Papelbon should close door on Manny talk

Updated: March 12, 2009

Ronald C. Modra/Getty Images

Jonathan Papelbon told Esquire magazine that Manny Ramirez "was on a different train!"

PAPELBON SHOWS UP TOO LATE

I have a problem with Jonathan Papelbon's recent statement regarding Manny Ramirez. I don't believe it takes a great deal of guts to bad-mouth a player a year after they've left your team. It would've been gutsy for Papelbon to make these statements, calling Manny a cancer, last year when this all happened rather than recalling it now for no reason.

I don't agree with what Manny may or may not have done to leave the Red Sox. When a player is on a team, he should play as hard as he possibly can at all times, so don't think that I'm an apologist. But I do believe there are unspoken rules and Papelbon just broke one of them. The Red Sox players handled this situation the right way a year ago when they came to the conclusion that winning with Manny wasn't going to be possible. The clubhouse leaders went to their manager and general manager and voiced their concerns, and Manny was traded. The Red Sox went to the playoffs and Manny had a resurgence in Los Angeles.

It's very interesting that none of the team veterans, like Jason Varitek or David Ortiz, came out and trashed Manny. They know there is no reason to talk trash about a player who is no longer on the team and also because they respect that they won two World Series in large part because of Manny's contributions. There is no way they win those titles without him, and the veterans know that.

This game is about having a long memory, and the veteran leadership on the Red Sox realizes that trashing Manny serves no purpose except to sully a person who was a good enough teammate to help them win two titles. Papelbon should step back and understand that sometimes it isn't worth it to get a quick sound bite when baseball's unspoken rules are in play. Obviously, Manny is an easy target because the chances of him coming back to haunt the Red Sox are exceedingly slim now that he's an NL player. But respect for the game and former teammates is paramount and a part of baseball's storied history.

Past Baseball Tonight Clubhouses: March 11 | March 10 | March 9 | March 8 | March 5 | March 4

BEST OF THE BLOGS

Each day, ESPN.com's contributors offer a wide array of thoughts and analysis in their blogs. Keith Law breaks down Norichika Aoki, the left fielder for Japan in the World Baseball Classic:

Team Japan's best hitter is left fielder Norichika Aoki, a left-handed hitter with one of the most traditional (from an American perspective, at least) swings on the club. Many Japanese hitters follow the Ichiro approach of eschewing power for contact, slapping at the ball with a short swing that is mostly hands and doesn't get the player's lower half involved at all. Aoki, who plays for the Yakult Swallows, has some nonsense in his setup, but when he's about to swing he loads normally and strides right into the ball. He showed good pitch recognition, staying with a slider from lefty Jesse English for a single to right, and drove an 88-mph fastball from Francis Beltran to the left field wall for a double. He was adequate in left field, but showed a below-average arm.

For the rest of this entry from Keith Law's blog, click here.


Rob Neyer thinks the Tigers could challenge in the AL Central:

The Tigers aren't likely to finish in last place again. Especially not with their payroll.

Granted, I'm not convinced they can finish fourth in the league in scoring again this year. Not with Brandon Inge and Adam Everett in the lineup most days, and with no assurances that Gary Sheffield will bounce back. But Nate Robertson simply can't post another 6.35 ERA; if he's doing that poorly again, he'll be replaced (but he's highly unlikely to do that poorly). Kenny Rogers' 5.70 ERA is gone. And Jeremy Bonderman is … well, at this moment it seems that he is a perpetually disappointing might-have-been. But he's better than Dontrelle Willis (speaking of bad contracts).

And as Dierkes notes, the defense figures to be better, maybe a lot better (if Everett's healthy and doesn't non-hit himself out of the job). Last year the Tigers won 74 games but scored/allowed runs like a 78-win team. It's not much of a leap from 78 to 81, and in the AL Central it's just a slightly larger leap from 81 to contention.

On paper, the Tigers and their bloated payroll aren't the best club in the division. But when August rolls around they'll probably be in the mix.

For the rest of this entry from Rob Neyer's blog, click here.


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Justin Upton turned 21 last season, but he's already established himself as a starting outfielder for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hit .250 with 15 home runs in 356 at-bats in 2008 and also had a .353 OBP, which was 22 points higher than the NL average. The youngster is poised to break out this season and justify the comparisons to Ken Griffey Jr. What makes him such a good hitter? His great eye and power provide a compelling mix and predict a big 2009 for him:


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