You’ve probably heard that Jonathan Papelbon is on the trading block for the Phillies.
Papelbon has been in 131 games for the Phillies in the first two years of his $50M, 4 year deal that the Phils were so happy to sign him to just a short time ago.
The Phillies haven’t been the same team since signing Papelbon two years ago, it’s not all Papelbon’s fault and despite him getting a lot of work in during the last two seasons for the Phillies, he hasn’t been all what the Phillies thought he would be, or was it more a question of what Papelbon was talking about to the press last year?
Papelbon got really vocal last year, as a lot of players did. These players want to win ballgames, and to win ballgames it takes a team that goes out there and plays well, and plays hard, hopefully ending up with a winning combination.
Last year’s Phillies team was a constant flow of changing lineups and positions, and that didn’t make for a very good team atmosphere. Players that are constantly juggled around, and playing different positions on almost a daily basis isn’t the best idea when you’re running a payroll like the Phillies have been lately. A payroll like that should have permanent players in their positions for the better part of the season. The way the Phillies ran things last year was more like a season of Spring Training, continually moving players in and out of positions. How can a team find it’s groove when you’re making moves like that.
The second problem on the team last year was an anemic offense. Perhaps the constant shuffling of players had something to do with that, and then you had Domonic Brown, who came out of nowhere to have a career year, and looked as if he was going to ‘own’ the MLB the way he was playing at times. Yes, it was a strange year for the Phils.
Enter Mr. Papelbon again into this story, and he made it quite clear that he didn’t like what he was seeing on the field with regards to ‘hustle’ and good play. Why not? Should he stay quiet and just humbly accept his large contract and sit idly by when things aren’t going well. If he cares about winning and accomplishing things, he wouldn’t stay quiet and he didn’t. Other Phillies players on the team did the same thing, and nothing was made about their comments, but Papelbon seemed to be singled out for voicing a few concerns about the situation. He’s still an All-Star and he can still pitch.
Cole Hamels was recently quoted as saying there was a lot of finger pointing last year, and well there should have been. A lot of what happens behind closed doors stays with a ballclub, if the general public knew what went on in daily basis in a clubhouse they probably would be surprised. Every team has it’s internal strife and stresses.
Should the Phillies shop a guy like Papelbon? Not in the least, if they are paying players like Marlon Byrd to play for the Phillies $8M per year, it makes Papelbon’s salary look like a bargain at what they have. Papelbon is a 5-time All Star and one of the feared closers of this game of baseball. This would be a huge mistake in trying to dump Papelbon, and short of just giving him away for no one, would be another of Ruben Amaro’s short sighted and misguided moves of late.