It never fails, just when I am about to write something positive about the Red Sox, Wham!!! Jonathan Papelbon has to mess everything up. That should teach me a lesson to write more often. I was going to talk about the momentum change and how the Sox are creeping in the standings, but Paps ineffectiveness once again, has caused me to switch gears.
Yesterday, instead of sweeping of the Blue Jays, Papelbon stole headlines with his sixth AL leading blown save of the season. We’re not talking about him coming in with bases loaded and down a run. This is the third time this season his has given up at least 3 runs in the ninth to lose the game. If you don’t know what I am talking about let’s refresh your memory to get your blood boiling to my level.
May 17: Paps gave up 4 runs in the ninth, including back to back home runs to lose the game 9-7.
June 23: He blew a 5-3 lead giving up 3 runs in the ninth, for a devastating loss against the Rockies. That was the night the Sox shelled Ubaldo Jimenez, scoring 6 runs against one of the most untouchable pitchers of the season.
How do you come into the game with no outs, leading by 2 and give up 3 runs? Just ask Jonathan Papelbon, he seems to have that down pat. I feel bad for two people, John Lackey and Daniel Bard. Lackey because he keeps getting screwed out of his wins and Bard, who believe it or not isn’t too far behind Papelbon with 4 blown saves on the year. The difference between the two in my opinion is they are setting Bard up for failure. They put Bard in yesterday with bases loaded with one out. What do you think is going to happen? It seems as if Bard comes in to pick up Papelbon’s mess.
All over sports radio and the news today media is tip toeing around the question everyone is afraid to ask: Papelbon or Bard? I have been saying the past two years that Papelbon isn’t as good as he thinks he is. Is he good? Yes. Is he great? No. What is stopping him from being great? A three letter word, his EGO! Fastball, Fastball, Fastball….All it takes is a couple seasons for the league to catch on to a closer and that happened 2 years ago in my opinion. He can’t keep thinking he can blow balls by batters. Is his velocity still there? Yes. But batters know just what to expect and they are all over his shit. I mean, when’s the last time you have seen him pitch a clean inning? It’s either a walked batter or a hit every appearance. That is not what I expect out of my closer. I used to have complete confidence in him. Now all I have for him is a few choice words when he gives up hit after hit. Are we ready to talk about the Papelbon vs Bard topic? HELL YEAH!!! People wanted to throw Papi under the bus so what makes Papelbon so special? I do admit though, if Tito does make the bold move to Bard, that will be one of the balliest moves I have seen him make. If he isn’t going to fully commit and make Bard the full time closer he should at least give Bard more opportunities to put Paps in check. No job is safe, especially on the ball field.
Ever since Tim Wakefield has been in the bullpen this year it seemed like a no-brainer to me to get him in as the set-up man. Picture this: The starter comes out of the game, Wakefield goes in and messes with their timing and confidence, then hit ‘em with some “gas,” with Bard and/or Papelbon, whoever is taking care of business. What’s wrong with that strategy?
I want to open this up for discussion. What would you do with the set man closer role?
Whatever Tito decides to do I hope he does it now before the season really gets down to the wire. There is a lot of baseball left and already Red Sox fans always feel the need to weigh in and formally state that the Red Sox are done for the year. I equate those same fans to fans that wanted David Ortiz shipped out of town. For a team that lives by the slogan, “Keep the Faith” I always find it amusing how little fans really do “Keep the Faith” in Boston.
Me? You don’t have to worry about me losing the faith. The Red Sox season isn’t over in my book until I packed my Halloween costume away. How can the season be over when the last two weekends of the year we play the Yankees in New York and play them at Fenway, the final three games of the season? To me, the season’s just getting started. Ironically, that is sort of true. We finally have our entire pitching staff healthy and when Dustin Pedroia comes back we will have as close to an opening day roster as possible. Aside from Papelbon’s meltdown yesterday the Sox are slowly creeping in the standings at a time when the Yankees and Rays are on shaky ground. I like where they are and where they are heading. They are slowly getting healthy and that can only bring good things.
Nobody knows what’s in store and that’s the beauty of it all. As I always say, “That’s why they play the game.”
About the Author
Written by "Baseball Brenda" Sepanek
I was born a sports fan. Playing soccer, basketball and softball in high school, then moving on to play Div. II softball at Keene State on partial scholarship. In 2003, our team was inducted into the Keene State Hall of Fame. GO OWLS! I am a die hard Red Sox, Patriots and UNC Tar Heel hoop fan. Most of my friends call me Baseball Brenda because when it comes to ranking my priorities in life, the Red Sox always are first on the list. I average about 40 games a year and I have attended every home playoff game since moving back to MA in 2005. I am super competitive and excel at anything you can win at :) Horseshoes, ping pong, darts, pool, cornhole, and bowling. Always love a good challenge. I play a lot of golf in the summer and a lot of fantasy sports. I am always looking to meet local Sox fans so look me up on Facebook.