After some discussion in a thread meant to discuss the catcher conundrum, I decided to move this over here where it is more relevant. I wasn't following baseball as closely then as I was now, but I believe that Lowell was re-signed mostly due to fan-based momentum. We where there cheering for him at the parade, begging for Theo to do the right thing and re-sign our favorite third baseman to a new deal. He did and a heck of a lot of class and a hip injury later the Lowell era is over, for better or worse. Now I propose a new fan movement for the betterment of the team:
Non-Tender Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon's salary was $9.35 million this year through arbitration. In the process of arbitration it's incredibly rare for a player to take a pay cut, next season Papelbon is set to make probably over $10 million. For a player who's last three seasons in WAR in succession were : 3.0, 2.0 and 1.2, it is unacceptable to sign him to another contract that involves a raise.
Papelbon just isn't getting better. Most of us said at the end of last season, "Well maybe it was just a down year, next year he will be better." Well next year is over and he posted an ERA over 3 for the first time of his career, he nearly ended over 4. His peripherals also suggest he isn't the player he used to be:
Year ERA FIP xFIP
2008 2.34 2.01 2.38
2009 1.85 3.05 3.98
2010 3.90 3.51 3.72
He has regressed each of the last two years to a player that is merely average at best. This year he might even have been below the middle of the pack in terms of his performance.
Now, what would we do instead? What about Bard? Doesn't he provide more value as a stopper in all phases of the game?
That argument does have some validity, some would be happy with a below average closer and an excellent set-up man/ mess cleaner-upper. However, the money made available by cutting Papelbon would provide us with a situation where we could have an excellent closer in Bard and two well above average set up men, overall, a better situation.
Potential free agent relievers available this year:
And many more.
One scenario could have us sign a new closer, and keep Bard in his role as well as getting another set up guy. An issue here is draft picks. It is really the only down side to having to replace Papelbon, signing a premium closer or reliever will probably cost us draft picks. Though we also have several type A/B free agents of our own and if we sign a higher ranked free agent the point becomes moot, we'll probably end up about even no matter what happens this offseason given our holes.
So tell your wives, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, kids, neighbors. Tweet about it tagging Boston sports writers. Get the conversation going so Theo knows not to keep Papelbon for sentimental reasons. The team can be, and should be better, and the first step in doing that is relieving ourselves of his overpriced contract and diminishing results.