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Papelbon’s issue isn’t with teammates. It’s with fans.

Nov 12, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

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There may be no more complex question facing the Nationals this winter than this: What do they do with Jonathan Papelbon?

Mike Rizzo acquired the veteran closer at the trade deadline not only because the general manager thought he could help his team down the stretch but because he was signed for another season. The Nationals even managed to get Papelbon to agree to reduce his 2016 salary from $14 million to $11 million in exchange for the club picking up his option right away. (Papelbon also agreed to defer $3 million of that salary until 2017.)

In a vacuum, it made great sense. In reality, it created a major headache.

Papelbon’s actions during the second-to-last week of the season — intentionally throwing at Manny Machado in what he thought was evidence of him standing up for his teammates, then instigating a dugout tussle with Bryce Harper in which he wound up choking the soon-to-be league MVP — left his future with the Nationals very much in doubt.

Papelbon sat out the season’s final week, accepting MLB’s 3-game suspension for the Machado incident, then getting suspended by the Nationals for the final four games in punishment for the Harper fight. But that was merely a temporary solution from the club’s standpoint. It did nothing to address Papelbon’s status for 2016.

Consensus opinion at the time said the Nationals had no choice but to either trade or release Papelbon over the winter. Rizzo, though, suggested this week that the controversial closer — along with embittered former closer Drew Storen — might actually be retained.

“As of today, they’re both in the bullpen” next season, Rizzo told the Washington Post and at the GM Meetings in Boca Raton, Fla. “They’re both good relief pitchers. Unless someone makes us a real baseball offer, they will be.”

Rizzo also complimented Harper for calling Papelbon after the season to make amends and say he was ready to move forward as teammates. Which indeed is a nice gesture and show of maturity and leadership on Harper’s part.

But it doesn’t address the real issue facing the Nationals right now. Papelbon’s biggest detractors aren’t his teammates. They’re Nationals fans.

Local fan reaction to the dugout tussle could not have been more lopsided in favor of Harper and against Papelbon. While some observers outside D.C. suggested Papelbon was in the right to get on Harper’s case for not busting down the line on a routine fly ball, those who watch the Nationals on a regular basis almost uniformly disagreed. (The Nats’ front office and coaching staff, by the way, concurred that Harper had done nothing wrong in jogging down the base line.)

Many fans already were leery of Papelbon at the time of the trade, a product both of his reputation as a less-than-ideal teammate and of the domino effect his acquisition had on Storen. The dugout brawl only cemented those opinions and left plenty in the fan base claiming they wouldn’t continue rooting for this team if Papelbon was brought back in 2016.

That, of course, is hyperbole and heat-of-the-moment bluster. But neither should it be given zero credence. Fans may not abandon the Nationals altogether, but you better believe they’ll let their opinion be known any and every time Papelbon takes the mound wearing a curly W cap.

Can you imagine the response from a sellout crowd at Nationals Park if and when Papelbon jogs out from the dugout during the home opener introductions? When he saunters in from the bullpen for his save opportunity? There’s a decent chance he’d still be booed after recording the final out of a game.

Professional sports fans are a forgiving lot by nature. And perhaps over time Papelbon could win back the masses with quality performances on the mound and admirable conduct off it. But that’s far from a sure thing. There is going to be a sizable portion of this fan base that never forgives the right-hander for what he did, fair or unfair.

All of this, of course, leaves Rizzo in a tough spot. Everybody in baseball knows the situation, leaving Papelbon’s trade value as low as it’ll ever get. (The same applies in some ways to Storen, though there could be slightly more interest in him from other clubs.)

The smart baseball move probably is to keep Papelbon. Never sell low.

Trouble is, this is far from a baseball-only decision. This is a public relations decision.

And if the Nationals ultimately choose to bring back Papelbon in 2016, they might well find themselves up against a PR nightmare.

  1. Susab - Nov 12, 2015 at 6:24 AM

    This over simplifies the situation. Sure, Harper smoothed everything over but can anyone really forget, really? Not only did Storen get demoted Papelbon insisted on getting Fister’s number! Yes, he paid him but, really? And then. What did Papelbon that made all this worth it? Choke the presumptive MVP for the entire league?! Really?! Rizzo’s insistence that he will be in the bullpen as of now is just good business–I hope!

    • bababooeytoyouall - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:26 AM

      I didn’t realize he got Fister’s uni number. What an as*. #Papelbum

  2. rgsie - Nov 12, 2015 at 6:52 AM

    This kid is a public relations disaster. Lose this moron and send him back to high school.

  3. PM - Nov 12, 2015 at 7:22 AM

    Rizzo is falling victim to the sunk cost fallacy here.

    • pdowdy83 - Nov 12, 2015 at 8:33 AM

      I beg to differ. RIzzo is posturing in the media. What GM would say “We have to get rid of this guy and we have to do it right now. Anyone want to make a trade?”

      If he did that then no one would even consider trading and they would just wait for the Nats to dump Papelbon so they can sign him for the league minimum. GMs do not operate in a vacuum.

      • jd - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:18 AM


        You nailed it. The fans want Rizzo to be publicly angry the way they are. Unfortunately, Rizzo can’t treat an $11 mil asset the way people treat industrial waste. He needs to broadcast the message that all is well in the Nats family and that he is perfectly willing to start the season with Paplebon and Storen on the team. I am sure that this is not what he wants to happen but when you have a product for sale you don’t scream from the roof tops that the product sucks.

      • natsfan1a - Nov 12, 2015 at 11:04 AM

        Perhaps some fans want Rizzo to express anger about the situation, but I think there are others (including me) who understand that if he was trying to work a trade in the background, such statements might work against him.

  4. ijncricket - Nov 12, 2015 at 7:26 AM

    The biggest risk is keeping Papelbon. If there is another incident next year…then where are you? Harper might have shown maturity after the incident but Papelbon’s track record and his smirking after the dugout clash suggests more trouble ahead IMO.

    • homeparkdc - Nov 12, 2015 at 8:22 AM

      “…and his smirking after the dugout clash suggests more trouble….” Yes, indeedy. It looks, in hindsight, like he’s planning on giving the tied game to Phillie. Look at the play-by-play again:
      Top of 9th, Papelbon 1K, 2BB, 1HBP, 1HR.
      Whether he’s mad at the fans or players in future games, he’s a serious ________ (fill in blank).

  5. alexva6 - Nov 12, 2015 at 7:39 AM

    if he is the best closer we can get I’ll be disappointed. I’s sure Rizzo feel the same way

    since he has indicated he has no desire to be anything other than a closer I suspect he’ll be gone.

    you find a way to tolerate problems when they bring elite performance. he’s past that point in his career

  6. natsfan1a - Nov 12, 2015 at 7:40 AM

    Thanks, Mark. Good piece. I agree with the overall premise, but have a couple of quibbles. First, I wouldn’t have characterized fan reaction as bluster. To me, that term implies there’s no serious intent backing up fans’ statements.

    Also, I don’t know that it’s temporary. For example, I still think that Brett Myers is a jackwagon. Boston fans thought he was a jackwagon (and booed him vociferously – well done, Boston. But I digress). Further, I couldn’t believe the Phillies decided to start him in Boston after he was seen physically abusing his wife in public, so I held that against the organization. If memory serves, they initially said something about not wanting the incident to be a distraction during their run. Of course, I’m not a Phillies fan, but I’d not want Myers on *my* team. Wait, isn’t he out of baseball? And this is about attacking a fellow player in public rather than a domestic partner. Okay, maybe not the best example, and maybe I need more coffee. But I certainly don’t want Papelbon on my team, either. 86 58. That is all.

  7. ArVAFan - Nov 12, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    I think it says a lot that Harper called Papelbon, rather than the other way around. Look, Washingtonians give politicians second chances–but those involve some apologies and contrition on the part of the wrongdoer, and some indication that they’ve done something (rehab, religion, therapy, etc.) to get past their problem. I’m seeing zero of that from Pap, which to me indicates that he (1) hasn’t changed, (2) thinks he’s still in the right to resort to violence when things don’t go his way, and (3) has no plans to do otherwise.

    That’s a really lousy role model for kids to look up to, and given the Lerner’s and baseball’s commitment to try to get kids back “into” the game, I think that aspect matters as well.

    And I will be one of the 40,000 plus booing him if he ever steps on the field again in Nats Park–no matter what uniform he’s wearing. It’s not about one or more of the “unwritten rules of baseball.” It’s appointing himself the enforcer, and resorting to violence to do it (what if Harper hadn’t been still wearing his batting helmet in the dugout? That was a really close call. How ironic it would have been for Harper to have gotten his own temper under control, and then suffer a season-ending or career-ending injury due to a teammate’s temper?)

    • bababooeytoyouall - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:31 AM

      good point! #Papelbum should have been the one doing the calling. Not Harper, who was a total victim in this instance.

      I’ll be booing him too!

      • natsfan1a - Nov 12, 2015 at 11:05 AM

        I’m not one to boo my team, but I would make a special exception in Pap’s case. Hope I won’t have to, because he’ll be gone, goodbye!

      • natsfan1a - Nov 12, 2015 at 11:06 AM

        And please don’t send him to fan fest. Ick.

  8. lovedanats - Nov 12, 2015 at 8:57 AM

    Pap had character issues before he came. His attitude of entitlement here (Fister’s number, “I’ll only close”) did nothing to help his case. He resorts to violence when frustrated. I don’t want him on this team. I’ve already paid for my season tickets for this year but I will remember the FO’s response ( or lack of it) on this issue when it’s time to renew next year.

  9. natsguy - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:03 AM

    Papelbon has to go. I don’r really care if they take a loss on it. Shouldn’t have gotten him in the first place. If it costs Rizzo his job so be it. Be careful next time. Papelbon HAS TO GO.

  10. Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:18 AM

    I believe Rizzo is seriously shopping Pap and will find somewhere to unload him, but I don’t blame him at all for trying to bolster his position and Pap’s value by saying that all is well. That’s the smart thing to do.

    Adding his purchase of Fister’s number to the list of Pap’s offenses is silly. This happens all the time in baseball. Jayson Werth bought Michael Morse’s number. Big deal. It says nothing about a “sense of entitlelment” or anything else. And of course he insisted on closing before agreeing to be traded to the Nats and lower his salary for next year. He has 349 career saves, including seven in the postseason. Again, it’s ridiculous to hold that against him.

    But he’s a clubhouse cancer and should be gone. And I think he will be gone.

    For all those threatening to boycott the Nats unless he’s traded, knock yourself out. There’s a very apt expression for that though — “cutting off your nose to spite your face.” But boo away, I’m totally with you there. At least until he saves a World Series game.

    • jd - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:30 AM

      Sec 222,

      I’ve given the Harper – Paplebon incident some more thought based on a clearer head since so much time has passed. I still feel that Paplebon was both wrong and stupid and because he chose such a public forum to display his displeasure with Harper he probably cost himself a lot of money and future opportunities.

      Having said that I think Harper was wrong to call out Paplebon publicly for throwing at Machado. Regardless how you feel about the actual act (I know how you feel) you don’t bring out your dirty laundry out in public. I am sure this would not have escalated had Harper told Paplebon in private that he is against throwing at players.

      This brings me to my main point which is that Harper is a bit out of control with his words both to the press and on social media. He would be well advised to sleep on some of what he say before saying it. Just my 2 cents worth.

      • Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:59 AM

        I tend to agree with you jd, although as you note, I also agree with Harper’s view on the attempted Machado beaning. The stupid tit for tat, stand up for your teammates by throwing at the other team stuff isn’t going to change until players start speaking up against it, and who better to lead that change than the greatest young talent in the game?

        But even if you think Harper was in the wrong on that and believe that Pap wouldn’t have challenged his hustle or gone after him in the dugout without it, there’s obviously no excuse for what Pap did. As you say, you don’t bring out your dirty laundry in public, and Pap’s laundry was much, much dirtier than Harper’s.

        I think we’ll probably have to get used to Harper’s missteps in the media. He’s young, but he’s also a superstar in this new age of social media where everyone shares their thoughts much more freely. It’s entertaining, but also can be dangerous. I just hope we are cringing at his latest tweet or inopportune comment for many years to come rather than observing him from afar.

      • Doc - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:41 AM

        My sentiments exactly, jd. Love Harps, but he needs to zip it on occasion.

        Papelbon was, in reality, reacting to Harper calling him out for honoring the baseball tradition of giving Machado some high heat, not so much the baserunning.

        Booing someone like Dimitri Young for beating his wife—now that’s real booing.

        Harper and Paplebon are ballplayers. Let’s get back to playing baseball.

      • shawndc04 - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:55 AM


        High Heat? Are you kidding me? Papelbaum threw at his head; Machado was lucky he wasn’t hurt.

        You_Do_Not_Throw_At_A_Guy’s_Head. Never.

      • shawndc04 - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:56 AM


        High Heat? Are you kidding me? Papelbon threw at his head; Machado was lucky he wasn’t hurt.

        You_Do_Not_Throw_At_A_Guy’s_Head. Never.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:23 PM

        One of the differences between now and the era of the Prestigious Old-School Way of Baseball is that now, a very large plurality, if not an outright majority of pitchers routinely throws in the high 90s. I don’t think the average fastball was as fast then as it is now — correct me please if I’m wrong. There were always some guys who did throw that hard, but they were, I believe, exceptional, and the exceptions don’t drive the culture as much as the majority does. That five- or ten-MPH difference has to make a huge difference in getting out of the way, or not. The risks are just much greater now, for that reason, I think. So even if one subscribes to the POSWB thinking,

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:29 PM

        Whoops. Continued: So even if one subscribes to the POSWB thinking,, there are good reasons to put that one out to pasture.

      • janebeard - Nov 13, 2015 at 10:44 AM

        I disagree. Pap threw at Manny’s HEAD. And in the world of old-school baseball, Bryce was the one in line for a plunking, all because Papelbon needed to prove his baseball manliness, when no one needed or asked him to.

    • kkpp3 - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:54 AM


  11. jd - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    The Marlins are publicly feuding with Scott Boras (because of the Ozuna demotion last year) and have pledged to shut him out of their plans regarding Jose Fernandez use next year. – not smart.

  12. bababooeytoyouall - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:35 AM

    Cancer called an it objects to being compared to #Papelbum

    just wait until #Nats fans give #Papelbum a hard time. He’ll lash out at us, just like he did when grab his crotch at Phillies fans. It really could be a disaster next year.

  13. Candide - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:42 AM

    Dusty Baker has said that he had dustups (sorry!) with teammates when he was a player, and everyone kissed and made up and lived happily ever after. So maybe Rizzo has gotten the word from Dusty that he knows how to bring this situation to a happy conclusion.

    • adcwonk - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:53 AM

      Finally! Finally somebody mentioned that.

      Dusty specifically mentioned that Jeff Kent and Bonds had some flareups (including fisticuffs, if I’m remembering it right) and kinda hated each other. Dustry dealth with it, and it didn’t effect the team.

      Since it’s silly to sell low — and if we lose Paps and Storen our BP will indeed be seriously understaffed — there’s certainly value to seeing if Dusty can help solve this problem.

      • virginiascopist - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:20 AM

        I too am hopeful that Dusty can foster a more peaceful relationship — but in this specific case, it needed to happen before the choking incident. I know I’ve said this before, but If MW had only recognized the rising tensions between Pap and Harper after the Machado incident and done something to defuse the situation, we wouldn’t be in this mess. Things won’t always be harmonious among players. Isn’t it part of the manager’s job to keep the peace?

      • ArVAFan - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:29 AM

        That’s my one concern (so far) about Dusty. I think generally baseball is moving away from tolerating violent behavior (a new second base rule is now under discussion, and being tried in the AFL). So what may have been okay then may not be a good idea to permit now. I think that’s true of major league sports in general (not talking about WWE or other “sports”).

        If that incident had happened in a typical workplace, Pap wouldn’t have been allowed back unless he attended anger management classes (and apologized). I realize a dugout isn’t a typical workplace, but that brings us back to the “example” problem. Keeping Pap, without some type of change indicated from him, sends a message that such behavior is permitted, and even appropriate.

        I think we trade Pap (because the Lerners say so), and Storen (because Rizzo doesn’t have faith in him as a closer). My two cents.

      • Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:42 AM

        wonk, I really hope Rizzo doesn’t have to sell low either, but I hope that this idea that Dusty is a miracle worker who can solve any clubhouse problem doesn’t take hold and lead to Pap being retained. I just don’t think this is a problem worth solving, and Dusty should spend his energy doing other more important things.

        This is not Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds, two superstars who played together for five years and took the Giants to the World Series in 2002, the year of the dugout fight. Dusty had every reason to try to calm things down and keep them both on the team. Of course, Kent became a free agent after that year and moved on.

        Here we have Harper, the best young player in the game, a guy who will be a free agent after the 2018 season and who the Nats (and their fans) really want to lock up long term. And then there’s Pap, a very good closer, but on the downward slope of his career, who is signed for only this season. The priority has to be Bryce, and as much as he’s showing maturity and leadership by claiming that he can coexist with the guy who attached him in the dugout, I think he and the team will be better off if we part ways with Pap.

      • adcwonk - Nov 12, 2015 at 12:05 PM

        I think he and the team will be better off if we part ways with Pap.

        Well, see, that’s the thing. It depends on who we get for him and/or what other relief pitchers we can get, right?

        The Free Agent market for RP’s is not exactly bursting at the seams this year

      • Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 12:11 PM

        Well, see, that’s the thing. It depends on who we get for him and/or what other relief pitchers we can get, right?

        Not really in my view. Paving the way for Bryce to return to DC for years to come is far, far more important in my view.

      • jd - Nov 12, 2015 at 12:34 PM


        I am with you here although I’m not sure that this will have much influence when Harper considers where to go when he’s a free agent. Mostly they all go where the best money is.

        As far as Paplebon is concerned I thought it was a lousy idea to bring him here at the time for a variety of reasons which I won’t regurgitate. Mostly I hated it because he’s a hard player for a fan to root for.

        I just think that when all is said and done moving Pap is addition by subtraction.

      • Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 3:09 PM

        jd, I agree that if he gets to free agency, it will just be about the money. And yes, I know that Boras always pushes his clients to go to free agency. But the Nats have three more years to try to convince them (Bryce and Boras) to sign a long term deal. And he’s young enough that if the Lerners are willing to pony up the money, he could sign the most lucrative contract in MLB history and then have the chance for another big payday when he’s 31 or 32. I do believe that Bryce’s interest in committing to the Nats for some extended period of time before he reaches free agency will be about more than money. So I think it’s important to put the Pap era out of its misery. Maybe not essential, but important. The best way to do that is to trade him this winter if possible. And I definitely don’t mind not getting “top dollar” for him.

        Does that mean it will be a sure thing that Bryce re-signs with the Nats if they trade Pap? Of course not. Nor will it be impossible to re-sign him down the road if they don’t. Pap will be gone after next season, obviously. But I think putting the whole issue behind him would be a very good thing, so it’s not a constant source of press speculation– how is Bryce feeling? Are they buddies now? Does the choking incident still loom over the clubhouse? Does this affect his interest in being a Nat for life, blah blah blah?

        Unlike you, I thought getting Pap at the deadline was a coup. And I thought he pitched well and behaved fine up until the Machado beanball attempt. But the choking incident was truly beyond the pale. There are some bells that cannot be unrung. Pap must go.

      • Steady Eddie - Nov 12, 2015 at 3:23 PM

        222, your 3:09 comment above sums it all up very well, in addition to jd’s further up that Rizzo and s not going to have a prayer of getting rid of Pap with a hope of any meaningful return without having everyone on message that keeping Pap can work. Probably best case is the Nats eat half his salary and get back an OK but unimpressive A-level prospect; but he needs to be gone for anything meaningfully above the bag o balls and the receiving team paying MLB minimum. But Rizzo has no prayer of getting that without everyone on message.

      • Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 5:41 PM

        eddie, et al. I think the many people who are speculating that Rizzo is playing a PR game with his comments about Storen, Pap, and Harper are probably right. I also think that even if people see through that we may be able to get a decent return. It’s not like there are 29 other teams that have an incumbent closer as good as Pap, even taking into account his “bad guy” reputation.. Sure, the Padres, Reds, Mets, Pirates, and Cardinals probably aren’t interested. But there are a lot of teams with questionable back ends of bullpens. As long as more than one of them is interested in Pap, especially at a reasonable salary, which Rizzo can assure by eating a few million dollars, we could get a decent prospect at least. And for a guy whose in his contract year, that’s about all you can ask for.

  14. Mrsb loves the Nats - Nov 12, 2015 at 9:53 AM

    I am probably the only one here… but I think that Pap will be the closer next year. I think Storen will be traded.

    I mean sure the choke happened and all but I just feel like if they can get over it, then we should too. Cuz once Pap comes, lord knows, i will be rooting hard as heck for him to do his job and secure the win.

    • Another_Sam - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:44 AM

      I fear that you are correct regarding who the closer. It’s business, and $$$ trump emotion.

    • janebeard - Nov 13, 2015 at 10:46 AM

      But the “getting over it” piece is the wrong thing, He gets to be our closer after CHOKING, after ASSAULTING, another player? In any other world, the police would have had him in handcuffs.

  15. JayB - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:09 AM

    My view is Rizzo is on a very short leash and Ted is waiting for him to make good on his promise to show uncle ted he was right in getting Pap and he can get something in return….If Uncle Ted has to pay him to play for another team then Rizzo is gone end of next year.

    • letsallbaseball - Nov 12, 2015 at 11:05 AM

      A lot of people think Papelbon was a Lerner move in the first place, especially since Rizzo wasn’t allowed to add payroll mid season. But you just hate Rizzo and it’s no secret.

  16. mlblogsnatsboy - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    Its more than the fans in the ballpark. Harper is the Nationals brand — the one Majestic uses to sell its jerseys, the guy little kids get haircuts to emulate. Every time Papelbon comes on the field in a Nationals jersey you are bringing that image back to the public’s eye – -not just those hardcore Nats fans. You are subverting your own brand by keeping Papelbon on the team.

    As someone else observed, Rizzo really had said nothing — at this point Papelbon is on the team. Rizzo isn’t going to publically admit that they need to get rid of him, just as he didn’t publically admit they had planned to get rid of Elijah Dukes months before he was released. They’re going to try to maximize their return. Its only smart management. I cannot imagine Papelbon on the team next season.

  17. Another_Sam - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:34 AM

    Not a complex issue at all from this armchair.

    • veejh - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      I’m kind of sick of hearing about it.

  18. langleyclub - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:59 AM

    Like eveything else, This comes down to wins and losses.

    If the Nats keep Papelbon, the teams wins and Papelbon pitches well, the outrage over Pap will die. If the Nats keep Papelbon, the team has another disappointing season; the decision to keep Pap will be used as a reason for the team’s failure (even if Pap pitches well, as the claim will be that he has disrupted team chemistry.

    If the Nats trade or even simply dump Pap and the team sucks, the fact that they got rid of Pap, isn’t going to help Rizzo’s job security, nor will fans that wanted Pap gone at all costs be happy despite the fact the team jettisoned Pap.

    So, the decision for Rizzo comes down to will the team be better next year with Pap or not? Nothing else matters.

  19. slidell2 - Nov 12, 2015 at 11:17 AM

    I wonder where Pap is living at the moment? Not in the expensive house he bought, and has since abandoned. To take such an action, he apparently believed he was gone.

  20. water47 - Nov 12, 2015 at 12:15 PM

    On a different topic, Simmons from the Braves is available. Is there a deal to be had? Maybe Trea Turner, Wilmer Difo and a low level MiLB Pitcher?

    Simmons is under contract for years and top talent.

    • jd - Nov 12, 2015 at 12:27 PM


      That’s a terrible idea. You are trading pieces which are controllable for years for someone who is expensive now. Turner may well out hit Simmons in 2016.

      • Doc - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:12 PM

        Maybe not in ’16 byut eventually. Say yes to Turner, no to Simmons.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:15 PM

        I wouldn’t rule out 2016. The kid’s raked at every level up to now. I wouldn’t swap them straight up, if only for the control point that JD makes. Simmons can play the hell out of shortstop, but Turner + Difo + a filler? Howzabout throwing Strasburg in, while you’re at it?

      • unkyd59 - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:44 PM

        +1 jd! I can’t think of anything nice to say about the previous comment, so….

    • Sonny G 10 - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      Are you kidding me. I wouldn’t give squat for Simmons. He’s a great defender, but not much at the plate and we already have one of those in Danny Espinosa.

      • veejh - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:32 PM

        Exactly. Turner has way more upside, imho.

      • letswin3 - Nov 12, 2015 at 2:20 PM

        Yep, VJ, I’m with ya. Turner and Difo are building blocks, eminently affordable and under team control for years. Moreover, I’d like a little side-bet on the numbers accumulated by Simmons and Turner between 2017 and 2022, with me taking Turner.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 12, 2015 at 7:19 PM

        And Simmons goes to the Anaheim Angels of Los Angeles California USA Earth.

  21. Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:12 PM

    Hey, maybe he’ll just pack up his stuff and go home. It’s happened before.

  22. JamesFan - Nov 12, 2015 at 1:28 PM

    If Rizzo thinks that this will blow over, he’s sadly mistaken. Superficial apologies and happy talk will not hold up. With the fans, Papelbon will be boo-ed off the mound when he comes into the first game. After than he better not blow a save. He’s not the kind of guy that can handle this (ie., his crotch grabbing in Philly). This team does not need this drama next year. Dump him and trade Storen and go from there.

  23. drdrkelch - Nov 12, 2015 at 2:05 PM

    Shocked when P-bon was acquired as Rizzo always emphasized the importance of character in constructing a winning team & this “character” had already demonstrated a lack of good character & plenty of occasions when he was a complete jerk-and in public for millions to see. His “character” continued along the lines of his bully/ego past w/Nats & simply put, was and is, a bad fit for the Nats. I want-a team w/great character that endeavors to win at all times but not at all costs. P-bon is too costly, not in $$$, but in quality of character.

    • letswin3 - Nov 12, 2015 at 2:30 PM

      I’m with ya here. Leopards don’t change their spots, and Pap is a melt-down waiting to happen. Rizzo is of course trying to maximize the trade value of Pap … but every GM in baseball knows the Nats have to dump him or suffer the Chernobyl certainty waiting in the wings if he remains in Washington. If Pap attends the Nats 2016 Spring Training first day uniform fittings, it can only mean that Rizzo failed beyond all belief to cleanse this club of their biggest error ever. My opinion is that he will be long gone and nearly forgotten by the time the Nats reach the Sunshine State next spring.

    • letswin3 - Nov 12, 2015 at 2:36 PM

      I forgot to say that Rizzo’s growth (Pap) is only similar in appearance to Stassburgs benign growth that was removed … because Rizzo’s growth will likely become something much worse if not similarly removed.

      • Doc - Nov 12, 2015 at 2:42 PM

        As the lead article suggests, some fans will make a fuss over this nonsense, but the players could care less. And it’s the players that count!

        Winning is what the players are about. For the fans, as noted on this blog, it’s mostly about other stuff.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Nov 12, 2015 at 2:56 PM


        I would say, if the team wins, the fans will come around, at least in DC, and in that sense, the fans care about winning, and they’re the ones buying tickets and beer and trinkets. Players, OTOH, do care a great deal about winning, but they also care about supporting their families and being supportive of their friends, in any event. “Baseball may be a religion full of magic, cosmic truth, and the fundamental ontological riddles of our time, but it’s also a job.”

  24. ncnats - Nov 12, 2015 at 2:46 PM

    Nats fans have forgiven Storen and he chokes every time he gets into a really big game.

    • ArVAFan - Nov 12, 2015 at 3:13 PM

      There’s choking and there’s “choking.” Don’t recall Storen choking anyone else! (or, for that matter, headhunting).

      • veejh - Nov 12, 2015 at 3:57 PM

        I’d rather Storen choke someone rather than choke.

      • Doc - Nov 12, 2015 at 4:07 PM

        Now ;you’re talkin’ veejh! Let’s say no to choking in games!!!!!!!

      • veejh - Nov 12, 2015 at 4:50 PM

        I’ll take a choking Papelbon over a choking Storen.

    • Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 3:15 PM

      Not all fans have forgiven Storen. 🙂

  25. corkybb - Nov 12, 2015 at 3:14 PM

    I sent the Nationals an email telling them that Papelbon’s presence on the team substantially degrades my enjoyment of the Nats I encourage others to do the same.

    • Doc - Nov 12, 2015 at 4:13 PM

      I sent them an email telling them to take a picture in ST of Dusty between Harps and Papelbon!

  26. jfmii - Nov 12, 2015 at 3:19 PM

    “…he’s a hard player to root for”. No doubt. And I felt that way the minute he was traded to the Nationals. Still, when he was in there, pitching for a save, I rooted for him with all my rooting-ness. I hope I don’t have to root for him in 16; but if I must because the Nationals could not trade for any value, and he comes back and saves 85-90% of save opportunities?…I’ll take it. And I’m sure I will be less forgiving if he comes up short.

  27. Karl Kolchak - Nov 12, 2015 at 4:18 PM

    Another consideration here is that Papelbon is clearly in decline as a pitcher. His velocity is down from what it was in his prime and his overall stats after the trade were meh at best. There is a REASON he was willing to take $2 million less to have his contract extension guaranteed next year–he was afraid that on the open market he’d have to take even less.

    If he is still with the team next year, I will boo him loudly every time he steps on the field.

    • Section 222 - Nov 12, 2015 at 6:42 PM

      KK, I don’t disagree that Pap is in decline, and I certainly encourage hearty booing if he plays for us next year, but I don’t think your analysis of the reason for him taking $2 million less holds up. He had a player option for 2016 at $13 million that would vest if he finished 48 games in 2015. At the time he was acquired, he had already finished 34. So he was pretty much assured of a $13 million payday in 2016 and didn’t need to be afraid of anything. Rizzo basically gave up nothing, but asked Pap to give us a $2 million discount for getting him out of Philly. It was a good deal for both sides — but Pap blew it.

  28. Shannon snyder - Nov 12, 2015 at 4:21 PM

    That’s right I will always boo him

  29. Steve silock - Nov 12, 2015 at 4:37 PM

    I believe it or not, I stick with Pap…protecting his teammates and repromanding Harper…I am a big fan of his..but he should run out everything..ask Pete Rose (Charlie Hussle)…Pap is getting a bum rap…

    • veejh - Nov 12, 2015 at 4:49 PM

      Me thinks you are in the minority on this one. Maybe less than 1%.

    • jd - Nov 12, 2015 at 5:10 PM

      He wasn’t giving Harper a hard time about running the ball out which he did by the way. That was his stupid way of instigating a fight with Harper because of what Harper said about throwing at Machado.

      If you ask me I think they are both morons in this case. Harper has no business calling out his pitcher in public and Paplebon has no business attacking Harper physically on national TV. The difference is that one of these 2 is the best player in baseball and is 22 and the other is a declining mid 30’s pitcher with a bad reputation. So to translate it for you, one is disposable and one is not.

  30. natsguy - Nov 12, 2015 at 5:36 PM

    The number of responses to this stream just goes to show how sensitive a topic this is. The Nats should take note and act accordingly.

    • Doc - Nov 12, 2015 at 6:30 PM

      What the players are going to do is play baseball.

      What us fans are ‘thinking about’ is close to irrelevant.

      • RoadApples - Nov 12, 2015 at 8:54 PM

        Touche Doc .
        In my opinion:
        Papelbon needs to traded/run off specifically for headhunting Machado.
        The ultimate punk retaliation ( alternate : hit him in the rear).
        The Papelbon/Harper altercation was mice nuts; much to a healthy debate but consternation of
        a % of Nats fans.

  31. edshelton2013 - Nov 12, 2015 at 10:23 PM

    I’m surprised at all the vitriol over Papelbon. When he has 20 saves in July, how many of you will still be booing him? If Harper wants him on the team, who are we to disagree??
    If Rizzo gets good value for Pap, he’ll take it. Otherwise, he’s our closer. Get used to it.

    • Karl Kolchak - Nov 12, 2015 at 11:40 PM

      How many will be booing him? Me, for one.

      Besides, my prediction is that if he is with the team next year he’ll be out of the closer’s role by the mid-May after it become apparent that he is nearly done as a pitcher.

  32. janebeard - Nov 13, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    I am one who said I wouldn’t go into that stadium if he was on the team. As 222 (I think) said, that WOULD be cutting iff my nose (and my STH cashed check) to spite my face.

    I will go to the games. But I will not spend a single dime on anything in that stadium if he is still there. And I think that a boycott of every team store, every concession stand, is something that could make a difference. Not a hotdog, not a piece of crackerjack, not a teeshirt, Nothing. Starting with Fan Fest, in fact. Anyone else care to join me? The Lerners could look at $11million a whole new way if we can stand together this way.

    Not one dime spent with them till Papelbon is Papelgone.

    And I will boo that guy whenever I see him. On our mound, in or out of our uni, in the metro. Wherever. And I say this as someone who has never booed my own guy until he trotted out to the mound after assaulting Bryce.

  33. drdrkelch - Nov 13, 2015 at 11:39 AM

    Hey-we the fans pay these guys to play the game we love & P-bon does NOT play nor does he act like a player I want to pay-throwing at Machado’s head is stupid & dangerous-get the ribs or glute dummy. I have torn up P-bon’s contract as a fan!

  34. lesatcsc - Nov 13, 2015 at 10:52 PM

    Okay, but no moaning and complaining when they get absolutely nothing for him when he goes. That one is on the fans and not Rizzo. Getting nothing for Storen, on the other hand, is entirely on Storen.

    • drdrkelch - Nov 14, 2015 at 1:03 PM

      No problem-he will do more $$$ damage in the BP & in uniform as his decline as a closer is well-known & by the decline in team revenue if he is on the roster.





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