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Frankly, I'm surprised Jonathan Papelbon has lasted this long in Boston. If he is not traded by the deadline this year, as I projected in an earlier column, then he will certainly be dancing the jig for some other team next year. I still believe him to be a deadline decision, especially since an urgent need for catcher has arisen in the Fens.
He is certainly the best closer being tossed around in trade speculation. Red Sox fans will attest to the fact that he has slipped the past couple years though. His saves rest between 35 and 41 for his career, slipping the past two years (but just barely).
The problem is his earned runs number, which jumped to 29 last year while giving up seven home runs and 28 walks. He still seems to close a majority of the games, but he definitely makes them a lot more interesting now.
While Papelbon is no longer the lights out closer that allowed Boston fans to turn the game off when he took the mound, knowing for certain that he would get the "W," the Fenway faithful will also tell you that he is still one of the best in the game.
Theo Epstein, however, believes that he has another top closer wearing a two-sox uniform. The only reason that Daniel Bard is not currently one of the best closers in MLB is simply because Papelbon gets the ball in the ninth inning. That will change at the deadline.