Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Papelbon ’

Concerns at Closer?

Jonathan PapelbonThe Phillies have plenty of holes to fill this offseason, but closer is not one of them.

They paid Jonathan Papelbon $50 million to do that job.

He nearly blew a four-run lead last night in a 5-4 victory over the Braves at Turner Field.

Anybody can have a bad night and Papelbon hung his night on a hanging breaking ball to Braves right fielder Justin Upton, who hit a three-run home run. But there are reasons to be concerned about their high-priced closer. Papelbon, who is owed $26 million over the next two seasons, has blown seven of 36 saves this year. His 80.6 save completion percentage ranks 27th out of 30 pitchers with 20 or more save opportunities. His once intimidating fastball has averaged just 92.1 mph, 1.7 mph less than last season and 2.7 mph less than his final season with the Red Sox in 2012.

A surly Papelbon sat in a far corner of the Phillies clubhouse afterward, carrying a blank look on his face and insisting he is not worried about any of this.

“I guess if you guys think I’m not throwing hard enough,” he said, when asked if he thinks his velocity can come back next season. “I don’t know, maybe. Maybe it will. I don’t know. I don’t think think (velocity) really matters in this game. It’s velocity at the plate, life at the plate. It’s not how hard it comes out of your hand. It’s what it does near the plate.”

But Papelbon is striking out only 8.3 batters per nine innings this season, which is the lowest mark of his career. He averaged 10.0 or more strikeouts per nine innings over each of the previous six seasons. In the past, when he allowed a couple infield hits like he did last night, he could get a big strikeout to get himself out of trouble. But that is happening less and less frequently this season.

Papelbon had a hip issue earlier this season, but he downplayed its effect then and he downplayed it again last night. But Ryne Sandberg said it is something Papelbon has been working on, and he said hopefully when his closer is healthy he can starting throwing fastballs back in the 93-94 mph range.

Asked if Papelbon can be a shutdown closer if he is throwing in the 91-92 mph range, Sandberg said, “Well, he’s our guy right now for that. I see him getting some rest and getting back to throwing 94. I think that’s what he needs.”

The Phillies are more than willing to trade Papelbon in the offseason, but they might have trouble finding takers. They had virtually no interest in him before the July 31 Trade Deadline because he is owed not only $26 million over the next two seasons, but potentially $13 million more in 2016 based on a club option.

Papelbon was very critical of the team in July, saying changes needed to be made from top to bottom to improve. Asked again last night where he thinks this team is headed, he said, “We’re headed to go play golf.”

His former team won the American League East this season after losing 93 games last year. Maybe it could happen to the Phillies in 2014.

“Sure, but you saw what they did over there,” he said.

The Red Sox cleaned house.

Is Papelbon happy in Philadelphia? It is hard to tell.

“Yeah, I mean, I’m happy to be in a uniform, playing baseball,” he said. “But it’s not fun to lose though.”

Papelbon Blows Save, Stands By Comments

Jonathan PapelbonJonathan Papelbon blew his sixth save in 13 opportunities since mid-June in tonight’s 2-1 loss to the Giants.

He got booed pretty good coming off the field.

It’s partly because of his performance last night, partly because of his performance the past few weeks and partly because of the comments he made Sunday to Papelbon spoke for nearly eight minutes with reporters in the Phillies’ clubhouse afterward. Here are the highlights:

You have blown six saves. Do you have to look at yourself and figure out if something isn’t clicking?
No. Not me. I think my ball has life at the plate, which is all I really care about it. If I’m getting hit all over the ballpark with hard hit balls, I have to reassess, but after a night like tonight you just kind of chalk it up to that’s that. I felt like, honestly, I felt all of my pitches were working. I felt good. I felt strong. It was just one of those nights.

You were really hearing it from the fans, stemming from the comments you made Sunday. Do you those comments need clarity?
I think they speak for themselves. Whether I blow a game or whether I save a game, whatever is happening within the organization, I feel like I’m honest and forthcoming and I’m the same way after games like tonight. I accept things. I don’t shy away from things. That’s just the way I approach it and that’s just the way I go to work on a daily basis. I feel like that’s the best way to go about a day’s work is to just be honest with yourself and be honest with the position you’re in and not try to sugarcoat anything or trying to see something for what it’s not. That’s the way I’ve always been. I go by facts and I stand by what I say. I don’t feel like I said anything that was untrue.

Cole said he didn’t sign to lose, either. Did you get feedback from teammates? Did they say, I’m glad you said that?
No. What I say and what I do is based on seeing yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and if you’re working hard and if you’re not working hard and being real and not sugarcoating anything, I don’t think. This is the big leagues, this isn’t coach’s pitch. At the end of the day not everyone gets a trophy. You have to look yourself in the mirror and examine yourself if you’re consistently not getting the job done. You make adjustments, it’s a game of adjustments unless you don’t got to make any. It’s pretty simple, really.

Did you need to make any adjustments?
I think for me this year it’s been a constant adjustment on how to figure out how to go without pitching or pitching in tie ballgames a lot. I think for me more than anything there have been some situations that have come up that have been fairly new for me. I think for me I just try to go out there one day at a time to see how I can get better each day and not necessarily worry about struggling and whatnot.

Your strikeout numbers are down this year. (He averaged 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings from 2010-12, but is averaging just 7.78 this season.) Is there an explanation?
I think every year is different. Like I said earlier, if I was giving up a lot of home runs or giving up lots of doubles and stuff like that, I would start to make adjustments. But after tonight I just chalk it up to that’s baseball.

What about your velocity being down? (His fastball has dipped from 94.8 mph in 2011 to 93.8 mph in 2012 to 92.2 mph this season.)
I’m not going out there and trying to blow anybody away. I’m trying to get outs. That’s basically what it boils down to.

Did you talk to Ruben or Charlie about comments?
I don’t think there is anything to really hash out. Facts are facts and when you look in the mirror at the end of the day, you have to be honest with yourself.

If There’s A Bottom, This Has To Be It

Jake DiekmanThe Phillies didn’t need to say much in the visitors clubhouse following today’s 12-4 loss to the Tigers.

A few just offered a look.

It’s that look when the eyes open wide for a split second like, “Wow, can you believe that just happened?”

It did. The Phillies went 1-8 on the road against the Mets, Cardinals and Tigers. Their eight-game losing streak is their longest since an eight-game skid in Sept. 2011. It is their worst road trip of nine or more games since July 28-Aug. 6, 1995, when they went 1-8 against the Cubs, Braves and Reds.

“I’ve seen a lot, but I haven’t seen that,” said Jimmy Rollins, who has been with the team since 2000. “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”

Rollins also offered his reasons for optimism. Read the above link for that. But Jonathan Papelbon isn’t nearly as cheery. He spoke a couple times yesterday, expressing his frustrations about the losing and the organization. He said if things don’t improve changes need to be made from top to bottom. I asked if Papelbon wants to be traded. He said no, he wants to remain in Philadelphia. But then he said if things continue this way, he doesn’t want to stick around. He said who would? You wonder what is going to happen there. I think both parties would welcome a trade, but it’s easier said than done. There doesn’t appear to be much of a market for Papelbon, and that could become a problem if the team keeps losing.

Michael Young said he hasn’t heard anything yet about a potential trade. And even though Rollins hasn’t been rumored to be traded, he said he would reject any proposals for now.

It was an interesting trip at the very least. It is hard to imagine the Phillies buying in any true capacity before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. deadline (i.e. giving up a top prospect to fill a void in the bullpen or outfield). It wouldn’t make much sense. But I’m just not sure who they can trade to retool for the future. I’m not sure how much value Young has. It sounds like Chase Utley isn’t going anywhere. And while the Phillies would trade Cliff Lee, I wonder what they can get in return. They already traded him once and didn’t get much back.

Papelbon mentioned the Red Sox from 2011. Theo Epstein and Terry Francona both left the organization following a 7-20 finish. They also ditched players like Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Papelbon. The Red Sox struggled last season, but they are now first in the American League East with the second-best record in baseball. Ruben Amaro Jr. has his work cut out for him, but if he can make the right moves the Phillies could bounce back relatively quickly. But that’s easier said than done, and the last couple years nothing has been easy.

Amaro: Better Off Than ’12, We’re Buying Now

Ruben Amaro Jr.,Ruben Amaro Jr. said today if the July 31 Trade Deadline were tomorrow they would be buyers.

But the situation remains fluid.

“No one is running away with it,” Amaro said of the National League East and Wild Card races. “No one is invincible.”

The Phillies last season stood at 37-50 at the All-Star break, 10 games behind the Wild Card leaders and 14 games behind the Nationals in the division. They entered Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals 45-47, 6 ½ games behind the Wild Card leaders and 7 ½ games behind the Braves in the division. The All-Star break begins following Sunday’s game against the White Sox.

“I actually considered us less of a contender last year than we are now,” Amaro said. “Weren’t we 10, 11 games under .500 last year?”

Fourteen at one point, actually.

“I think if we were 14 we’d be doing the same thing we did last year,” he said.


Papelbon Stunned: ‘Lives Are Ruined. For What?’

Boston Marathon ExplosionThe Phillies sat in silence this afternoon as a horrific scene played on the TVs above them inside the visitors’ clubhouse at Great American Ball Park.

At least two bombs exploded at the end of the Boston Marathon with multiple deaths and injuries reported.

Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon played seven seasons with the Red Sox and lived above the popular steakhouse Abe and Louie’s, where one of the explosions detonated. He carried a blank look on his face as he shared his thoughts before a game against the Reds.

“It’s sad, man,” he said. “Patriot’s Day is a big thing in Boston. Sox play at 11 o’clock. It’s all ruined. Families are ruined, lives are ruined. For what? It’s just sad.

“I’m looking at it right now and I’m like, damn, I used to live right there.”

Papelbon said he has tried to contact people in Boston, but has had no luck.

“It’s kind of surreal,” he said. “I don’t know man, it’s crazy. It’s hard to even think about. … Hopefully the city can rally and make things better, but it’s going to be tough.”

Dominican Republic Is Here

The Phillies host the Dominican Republic at 1:05 p.m. today at Bright House Field.

Here is the Phillies’ lineup:

  1. Ender Inciarte, CF
  2. Kevin Frandsen, 2B
  3. Domonic Brown, RF
  4. Ryan Howard, 1B
  5. Darin Ruf, LF
  6. Laynce Nix, DH
  7. Cody Asche, 3B
  8. Erik Kratz, C
  9. Freddy Galvis, SS


Jonathan Papelbon had been scheduled to pitch today, but he has been scratched because he is ill.


The Phillies have to loan five pitchers to the Dominican Republic for today’s game. One is in big-league camp: left-hander Mauricio Robles. The other four are in minor league camp: right-hander Juan Sosa, left-hander Tom Cochran, right-hander Michael Cisco and right-hander Edgar Garcia.

Controversy in Phillies Camp!

Jonathan PapelbonJonathan Papelbon made a few comments about a lack of leadership this week and everybody outside the Phillies clubhouse wanted details.

What the heck is happening in Clearwater?

Truth be told, Papelbon’s comments barely made a ripple in camp because he essentially said what everybody already knew: they lost a lot of their leadership because of injuries. You lose Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay and that is going to hurt. You know what else hurt? All of the other injuries. That is why Jimmy Rollins said he agreed with Papelbon’s assessment. It is also why he said it’s nothing to take offense to.

But to give you a peek at reality, it was interesting (and a little surreal) to watch ESPN’s SportsCenter cover the story this morning. (Note: This isn’t about ESPN, just about perceptions of what’s happening from the outside.) Papelbon’s image flashed on screen and Phillies players quieted down to watch and listen. They heard Papelbon discuss his comments on camera, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel followed with his own thoughts on camera. It all seemed very serious, like there is a real controversy brewing here. Then ESPN showed a quote from Rollins, which was read by SportsCenter host Stan Verrett. The quote ended with, “The glue is back together. You can have a lead singer, but without a man playing the guitar and drums, it’s a different band.”

When Rollins made that comment to reporters yesterday it sounded perfectly fine, but with a certain amount of gravitas behind it, it sounded quite silly. And that is why every player in the clubhouse erupted in laughter when Verrett finished reading it. Rollins smiled and took a quick bow.

Controversy? Nope, not really. But it’s something fun to talk about, I suppose.

Papelbon Talks (Lack of) Leadership

Jonathan PapelbonJonathan Papelbon is an interesting guy to say the least. I mean, the guy talks about himself like he has a split personality (aka Cinco Ocho).

He made an interesting comment the other day to The Morning Call, when he said the Phillies lacked leadership in the clubhouse last season. He discussed that lack of leadership a little further this morning. Here is what he said:

Q: You said this team didn’t show any leadership last season. That’s accurate?
A: I don’t say anything that’s not accurate.

Q: What does that mean?
A: I hope you guys aren’t saying it’s one particular person in general because I put myself in that category. I put myself in that category that I don’t feel like I took on certain leadership as much as I could have with the guys in the bullpen. And I intend to make that change this year. I hope that other guys on this team feel the same way as I do. Granted, we did have a lot of injuries and stuff like that. And that does affect how leadership plays a part with teams. Leadership takes the form of many different things and many different players can lead in different ways. I just don’t think there was many situations last year where guys were, either like myself on the team for the first year, guys weren’t able to be there every day because of injuries, all different sorts of things came into play. Hopefully, this year that’ll change. And I think it will.

Q: Was it a bad clubhouse last year?
A: No, no, no, no. No, not at all. It was just a clubhouse that didn’t have an identity. And a clubhouse that didn’t have leadership, I felt like. And that’s not to put the blame on any one person or any one coach. That’s just the way it was. It’s just the way things unfolded. I’ve been on plenty of teams that way. I said this, too. I was really, really happy the way the season ended and some of the leadership that started to emerge and some of the team’s identity that started to emerge. I said I believe if we can take that same team identity we had at the end of the season and carry that into the spring and carry that into the season, along with some of the leadership we had at the end of the month, guys taking charge, if we can carry that into the season – even though there was an offseason in between – just because there was an offseason it doesn’t mean that team’s identity and leadership can’t carry into the next year. Because it can. And that’s really all I meant by that.


Phillies, Durbin Agree to 1-Year Deal

Phillies to Offer Werth Arbitration, Not DurbinThe Phillies are bringing back a familiar face to fortify their bullpen.

Sources told today the Phillies and right-hander Chad Durbin have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, pending a physical. The deal includes a club option for 2014.

“It gives us some depth,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He was a guy who was out there at a very good price and still available late in the (offseason). He loved Philadelphia and liked being in Philly and we’re hoping to get something done in the next 24 hours or so. … Veteran guy and a quality guy and he can give us something that the young guys may not be able to give us and that’s experience.”

Durbin, 35, pitched for the Phillies from 2008-10, when he helped solidify the middle innings.

He went 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in 76 appearances last season with the Atlanta Braves. He had a 2.33 ERA from April 18 through the end of the regular season, and carried a 0.83 ERA in 28 appearances against the National League East.

Durbin is expected to join a bullpen that includes closer Jonathan Papelbon, setup man Mike Adams and left-hander Antonio Bastardo. Durbin’s arrival means there likely will be three jobs available in the bullpen, which should make for an interesting competition in Spring Training.

The Phillies obviously hope Durbin helps them on the mound, but they also might welcome his positive presence and potential influence on the team’s younger relief pitchers. Durbin was a popular player in the Phillies clubhouse during his three seasons, and known as a good guy that fit in seamlessly with other Phillies relievers like Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, J.C. Romero and Scott Eyre.

Durbin went 11-7 with a 3.62 ERA in his three seasons with the Phillies, when they won a World Series championship, two National League pennants and three division titles.

Papelbon Shines In Four-Out Save

Jonathan Papelbon looked fantastic pitching a four-out save last night.

He certainly seemed amped before, during and afterward.

Papelbon struck out three in 1 1/3 innings in a 4-3 victory over the Brewers at Miller Park. He threw 15 pitches (13 strikes). He also threw three sliders and one splitter to keep Brewers hitters guessing. A first-pitch slider for a strike to Brewers first baseman Corey Hart started the ninth and set up the rest of the inning because the Brewers now had to worry about the slider and not just the fastball.

Papelbon has been throwing his slider a bit more recently for just that reason.

Asked why the Phillies chose to have Papelbon pitch a four-out save Saturday – the Phillies also had a four-out save situation Thursday but the Phillies chose Josh Lindblom instead – Manuel said it made sense because Papelbon had not pitched since Tuesday in Miami.

“He had rest,” he said. “I liked where we were at in the game. I liked the matchup. Like I said the other night, Papelbon when we bring him in we can’t be getting him four-out situations and a big amount of pitches because that kills him for two or three days. How many pitches did he throw? 15? OK, yeah. He’s fine for tomorrow.

“He was good. His stuff was good.”


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