Did Jonathan Papelbon let that ugly Christmas sweater latch onto his body and infect his brain? The Phillies closer was on Boston’s WEEI Hot Stove show on Thursday and said this about the Philadelphia roster:
“On our team, I honestly believe we have more talent than any other roster out there. But if you don’t take that talent and mesh it together, figure out each others’ little pros and cons and figure out how to make a 25-man roster form into one, nothing will work. I don’t care how much you spend or how many guys you have in the bullpen or how many starters you have and it just doesn’t work,” said Papelbon. “Look at the Red Sox last year. John [McDonald] will probably tell you the moment he walked into the Red Sox clubhouse there was an entirely different feel from when he left Philly. I’m not putting those words in John’s mouth by any means, but when you have a group of guys who go for 162 games plus spring training plus the playoffs, you have to have each other’s backs and know what he’s going to do before the next guy from you is going to do before he does it.”
There is some merit to what Papelbon said. In the advent of stats taking over every single form of baseball analysis, we often forget that clubhouse chemistry isn’t something that can be calculated and ascertained via a spreadsheet. Chemistry might not have a huge affect when an individual player steps into the batter’s box, but over the course of the season it’s going to impact a team in some way, shape or form.
That said, you could assemble a 25-man roster where everybody hangs out and barbecues together, but it doesn’t mean much if the team doesn’t perform on the field.
Even so, off the top of my head here are just a few teams that have more talent on their rosters than the Phillies currently do: the Nationals, the Braves, the Cardinals, the Reds, the Giants, the Dodgers, the Pirates (?), the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Tigers, the Indians, the Athletics, the Rangers and the Angels. Did that cover enough? Maybe Papelbon meant the Phillies roster it it was still 2009. That’s entirely possible.
Papelbon is still owed $26 million for his services in 2014 and 2015, along with a vesting option for 2016. Figure the Phillies, regardless of the talent on their roster, continue to try to move him in the winter.