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February 20, 2007

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Jay

I couldn't be more psyched about paps on the backend, if it is true. I just can't see how starting is less stressful than closing. I've heard you throw harder as a closer, but your still only throwing for one inning at the most. In a tied game with runners on I think Paps would try to throw just as hard, on a tired out arm. Either way if he's as dominant as he was last year I think our team just got a bunch better, Hello Mr. Lester.

Dawn

regarding Manny, i think Surviving Grady summed it up beautifully, boiling right down to the very last sentence:

"As I've said before, I don't care if the shows up with two minutes of Spring Training left to go, visibly drunk, wearing no pants, and stubbing out a cigarette on my forehead.

He gets the pass. 'Cause he's the Manny."

beth

Dawn, that was one of the better SG lines in recent memory. Cracked me up, too.

w/r/t closing vs. starting, from what i understand it's not about difficulty, but about a difference in routine. you can't say one is easier or harder than the other, but it's undeniable that they are *different*.

there's also a term i've heard bandied about called "pressure pitches", not much of an expert on it, but the general gist is that pitches thrown under pressure result in different / greater wear and tear on the body. closers tend to throw more pressure pitches. this is why 100 pitches over 5 days essentially wrecked keith foulke's career--the numbers seem the same, but they are *not* the same for him as they would be for a starter making a 100-pitch appearance in one night.

also, a starter in a five-man rotation will develop a reoutine wherein his body can rejuvenate and prepare for the next start on a set schedule. the starting pitcher also has four days between starts against a previously schedule opponent to plot strategy and analyze lineups (if he's any good, that is). he can attack a game starting days in advance.

a closer, on the other hand, doesn't know from day to day if he will pitch. he might pitch three days in a row and then not for a week, or every other day for two weeks and then not for another three days and then every day in a row for three days...depending on the person, the experience, the body and the mindset, this can be a huge imposition on training and arm health. this is why you don't see too many guys occupy both roles in their career.

i'm not saying jonathan *can't* do it--if he can stay healthy while performing at last year's levels, he's the next mo rivera. but given what happened last year, when he's young and relatively fresh and strong, i have my doubts about whether or not the closer's role is right for his particular body, his particular pitching style, or even his particular mindset. i also have an issue with the sox declaring that this is going to happen / they're considering it now, as spring training begins, rather than before the offseason so jonathan could have more time to adjust his training accordingly. i also hate feeling like they're doing it because that's where they have a hole, and not necessarily because it's good for jonathan long term.

a pitching prospect like jonathan papelbon should be handled with care. he's been brought up and trained all his life as a starting pitcher. it's not to say he *can't* become a closer, but he needs to be brought into that role carefully, and only, in my opinion, if that's genuinely where his talent emerges as he matures. if it's because he can "probably" do it for one more season, the sox are playing with fire, in my opinion.

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