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March 05, 2008

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Matthew

Ugh. I already disliked Papelbon for his ridiculous fist-pumps and facial contortions anytime he does something halfway decent. Now he's just being a whiny, selfish crybaby. Every baseball player is subject to these rules, and he's going to have plenty of time to earn the millions he feels he deserves. It's one thing to sign him to a long-term contract early in his career, but to give him a huge boost now would set a *terrible* precedent.

He needs to just shut up and pitch, and earn the amazing money he's already making.

mouse

Sorry, Beth, but I think you're letting your fandom blind you a bit here.

1) The shelf life for hard-throwing closers is historically very short. Papelbon's more likely to be the next Rob Dibble than the next Mariano Rivera.

2) He suffered a major shoulder injury in 2006 and had to be babied through pretty much all of 2007 as a result. I think he needs to prove he can stay healthy in at least consecutive seasons before he'll be worth big dollars or any long-term commitment.

3) The money he's seeking is the same as what Ryan Howard made in his final pre-arb year. This is probably the real sticking point for the Sox. Papelbon's logic is that he's the best at his position and thus should be paid like another who was best at his position. But a closer is nowhere near as valuable at an elite slugging firstbaseman. And I'm sure Bill James is reminding everyone in the front office about that.

I don't begrudge Papelbon wanting to get paid, but he does himself no favors airing it out in the media this way. Frankly, I think it just makes him look bad. He'll get his payday as long as he keeps doing what he's doing. Right now he should shut up and pitch, or if he must complain, take it to his union since they're the ones who made this system.

Why are so many players whining about this issue this year anyway? Prince Fielder, Cole Hamels, now Papelbon. I don't recall this being such a huge problem before.

beth

matthew--disliking papelbon...does not compute.

mouse--he suffered a shoulder injury that has since been diagnosed, its root cause properly assessed, and addressed. that shoulder injury also had a lot to do with his manager's misuse of him.

and i just have to plain old flat-out disagree with this statement: "a closer is nowhere near as valuable at an elite slugging firstbaseman." i don't know what else to say except i totally, totally disagree.

generally (meaning *not* specifically directed at either mouse or matthew, though their comments got me thinking about it)--as tired as everyone else apparently is of jonathan's "antics", i'm tired of fans tossing out "shut up and play" at athletes. i think they've got a right to advocate for themselves, in the press, and elsewhere.

and it's pretty contradictory, to say the least, how some of the same fans will often excoriate players like manny and pedro for *not* talking, but then are so quick to jump all over players who *do* talk like curt and jonathan with "shut up and play."

sort of like how it's pretty contradictory that the same fan base which claims to prefer 'dirt dogs' and jump all over non-demonstrative guys like jd drew also tends to find many of the guys who *do* get into the game, like papelbon, obnoxious "showboaters".

from that it would seem athletes are supposed to make themselves accessible to us and the press, but only say things we want to hear, and they should be into the game, but not too much. kind of a tall order, in my opinion, for young people in a highly competitive and relatively nonverbal line of work.

mouse

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree, then, because I still think you're way off base here.

My "shut up and play" comment is not about his being chatty with the media in general, to clarify. I don't care whether or not a player is chatty. My issue is with him talking money/contracts with the press. I never like it when players try to negotiate through the media. Contracts are one particular thing that I think should be kept exclusively in-house.

Texas Gal already summed this up a lot better than I did anyway. Heh.

beth

ok. why do you believe contracts should be kept in-house? why is that important? i'm asking sincerely.

mouse

1) It has the potential to be annoying and distracting to the FO and/or the team.
2) It might anger or alienate certain teammates.
3) Journalists and media outlets are not above taking player quotes out of context, so in a way it's dangerous for a player to be frank about such things. Which leads to:
4) It often makes players come off as greedy, even when that's not their intention.
5) When a popular player does it, it makes it seem like he's playing the "sentiment" card, i.e. he's trying to put pressure on the FO to cave to his desires by appealing to the masses.
6) That in turn can make said player sound like he has an inflated ego, even when he doesn't.
7) In this case in particular, if Papelbon hadn't said anything, there wouldn't be any "controversy" in the first place. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I enjoy the Sox more when there's general peace.
8) It personally bothers me. Call me old fashioned, but my family never talked about our finances to anyone outside of the family. It's not anyone else's business, and money talk too often dissolves into petty fighting.

As I said earlier, I don't think ill of a player for wanting to maximize his value. That's his right. But public money talk benefits no one except the papers and the talk shows who like nothing more than to make mountains out of molehills.

beth

so do you believe the payroll of the team should also not be made public? should players' salaries not be discussed in the context of trades / free agent signings?

mouse

I often think it would be easier if payrolls weren't public. But does it bother me that I know the Red Sox spent $160 million last year? No. What did irk me was when Theo cried poverty a few years ago at the deadline. It's true that no one can compete with the Yankees in terms of resources, but it does no good to complain about that in public.

As for free agents and trades, does salary information need to be made public while negotiations are ongoing? I don't think so. For instance, everyone had a rough idea of what Santana wanted if he were traded, but I don't think we needed to. If we hadn't, people just would've found out his contract after he signed with the Mets instead, and everyone would've immediately understood why even rich markets would hesistate to get him.

I also sometimes wonder if it might be better if contract figures weren't made public at all. One of the (many) reasons I think Manny is such a media target is because of his $20 million salary, so if the press didn't know, maybe there'd be wider appreciation for his abilities and less griping about his quirks. Who knows?

I'm not sure if I'm making sense here. It's late and I'm probably not that coherant. :)

Alex

Beth, while I agree that Pap deserves a raise, mouse has some valid points.

I think that summary">http://www.outincenterfield.com/blog/2008/03/we_need_to_talk.html">summary from Texas Gal does make them even better than he or I can, however.

The "win share" bit is the most relevant for statheads, I think. 31 - 12. Jenks is a better comparison, and that's the one that Pap should be thinking about.

If he mows 'em down this year, he can break 7 figure the following season.

I know his ego is part of his extraordinary ability -- believing in his ability has to be part of that success -- but as has been pointed out, speaking out does no one any favors.

beth

maybe, but i guess i don't see it as really hurting anybody either.

i get the win shares comparison with ryan howard / bobby jenks, but doesn't it strike anyone else here as insane that the sox are still paying matt clement and curt schilling millions, and they're quibbling with their lights-out closer over half a mil? that's more the comparison i have in mind.

mouse

Matt Clement's off the books this year, so that's not relevant.

And I can't speak for anyone else, but no, it doesn't bother me. That's how the system works. Schilling was a free agent (and so was Clement), Papelbon is not. It's easy to say "what's a half million to the Sox?" but that's not what this is about. Look at the precentages. If I went to my boss asking for a 100% raise, I'd be laughed all the way out of the building. He's under contract and he has no leverage, and the Sox are simply playing this by the book.

If they caved to Papelbon's demand, what's to stop Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester or Buchholz from demanding a 100% pay increase? Heck you could take it a step further and say the Red Sox should void Ortiz and Beckett's contracts because they're also underpaid relative to their production. Where is the line drawn?

That's what this is really about. It isn't that the Red Sox don't think Papelbon should be paid; it's that the definition of what he thinks is "fair" flies in the face of baseball's salary structure.

beth

//If I went to my boss asking for a 100% raise, I'd be laughed all the way out of the building.//

so would i, but i don't see that as relevant here either. we are obviously on a totally different pay scale and in a totally different world than these guys.

interesting you bring up beckett. i do think it's pretty crazy he's making $10 mil and jd drew makes $14. if he was upset about that and said so, i wouldn't blame him. if the sox wanted to up his salary this year because of what he did last year, i wouldn't find that unreasonable.

in any event, it's not like jonathan's holding out like asante samuel did (now THERE'S somebody who was a shithead about this stuff, doing a big interview with jackie macmullan just before the playoffs last year, not showing up at practice, etc.). jonathan has made some comments about his contract situation, but during spring training, when a lot of players get asked / talk about this stuff, and he's still doing his job. i think the sox should pay him what he's worth, and i see the reason in what he had to say.

if the sox disagree, then ok, and you're right, he doesn't have any leverage and will have to wait till next year. but i still don't see what's wrong with him talking about it. that might just be where, as you said above, we have to agree to disagree.

Alex

Looks like this is all wrapped up (thankfully). From Extra Bases:

---

Payday for the young guns
Posted by Gordon Edes,

As my colleague Amalie Benjamin reported a short time ago, Jonathan Papelbon and the Sox came to terms on a one-year deal for $775,000, with an award bonus of $25,000 if he makes the All-Star team. Papelbon will be paid $225,000 more than Bobby Jenks, the White Sox closer who has almost the exact same service time as Papelbon.

Second-year player Dustin Pedroia came to terms on a $457,000 contract (minimum is $390,000 in 2008). Other notables signing include (Jon Lester $421,500), Manny Delcarmen ($421,000), Jacoby Ellsbury ($406,000), and Clay Buchholz ($396,000).

The other agreements were reached with pitchers David Aardsma, Craig Breslow, Bryan Corey, Devern Hansack, Kyle Jackson, Edgar Martinez, and David Pauley; catchers Dusty Brown and George Kottaras; infielders Chris Carter and Argenis Diaz, and outfielder and Brandon Moss.

In all, 18 players came to terms today, with the Sox not having to renew anyone."

---

That's impressive. Good for everyone, including Sox management.

Pap is now tops for his position at this point in his career. That's really the key, after all. He's way up on Jenks. Up until season three, rookies get paid differently. He's now been compensated in a way that makes sense for everyone and shows respect for what he's brought to the table. Happy days. Now you can start worrying about them paying him to stay next season. :)

As for Schill and Clement, well... starting pitchers are just scary to sign. See: Pavano , Liriano, Wood, Hampton et al. The most important part of your team, often the most expensive and incredibly vulnerable to injury.

For the record, I think Schill should void his contract and get surgery if that's what he and his doctors believe make sense.

Glad contract time is over for the young guns... now we can enjoy seeing what Manny looks like in a contract year. ;)

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