Wait, $50 million for Jonathan Papelbon?!

Fifty Million Dollars! Wicked awesome brah!

I didn’t know that Jonathan Papelbon was on the cusp of signing with the Phillies for $50 million until my friend Jane told me Sunday evening during the Giants game. My immediate reaction was glee. The Red Sox made it known they wanted Papelbon back. He’s gone. Theo’s gone. Terry Francona is gone. Boston still has needs in the starting rotation that aren’t being met. While Papelbon’s contribution as closer wasn’t enormous, he is still a good reliever. His departure adds to the image that Boston is currently in disarray.

My second reaction was shock. Are the Philadelphia Phillies serious? Do they actually intend to pay Jonathan Papelbon $50 million over four years? Yankee fans know all too well the dangers of signing relief pitchers not named Mariano Rivera to much of anything. Most often lefties have burned the Yankees (Damaso Marte, Pedro Feliciano) but the Bombers also picked up last year’s prized free-agent reliever for way too much money only to see Rafael Soriano hit the disabled list and struggle for much of the first half of the season.… Click here to read the rest

Hughes, A-Rod, D-Rob all come up huge in much-needed wild 4-3 walk-off win in 10 against BoSox

Think the Yankees were pumped up to win this one? I know I was.

In arguably the most nerve-wracking Yankee game played all season, the Yankees were able to come away with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings over the Red Sox, staving off a rare three-game sweep at home (no one has accomplished that feat against the Yankees at the new Stadium) in a contest that featured incredible starting pitching on both sides as well as blown saves by both Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon.

The Yankees needed to win this game badly, and they couldn’t have asked for much more out of Phil Hughes, who was brilliant in throwing 6+ innings of one-run ball on three hits in what may have been his most important start in pinstripes. Unfortunately for the Yankees, somewhere along the line Daisuke Matsuzaka apparently completely reinvented himself as a pitcher, trading in the nibbler who finds himself in deep count after deep count and walking the second-most batters per nine innings for a guy who pounded the strike zone with a lively fastball and power sinker and who hardly even got to three balls on any hitter.… Click here to read the rest

Bad night for Closers

Last night was a game that was tightly contested for 8 innings on both sides, featuring a well pitched game by Phil Hughes and an even better showing by Dice-K. Hughes was outstanding before allowing 2 leadoff walks in the 7th (more on that later), giving up just 1 run on a double that was poorly played by Nick Swisher and a legit single to Victor Martinez. Diasuke Matsuzaka was even better than Hughes, dazzling the Yanks all night long and giving up 2 Runs on a bloop single by Tex and a 2-Run HR to Alex that just cleared the auxiliary scoreboard in right field. It wasn’t even a bad pitch, in on the hands about belt high. That’s one where you just tip your cap to Alex, who’s been sizzling hot the past few days.

But by the time the two Closers entered the game, it looked like neither side wanted the win. Mariano Rivera was asleep at the wheel, allowing 4 stolen bases without once throwing a ball to 1B/2B or checking a runner.… Click here to read the rest

The Red Sox don’t need Kevin Youkilis when Javier Vazquez is pitching

My seats to this one were in the third row of section 202 in the right field bleachers. My friends were running late getting out of work, so the game started before we could take our seats. We were walking toward the entrance to the bleachers beneath the train tracks when the crowd roared, then booed. I knew that Javier Vazquez had given up a home run. I wouldn’t find out until we sat down that he’d given up a moon shot to David Ortiz.

In the bottom of the 1st Mark Teixeira put a 2 run shot in section 203. After the bumpy top of the 1st, for a moment, it looked as though the Yankees would be able to get to Clay Buchholz. They didn’t. Buccholz settled down, and pretty much dominated after the home run. He took the game into the 8th inning on less than 100 pitches. The Yankees did manage 9 hits off Clay, but he efficiently worked out of trouble the entire game.… Click here to read the rest

A-Rod, Thames take Papelbon yard in the 9th to give 2010 Yankees their first walk-off win!

I was at this one, and since I’ve never been to a playoff game it ended up being the most exciting game I’ve ever seen live. Josh, my partner in crime from Detroit, was in the seat next to me. After watching the Bombers lose three of 4 in the Motor City this was exactly what we needed. On our way out of the Stadium, an old time Yankee fan summed the game up perfectly. “They scored 5 in the 1st and 4 in the 9th.” Usually the home team wins that game. I’ll try to do the experience justice, but that sentence captures it well.

Everything about this game was a rollercoaster ride. We came into the Stadium feeling great about the pitching matchup. We had Phil Hughes on the mound. The Sox were countering with Daisuke Matsuzaka. Coming into the game Phil Franchise had the lowest ERA in the AL and Matsuzaka’s ERA was 6.35. It was tough not to like our chances.… Click here to read the rest

Papelbon Ditching Pitches and A Lesson For Joba

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The photo above is the Gameday illustration of Curtis Granderson’s brief at-bat against Jonathan Papelbon the other night. Papelbon threw two pitches to Curtis, the second one being a fastball middle-up at 94 MPH. As I am sure you know, Granderson turned on that pitch and sent it into the seats in right to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. What was interesting about Papelbon’s performance Wednesday night was that although he has been encouraged to rediscover his splitter, he is still not confident enough to use it as an out pitch. According to Fangraphs, Papelbon threw his splitter less frequently in 2009, maddening Red Sox fans as he consistently reverted to a fastball-only philosophy in tight situations, while occasionally mixing in a slider. Here is Papelbon’s pitch type graph from his blown save in Game 3 of the ALDS, courtesy of Brooks Baseball (FF is fastball, FT is splitter):

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As you can see, all but one of his 28 pitches were fastballs.… Click here to read the rest

Papelbon talks up Mariano

Jonathan Papelbon loves him some Mariano Rivera.

Here’s Papelbon discussing Mariano last month, on Boston’s the Sports Hub:

“Deep down in my heart, I would love to finish my career as a Red Sox. And I think everybody pretty much knows that, but that’s a very, very hard thing to do in this day and age. And the way the game is now, I have to understand that as well. Hopefully it works out to where I can stay here for a while and win World Series and break records in a Red Sox uniform like my buddy Mo [Mariano Rivera] has done over there in [Yankees] pinstripes.”

And here he is today, discussing Mariano again during a press conference in Florida:

Did you watch the postseason after you guys were eliminated?

I didn’t watch a whole, whole lot. I tried to watch guys like [Mariano Rivera] and see what they were doing, try to keep track of it as best as I could.

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Papelbon gets it right (for once)

Here’s Jonathan Papelbon discussing Mariano Rivera’s 500th save (via Lisa Winston):

“He’s been able to do it with consistency year in and year out, and that’s what’s really impressive, especially in the American League East,” said Papelbon, who has been named to the AL All-Star team in each of his three full big league seasons and hopes to make it four in a row. “Hopefully I’ll be able to give him personal congratulations in St. Louis.”

Papelbon is on a similar pace, with 35 saves in 2006, 37 in ’07, 41 in ’08 and 18 so far heading into the final week before the All-Star break, to go with a 1.91 ERA.

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Chaos Theory movie And while he thinks the goal is reachable, Papelbon knows that it will take more than just luck.

“It’s realistic because you train yourself to think you’re good enough to do it,” said Papelbon, who turned 28 during the offseason. “But at the same time, to stay healthy for that many years and not only to stay healthy, but to be able to play through pain, when you’re aching day in and day out.

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Papelbon: I Would Play For Yanks

Via MLBTR:

In an appearance on Sirius XM Radio, Jonathan Papelbon told Jody McDonald and Bert Blyleven that he would consider playing for the Yankees once his Boston career is over:

“Oh, of course. I mean, I think if we can’t come to an agreement on terms here in a Red Sox uniform, I mean I think that’s pretty much the writing on the wall.”

Papelbon says he’d consider joining other teams, too:

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“Not only the Bronx, but anywhere. I think anywhere is a possibility. You always have to keep that in the back of your mind because you can’t just be one-sided and think that, “Oh, I’m going to be in a Red Sox uniform my entire career” because nowadays that is very, very rare and hopefully we can because there’s no question I would love to stay in a Boston Red Sox uniform but I have to do what’s best for me and play in an atmosphere where I’m wanted.”

Papelbon is under Boston control until after the 2011 season, when he becomes a free agent.… Click here to read the rest