You remember him rising through the ranks. He was supposed to be this great started that the team just had to stretch out. He was in the Craig Hansen (remember him) and Jon Lester group of Sox pitchers that were going to be the next generation.
I remember in 2005 he was the lone bright spot in an awful playoff series against the White Sox. He started his career coming out of the bullpen and pitched four scoreless innings in that series.
Then there was the memorable meeting he had with Francona. The team had him slated for the starting rotation and he instead said he wanted to be a closer. Of course Keith Foulke was still in that roll but he struggled and Papelbon took the reigns.
He was a powerhouse as a closer helping the team win the World Series in 2007. He was dominant in 2008 and 2009 as well. Then in 2010 he started to struggle. Instead of being the lights out closer he’d been in previous seasons, his walk to strikeout ratio started to go down and opponent’s OPB and batting average against started going up.
Rumors persisted at that point that he would be gone when his contract was up. After all he’d gone to arbitration every year opposed to signing a long term deal. In fact many envisioned Papelbon in New York pinstripes.
This past season his numbers improved (coincidence in a contract year? I think not) but I think we’ll all remember that when the Sox season was on the line and their post season berth was in their grasp, Papelbon blew the game and the Sox lost the game and were eliminated from post season contention minutes later.
Rumors floated early Friday afternoon that he as gone to the Phillies and yesterday it became official after he passed his physical. $50 million over four years with vesting options that can make it $60 million. The Sox weren’t going to go four years but from the clip above, seems they never had a chance.
Unlike Johnny Damon or Pedro who played the Sox against their future employer, Papelbon took the offer and left.
We’ll remember the chucklehead dancing to Tessie in compression shorts and goggles. We’ll remember him coming into the game to the Ultimate Warrior theme and then of course Shipping Up To Boston.
Now it’s up to new boss Ben Cherington to either promote Daniel Bard to closer or bring in another free agent. We’ll have to wait and see.
For me, no hard feeling to Papelbon. I wouldn’t want to come back to this clusterfuck of an organization at this point. Way too much instability. I wish him luck going forward, just not against the Sox.