Since 2005, Red Sox Nation has got a taste of their Boston Irish pride from a man known as Jonathan Papelbon. He has donned such nicknames as "Cinco Ocho" and simply, "Pap."
His early career was filled with shoulder injuries which stopped Papelbon from entering the starting rotation. So with an injury filled 2005 for Keith Foulke, Papelbon moved into the bullpen and has never looked back.
In hindsight, it couldn't have worked out better for the Red Sox.
Since his first true season in the closer role in 2006, he has nearly been lights out.
To many, he has turned into the Red Sox's version of Mariano Rivera.
On August 2007, Papelbon was the first pitcher in Red Sox history to have two 30 save seasons. This is quite a feat since he has only been a closer for 3 years.
Papelbon is only 2 saves shy of Bob Stanley's saves record of 132 who pitched with the Red Sox between 1977-1989. So baring any major injuries, Papelbon will not only break, but shatter the record within this season.
So, if he is so good, and such a face of a franchise, why have the Red Sox not deemed him worthy of a long term deal like that of Francisco Rodriquez? In 2008, Papelbon signed a one year deal worth $775,000. Then another deal in 2009 of $6.25 million dollars for one year.
No one dares to question the master mind Theo Epstein who has wheeled and dealed players since 2002 which has turned into two world series.
Some people in baseball have said that the reason the Sox are weary of signing Papelbon to a long deal is because he is somewhat of a one pitch wonder. There is no doubting that stare down is bone chilling, followed by a fastball that has topped out at 100 mph. His slider never seems to stay in the strike zone and sometimes goes straight into the dirt.
The only sure thing is that Papelbon is not taking this matter lightly. On June 19, Papelbon said in an interview on Sirius radio, "not only the Bronx, but everywhere is a possibility" for him once his contract expires.
Papelbon recently came out to strike down the thoughts of going to New York, "I don't want to go (expletive) play for the Yankees," he said. "I've been on a team for the past five years that's been in first place more than any other (expletive) team otherwise. Why would I want to leave?"
The Nation is definitely in worry about this topic since other than for David "Big Papi" Ortiz, Papelbon and his river dance have become the other face of the franchise.
It is to this writers opinion that the Sox will get a deal done with Papelbon during the season that will most likely be in the range of three years and 18 million dollars.