|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
Theo Epstein kept his spotless record of avoid arbitration this week, reaching one-year deals with Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon. He has never been in arbitration court as general manager of the Red Sox.
Paps, who was in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and barring a contract extension will be a free agent after the season, statistically had his worst season in 2010. He had career worsts in ERA (3.90), walks (28), HR allowed (7), and he had the highest WHIP (1.27) since he became the team’s closer in 2006.
Despite all that, he is due to make $12 million in 2011, making him the second highest paid closer in baseball behind Mariano Rivera. He’s getting a raise of $2.65 million, but likely would have been awarded more by an arbitrator.
Ellsbury, meanwhile, is set to return to center field in 2011 after a disastrous 2010 season. He played only 18 games and missed a significant chunk of the season due to several rib injuries stemming from an on-field collision in April with third baseman Adrian Beltre. He finished with a .192 average and just seven stolen bases one year after he stole a Red Sox-record 70 bags.
Again, only because he gained another year of major league service and is now a year closer to free agency (he has two more arbitration years left), Ellsbury earned a significant raise. He is set to make $2.4 million, which is nearly five times as much as he made in 2010 ($496,500).