In his report suggesting that the Red Sox' chances of landing Billy Wagner are in "serious jeopardy," Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Sox could trade Jonathan Papelbon in the offseason and use Wagner as a one-year bridge to Daniel Bard.
The conversation needs to end there.
The notion of trading Papelbon and banking on a veteran recovering from Tommy John surgery is not even worthy of debate.
The idea gained steam later in the evening, when former Mets GM Steve Phillips shared the idea with the rest of the ESPN announcing crew, drawing a series of "oohs" and "ahhs" from his colleagues. But while it may be fun to talk about, it's an unrealistic and unwise move that Theo Epstein would never make.
Of course, that's not to say that trading the closer is completely ridiculous; however, this situation is clearly not the right one. Wagner has thrown one inning in the past 386 days. He underwent major shoulder surgery less than a year ago. To expect him to be a capable setup man at this point would be a lofty goal. To ask him to be your closer in 2010 would be madness.
Papelbon is having a down year of sorts, posting a career high in walks (23) and his highest WHIP (1.308) since becoming a closer. Still, he has a contract that goes through 2011, he's shown no signs of wear since his early September collapse in 2006 and he's delivered the final outs of a World Series.
With Papelbon, the Red Sox know what they're getting. Trusting the future to an uncertain Wagner and an unproven Bard would lack the intelligence that's been Epstein's trademark. There's no reason to think he'd change his style because he has a closer who might talk out of turn.
End of discussion.