Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox ownership are on a mission. The objective is simple: surpass the Yankees over the course of the 2010-2011 offseason. We haven’t even gotten to 2011 yet, and it would appear the mission has been accomplished.
After bolstering their lineup by trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford, the only glaring hole the Red Sox had remaining was in the bullpen. They addressed that need on Thursday, signing former White Sox closer Bobby Jenks to a two-year, $12 million deal and former Orioles reliever Matt Albers to a one-year deal. The reports about Jenks are particularly interesting, however.
If you go here and read Buster Olney’s report about Jenks on ESPNBoston.com, you’ll see that Olney’s source said Jenks was told “he’ll be a set-up man in 2011 and will have a chance to be the closer if Jonathan Papelbon is replaced.” That’s almost what the initial report said, but not quite.
LBS reader and friend, Andrew Richard, immediately informed Larry Brown Sports about the deal and quoted directly from Olney’s report in which the last words of the above statement were originally “… chance to be the closer after Jonathan Papelbon is replaced.” A WEEI.com report confirms that those were the words originally included in the ESPN report, via Olney’s source.
So what happened here? It’s not really a secret that Jonathan Papelbon is going to hit free agency after 2011 and demand years and dollars Boston is unwilling to shell out. But did Olney’s source hear that Jenks was told he’d have a chance to be the closer “if” or “when” Papelbon is replaced? Pap may be a dancing fool, but he’s no dummy. I’m sure he knows he’s gone after this season. What we aren’t sure of is if he appreciates the Red Sox making it known that his career in Boston has an expiration date, if that’s indeed what they told Jenks. We’re going to try to email someone at ESPN to see if we can find out what happened.