Papelbon talks about comebacks and contracts

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Papelbon 2.jpgA Jonathan Papelbon interview always presents the chance for some crazy. He’s just one of those guys who — refreshingly I might add — doesn’t always revert to platitudes.  Sadly, he was pretty straight up and lucid yesterday in an extensive interview with WEEI’s Alex Speier, talking about going year-to-year with the Sox, his role models and about bouncing back from getting beat up by the Angels in Game 3 of the ALDS:

By his own account, he replayed the video of that meltdown 100 times in
his home gym during the winter, using his unprecedented failure as a
tool to push him harder towards 2010.
“I was using it as motivation whenever I was feeling tired and weak in
the weight room,” Papelbon said on Tuesday afternoon at the Red Sox’
minor league training facility, shortly after his first bullpen session
of the new year. “I’d pop it on and say, ‘There’s still work to be

Given that relief pitchers are supposed to have no memory, aren’t supposed to dwell on the past and all of that I find it interesting that he’d go back and watch that outing. Not that he can’t do whatever he needs to do to stay motivated. Other tidbits from the interview:

  • Papelbon thinks this slight falloff in 2009 was attributable to mechanical tweaks he made early in the season and that he straightened that out by the end of the year. There’s some evidence of that — his walk rate went down as the season progressed — but more worrisome was his over-reliance on his fastball, especially in the playoffs.  He says that was just a mental block on his part — he lost touch of his split finger and became loathe to throw it — and that it’s going to change this year;
  • Papelbon says people should not assume that he will be leave Boston when he is eligible to become a free agent and that, if he had his way, he’d stay in Boston for 15 years. Nice, but something tells me that Theo will be holding the door for him — or more specifically, his contract — when he hits the market.
  • One thing there was no mention of was Josh Daniel Bard [I have made that mistake approximately 246 times in the last year]. It’s been so long since I’ve seen a Papelbon interview in which he wasn’t asked about Bard — or baited to say something provocative, maybe — I was rather surprised.

All in all a pretty calm, rational and standard interview from Papelbon. Which, while kind of sad on some level, is probably exactly what Sox fans want to hear.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.