In the fall of 2011-after a historic collapse- the Red Sox and their fans added a new personality to the long list of players we “love to hate”.
The fact that Jonathan Papelbon signed a 4 year $50 million contract to finish games in Philly seemed to rub Red Sox fans the wrong way. Of course it didn’t help when Pap-In an attempt to brown-nose his new fan base- went on the record saying this,
The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball. The Philly fans tend to know the game a little better, being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played.
These comments infuriated many Red Sox fans -including myself- as it seemed our former closer was attempting to rub salt in the most painful wound we suffered this offseason.
The thing is as much as I’d like to say I’m glad Jonathan Papelbon and his “larger than life” ego are gone from Fenway for good, it’s simply not the case. Especially when you look at the back end of the Sox’ bullpen going into the 2012 season.
The less than stellar performance of Mark Melancon combined with Andrew Baileys inability to stay on the mound have left me longing for the days when Pap was breaking down the Irish Jig on the mound after devastating his opponent with his splitter.
In six seasons with the Red Sox from ’06-’11, Papelbon posted a 2.33 ERA in 429 IP with 219 saves spanning 396 appearances. With the exception of 2010, the Phillies’ new closer was automatic for the Sox and more importantly he was durable.
Every spring since 2006, Pap provided the Red Sox with a reliable piece to build the bullpen around. Andrew Bailey has already proven that his presence in the bullpen will be the complete opposite. How can you build around a player that spends more time on the DL than on the mound?
Short answer.. You can’t.
In the scheme of things, the Red Sox just weren’t willing to open up their wallets the way the Phillies did and I don’t fault them for that. A four year contract for a closer carries significant risk, especially when it’s for $12.5 million per year and the Sox were smart for not ponying up the money. That doesn’t mean Ben Cherington and company won’t lose a few nights sleep in ’12 wishing they could have found a way to keep “Shipping up to Boston” playing in the ninth at Fenway.