Sure, on paper Papelbon is unparalleled in Red Sox history. He owns the career record for saves. He was the only closer in major league history to reach 35 saves in his first three full seasons. He was lights out in 2007 and, more importantly, he owns a ring. However, I am going to ask any real Sox fan sentimentalizing over his departure and playing your Dropkick Murphy's CD's while crying into your Bud Light one question (and someone is feeling the colon today; no pun intended): Did you ever feel completely comfortable with Papelbon coming out of the pen these past three seasons?
Let's forget his goofy attempts at intimidation with that stupid stare into home plate and be completely honest in our assessments. He was never that scary to hitters. He has one pitch, and if he can't locate the fastball---and as he ages the zip will wear off it like mattress tracks on a whore's back*---he's going to get shelled. Early in his career, Schilling tried to show him the splitter, but it never took. Granted, in closer lore, all you need is fastball. Right. Assuming you're Mariano Fucking Rivera and no one on the planet can hit your cutter. Papelbon is no Mariano Rivera. He's no Trever Hoffman. He's an above average closer who is being overpaid on a Lackey-level.
And, Red Sox fans, don't buy this guy's bullshit. He never planned to come back to Boston. This guy's career path---and, yes, it's a business and you can't fault him for this---has been crystal clear from Day One. He's been playing for the payday, and he got it. He never signed long term with the Red Sox because he wanted to get back on the market when his contract was up. He said as much. So let him choke on his cigars and dance his dumb-ass jigs in Philly. Like most of these guys, he was a mercenary in Boston. Now he's gone. Big deal.
Finally, let's remember Papelbon by his last games in a Boston uniform in both the regular season and the post-season. His last post-season game was against Anaheim in the ALDS where he coughed up three runs, blowing a lead in Fenway, and sending the Red Sox home for the season. His last regular season was in Baltimore last September, where he had two outs and a chance to give the Red Sox a puncher's chance at the post-season. Papelbon gave up three hits, two runs, and again sent the Red Sox packing.
Enjoy it, Philly. In the immortal words of Kenny Powers: you're fucking out, Papelbon.
*How about that simile. Someone has his A-game today.