Will the Red Sox move Papelbon this off season? (AP Photo)
You wanna know what’s really odd about what happened at Fenway Park last Sunday afternoon? No one really wants to talk about it. The Red Sox just gashed our hearts with two dreadful games out west and the definitive gut punch game, and people are ready to move on. Well, most people away. There were some who wanted to vent, and complain, and say that Papelbon should go you know what himself.
For the most part, people are ready to move on, and want to start thinking about next year. Maybe it’s the old Sox fan in us coming out after a nice long stretch of post season success. Maybe we’re more comfortable with our place as fans of a dominant team that had a bad stretch. Maybe we’re just too hurt to talk about the past. But I think most are just ready to rip off the band aid and move on. Which begs the question: What next?
Well, first is Jason Bay. Lead the team in homers and RBI, but also in strikeouts. Carried the team for the first two months of the season but then fell off the face of the earth in July. Is he going to be worth the $17-$18 million that he’s going to want? And who to replace him with? Matt Holliday is essentially the same player with better defense (despite taking one to the mommy-daddy button this month). Then you have the Wonderboys Ortiz and Lowell. Both rapidly aging, both making huge money, and both with injury questions. They are not the men they once were. Shortstop is also a question. They’re already going to spend $9 million on Lugo next season, can they really afford to give Gonzalez and his career sub .300 OBP $6 million?
(Yes, sub .300 OBP. Go look it up, I’ll wait. Back? Okay, let’s move on)
But there are positives. 1-2-3-4 in the lineup is set, and can tangle with any other team in baseball with Ells, Pedey, Victor and Youk. J.D. Drew isn’t all that bad. Seriously, if you forget about the fact that they are paying him $14 million (!!!!!!!!!) a season and just think of him as a great on base guy who has an almost perfect swing, he’s pretty good. The starting pitching will be fine next year without the WBC messing up Dice-K and Buchholz continuing to develop. The bullpen will be as solid as ever with the core members back again.
The issue is that in the areas that need improvement (defense, timely hitting, middle relief) there isn’t much help out there. And there aren’t pieces in the bigs that can be traded yet. Except for one: Papelbon.
I know, you’re probably thinking I’m out of my mind and I’m just reacting to what I saw last. Not really. Anyone who watched him pitched this year could see that he wasn’t as effective as he used to be. There weren’t that many 1-2-3 innings like we’re used to seeing. His fastball is still great, but didn’t it seem like he is starting to rely on one pitch too much? His value is high right now and the Sox could get something valuable back for him. Think of the teams that need closers. The Sox could address multiple issues.
Think I’m crazy? Well, you might be right. But isn’t a little bit of insanity all part of the healing process?