Monday, September 15, 2008

Papelbon the Starter?

Can't say I expected the standings to turn out the way they did this weekend: I figured that, if nothing else, the Jays were going to play spoiler to the max and make the whole Wild Card thing an uncomfortably close thing, if nothing else. But Toronto turned out to be a storm in a teacup with only one blowout left in their bats, Lester showed up Halladay, we're back to a game behind the Rays going into Tampa, with a six game lead on the Twins for the WC. Not too shabby at all...

Speaking of which: should we be gunning for first this week, or just be satisfied with keeping the Wild Card status quo intact?

Should we be worried about Papelbon? Clearly he isn't concerned that he's started to give up runs like they're going out of style, pointing out that he's pitched in four of the last six games, but three plus years into his career, it might be time to wonder whether or not those durability issues might kill his closer career after a few years in the spotlight. Someone (I believe my sports-obsessed brother-in-law) pointed out to me earlier this year that someone with four or five pitches should be in the starting rotation, not in the bullpen, no matter what his success. I knocked the idea at the time, citing his enormous influence on Boston's possession of the 2007 world champions banner, but there might be some merit to making Papelbon a member of the rotation. Or there would be, were the list of upcoming free agent closers so disappointing: of the 10 options, only two are under 30; one of them is K-Rod and the other is Brandon Lyon, who just lost his closing job in Arizona. Kerry Wood would be interesting if he weren't made of balsa wood, Brian Fuentes has to be nearing the end of his peak, and Eric Gagne...well, we won't go there.