Losing the Papelboner

By Jason Wojciechowski on March 23, 2007 at 1:26 AM

The Red Sox have announced that Jonathan Papelbon is heading back to the bullpen, where he'll serve as Boston's closer this year. This means, apparently, that Julian Tavarez is going to have to move out of the bullpen to become the fifth starter. Can I just express how silly I think this is? Boston apparently panicked over the fact that guys like Brendan Donnelly and Craig Hansen were inconsistent this spring. But if Julian Tavarez was good enough that Boston's going to trust him to start 28-35 games this year, why couldn't they trust him enough to let him close? Remember, most saves are the kind that pretty much any pitcher could come in and get. And the trade-off is that the Papelboner will pitch about 130 fewer innings this year than he might as a starter (though the difference in leverage will mitigate that difference to a certain extent).

Looked at another way, Papelbon was actually the most valuable closer in baseball last year by VORP, with 38.6. That was good for 37th place.