11-3-2011: Replacing Papelbon

And now for part two of our free agent series. This time, we take a look at Jonathan Papelbon going forward. Paps had a really strong 2011 campaign, and he showed a new commitment to strength and conditioning which I believe reflected in his numbers: a 2.94 ERA and 12.2 K/9 against just 1.4 BB/9. His FIP was a miserly 1.53, easily the best of his career. His velocity did not slip at all from previous years, and if anything his fastball popped just a bit more, and he was able to locate his splitter down out of the zone, making it a hugely effective out pitch.

At the tender age of 30, he already has piled up 219 saves, and is quickly climbing the leaderboard in that category. Here’s what our projections see for him going forward, from ages 31-34:

2012 67.3 0.69 2.95 10.38 1.16 2.95
2013 65.5 0.71 2.99 10.27 1.17 3.02
2014 63.0 0.73 3.05 10.13 1.19 3.11
2015 60.0 0.76 3.13 9.96 1.22 3.21

Papelbon actually looks like a pretty safe signing for the next 3-4 years. The question is, will that be enough? Most players will not outright tell you that they are out to break the bank – Papelbon has done exactly that, comparing himself to Mariano Rivera and insisting at every contract negotiation that he be paid more than any closer in history.

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Links 7-30-2010: Down to the (waiver) wire, SoS

Those of us hoping for a last-minute Mike Lowell deal, it ain’t happening now (at least RIGHT now), even with his record-setting performance at Pawtucket this week. The two clubs who showed interest in the veteran have gone in other directions – the Rangers landed Jorge Cantu, and the Tigers traded for Jhonny Peralta. Can’t blame them for not wanting to make the Sox any stronger. J.P. Ricciardi still sees potential for this team to roar back and into the playoffs, and he’s not the only one. Lowell is no longer with the Paw Sox, so look for him to be activated today. Maybe we’ll get some production out of him yet.

As for the bullpen situation, the Twins paid a real premium to grab Matt Capps from the Nationals; I don’t see Theo Epstein approaching that kind of a haul for any available reliever, unless Dayton Moore goes insane and the Royals decide to sell off Joakim Soria (it’s a dream, people! give it up!). As usual, Epstein’s team is working hard to get an undervalued reliever from somewhere. The latest name is Joe Thatcher of the Padres.

Something that we’ve hinted at, but now it’s been quantified – the Red Sox have had a more difficult schedule than either the Yankees or the Rays. Still a glimmer of hope in there, as things even out more in the stretch.