One day after I condemned the Red Sox for siding with Julian Tavarez in the closer battle, theyíve decided to move Jon Papelbon back into the closer spot. As a Red Sox fan, Iím not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, Iím happy the Sox will have a dominant ninth-inning arm. On the other, I always think a good starter is more valuable than a good reliever, and I was looking forward to Papelbon giving this team 180 innings.
A few thoughts about this Ö
* The main reason the Sox wanted to move Papelbon into the rotation was because of his shoulder. Bostonís medical staff thought the regular rest and regimented workload that comes with being a starter would be beneficial to the 26-year-old. Makes sense, and the Sox were 100 percent willing to listen to their medical people.
But then Mike Timlin got hurt. None of the other closer candidates stepped up. The Sox were looking at pitching Julian Tavarez in the ninth inning.
So, Boston said, we need a closer. Screw the medical staffís advice -- we need Papelbon in the ninth.
This is outrageous. By going against their medical expertsí advice, the Sox may be putting Papelbon at great risk. They could be sacrificing this long-term gem because of a short-term need. Reprehensible, really. Bostonís management failed to bring in a quality closer, so now theyíll jeopardize the career of a young man.
If you own Papelbon in a keeper league, you better pray.
* Be careful with Papelbon as far as fantasy goes. Will his shoulder hold up? Is he even 100 percent now? Will he close for the whole season? Will the Sox try to acquire another stopper? All up in the air at this point. Papelbon has elite skills, but you canít rank him among the Joe Nathans and Mariano Riveras because of this uncertainty.
* If you already drafted, find out who took Papelbon in your league. Whoever did was expecting Papelbon to be a starter, so now he might be a) looking for another starter and b) trying to deal a surplus of saves. Maybe you two can work out a deal.