There have been talks with other teams. A couple deals may even have been close to completion. Papelbon is still effective, still has real value. There is interest.
For his part, both over the winter and during spring training, Papelbon has played the good soldier. He has remained focused on his job, and has remained good at it, one of the best in the game. Importantly, he has kept his colorful personality under wraps, and his sometimes controversial mouth shut for the most part.
Perhaps the reality of the Phillies situation is hitting him. There will be no miracle season. The upside potential of a “fountain of youth” drink by the old franchise heroes, Howard, Utley, and Ruiz, will not happen. Staff ace Cole Hamels is off to his typically slow start.
The team is off to a 6-11 record, and the offense is non-existent. Worse perhaps than the poor performances is that there is nothing to look forward to on the near horizon to provide hope for improvement.
“I will be disappointed if this continues to happen…If we continue to do the same things as we’ve done the last couple years with me, where we try to do something and get something done with me and then nothing still happens.” ~ Papelbon
Papelbon may finally be beginning to crack the more the losing goes on. In a recent interview with CSN Philly, Papelbon commented on the frustration of the reality that has transpired as opposed to his expectations when he signed with the Phillies, who at the time of that signing had been perennial contenders.
“Yeah, it’s frustrating when you come here and you expect certain things, and my competitiveness is such a high level, when that doesn’t happen and you put so much into it and you don’t get what you necessarily want out of it, yeah I say that’s frustrating,” said the veteran righthander.
To be fair, Papelbon did again reiterate that his preference would be for the Phillies to turn things around, and for him to be a part of that return to winning here. But he sees the reality as well. That will not be happening in the next year or two. Management has publicly said as much.
To that end, he does not want to go through another season of playing for a losing team while surrounded by trade rumors that never come to fruition.
“I will be disappointed if this continues to happen…If we continue to do the same things as we’ve done the last couple years with me, where we try to do something and get something done with me and then nothing still happens.“
Again, there has been no decline in his performance. He has not taken his overall frustrations out to the mound.
In his 6 performances over 6.1 innings, Papelbon has not allowed a run to this point, has allowed just one hit, has three Saves, and has a stellar 6-0 K:BB ratio. He is just three more Saves shy of the Phillies franchise record of 112, currently held by Jose Mesa.
But he is also 34 years old now. He knows that the opportunities to be part of another championship team are running out, and that those opportunities are not likely to come here in Philly.
The Phillies bullpen will survive without him, especially under the current rebuilding circumstances. The trio of Ken Giles, Jake Diekman, and Justin De Fratus have all struggled to one extent or another.
But all three remain talented, and they need to be pushed to the top of the late innings options list. Luis Garcia and Jeanmar Gomez have given the team two more reasonable options.
Papelbon is being paid good money, more than any closer in baseball history. His family is secure, and despite his occasional outbursts of “personality”, so is his legacy as one of the game’s best closers over the last decade.
Now it’s time to say goodbye. Amaro needs to find a taker, and move him along at any reasonable price.
This is not like a Cole Hamels deal. This is not a trade where Amaro needs to maximize his return. The Blue Jays, Tigers, Nationals, Cubs, Giants, Indians and Mets are all teams with contending possibilities who could use his services.
One of them would certainly cut a deal right now. It’s time for Amaro to make that deal happen.