800 Pound Gorilla

Last week the Red Sox announced that Jonathan Papelbon will once again be the closer for the team.

Pap is saying all the right things: "This is something that I've decided that I want to do for the rest of my career and chase records, and, hopefully, make the Hall of Fame and do [some] special things in the game that maybe no other closer has ever done before." Sounds confident, eh?

He should be. Papelbon's 0.92 ERA was the eighth lowest in Major League history among pitchers with at least 50 innings. It was the best ERA put forth by a closer since eventual Hall of Famer Dennis Eckerlsley's Cy Young and MVP season of 1992. Papelbon held opponents to a .167 batting average, second lowest in the Majors in 2006 and tied for the best in Red Sox history. If he can keep his shoulder healthy, his "return" to the closer's role is very good news.

He was the equivalent of the 800 pound gorilla last year. He basically did what he wanted to when he wanted to do it.

Pap even gave Mariano Rivera some props. "He's kind of the man that, to everybody who is a closer now, he's like the 'Godfather,'" Papelbon said. "He understands that we're going to be going after him. I think what he's done for the role of a closer and for the game of baseball has been a big thing. Like I said man, he's like the 'Godfather.'"

Papelbon has a better starting staff than Rivera does this year; the Red Sox have the best starting rotation in baseball and now they have the 800 pound gorilla to shut things down in the 9th. The move solidifies the whole Sox staff and will have American League hitters dreading the 9th inning when they play the Red Sox.

I can't wait for the first showdown between the Gorilla and the Godfather. Yankee fans will be going bannanas. My money's on the gorilla.

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