Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is fun to watch and an all-around interesting character. It’s never knowing what he’ll do or say next that makes him so engaging.
But, he’s not here to entertain fans with his antics. He’s on the Phillies pitching staff to assure victories in games when the outcome is on the line. Most of the time he gets the job done.
The problem is with the Phillies offense. In too many games this season, they haven’t provided enough runs to bring Mr. Entertainment in from the bullpen.
If current run production is any indication, things aren’t likely to change anytime soon. The solution to this dilemma may sound drastic, but it’s to trade Papelbon. His talents would be better used on a team that plays competitively and consistently enough to need an effective closer.
And, just maybe, the Phillies could use his trade value to repair what’s going on in the outfield. At last glance, not much. Hopefully trading Papelbon would also open the door for the exit of John Mayberry, Jr. Why is he still in Philadelphia anyway?
Following Papelbon out the clubhouse door would be several others including Raul Valdes, Jeremy Horst and Chad Durbin. The only effect this trio has had on games is the increase in fans’ stomach acid when one of them takes the mound. If nothing else, the sales of Maalox might level off.
After these moves have been completed, the real work begins. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee find new bench seats, not in the dugout but the bullpen. It’s long past time to put these tired workhorses to pasture where they can play out their days in relative obscurity.
Replacing them would be pitchers from down on the farm. It’s something the Phillies have seldom embraced as part of their strategy. Although other MLB franchises have taken this approach with their Minor League affiliates, the Phillies, up to now, have used their farm talent as a source for re-stocking other teams rosters.
It may be that Jonathon Pettibone and Phillippe Aumont signal a new trend in the way the Phillies utilize young players. Joining them on the Major League club would be Jesse Biddle and Joe Savery, both of whom deserve the opportunity.
Sound outrageous? So does maintaining the status quo. The months ahead provide the Phillies with a choice: risk drastic moves with the potential to turn the team around, or continue down the path that has fans leaving seats at Citizen’s Bank Park during the seventh-inning escape, umm … stretch.