Sunday, April 30, 2006

not the cruelest month when you're papelbon

Ten saves in ten opportunities.

From the AP:

Red Sox 9 Devil Rays 6

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Jason Varitek hit a tiebreaking single in a four-run ninth inning and the Boston Red Sox beat Tampa Bay, 9-to-6. Manny Ramirez homered.

Jonathan Papelbon struck out all three batters in the bottom half for his tenth save in 10 chances. He became the first big league pitcher to get ten saves in April after entering that season without a save.

Papelbon has a scoreless streak of 20 and a-third innings spanning 17 appearances dating to last year.


And from
The Boston Globe's game recap:

Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon struck out the side in the ninth for his 10th save, tying Mike MacDougal's record for saves by a rookie through April (MacDougal had one in March, nine in April for Kansas City in 2003).

stuff i missed

Last weekend, The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jim Salisbury talked about Papelbon:

Closers are one of the most valuable commodities in major league baseball, and because of that, a lot of teams are kicking themselves for not taking a chance on Jonathan Papelbon three years ago.

Papelbon pitched in high school but was recruited by Mississippi State as a first baseman. When he arrived, coaches were impressed with his arm in the infield and asked whether he'd do some pitching. In time, he blossomed into the Southeastern Conference's top reliever.

Still, teams weren't sold on Papelbon. He wasn't drafted until the fourth round in 2003 -- 114th overall, 29 spots after the Phillies chose Texas second baseman Tim Mosswith their first pick.

The Boston Red Sox used their sixth pick in that draft to get Papelbon, and they're sure glad they did. At 25, he is sharing the spotlight with Detroit's Chris Sheltonand Baltimore's Chris Ray as relative unknowns who have suddenly become big-time contributors in the American League.

Shelton, a 33d-round pick by the Pirates in 2001, was left unprotected after the 2003 season. The Tigers scooped him up for $50,000, and he was leading the AL in batting average and homers and was tied with Vernon Wells for the league lead in RBIs entering last night.

The 24-year-old Ray, a third-round draft pick in 2003, is six for six in saves.

Entering last night, Papelbon stood atop the majors' save chart with seven. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound, hard-throwing righthander hasn't allowed a run in his first nine games and has become a fan favorite in baseball-mad Boston.

Papelbon was used mostly as a starter in the minors and mostly as a reliever during an impressive two-month stint with the Red Sox last season. Manager Terry Francona wasn't sure how he would use Papelbon coming into this season.

"I knew the kid was special," Francona said by phone the other day. "I just wanted to make sure he was a weapon."

A deep rotation, led by healthy and dominatingCurt Schillingand overpowering newcomer Josh Beckett, pushed Papelbon to the bullpen. He pitched a perfect eighth inning in an opening-day win at Texas, then closed out a victory in Game 3.

Francona is reluctant to say it, but Papelbon, at least for now, has usurpedKeith Foulke's closer role. Foulke was a standout on the 2004 World Series championship team, but struggled with a knee injury and ineffectiveness last season.

If the Red Sox had a question mark coming into the season, it was closer. Papelbon erased it.

"I wasn't really concerned about closer because I have a lot of confidence in Foulke," Francona said. "But I knew if he had a problem, we had Papelbon and (Mike) Timlin. Papelbon was sort of our wild card.

"Everyone thinks he'll eventually be a starter, and whatever he does he'll be good at. But I love him in this role. He pounds the strike zone with good stuff. The game doesn't quicken up for him like it does for a lot of young kids in this role. He doesn't get flustered and, like Schilling, he pitches off adrenaline."

The Red Sox won 11 of their first 18 games in racing out to the lead in the rugged AL East. They have all the pieces needed to stay there all season.David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez make up one of the most feared slugging combinations in the game. Beckett and Schilling are a dominant 1-2 punch atop the rotation.

And, three weeks into the season, Papelbon appears to be the dominant closer the Red Sox lacked last season.

Twenty-nine other teams wish they had picked him.

whole article


From the AP, as seen on last weekend:

Papelbon emerges as Red Sox closer.

Is he Jon or Jonathan? A starter or a closer? A pitcher who craves strikeouts or just any kind of out?

For Boston's newest mound sensation, none of that really matters.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

california penal league

From the Boston Herald, new music for the homestand, to the surprise of no one:

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon told the New York Daily News he plans to use "Wild Thing" as his entrance song during the next homestand. He had used Drowning Pool’s "Bodies" earlier this season.

Papelbon pitched a scoreless eighth inning last night, extending his shutout streak to 13innings this season and 19innings over his last 17 appearances dating back to last September. . . .

whole article

Friday, April 28, 2006

friday morning news round-up

From The Toronto Star, from an article mostly about Barry Bonds:

WHAT IF HE'D LOST? That was truly one beaut of a Mohawk haircut that Boston's hot new closer, Jonathan Papelbon, on a bet, turned up with at the Rogers Centre last Saturday. There was the normal (for a Mohawk) thick stripe running across the crest of the skull, but then it branched off into these four fishhook-like tails that snaked to the base of his head. One Boston scribe wrote that it "could only be described as disturbing."

For a character known to give himself hot foots and squish shaving-cream in his own face, this might not be all so surprising. Nor might his explanation: "Unfortunately, I won the bet."

True. Papelbon had this friendly wager with young first baseman Kevin Youkilis, that he'd have a run of 10 scoreless innings in April before Youkilis could muster five home runs with a .350 average. Papelbon ran his season-opening streak to 10 1/3 frames against the Jays on Friday night and, by the next morning, thanks to some inspiration from Charlie Sheen's Rick (Wild Thing) Vaughn in Major League and the spectacular talents of bullpen catcher Jason LaRoque, had paid up.

"You ain't leaving it like that," said fellow reliever Julian Tavarez. "Malo, mucho malo (bad, very bad)."

"Kind of suits his character," added ex-closer Keith Foulke.

"This ain't no biggie," said Papelbon.

whole article


Papelbon is the current American League leader in SAVES:

Papelbon, Boston, 9; FrRodriguez, Los Angeles, 8; Ray, Baltimore, 6; Jenks, Chicago, 6; Street, Oakland, 4; Rodney, Detroit, 4; Miceli, Tampa Bay, 4; Wickman, Cleveland, 4.

Also of note, Schilling is leading in strikeouts.


Interesting article on winning the fickle and confusing hearts of Sox fans, originally from the The Providence Journal:

Papelbon is 6-4, 230 pounds, and both fearless and fearsome. He throws bullets and has unerring aim. After getting his ninth save in the Red Sox’ 8-6 win at Cleveland Tuesday night, Papelbon has now made 11 appearances in relief without giving up a run. He’d struck out 10 in 12 1/3 innings while walking only two.

He has talent. He has confidence. He has charisma. If he happens to have a bad outing, as he inevitably will, it will be dismissed as an aberration. Instead of giving him grief, Red Sox Nation will be clamoring to give him the ball again as soon as possible.

whole article


While previewing the Sox/Yanks, the MSNBC expert tells us what we already know:

But shifting rookie Jonathan Papelbon has been a stroke of genius. The hard-throwing, 25-year-old rookie converted his first nine save opportunities, and didn’t allow a run in 12.1 innings over his first 11 appearances.

whole article


And of course, an update on the Papel-hawk, from the ever-trusty Boston Globe:

Jonathan Papelbon has now had his mohawk cleaned up twice in a week (it was ''crooked," in his estimation). But he doesn't intend to shave it off. ''I'll keep it for a little while, see how it goes," he said. Said Francona: ''I think he might enjoy it a little more than he should." Would that haircut be against Yankee code? ''That might be against our code," Francona said, laughing, ''and we don't even have a code." . . .

whole article

Thursday, April 27, 2006

...on papelbon

Foulke on Papelbon, as seen in The Boston Globe:

He continues to support Jonathan Papelbon as closer.

''I'm not going to fool myself thinking that I'm better than he is," Foulke said. ''At this point right now, I'm not."

whole article


Terry on Papelbon, as seen in The Beaver County Times (insert your own joke here):

Paplebon, considered a top starting pitching prospect, has taken to the closer's role and converted all nine save opportunities going into Thursday's game. That has enabled Francona to move his top two veteran relievers, Keith Foulke and Mike Timlin, out of the ninth inning and into set-up roles.Inserting a rookie in such an important role as closer may be the most daring move Francona has made during his three seasons in Boston. "He's a special talent," Francona said. "You can make that move when have a guy like him."

whole article

sports guy says

From a Mailbag Column a few weeks ago:

Q: We have to get "Pap-Smeared" into the lexicon for those times Jon Papelbon comes into a Sox game in the seventh or eighth and slams the door. I'm giddy thinking about the first time Papelbon strikes out the side, I leap out of my chair screaming, "You've been Pap-Smeared!" and my wife looks at me like I'm still the 22-year-old who got hammered and peed in the laundry hamper.--Owen Rodgers, Apex, N.C.

Q: Jonathan P(aplebon) = Jonathan E. Fans need to greet his every entrance with a chant of "Jon-a-than, Jon-a-than, Jon-a-than." Because the only thing as scary as a big kid from Texas throwing 96 mph gas, is a coked up James Caan on rollerskates. This will put "Enter Sandman" to shame. Make it happen.--Sean Libby, Guilford, Conn.

Q: Do you still have your Papelboner? I do.--Phil, New York

SG: That's right, we had a three-way tie for the "Most excited e-mail about the Jonathan Papelbon Era" this month!

whole column


And in that spirit, this is your daily update on all things Papelbon for the forseeable future.