I'll always be eternally grateful for all Papelbon's time and effort with the Sox.
While the addition of Adrian Gonzalez has certainly given Red Sox Nation something to cheer about this holiday season, there's another recent transaction that's left an egg-nog bad taste in my mouth. I'm talking about the offer the Red Sox made to Mariano Rivera, and subsequent comments given by Terry Francona - which frankly, if I were Papelbon, I'd be be strait-up offended by.
I was honestly shocked when I heard the Red Sox made an offer to Mariano Rivera, especially since we already have both Paps and Bard in the back of the bullpen, and that wasn't what our problem was last year. Obviously Papelbon would have been sent to the curb had Mariano switched sides, which seemed pretty damn cold to Paps in my opinion. Rivera went on to say the below, which is a typically respectful and classy from him, but it also confirms the offer, which can't sit well with Paps.
"They talked to Fern (Rivera's agent), they were interested, I really appreciate that. I know there was interest and I respect that. I respect the organization and the front office of the Red Sox. It was respect. The rivalry we have against each other and the tremendous organization. Just take it in consideration, and the Yankees did what they were supposed to do, and that's the end of that."
I understand from the Red Sox business perspective they're seeing Papelbon's numbers drastically turn in the wrong direction over the last two years, especially with his walks. I also understand that he'll be hitting his big pay-day in free agency in 2012, and will be making a good amount of money in 2011 - but in my heart, this all feels a little dirty. Obviously it's silly for me to "feel sorry" for a multi-millionaire baseball player, I get that. But ever since 2006 Papelbon has been so fun to root for, and his candid interviews, and his outlandish personality are what endeared him to the working man of Boston. It's no coincidence that Dunkin Donuts chose him as a spokesman as they knew of this appeal - which was firmly cemented when he pranced around Fenway with a Bud Light box on his head in his underwear. One of the most surreal moments of recent Red Sox lore.
He fit the mold of your prototypical closer. He was crazy as all hell, shit, he even had the Wild Thing haircut for awhile. But most importantly he was a solid pitcher, and he gave it his all out there. Brian Wilson again proved how fun it can be to have a crazy closer on your team, however, it's looking like you'd be crazy to want to be a closer if you're a professional pitcher. Because unless your name is Mariano Rivera, it doesn't seem like you get proper respect.
I guess I just wished the Sox were pursuing middle relief more, and now Paps is going to have a real bad taste in his mouth this season, and likely a short leash with Management. Which once again leads us to a player who was adored in Boston, who'll leave bitter, which is just too bad.
In Peter Abraham's blog post yeserday, where he caught up with Francona at the Winter Meetings, there was this bullet point:
"He did not feel need to reach out to Jonathan Papelbon in the wake of the team making an offer to Mariano Rivera. He joked that Papelbon probably didn't even know about it."
Tito, you can bet your ass he knows about it, comments like that just disrespectful, this is his career, and he's done way more good than bad for your club, show a little respect to Paps.