It's been a few days now since Jonathan Papelbon signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Phillies, which has given me some time to reflect on the move. My initial reaction? My God that's one hell of a pitching staff they have down there in Philadelphia.
I didn't think anybody could get past their starting rotation, but now if you do, you get to face this savage. God damn.
While the Phillies certainly shelled out some dough for Papelbon (4 years for $50 million), they've also solidified their closer role for the duration of the time their starting rotation remains intact. Then came my second thought, the void Papelbon will leave in Boston.
Everybody knows that Daniel Bard will become the closer here in Boston, and I'm very comfortable with that. But Papelbon was a key part of this Boston team, he's been here his whole career, was drafted by the Red Sox and was on the mound when the 2007 World Series was won.
For many, including myself, Papelbon holds a special place.
There's no doubt that Papelbon's legacy in Boston is hurt by his blown save to end this season. In 2010 Papelbon struggled for the first time in his career, falling from grace to some extent with many fans. But he rebounded with one of his best seasons in 2011, only to be forgotten at the hands of a blown save that completed Boston's September collapse.
That's unfortunate to me, as few will look past that to how good Papelbon has actually been.
In the six years that Papelbon was our closer, he compiled 219 saves, roughly 37 per season. He was a 4-time all-star, averaging 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings and posting a 2.33 career ERA. He was named the MVP of the 2007 postseason.
And he did it all for a total of $29 million, talk about bang for your buck.
I think Papelbon will be great for the Phillies, and I think he'll win a ring there. I don't blame him for leaving, and I understand why he did. But I'll miss his ridiculous dancing.
I'll miss his silly interviews. I'll miss his trademark stare down the 60 feet between the mound and home plate. The guy has great stuff, is more intense than anybody and probably cares more than anybody as well.
He may have blown a save here or there, but he was damned fun to watch. As long as he's not playing the Red Sox, I'll be rooting for him.
Geoff Roberts is the Founder & Managing Editor of howiGit.com, a Boston sports blog.