than we've had in a few days less A-Rod and Jeter's love-fest.

I, unlike many others, have always thought well of Edes. But the tone of his post is so f*cking condescending as to be repulsive.

From my Scoresheet (Fantasy Baseball) team's perspective I need him to start. I just traded for Huston Street based on him starting. Ughh. Never roster players from the team you hate, that will teach me.

"10, 13, 27 years ago, me and jeter would have sleep overs 8 nights a week. we would always fight over the last piece of wang pie."

......sorry....it's pain killer tuesday for me.

I am getting enough sleep, Brad, thanks for asking. I am annoyed mainly becasue YF did something totally un-YFesque, which is distort what I have said about Papelbon, without checking the record, an easy thing to do. To make it worse, when confronted with the evidence he sent people out to do his dirty work for him instead of just letting it go and acknowledging an error, and this was, to me, petty.

It is, in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal. I just don't like it.

Well, now I don't know what to think. If the medical reports say he shouldn't close then the Sox would be idiotic to make him. However if the reports say his arm is fine then the Sox would be idiotic not to.

All in all if he doesn't close it's good for Lester, who should spend half of the season in AAA, or at least until he can get some sembelance of better control. I don't think it was the cancer that was affecting his play, he's always had high walk totals and the majors just exacerbated that fact. He was brought up before he was ready due to a collapsing pitching staff, and now he needs time to adjust to pitching again. Remember when it was doubtful if he would ever pitch again? You don't rush someone who just had chemotherapy, or whatever cancer treatment he got, even if he says he's perfectly fine.

condescending as to be repulsive.

I agree. It's as if he's some kind of media king, taking a second from his very busy job of talking to baseball players all day long, to shit on this (or whatever) site. When, in reality, a TON of baseball columns, his included, are often the benefactors of what we talk about here. If we, and I mean that as a whole, spend two days talking about an issue, guess what shows up in the sports section shortly thereafter? It amazes me the belittleing attitude writers have towards bloggers when many of them rip them off to no end.
End rant.

The thing about Edes' original post is that he vilifies bloggers for not getting what he wrote as a joke though it's not clear that it is a joke at all. The best he can do descriptively is characterize the conversation as "light-hearted" (definition: happy or cheery), but he makes no critical distinction as to whether or not the banter was a joke or not. It's very hard to tell what Edes was trying to capture in that post, but he has the audacity to insult us "kids" because he didn't write clearly, which is his JOB. Somehow he expects that his "reporting" involves mind-reading on the part of his readership.

To be fair, we did crap all over his anti-Manny column. Maybe he's out for revenge ;-)

So YFSF has now "broken" the stories that A-Rod was going to the Phillies and that Papelbon would be the 2007 closer. I should feel embarrassed, but frankly, this is what makes the Internet so great and this site so vibrant.

Now I'm really hoping that it ends up being Papelbon, so the "kids" end up hitting the nail on the head. Well, amongst other reasons too!

Meh, Edes really didn't bother me that much. I'd have been irritated if I were in his position, too; I imagine writers don't like having their stuff misrepresented anymore than we would, accident or not. I'd also point out that this whole situation may have been Eric Wilbur's fault; he's the one who posted the Henry-Werner exchange on the blog, calling it "light-hearted," (Which I interpreted as jovial and excited for the future, not just a joke about the closer situation) and went on to mention Edes' interview. So maybe there's some displaced anger going on here...

Besides, I think many of us would agree that we take a similar tone of condescension towards some columnists and BDD-types...even in my daily interactions with fellow Sox-fans, I have real trouble holding my tongue when the less-informed (See: Less-Obsessive) voice their opinions. Yes, I know this qualifies as intellectual elitism, and no I'm not thrilled about it...but it's hard to control, especially if someone is trying to argue with me.

Maybe I don't have a problem with Edes because I'd have sounded similar if I were him. I'd have done my best to temper it, and definitely would have felt bad about it afterwards. But I'm often fairly incapable of masking even the slighest irritation with pretty much anything. Makes dating kind of a bitch...heh.

"Can I say this loud enough to be heard in cyberspace?"

That's the line that really galls me. As a whole, the Red Sox blogging universe (us, Over the Monster, Firebrand, Keys to the Game, Surviving Grady, Cursed to First, Feeding the Monster, Touching All the Bases, etc.) are incredibly intelligent and well-informed about the game, to the point where I tend to learn more about the Sox reading them than I do reading Edes every day. That he can't recognize that is to his detriment.

Wow...talk about taking something and running with it. Now I'm glad I showed up late to the party. [Laughs]

I think everyone's making far too big a deal about not having a closer. Relax, already--it's February! If it's still a question in April *then* we can freak out.

Yeah, correction, my bad. Wilbur made that original post, not Edes. Prior rant rescinded.


and, Paul, though it's not a blog, SoSH. SoSH is an amazing resource, and I think it's often overlooked or dismissed as a fanboyish commenting board, which it is most definitely not. The game threads are just a community-thing and often a bit breathless (so are ours!), but most main board threads are filled with interesting comments, research, links to obscure and useful other websites and generally intelligent insights, from people of all ages, not just "kids".

//"Can I say this loud enough to be heard in cyberspace?"//

I think that line's supposed to be a bit of a joke too. Far be it from me to defend a Globe writer, but that kind of line fits with Edes' sense of humor.

And really, with the way we eat up rumors in the baseball corners of the internet, it doesn't seem that insulting to me.

Ok, last thing I have to say on this, and then i actually have to earn my salary.

Another website took at face value a joke made by Sox chairman Tom Werner about the Sox already knowing who their closer was ... and linking it to my interview with Theo, saying that Theo hinted Papelbon would be the closer.

Actually, wasn't that Eric Wilbur, whose post below actually transcribes the convo in question, then says the following:

Seperately, in an interview with the Globe’s Gordon Edes that will air on NESN tomorrow night, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said that Jonathan Papelbon remained among the team's many options at closer.

So, really, it was one of Edes' own collegaues. Someone up there called it misidrected anger. Maybe so. It seems Edes should be most pissed at Wilbur, who did EXACTLY what Edes is accusing "another site" of doing.

Incidentally, you get the italics by using the HTML tags -- < i > before the text, and < /i > after the text, but without the spaces in between the characters.

thanks, paul

I was not aiming to start a "flame war," SF. But I do recall some declarative statements about Paps being closer. Now I can't find them (DAMN!). The whole Paps closing meme found its way into a whole series of post threads of which it was not the initial subject; finding that needle or two in a haystack isn't so simple. And so I called upon our dear readers to help me out. But seeing as no one else has come forward, I suppose you are EXHONERATED FULLY. MY APOLOGIES.

Though I did come across this, gem:

"I don't see the Sox ponying up $25M for the right to possibly end up in a stalemate with an unproven Japanese pitcher. But I've been wrong before, for sure."

And you will be again. But I guess we were all WAY off on that one....

CHEERS!

Before someone finds it, I once did a whole post saying I would much rather have Zito than Matsuzaka. Yeah, that was dumb.

I pretty much had Zito pencilled into the Yankee rotation in December. Don't come here for sooth.

I'd much rather have Paps in the rotation. We have a chance to have the best rotation in baseball - why mess with it?

The closer is an overrated position. Sure, it's nice to have a lights out guy in the 9th, but given the choice between a stud starter or a stud closer, I'll take a starter every time.

I'm pretty sure the Sox can come up with someone at least as good as Jones or Wainright, the closers for the two teams to reach the WS.

And what's up with the Yanks bullpen? Lest anyone forget, your guy had some arm issues himself last year. Nevermind that he has failed miserably two of the last three times he pitched when it meant anything, in 2001 and 2004 (ahem).

Bwahahaha, tommy tommy. Just because the Red Sox had one of the worst bullpens in the majors, even including Papelbon, last year doesn't mean it doesn't matter anymore.

And who exactly do you think is guaranteed to be 'as good' as Jones or Wainwright? Are you talking about Timlin, who's shown last year that his career is pretty much over? Or Hansen, who is a big-time flameout candidate, or Manny Delcarmen, right now probably the ace of the Boston bullpen, who, yeah, posted a healthy 5.00 ERA last year. I agree that Wainwright came literally out of nowhere last year, but relying on something like that to happen will only lead you to be like Cincinatti. Just ask them how their 'closer-by-committee' experiment is working out.

Closers are there for a reason. If they were overrated, smarter minds than you or I would have figured it out by now. Here's the thing: they're not. Every team has one, because without a closer you're done.

Tommy,

"The closer is an overrated position. Sure, it's nice to have a lights out guy in the 9th, but given the choice between a stud starter or a stud closer, I'll take a starter every time."

While I agree with your stud starter over stud closer point, comeback and tell me how overated that closer spot is when, 4 or so months from now Matsuzaka throws a 8 inning, 1 run, 3 hit gem in Arlington. 3 to 1 Sox lead going into the 9th; Dice-K's pitch count gets a little too high and out comes Pinero. 10 minutes later your throwing something at your TV after Michael Young's rips a game winning double.

"And what's up with the Yanks bullpen?"

Oh, they added Luis Vizcaino who was number 3 in the NL for 2006 in Holds; he also posted a 3.58 ERA, and held opposing batters to a .215 average. They also added Big Boy Britton, who, pitching 53.2 innings in the AL East, posted a 3.35 ERA, .228 BAA. They still have the power arm of Bruney and the loogy Myers, not to mention Manny's favorite Scotty Proctor and fireballer Farnsworth. Finally, say what you will about Mo's tender elbow last September, but it was nothing more serious than late season inflammation; the man is still among the elite and he is the Yankee closer for 2007. Farns, Proctor, Bruney, Britton, and Vizcaino all throw a 95mph fastball or better with a few of those guys dialing it up to 98-100mph in certain spots. That's what's up with the Yank's bullpen. It should be one of the tops in the AL this season along with the Angels.

Apology accepted. As for bad predictions, I have no problem with admitting I make them all the time, some of them in the archives are hysterically bad. The Kenny Williams one I documented yesterday was up there. The Matsuzaka one wasn't a peach, but at least I left myself room to be wrong. There are more there for the finding. On the other hand, I did pretty well here on the 2004 Sox' starting pitching win totals:

http://yanksfansoxfan.typepad.com/ysfs/2004/02/irrational_exub.html#comment-598636

when you cross-reference with this:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/BOS/2004.shtml

Logical reasoning has benefits, as well as flaws. I'm keeping at it, I don't care about future embarrassment!

>> "Can I say this loud enough to be heard in cyberspace?"

> I think that line's supposed to be a bit of a joke too.

"Funny" is really hard to do at all. It's harder to do well. And the funniest people are probably going to be offensive to, or at least misunderstood by a large potion of the audience.

The rather rugged, (probably) deliberately oxymoronic, and just plain dated sentence from Edes strikes me as a meager attempt at funny. I find it fascinating how different columnists are reacting to (and redacting to) the geometric escalation of the world of internet discussion. I don't mean to single out Edes, or Dan Shaughnessy as I did in another thread, but many writers whose articles are now available for direct comment and are cross-linked/dead-spinned/digged/delicoused/what-have-you come off as defensive and sometimes borderline incredulous that someone would challenge their opinion, or hold their feet to the irons in how they report a story.

When beat writers/columnists were published exclusively via print, their readers were far more captive, though I am sure that the reader's opinions were just as strong then about what the writers published. Now that readers have near-instantaneous access to far more sources and also have become writers themselves with their own reputations (not to be confused with journalists), the "letters to the editor" of the past must seem quaint. These facts must be incredibly daunting and exciting all at once.

Were someone to conduct a poll of long-time print journalists that if they had any idea "media" would be where it is today when their respective publications started hitting the web however many years ago, and where they think it will go next, I think the results would be interesting reading. Along those lines, I am curious what YF and SF imagined where we would be today when you started a public airing of thoughts, grievances and commonalities between friends and fans of baseball caught in a cosmic paradox as far as for whom you root.

Like the YFSF site, I am grateful that there are media organizations and their journalists out there that fully embrace and empower less-fettered access to the interactions they have with their quarry. They add their opinions to provide insight, but they encourage communal discussion of the topic by telling what _they_ think, not what _to_ think. It's a very groovy time, baby. Pete Abraham's audio files make me feel like I put up a dish in my backyard and I'm getting the raw satellite feed from ESPN. People may now choose whether they want their "stars" run through a filter, or at least they have a better choice of filters.

Enough naval scratching. DJ's right: the spring hats suck.

"While I agree with your stud starter over stud closer point, comeback and tell me how overated that closer spot is when, 4 or so months from now..."

While I agree that 9th inning losses "feel" worse and are quite frustrating, my hunch is that over the course of the season, the performance of starters will have much more of an impact than that of closers. I'd be curious to see stats on the "value" of starters vs. relievers. I'm sure Theo has commissioned Bill James to do such a report, just to assess the relative value of Papelbon in the rotation vs. in the pen.

Point being is that I'll take the Sox pitching over yours, because I'll take my strength (the rotation) over yours (the bullpen (though Vizcaino, Proctor, Farnsworth and Fat Guy Britton hardly keep me awake at night)), no question. And I'm just guessing that I'll be cursing out whoever is closing for the Sox less than you'll be cursing out Pavano/Igawa and whatever other slop the Yanks toss into the 4/5 hole.

The more games you can get to the eighth and ninth with a lead the more games you will win. And, the more games you get to the eighth or ninth with a lead the more games you will probably blow in the eighth and ninth as well, if it's only a handful.

If the Sox' fourth and fifth starters consistently get the team to the late innings with leads (and the 1-3 guys do similiarly), then Sox are gonna rock, no matter who the closer is.

"Good starter vs. good closer"

Wasn't this horse beaten to death here a couple of weeks ago?

BTW SF, your 8:04 comment should have read: And the more games you get to the 8th or the 9th with a lead, the more games you will blow if you don't have a reliable closer.

While Sox fans are still putting out the argument that they can get by without a decent closer, I recall how close some of those AL East battles have been in the past. Well, I guess not last year, as the Sox were buried in 3rd place, like what, 11 games out? But 2005 comes to mind when the division was a virtual tie with the tiebreaker being the season series winner (Yanks, heh). You don't think that some blown saves couldn't be a big factor in the scheme of things?

I guarantee you that if the Sox happen to have a few blown saves in the first week or two, Red Sox Nation will be in a panic to find a closer, or will be demanding Paps be put back in that role.

"the Sox were buried in 3rd place, like what, 11 games out"

Case in point. IIRC, we had a pretty good closer last year. Our weakness was our starting pitching.

"I guarantee you that if the Sox happen to have a few blown saves in the first week or two, Red Sox Nation will be in a panic..."

And I guarantee you that when Pavano and Igawa turn into pumpkins in late April, Yankee fans will be clamoring for the brass to rush Hughes and Sanchez up to the big time well before they're ready.

A stud starter over a stud reliever is saying that a guy who wins the batting title but hits 2 homeruns is worth less than a guy who hits .300 but jacks 30 homeruns. A-duh.

I'm not saying that a closer is worth more than an ace, because he's not, but that not having a closer is a lot more harmful than what you make it out to be. Plus, when you don't have a closer, it means the rest of your bullpen usually sucks ass.

So the question comes in, what's better, having a starter who's a little above average or an elite closer? And that's what the question of Paps being a closer or starter comes down to.

Tommy, imagine how far back the Sox would have been without Paps closing last year.

My point being you need both the starters and the bullpen/closer for the best chance of success.

Igawa and Pavano are certainly two of the biggest ?s the Yanks have, but don't be too quick to discount their possible effectiveness. If I were you I would worry about the Sox, whose rotation could be very good or very disappointing.

"imagine how far back the Sox would have been without Paps closing last year."
You mean, imagine if instead of closing Papelbon had started? Okay - instead of Snyder (6.02), Johnson (7.36), Dinardo (7.85) and Clement (6.61) making a combined 34 starts, Papelbon makes them. In 2005, Paps had a 2.25 ERA as a starter, and granted it's a small sample size, but there's no doubt the kid can pitch and would have been a significant upgrade over those other guys. Maybe 15 wins and an ERA of 4 (you told me to imagine, and I think I'm being generous to y'all here), which is essentially what Schilling had.

I'm no Sabermetrics guy, but I'm going to use Value Over Replacement Player as a way to quantify the difference. Schilling's VORP was 48, Paps' was 38. Those other guys were a combined NEGATIVE 20.9. So if Paps makes those starts instead of the other guys, and he puts up Schilling-esque numbers, the net gain in terms of VORP in 30.9. So if the Sox had found someone to close whose VORP was better than NEGATIVE 31, the Sox would have been a better team. On paper of course.

Looking at it another way, those other guys had a combined record of 10-16. If Paps goes say 15-7, like Schilling, that's an improvement of 14 games, before we even get into no decisions. As a closer Papelbon saved 12 one run games. Say he wasn't the closer, and the Sox blew two-thirds of those games (I'm being generous to y'all again). We're still at least six games better with Papelbon as a starter than as a closer.

But whatever. My original point was that a lights out closer isn't necessary to win. Sure everyone wants a Mo, a BJ Ryan or a K-Rod, but it's not essential.

Look at Wainwright and Jones, closers for the two teams in the World Series. Wainright had 3 saves previous to the Series. Jones had an ERA about 4 on the season, though his ERA at the All Star break was closer to six. Granted, the Cards came from one of the weaker divisions in baseball, but the Tigers came from one of the best.

Will I be happy if our closer at the break has an ERA of 6? Probably not, but I'd be surprised if someone doesn't emerge. We've got a collection of solid arms out there. Timlin and Romero won't have WBC fatigue, Delcarmen and Hansen are a year improved, Donnelly is Donnelly, and Piniero, Tavarez and Hanseck could be alright. Do we have a Mo? No. Do we have someone at least as good as Todd freakin Jones? Absolutely.

In terms of questions about our respective rotations, I'll take our questions over yours, and I imagine you would too.

Good night.

i'm not so sure yf's memory is all that bad...one of the sf's made a comment similar to what yf remembers: "get it through your head: paps is not closing in 2007." ...now i'm not ready to pin it on a particular sf, nor am i willing to say it wasn't accompanied by the medical "disclaimer"...and i agree with yf, this site is a search nightmare...i tend to rely on memory, which usually works out well for the not too distant past...but frankly, what's more important than who said what is the starter v. closer dilemma...we've been debating over the past few weeks about the importance of another good starter on the staff and whether the closer is an overrated position [see oakland and billy beane, sox FO, sf, and other experts]...ok, then why move one of your best [potentially] starting pitchers back into a less significant role?...a role that burned him out last year, had doctors and sox mgmt. second-guessing themselves all off-season, and had all of RSN concerned enough about how the hole would be filled that they bought into the "no closer = no big deal" rationale...if he's made a miracle recovery, i want to know how they did it...

Papelbon began the season as a closer because there was absolutely no way Wells or Schilling would do it, Clement walks way too many guys, throwing a knuckle-baller would make no sense, and Beckett was the big SP acquisition. That left Paps.

I'm thinking he was then left as the closer because it's hard on a pitcher to switch from relieving to starting; I'm sure the fact that he was throwing gas in high-stress situations three times a week would have made the change even worse. Yes, I realize they made Tavarez do it...but I wonder if it was his idea? Further, Papelbon was still young...I'm sure they're far more interested in protecting his arm then they were Julian's.

Look at the plans for Scott Proctor...there was some speculation that they might stretch him out as a starter in the spring, and if the team was better off with him in the pen, so be it. He'd move back. That's an easier shift to make.

"So the question comes in, what's better, having a starter who's a little above average or an elite closer?"

Umm...actually, I think a huge part of the question is just how good he'll be as a starter. If you think his potential is really only to be "slightly above average," I think you're deluding yourself a bit. :-) His control last season was incredible, and while he probably won't post a BB/9 under 2 again, I don't really see why he can't come close. That, along with what will still qualify as power stuff, makes me very happy to see him back in the rotation where he belongs.

dc:

the answer to your hypothetical question "ok, then why move one of your best [potentially] starting pitchers back into a less significant role?" would be "because someone like Lester is healthy and ready for the opening season, which wasn't expected". The idea, I suppose, would be that if Lester and Papelbon can throw up equivalent numbers (I have no clue if they can) and JP is healthy for the pen, then there are just too many starters: moving JP back to the pen would therefore make sense since of the two guys he's done it already and was stellar. There's no speculated loss in value with that position swap; in fact, it's a gain. That, at least, is the only answer that makes good sense to me. If the Sox were to replace a potentially high-value guy like JP in the rotation with Runelvys Hernandez, then I have the same question you do.

Though it sounds like this is all just fiction, anyhow.

There's a 1pm chat with Edes at the Globe website today. I am sure he'll be thrilled to discuss new media, bloggers, and the influx of "kids" in baseball criticism.

i see your point sf...if you have a capable starter to replace papelbon, he is the logical choice to move [back] to closer...i guess the reinjury risk is there with any player, but the rather abrupt reversal of the medical opinion seems odd...i'd still be worried about him having problems again, but i have that same worry about mo...i realize now that this whole conversation may have been moot, but carrying it on hypothetically was still interesting...

desturbd, thinking that Papelbon would put up anything more than slightly above-average in his first season as a starter is being a little more than optimistic. Honestly, I think he has more closer than starter 'stuff', but I guess we'll just have to see what happens in '07. Here's another question, if Paps is simply an average starter, will they move him back into the bullpen where he can be great, medical questions be damned?

no. If medical questions were to be damned, wouldn't they just solve their need right now?
Also, what leads you to belive that Papelbon doesn't have the stuff to be a starter better than an average one?

I know some people have questioned whether Papelbon has anything more than a fastball/splitter, which is a bit misleading because Schilling is essentially a fastball/splitter pitcher. Paps also, I believe, has a change and has reportedly added a curve. If those pitches are merely average, they will still allow him to be a great pitcher with his clearly excellent fast/split combo.

Schilling is essentially a fastball/splitter pitcher.

As is Smoltz, Clemens, Penny, Schmidt, and countless other power arms that live with that splitter and mediocre breaking stuff. If he has a curve that breaks at ALL, he'll be ahead of the game.

"desturbd, thinking that Papelbon would put up anything more than slightly above-average in his first season as a starter is being a little more than optimistic."

I know, this thread's pretty cooked...but I wasn't awake in time to respond when it was still active. :-)

As a rookie, Papelbon had 34 K's in 34 innings, a .260 BAA, and a 2.65 ERA. 16 of those innings came as a starter; he gave up 4 ER in his starts to go along with 15 K's; a 2.25 ERA. He walked too many people, finishing with a H/9 of 8.44 but a 1.56 WHIP in his starts, but his control has almost certainly improved.

At the time of his callup, he was said to possess a plus 4-seamer, which as a starter touched 95 but settled around 91-93, a 'very good' change and slider, and a curveball and slurve, all of which he could reportedly throw for strikes. He's since added a devestating splitter, and is said to be focusing primarily on his curveball/2-seamer/sinking fastball for this season. The change should also make a return.

So I don't really understand the "closer stuff" gripe here. He's been a starter since they signed him, should have great control, and with the FB-Split combo, if he can get the changeup or curve back where it was he can be a very good pitcher. If he gets both back where they were...

I don't think I'm being overly optimistic. The various projections all love him, and from what I know about his stuff...I just think he's built to start. It might take a month or so to get his secondary pitches back to where they were...but he learned the splitter between 2005 and 2006 and look how that turned out. Seems to be a quick study.

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