20 January 2010
2010 Fan Projections: As we fight our way through January and February towards the start of a new baseball season, we'll be looking at each player on the Red Sox roster and predicting how they will perform in 2010. But we want you guys to get in on the action too! Use the form at the bottom of each post to submit your projections for each player. After the 2010 season, we'll announce who did the best and award some prizes to the winners!
Papelbon has been one of the most consistent closers in baseball over the past three seasons. Only Mariano Rivera, Joe Nathan and Francisco Rodriguez and Francisco Cordero have joined Paps with 30+ saves, 59+ games and 70+ strikeouts in each of their past three seasons.
So it should be easy to predict what he'll do in 2010, right?
Normaly, I would say yes, but there are two major factors worth considering here. The first is Daniel Bard.
The Red Sox just agreed to pay Papelbon $9.35 million for this season, putting him on pace to make $12M+ in 2011 before hitting the free agent market. With Bard and his 100 MPH fastball ready to replace Papelbon as closer, the Red Sox could start listening to trade offers come July. Papelbon will only be that much harder to trade next year, so if the Sox discover that they need a big bat or simply get an offer they can't refuse at the All Star break, Paps could be closing games elsewhere in the second half.
Since the Sox need proof that Bard can handle the pressures of being a closer, in Boston no less, he may also steal a few save opportunities from Paps along the way this season.
The other factor to consider is the new look of the Red Sox. With an improved defense and a potentially weaker lineup, the Red Sox will likely find themselves squeaking out more close games than in season's past. This could mean more save opportunities for Paps, but it could also lead to fatigue, if he's over worked.
The Red Sox have tried to protect Papelbon's arm throughout his entire career. If he logs more than 40 innings by the All-Star break, the Sox may be more likely to start using other options in save situations. That said, there is an incentive in Papelbon's 2010 contract that earns him an extra $50,000 if he tallies 60 appearances, so you know he'll be pushing for that goal regardess of his stats at the break.
Lastly, Papelbon made two distinct changes in 2009. He threw his slider more and his split-fingered fastball less. He also tweaked his mechanics, twice. In Spring Training the Sox asked him to work on using his legs more, but halfway through the season he also adjusted the motion of his hands in the start of his wind-up. The results were a shaky first half and a more Papelbot-like performance from Augsut 1st on:
April 7-July 28: 2.09 ERA, 1.372 WHIP, .670 OPS against
July 29-Oct. 4: 1.44 ERA, 0.920 WHIP, .466 OPS against
If he can put together a full season at last year's second half pace, Papelbon could have a career year in 2010.
Bottom Line Prediction: 61 G, 62.1 IP, 40 SV, 2.05 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 79 K
Make your predictions using the form below. Just plug in your emaill address and the stats you expect to see from Paps this season and hit the SUBMIT button.
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