This should be Jonathan Papelbon's last season with the Boston Red Sox. Whether it actually will be is yet to be decided. Don't get me wrong- Pap owes the fans of Red Sox nation nothing, giving them several seasons worth of stellar closing. Since 2006, Paplebon has had more then 35 saves in every season but one. But ever since his fantastic '09 campaign, when he recorded 38 saves and posted a 1.85 ERA, his numbers have gone down significantly. He doesn't intimidate anyone on the mound anymore, and his stuff isn't nearly as electric as it used to be. A fastball pitcher, Papelbon used to very efficiently mix in a nasty splitter and above average slider. He seemingly lost faith in these pitches, and only relying on a fastball will come back to bite you sooner or later.
Pap will be a free-agent at the end of this year, and a highly coveted one at that. Considered a premier closer, he will likely get over-paid. (hopefully not by the yankees) If the Sox are smart, they'll let him go. Yes, he has been great for the Sox, but he's not irreplaceable. And if you don't believe me, just ask Daniel Bard. The flame-throwing "apprentice" of Papelbon is in the middle of a 21 inning scoreless streak, the best in Red Sox history. He has made it clear he is ready to take over at the helm for the sox, as he has definitely earned it. Bard is younger, has more potential, and most importantly, cheaper. The Sox paid Pap 12,000,000 this year, and Papelbon, who turned 30 this year, isn't getting any younger. Bard, 26, is being paid 505,000 dollars this year. You do the math. More for less. Now that's what I call a save.