Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Papelbon's Special Run

It wasn't that long ago that many in the Nation (including some on this site) were calling for Jonathan Papelbon's head. Personally, I can vividly recall my young son's reaction to the closer's blown save and loss in the final game of the 2009 LDS: "Papelbon's dead to me now." It was assumed that at the end of this year, he'd be gone in Boras-induced free agency and Daniel Bard would be 'The Man' going forward.

Almost two years later, Pap is very much alive with fans. After last night's 1-2-3 ninth to record his 26th save, Papelbon is on an amazing streak. After allowing a run to Tampa on July 16th, he's delivered 11 straight scoreless outings. And, most incredibly, he's only given up two hits over that span. He's become the automatic lock we loved from years past.

The 'Great Papelbon Conundrum' will rear its ugly head this off-season. There are a myriad of questions: Do we sign him—and likely overpay in the process? Or do we go with the younger, cheaper closer option already on the team? If we do, who fills in for what Bard does now? Can the Sox sign both Pap and Papi to multi-year deals? Does it make any sense to break up a 8th-9th thing that is working so well? Will Bard become disenchanted if he doesn't migrate to closer?

I thought baseball was supposed to be a simple game.