Jonathan Papelbon made a little noise recently for some comments about his team. The Philadelphia Phillies closer said that his team last year lacked leadership. That seems pretty inflammatory on the surface but really it isn’t. You must consider the situation and as always the context it was said in as well. He wasn’t saying that the team didn’t have a decent clubhouse or that they didn’t get along. He only said that they didn’t have a leader to give them that identity that all teams need.
You know what? He’s right. The teammates that have been interviewed about his comments don’t say that he should keep his mouth shut and they don’t say ‘no comment’. To a man they have agreed with him. Maybe that is because Papelbon had the guts to put himself in the mix as well. Having converted 38 saves out of 42 chances, he clearly had a pretty darn good season. Yet he said he was as guilty as anyone because he wasn’t the leader he should have been in the bullpen.
You have to love that he includes himself and points the finger at no one. The fact is that this team was without Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay for long stretches last season. Each of these guys is a leader in the clubhouse and on the field. Their loss absolutely affected the identity of the team. Papelbon not only has made a great point but he might also have given the team hope for this upcoming season. With all of its leaders poised to begin the year healthy, will this Phillies team regain their former identity as the cream of the crop in the National League East? It’s possible and I’d hate to bet against it.