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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: November 17, 2010 at 02:58 AM (#3691650)
What makes keeping Papelbon the right call in my mind is the likely range of outcomes. His best is as good as anyone in the game, his worst is still good. I think the downside risk on free agents that would save them money is too high. I see three feasible options;

1. Sign soriano and Downs
2. Sign Guerrier and Balfour
3. Keep Papelbon and sign Crain*

* all pitchers are examples of a "type" feel free to change the name as you see fit

The concern I have is that option 1 is nit likely to be appreciably cheaper, or more likely to be better than option 3 while option 2 could well be much worse. For what it's worth, I love Guerrier and would be thrilled to land him.

I also think Papelbon is likely to improve his BA against with RISP and that alone makes him a much better pitcher.
   2. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 17, 2010 at 03:19 AM (#3691659)
Matt, I've read your article twice, and I apologize if I've misread. But are you really advocating for non-tendering Papelbon?
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 17, 2010 at 03:24 AM (#3691662)
Yes. Or trading him.

It's exceptionally rare for a reliever to project to be worth $12M. Papelbon's still a good pitcher, but he's not one of the few best in the world anymore, which means $12M isn't worth it.
   4. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: November 17, 2010 at 03:25 AM (#3691663)
If you non-tender an arb-eligible guy, what are the rules? Can another team sign him for the minimum?
   5. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 17, 2010 at 03:28 AM (#3691666)
If you non-tender an arb-eligible guy, what are the rules? Can another team sign him for the minimum?
He would become a free agent. Certainly he wouldn't sign for the minimum.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: November 17, 2010 at 03:38 AM (#3691674)
1. Sign soriano and Downs
2. Sign Guerrier and Balfour
3. Keep Papelbon and sign Crain*

* all pitchers are examples of a "type" feel free to change the name as you see fit

The concern I have is that option 1 is nit likely to be appreciably cheaper, or more likely to be better than option 3 while option 2 could well be much worse. For what it's worth, I love Guerrier and would be thrilled to land him.


I think option 1 gets you the best pitching, so I'm for that. I'd really like Soriano on the team.
   7. Pingu Posted: November 17, 2010 at 04:21 PM (#3691941)
I'll say it again in a month too. Papelbon isnt the best use of resources, and yes, I agree he is unlikely to be worth his salary next season. But he is almost certainly going to be as good or better than any FA reliever on the market next season. The Red Sox should worry less about maximizing their dollar and should worry more about maximizing their talent. Cutting or trading Papelbon is likely to be counterproductive to any improvement where the Sox need it most. IF they non-tender Papelbon and go out and sign Soriano, then hey, ok. Other than that, no thanks.

I'd rather two from the C, CI, LF shopping list and a deep and reliable bullpen, than all three position players and a bullpen that has only been marginally upgraded, if at all. I'm not even sure there needs to be an either/or decision there, but it would take some creatitvity beyond the obvious FA possibilities.
   8. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 17, 2010 at 04:57 PM (#3691955)
I'd rather two from the C, CI, LF shopping list and a deep and reliable bullpen, than all three position players and a bullpen that has only been marginally upgraded, if at all.
I haven't compared the available options at 3B/C/OF, but when I look at the available options at RP, I don't see a huge difference in projection between Papelbon and the middle relievers. It looks like the Sox would be paying $5-8M for practically no improvement in projection. Even if you like Papelbon, it takes a big bump to get him more than a handful of runs better than these other guys. That was the point of the post.

Are you arguing that (a) Papelbon's projection is actually much, much better than his 3-year ARP weighted average or (b) the Red Sox have equally good backup options at one of 3B/C/OF such that they're still better off spending extra on the bullpen? On (a), it's hard for me to see the case - Papelbon didn't look like he was pitching in bad luck, he looked like he was pitching worse, and that should factor into his projections. On (b), I don't see any remotely comparable cheap options at 3B or C, but I guess if you have faith in both Ellsbury and Cameron returning healthy and effective, you could make the case that Crawford/Werth is a lot of money for only a little upgrade.
I'm not even sure there needs to be an either/or decision there
If the Sox can spend big in the bullpen (Papelbon or Soriano) while also getting three top players for 3B/C/OF, then I certainly agree that I care much more about maximizing wins than I do about maximizing efficiency. If there's no either/or, then I hope they go ahead and get the best players.

The case I'm making is that if there is an either/or, the bullpen looks like the place to cut.
   9. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 17, 2010 at 05:05 PM (#3691962)
One other option for the Sox, given the acquisitions of Miller and Buchholz, would be to go cheap in the bullpen while also re-signing Papelbon.

Papelbon - Bard - Buchholz - Miller - Doubront - Atchison - Wakefield

only costs a little more than

Bard - Downs - Guerrier - Buchholz - Doubront - Atchison - Wakefield

and if the Sox like their young arms - and pick up one or two more to throw at the wall in spring training - they could re-sign Papelbon, spending only a little extra this year while saving money in 2012, and possibly end up with a good enough bullpen. Curt Young has a damn good history with building bullpens out of spare parts in Oakland, so that could also be the plan.
   10. Nasty Nate Posted: November 17, 2010 at 06:01 PM (#3692008)
Joaquin Benoit just signed at around $5.5m a year, if that sheds light on the FA market.
   11. Pingu Posted: November 17, 2010 at 06:52 PM (#3692047)
What is this obsession people have with assembling a bullpen on the cheap?

Yes, you can do it. Its been done. But, no, the Red Sox have not been particularly good at assembling a bullpen that way. What makes anyone think given a supporting cast of Buchholz/Miller/Doubront/Atchinson/Wakefield that the Red Sox will be able to sort out which of those players to keep around? What if none of those players proves to be terribly useful? A distinct possibility. Then you are left with the 2010 pen all over again. Papelbon, Bard, and some dreck. My crystal ball tells me Wakefield and Okajima will suck up way more innings than they deserve. Likewise trying to figure out if you've got anything at all with Buchholz, Miller. History tells us the Red Sox will DFA the wrong one.

They've done terribly at this in the past. Why should the team with the 2nd highest payroll take this approach? Why roll the dice with high leverage innings. My opinion is they ought to use their resources to pay for CERTAINTY in the pen. RPs who can consistently pitch at a high level are very very rare. The Red Sox look like they have 2. Its ok to overpay for guys like this, in much the same way as its ok to overpay for premium offense at C, SS, CF, etc.

Sorry for asking so many semi-rhetorical questions. And pardon my ignorance on ARP, so I cant comment on the projections. I do feel that Papelbon is a good bet to be better than any FA reliever not named Soriano. Its counter-productive to discard him. You make a weakness worse in the name of improving the offense, which given injuries was still quite good.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: November 17, 2010 at 06:58 PM (#3692054)
Why should the team with the 2nd highest payroll take this approach? Why roll the dice with high leverage innings. My opinion is they ought to use their resources to pay for CERTAINTY in the pen. RPs who can consistently pitch at a high level are very very rare. The Red Sox look like they have 2. Its ok to overpay for guys like this, in much the same way as its ok to overpay for premium offense at C, SS, CF, etc.

Because you almost have no other choice. There are only a couple of dozen truly reliable RPs, and most of them make big bucks as closers. If you have 2, you're way ahead of the game.

Most of the time when you pay up for "consistency", you don't get it, and then it's real hard to demote or cut guys making $3-5M per year.
   13. Pingu Posted: November 17, 2010 at 07:13 PM (#3692066)
Because you almost have no other choice. There are only a couple of dozen truly reliable RPs, and most of them make big bucks as closers. If you have 2, you're way ahead of the game.


Which is exactly why I think the Red Sox would be crazy to get rid of 1 of the 2 they have.

Most of the time when you pay up for "consistency", you don't get it, and then it's real hard to demote or cut guys making $3-5M per year.


Which is also why I think its counterproductive to ditch Papelbon for a couple of those 3-5M/yr guys. I dont see any options as reliable or as good as Papelbon.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: November 17, 2010 at 07:17 PM (#3692071)
My opinion is they ought to use their resources to pay for CERTAINTY in the pen.


Short of Mo Rivera, Papelbon and Okajima looked as much like CERTAINTY as anyone going into 2010.

You are right to point out that they have had recent failures on deciding whom to keep and whom to punt out of their reliever grab-bag. They should get better at that AND shell out for the good reliever when they get a chance.
   15. Nasty Nate Posted: November 17, 2010 at 07:22 PM (#3692077)
Which is exactly why I think the Red Sox would be crazy to get rid of 1 of the 2 they have.

Which is also why I think its counterproductive to ditch Papelbon for a couple of those 3-5M/yr guys. I dont see any options as reliable or as good as Papelbon.


Your posts are all predicated on the assumption that Papelbon is still one of those truly reliable RPs. This is up for debate (and is in fact the basic topic of this thread).
   16. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: November 17, 2010 at 07:38 PM (#3692095)
Your posts are all predicated on the assumption that Papelbon is still one of those truly reliable RPs. This is up for debate (and is in fact the basic topic of this thread).
Right. If Papelbon projected as a solid +25 kind of reliever, I'd be much less interested in letting him go. Again, my question is either (a) why do you believe Papelbon projects to be better than his recent numbers, or (b) why do you think that the likely downgrade at another position (OF, I assume) is smaller than the likely downgrade in the bullpen if they let Papelbon go? (Or some combination of both.)
   17. Pingu Posted: November 17, 2010 at 08:35 PM (#3692143)
I dont think Papelbon needs to be better than his recent numbers. I apologize again for not knowing whats behind ARP, but I'm not buying that its predictive since I see this:
2009 66 G, 68 IP, 54 H, 5 HR, 24 BB, 76 SO
2010 65 G, 67 IP, 57 H, 7 HR, 28 BB, 76 SO

A couple of high profile implosions, an ERA that peeked above 4 at some points during the season, and now he's a candidate to be non-tendered? Yes he'll never be what he was and will be overpaid in 2011 because of it, but he is 2009/10, and that is a very good pitcher.

I know given the choice to sign Papelbon for 1/12 or Downs, Benoit, Rauh, Guerrier, Putz, etc for 3/16.5, I'd take Papelbon several times over.
   18. Pingu Posted: November 17, 2010 at 08:37 PM (#3692144)
(Also, I may really be in the minority here, but I think he could start throwing his split like he did in a couple appearances towards the end of the year. The stuff is there for improvement on 2009/10. I'm not holding my breath for it, and I dont think its required in order to justify overpaying him in 2011.)
   19. Josh Posted: November 18, 2010 at 09:42 PM (#3693138)
He is being paid as if he is a 7+ SO/BB pitcher (because he was when he started arbitration) when for two years he has been a 3 SO/BB pitcher. That's a good pitcher (its likely as good as, or better than, Dan Bard and Soriano isn't significantly better), but a significant overpay.
   20. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: November 22, 2010 at 02:42 PM (#3695212)
Which is exactly why I think the Red Sox would be crazy to get rid of 1 of the 2 they have.

Papelbon is no longer a reliable reliever, though. He hasn't been since about 2008, but he's certainly not now.
   21. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: November 22, 2010 at 02:43 PM (#3695213)
I think he could start throwing his split like he did in a couple appearances towards the end of the year.

Not with his shoulder injury, he can't. He's very damaged goods.
   22. Dale Sams Posted: November 23, 2010 at 06:31 PM (#3696066)
Paps threw the splitter 21.2% of the time last year. More than at any time in his career.
   23. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: November 23, 2010 at 06:50 PM (#3696083)
A couple of high profile implosions

I sincerely hope that the Red Sox offer Purse Boy 5/150 at a minimum, but how does 8 blown saves and 3 more losses beyond that translate into "a couple"? I always thought that what distinguished premier relief pitchers was reliability above everything else, and it's hard to see much reliability in Papelbon's 2010 season.
   24. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: December 02, 2010 at 04:53 PM (#3700799)
ESPN is saying that Okajima will be non-tendered.
   25. Famous Original Joe C Posted: December 02, 2010 at 05:37 PM (#3700843)
Not with his shoulder injury, he can't. He's very damaged goods.

Fly:Papelbon::karlmagnus:Theo Epstein

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