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March 6, 2008
Papelbon agrees to $775,000 contract
BY SEAN McADAM
Journal Sports Writer
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Jonathan Papelbon today reached agreement on a $775,000 contract with the Red Sox, making him the highest-paid, non-arbitration-eligible closer in baseball history.
Seventy minutes before their self-imposed deadline for signing players with 0-3 years of service time, the Sox announced they had reached agreement with Papelbon, their lone unsigned player.
Papelbon had been asking for the same $900,000 that Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard made in 2007 when he was at a similar experience level.
More details soon . . .
Posted by Art Martone at 3:53 PM | Permalink
Baseball Today: Thursday, March 6
Journal photo / Mary Murphy
SUCCESS STORY: Baseball, writes Sean McAdam, is a game defined by failure. What to make, then, of Jacoby Ellsbury, who has yet to fail anywhere he's played? It's the topic for today, and Sean discusses Ellsbury's future not only with Ellsbury himself but also with J.D. Drew and Terry Francona. Suffice to say, they're excited about it . . . almost as excited as the Fenway crowd was on that electric night last July when Ellsbury sprinted home from second base on a wild pitch (above). And as for whether or not Ellsbury or Coco Crisp will be starting in center field this year, well, ESPN's Buster Olney has a one-line, blind item in his blog that the Red Sox and A's are talking about a potential deal for Crisp.
DEADLINE DAY: Today, reports McAdam, is the self-imposed Red Sox deadline for signing players with 0-3 years of service time, which means the Jonathan Papelbon situation will be settled one way or the other. The Sox have come to terms with everybody except Papelbon, who is rejecting their offer of $750,000 and is insisting on $900,000. He says he's doing it to "set the standard" for players of his skill and experience level, but, across town at the Twins' camp, Minnesota's veteran closer, Joe Nathan, seems amused by that notion. He tells the Boston Herald's Alex Speier that Papelbon "is still a little young to be worried about that . . . I think it’s more important for [the veterans] to set the bar for him at this stage of the game.”
BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH: Or look forward to them. Because that's when Bartolo Colon will make his Red Sox debut. (projo.com)
COMEBACK KID: Even though he didn't have Julio Lugo in the field behind him, Jon Lester bounced back from a shaky start last weekend with a better performance yesterday against the Reds. (Both stories projo.com)
FOURTH AND GOAL: Theo Epstein's strategy from the day he took over as Red Sox GM was to rebuild the team's farm system, and Baseball Prospectus ranks it as the fourth-best in baseball. It's a tough division, though: The Rays are ranked first, the Yankees sixth and the Orioles 10th among the 30 teams. (They only list the top 15, and Toronto wasn't among them.)
AND NEVER IS HEARD A DISCOURAGING WORD: Curt Schilling checks in from The Fort, where Josh Beckett "looks outstanding," Jon Lester "looks fantastic," Jason Varitek ''looks like Tek, stronger than everyone else,'' Jacoby Ellsbury "looks bigger and stronger," Kevin Youkilis "looks great," Bartolo Colon "looks incredible," Manny Ramirez also "looks incredible," David Ortiz "looks like he’s moving a hundred times better than at any point last season," and Manny Delcarmen "looks fantastic too."
TICKET TALK: For most Red Sox fans, it centers around how they can't get any, at least for the games at Fenway Park. John Henry tells the Boston Herald he hasn't heard any complaints ("Baseball fans here are 162-gamers. They may only attend a handful of games each year at Fenway, but they know we are doing our best to spend their monies wisely. We are able to field championship teams solely because of our fans."), but, even so, the Providence Phoenix' Ian Donnis reports the Sox are opting out of MLB's agreement with StubHub, which signed a deal to become baseball's official ticket re-seller. Donnis thinks "that concerns . . . frustrated fans may have [about being unable to get tickets] influenced the Red Sox' decision." This is, as they say, a developing story; stay tuned.
WELCOME, MY FRIEND: Joe Torre today makes his first visit to Fort Myers as something other than Yankee manager in 12 years as he brings his Dodgers to town for a game against the Red Sox. (projo.com) Now, says Terry Francona, he can publicly treat Torre like the friend he's always been. (Boston Globe) You can watch it, incidentally, on ESPN.
IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM . . . The small-ball Angels tortured Torre's Yankees in recent years, and the new Dodger skipper hopes to copy some of his new neighbor's aggressiveness as he adapts to a different team and a different league. (Los Angeles Times)
SIGHT TO BEHOLD: It won't be hard to find Andruw Jones today. He weighs 10 pounds more than he did when he played for the Braves and the Dodgers, writes the L.A. Times' Bill Plaschke, have to be worried.
OH, NO, HERE THEY COME: The Blue Jays, after opening their season at Yankee Stadium, will play their home opener against the Red Sox on April 4. Our old friend The Tao of Stieb isn't looking forward to it.
FASHION STATEMENTS, PART TWO: Remember the other day, when the blog ShysterBall listed the worst uniforms in history for each of the National League teams? Now they're doing it for the American League. As for the Red Sox, they skip over the 1970s doubleknits and give the ultimate thumbs-down to the 1927 pinstripe version.
'THE FUN PART ABOUT THIS JOB': The A's figure to be pretty bad this season, but Billy Beane is invigorated by the prospect of rebuilding his team back into a contender. (yahoo.com)
THE BEST NEWS: A biopsy showed that ''the ominous spot on his brain'' was not a recurrence of cancer for Bobby Murcer. (New York Daily News) It was, reported the doctors, scar tissue and not another tumor.
JOBA DROOLS . . . Joba Chamberlain -- and his fellow young Yankee stud, Ian Kennedy -- had a rough afternoon as the Yankees lost to the Twins. (New York Post)
. . . SO SET THE RULES: The New York Daily News' John Harper thinks that -- with everyone gunning for him due to his sudden notoriety -- the Yankees should strictly define Joba Chamberlain's 2008 role and not have him prepare to be both a starter and a reliever this season. The blog Dugout Central thinks that role should be in the bullpen. But Baseball Musing's David Pinto says that, in reality, whether Chamberlain starts or relieves this year probably depends on whether or not Mike Mussina can stay in the rotation. If he can, it's Joba The Reliever; if not, it's Joba The Starter.
'THE YANKEES ARE LIKE THE BEATLES': So says one fan about the Yanks' spring-training setup where, unlike other camps, the players are kept at a distance from the fans. (New York Post)
CHECKLIST: SI.com's Jon Heyman goes over the needs of various teams. For the Yankees, he lists starting pitching.
IN CASE YOU WERE WONDERING . . . Phil Hughes tells us that Ian Kennedy's clubhouse nickname is 'Ike'. Guess that "Dorothy" guess was a little off, eh?
BEGINNING OF THE END: USA Today writes the first of what will no doubt be many stories about Yankee Stadium's final season.
SIMPLY AMAZIN': The joys of being 41: The Mets' Moises Alou will be sidelined four to six weeks because of a hernia. (New York Daily News) But age can't be the reason so many Mets are hurt (Matthew Cerrone's Mets Blog), and FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal looks at some potential deals the Mets can make to bolster their depth. Carlos Beltran is among the wounded and he's worried about his health. (Newsday)
HAPPY (?) NEW YEAR: What really pains the Mets, of course, is their historical collapse at the end of last season, which begs the question: How will they get over that hurt? In companion pieces on ESPN.com, Tim Kurkjian looks at the Mets and Jayson Stark looks at the beneficiaries of last season's New York meltdown, the Phillies as they both head into a new year.
AND STAY RIGHT HERE, 'CAUSE THESE ARE THE GOOD OLD DAYS: The Philadelphia Daily News' Bill Conlin says Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are among the best players in Phillies history at their respective positions.
INJURY OF THE DAY: The Rays' Andy Sonnanstine is being treated for an ear infection he incurred by listening to his iPod. (St. Petersburg Times)
AT THE OTHER END OF THE AGE SPECTRUM . . . Writing for SportingNews.com, Pinto notes that having an ancient starting rotation, as the Braves do -- average age 34.4 years -- isn't necessarily a bad thing.
MY SIDE OF THE STORY: The Giants' Noah Lowry lashes out at people who thought his wild afternoon Monday was the result of mental, and not physical, issues. (San Jose Mercury News)
YOU'RE WITH ME, LEATHER: The Brewers' silver-bat/iron-gloved young star, Ryan Braun, has taken his steel mitt out of the infield and is trying to learn how to play right field, since he was a menace to his pitchers and himself at third base. (yahoo.com)
FALLEN BIRDS: SI.com's John Donovan chronicles the demise of the 2006 World Series champion Cardinals.
LOCAL BOYS: The Rays had hoped the perpetually injured Rocco Baldelli would made his spring debut by the end of the week, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. (Tampa Tribune)
HERE AND THERE: While repeating an earlier report that nothing is percolating on the Brian Roberts-to-the-Cubs front, the Baltimore Sun says ''both sides are optimistic that a deal still could get done'' . . . Two reasons to click this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette link: A report that the Pirates would like to sign Ian Snell to a multiyear deal, and a picture of David Ortiz horsing around with former teammates Freddy Sanchez and Doug Mientkiewicz . . . The recuperating B.J. Ryan will make his spring debut for the Blue Jays a week ahead of schedule (mlb.com) . . . The Phillies' Kris Benson will pitch for the first time in more than a year on Saturday (mlb.com) . . . The Royals' David DeJesus is starting to get it when it comes to plate discipline. (Kansas City Star)
OLD FRIENDS: Scott Williamson was released by the Giants. (rotoworld.com)
-- ART MARTONE
Posted by Art Martone at 6:28 AM | Permalink