Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Honeymoon Closer

With camps opening in Florida and Arizona, it's time for the by the numbers puff pieces in MLB. For Philly, that's all about Roy Halladay saving some dudes from an anaconda (um, yeesh)... and Jonathan Papelbon greeting the media and talking about the last time he took the mound, with the Red Sox's playoff lives on the line and a dome half-full of people who wanted to see him fail. Which he more or less did.

There's no doubt that going from the AL to the NL is going to agree with the right-hander, in that it agrees with nearly every pitcher, really. Closers rarely thrive against the same guys they've seen a million times, and after half a decade in the AL East meat grinder, I'm reasonably sure that there are some Yankees he's spent more time with than your average married couple. While the Bank isn't exactly a pitcher's haven, it's not going to be much worse than Fenway, and while Philly Fan isn't anyone's idea of warm and cuddly, again, new is probably better.

But there's also this... I'm not sure anyone is giving the guy an incredibly long leash. Many of the region's fans are savvy enough to think that his contract was an awful lot to spend for a closer on the downside of his career, and those that aren't are just going to go for resentment of the new rich guy. Papelbon has been prickly with the media before, and Philly's is one of the worst in the country when it comes to inventing their own hullabaloos, especially now that local media is in the end-game of print media's death. On a club with a potentially average offense, with aging stars all over the place, in a division where the doormats both spent money like water in the off-season to stop being doormats...

Well, let's just say this. I don't think his jersey is going to sell a lot. Or that you should buy it.

Oh, and one final point... between the revolving injury door of Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras, Antonio Bastardo (love that name) and Ryan Madson, the Philly closers were damn near infallible in 2011.

So the best that little lord rich bucks is going to be... is status quo. For a lot more money. That's a fun role.

Welcome to town, Paps!

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