Jonathan Papelbon made his return to Philadelphia for the first time since being traded from the Phillies to the Nationals in July, and the outspoken closer didn’t pull any punches in criticizing his old team. “I don’t know if I got a bad rep here or whatever, but I can promise you I was by far (not) the bad guy on this team. I was one of the few that wanted to win. I was one of the few who competed and posted up every day,” Papelbon told reporters, including Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. The closer’s issues extended well beyond the clubhouse, as “I think the blame goes all the way from the front office down to the bat boy. When you don’t have an organization that wants to win, it’s pretty evident. They go out and publicly say we’re not going to win. What more – do you know what I mean?”
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- Fredi Gonzalez isn’t to blame for the Braves’ collapse, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes as part of a reader mailbag. The fact that Atlanta extended Gonzalez and his coaching staff’s contracts in July just before the team started trading veteran players was a sign that the manager wasn’t going to be held responsible for how the purposely-weakened roster performed down the stretch.
- Also from Bowman’s piece, he notes that the Braves will have roughly $25-$30MM in payroll space this winter and they’ll focus on upgrading the bullpen and perhaps adding a veteran arm to the rotation. Such a starter would be of the mid-tier variety rather than an expensive ace, however.
- The Braves would like to bring back A.J. Pierzynski as a backup catcher next year and Christian Bethancourt may be trade bait, though Bowman wonders if Atlanta would move Bethancourt when his value is at an all-time low. Bowman suggests that free agent catching target like Chris Iannetta might be more realistic than a pricier option such as Matt Wieters. The Braves would also have an interest in Jonathan Lucroy but there’s no sign the Brewers are making their catcher available in trade talks.
- The Mets will be making a mistake if they trade Matt Harvey this winter, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines. Harvey is too valuable and too talented to move for anything less than an elite young talent, and since the odds are slim-to-none that the likes of Carlos Correa or Xander Bogaerts could be obtained in return, Sherman feels Harvey is still needed in New York since there’s no such thing as too much pitching depth.