So the player bleeding begins for the Boston Red Sox, with closer Jonathan Papelbon fleeing the sinking ship.
In truth, Papelbon might have been gone even if the Red Sox hadn’t completely collapsed in September, gotten rid of manager Terry Francona and been embarrassed by revelations of beer drinking in the clubhouse. But the speed with which the closer, who had many good years with the Red Sox, fled Beantown was pretty surprising.
The Philadelphia Phillies were aggressive with a great contract offer and Papelbon jumped at it. He didn’t even give the Red Sox a chance to match it, probably because he was tired of the clubhouse chaos, the incessant media bashing and the unyielding expectations of Red Sox Nation. Or perhaps he saw this September as the beginning of the end for the Saux and believed signing with Philadelphia would be his best chance to pursue another World Series championship.
Whatever his reasons, Papelbon’s departure is a positive for the New York Yankees, who often find themselves engaged in tight, epic contests with their archrivals. Yankee fans will miss heckling him-I still call him Papelbum by default. He had his struggles against the Yankees, but he closed some key games against them too, which is why CC Sabathia felt pretty comfortable expressing what must be felt all over the Yankees organization today: that they are happy to see Papelbon depart for the National League.
The Red Sox have to figure out what’s next. I believe Papelbon will be only the first player out the door in Boston, although he may be the only one Red Sox officials eventually regret losing. I think Jason Varitek is done in Boston, but I’m surprised that the Saux are even open to re-signing David Ortiz. I thought they would take the epic collapse as a sign they need to clean house. But as Papelbon showed, it’s not only their decision as we may see others abandon the sinking ship.
Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the Papelbon photo.