The Right Moves Yield Wrong Results with Red Sox Closers

With one season and six weeks in the books since long-time closer Jonathan Papelbon left the Red Sox for the Phillies. Since then the Red Sox quest to fill his shoes is starting to look like the quest to replace Nomar Garciaparra.

Revisionist historians are now making the point that the Red Sox erred in letting Papelbon walk. It is still way too early to call his Phillies contract a success. BJ Ryan signed a similar deal with the Blue Jays and had a solid first season just like Papelbon has. His elbow proceeded to blow up and the man who gave him that contract lost his job. Nobody would call that deal a success. 

All pitchers are ticking time bombs.   Some pitchers are like Tim Hudson and John Smoltz in that they're durable, suffer a major injury, and then go back to being healthy and durable. That's the best-case scenario. Even the guys who have reputations of health and durability are only healthy and durable until they're not. See: Halladay, Roy. 

Andrew Bailey has a history of nagging and fluky injuries. If you want to criticize that acquisition, it would be hard to argue that point. The Red Sox were unlucky that Joel Hannrahan's elbow blew up. There is still plenty of time for Papelbon to join him in Birmingham.  

Even if he doesn't he will be closing games for an 80ish win club who will likely try to trade him as their lineup gets older and worse. The only closers who have been healthy and effective well into their 30s in recent years are Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman. One is a cutter tossing freak of nature, the other pitched in the National League and threw mostly change ups. It's hard to blame the Red Sox for betting against Papelbon joining those two.