It takes time to build up a good reputation, and an instant to ruin it. That probably describes Jonathan Papelbon in a nutshell. When Jonathan Papelbon was traded to the Washington Nationals last summer, he arrived on the scene with a reputation as being one of the jerks in baseball. How fast time flies, in 17 days it will be the one-year anniversary when Papelbon became a Washington National. Those who know Papelbon speak highly of him, and it becomes a contradiction of a person that the public sees as a villain. How can a jerk do so many things that are nice? Papelbon is an enigma of sorts. He is a hot head where he will do something inexplicable when days before he just did something so unselfish and wonderful.
Papelbon has a heart of gold said one of his teammates who said he just gives so much of himself. You hear the stories of Papelbon as a volunteer, as a mentor, as a friend, as a philanthropist, and as a family man. You hear about Papelbon on a rehab assignment and buying the whole team of Minor Leaguers a catered spread of premium food.
This was written by Bryan Holland, the GM of Sales of the Potomac Nationals who wrote this after Papelbon completed a rehab assignment with the High-A team in Woodbridge, Virginia:
Jonthan and his wife Ashley, upon arriving in D.C., immediately got involved with the local chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. There were rumors of their presence at a local gala writing a fat check in the spur of the moment because they wanted to do more after they have given so much.
“We are grateful for the generous support of Jonathan Papelbon and his wife, Ashley,” said Whitney Klinke who is the Director of Donor Development for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of the DC Chapter. “Their financial contributions are making an incredible impact on our mission and are bringing us closer to finding cures for blood cancers.”
“The personal attention they have given our pediatric patients and their families by hosting them at Nats Park, taking the kids to the dugout to pass out high fives, and spending quality time with these families who have been affected by blood cancer is extraordinarily special.”
Papelbon does not do social media, and he does not have a public relations team to work on improving his public image, but behind the scenes he does things that real jerks do not do. He hugs sick kids, and gives them his personal support. At home, he is a loving husband, and a father grateful to have healthy children of his own as he loves his 7-year old daughter and a 6-year old son. While Papelbon cares what the fans think of him, he just hopes and believes there are second chances.
We believe there is another side to Papelbon that nobody has been willing to show, but there is a lack of photographic proof and video to show Papelbon visiting sick kids in the hospital and helping an old man on a corner because Papelbon enjoys doing things away from social media and cameras. It is the same way with his teammates. Most assume he is bad in the clubhouse, but his teammates if you ask them will tell you how far that is from the truth. Brothers fight and argue, but at the end of the day they still love each other.
The media loves a villain. For every Batman there is a Riddler. Negativity sells in the media which is why you will not read many good things about Papelbon. Believe what you want.
Now let’s talk about Papelbon on the field. Today he earned career save #368 which has him #9 on the all-time Saves list and 54 saves away from Billy Wagner for 5th on the all-time Saves list. Papelbon has converted 19 of 21 saves this season for a near 91% success rate which ranks in the very good category. Papelbon is 12th in the Majors in Save % for closers with 10 or more save opportunities.
The pattern we have seen statistically with Papelbon is that he is at his best with one to two days rest. We prepared this custom chart to show that rest is a factor for the 35 year old Papelbon.
Does it make sense for Mike Rizzo to find a complimentary piece for the back end of the Nationals bullpen to keep Papelbon fresh?
Jim Bowden believes the Nationals could land the prize of the trade market in Andrew Miller. Bowden writes:
The Nationals are loaded with pitching prospects and match up well with the Yankees, who could look to replenish a thin farm system with impact arms.
The Yankees will start the conversation asking for right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, whom the Nationals would decline making a part of the trade. The Nationals would counter with a bevy of other pitching prospects they would have to consider dealing for Miller. Erick Fedde, the Nationals’ first-round pick from 2014, would be on the table. The Yankees would let the Nationals know they have interest in right-handed power arms such as Koda Glover, A.J. Cole, Austin Voth, Joan Baez and Abel De Los Santos. A combination of three of these pitchers could be enough to put Miller in the District of Columbia.
Andrew Miller makes the most sense for the Nationals if the price is right. He has embraced his 8th inning set-up role and is a strong lefty pitcher who can also close. This could fit in well with Papelbon who could remain the main closer for the Nationals. The Nationals are very right-handed in their starting rotation, and as such face many lefty dominant line-ups to which a strong lefty 8th inning man could be a key. Miller is cost controlled at $9 million a year and under contract for 2 years after this year. Miller could slide right into the closer’s role after Papelbon’s contract expires at the end of this season. Miller is also only 31 years old.
Those are the positives on Miller. We’ve seen over a half season of Papelbon. It is almost a certainty that Mike Rizzo will add one back of the bullpen piece.
For now, Rizzo likes his closer, and the team loves their ‘Paprista’— the fancy coffee barista with the french press coffee he now serves up for the starters and the ‘Wolfpack’ which is the nickname for the bench guys.