Angelo Cataldi: Jonathan Papelbon deserves our praise

He hasn’t had many opportunities, but when Papelbon has been asked to close a game, he has delivered. Credit: Getty Images
He hasn’t had many opportunities, but when Papelbon has
been asked to close a game, he has delivered. Credit: Getty Images

Jonathan Papelbon is a hired gun with a big mouth and a bad attitude. He signed with the Phillies three years ago because they offered the most money, not because he liked our city or our team. So why all the angst over the moody closer’s public plea last week to leave? Since when do mercenaries have a deep moral code?

Papelbon deserves our praise, not our scorn. He was honest. He wants out because he’s 33 and the Phillies will not be a contender in the 15 months left on his contract. He sees no purpose in squandering the rest of his career on a lost cause.

Of all the mercenaries GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has accumulated in his futile attempt to re-start the 2008 juggernaut, Papelbon is the biggest villain, but hardly the biggest bust. Actually, he has outperformed expectations, if not his $15-million contract, this season. He has a no-trade clause, which he is willing to waive for no extra money.

So what’s the problem? Papelbon never hid the fact that he came here in 2011 because the Phillies had just won 102 games, and there was a good chance he could win a second ring to go with the one he got in Boston. When the Phils flopped last summer, he took serious heat for saying “I didn’t come here for this.” But it was true. He didn’t come here to lose.

Fans have to decide what they value most in a sports figure. Is it saying what they want to hear, or is it the truth? Jonathan Papelbon has come exactly as advertised – a very good closer on the field and a me-first guy off it. He wants to leave, and he’s not afraid to say so.

Well, bravo to him. He will never be the most likeable player on the Phillies, but he definitely is the most honest.


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