Bill Cosby is probably the only Delaware Valley based celebrity less popular than Jonathan Papelbon.
The Phillies controversial closer, who leads the franchise in saves, has been booed by fans every time he has entered a game after the All-Star break. That’s due to his comments prior to baseball’s mid-summer classic. Papelbon reiterated his desire to play for a contender. That’s not going to happen in Philadelphia, so Papelbon would love to depart and that has not gone over well with the Phillies faithful.
However, Papelbon is beloved by a group of guys during game days. It’s not a collective ala the late, lamented Wolf Pack. Papelbon’s most ardent supporters are rest of the Phillies relievers.
“Pap is just great,” Jake Diekman said. “People have no idea how phenomenal he is. He keeps us loose. He keeps us in the game. He’s really amazing.”
Ken Giles, who will assume the closer role if Papelbon is traded this month, concurs with Diekman.
“Pap is funny and he knows the game,” Giles said. “He’s been very successful. He’s won a World Series. Pap is a leader and is intense and he wants to win.”
There’s little doubt that Papelbon could help a team win. Papelbon has been rock solid finishing. He’s converted each of his 16 save opportunities and he has a 1.72 ERA with a 0.982 WHIP.
“We all know what Jonathan Papelbon can do,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “He has a very good track record. I can see why a team would want him to close. He can do the job.”
It’s a win-win situation for the Phillies and Papelbon if a deal with another organization can be reached. Papelbon could move on and the Phillies could obtain a prospect. There are a number of contenders that could use bullpen help, such as the Chicago Cubs and the Detroit Tigers. But Papelbon’s price tag and his penchant for stirring it up will not make it easy.
“He’s not your average guy,” a NL scout said. “He rubs some people the wrong way and he’s expensive.”
If Papelbon is still a Phillie on August 1, there will be some who will be more than fine with that.
“We love having Pap out there with us,” Diekman said. “It wouldn’t be the same without him.”