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
done.'”

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.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.