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The Marketplace and History Show Ryan Madson Could Accept Arbitration from the Phillies

Posted by Frank Klose

Madson

Some thoughts while I eat my lunch.

How likely is it that Ryan Madson could accept salary arbitration from the Phillies?  Since the Texas Rangers signed Joe Nathan, I feel like the odds are increasing.

The following free-agent closer options exist:

  • Ryan Madson
  • Heath Bell
  • Frank Francisco
  • Francisco Cordero
  • Matt Capps
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Brad Lidge (for arguments sake)

Additionally, Jonathan Broxton just signed as a $4 million set-up man, and 

What teams could use a closer?

  • Boston Red Sox (maybe; they could sign a backup plan and go with Daniel Bard)
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Miami Marlins (maybe; they could stick with Leo Nuñez under whatever name he is using these days
  • San Diego Padres
  • Cincinnati Reds (maybe; Aroldis Chapman could possibly close)
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • New York Mets 

 What do these teams mostly have in common?  They are not big spenders.

Now, if we match the Boston Red Sox (who have the most money to spend) with Heath Bell, or, if Boston decides to give Daniel Bard first opportunity to close, who is left with money that would sign Ryan Madson to a deal anywhere near the four years, $44 million he reportedly wants?

The only team I can see entertaining the idea is the Toronto Blue Jays.  But, the Blue Jays could be satisfied signing a K-Rod or a Matt Capps, who would cost considerably less, or even tell Madson that his price is too high and keep shopping.  Then what?

In this scenario I can see both Francisco Cordero accepting arbitration from the Reds and Ryan Madson accepting arbitration from the Phillies.   Cordero earned $12.5 million last year, and could earn a comparable salary for one year.   Madson could earn $8-9 million in salary abitration next year.

Jim Salisbury imagines the possibility of having both Papelbon and Madson in the bullpen.   However, I could see a trade more likely.

Many of the teams in need of a closer that are financially strapped might be more comfortable trading for one year of Madson in the $8-9 million range than they would be signing him to a four-year deal at $11 million per.

Madson's agent Scott Boras has been down this road before with other Phillies.    

After Kevin Millwood's 2003 season, one which featured  a no-hitter, a steep decline, and a hat angrily thrown at booing fans on the last day of the season, the Phillies traded Nick Punto and Carlos Silva to the Minnesota Twins for Eric Milton, who would be their new "ace" to replace Millwood.   After perusing free agency, Boras realized there was no market for Millwood, and Millwood accepted the Phillies' offer of arbitration.

In the end, Millwood made out much better by spending that one extra year with the Phillies and then signing a four-year contract with an option with the Texas Rangers, and Millwood earned $60 million over that five-year span.

Next offseason Mariano Rivera could very well retire.  Rafael Soriano either will have a poor year and stay a Yankee to close or he will have a strong year and opt of of his contract.   There could be a greater market for a closer then.

The Phillies probably look forward to a compensatory draft pick for losing Madson.  However, compensation could come more quickly in a trade to satisfy more immediate needs (outfield, shortstop) or long-term needs (young infielders, pitching).

My gut sees both Madson and Cordero accepting arbitration in this odd free-agent year.


3 on 3 for the week of 11.27.2011

Welcome to this week’s 3-on-3, where we look back on the week for the Orange and Black.
This past week the Flyers went 2-2, getting 4 out of a possible 8 points. A rash of injuries have hit the Flyers recently, but they are still in second place in the Atlantic Division, 3 points behind Pittsburgh. Let’s get to this week’s “hot” and “cold” Flyers: 
3 “hot”:
  1. Claude Giroux --”G” continues his Hart Trophy candidacy with another strong week, potting 2 goals and an assist in 4 games. He continues to trail Phil Kessel for the overall scoring lead in the NHL by 1 point. Giroux continues to play well regardless of his linemates and he has also raised his faceoff  percentage to 51.1%,highest on the team among forwards.
  2. Danny Briere -- Briere scored 2 goals, including the game winner in OT against the NY Islanders, putting him in 4th place in points on the squad with James van Riemsdyk. Danny is starting to play more consistently and it is showing up on the scoresheet. He will never be a Selke Trophy candidate, as his relative Corsi is still a very low -11.4, but he is a plus-1 after being a minus player earlier in the season.
  3. Sergei Bobrovsky --”Bob” stepped up big this week with 2 wins and seemingly has taken the starting job away from Ilya Bryzgalov after winning in relief against the NY Islanders. Bob has lowered his goals against to 2.82 and raised his save percentage to .905, both better than his countryman’s. Look for "Bob" to continue to split time with Bryzgalov until Ilya can get back on track.
3 “not”:
  1. Braydon Coburn -- Coburn has dropped to even on the season and his relative Corsi is -7.3, worst on the team among defensemen who have played 10 or more games. Coburn did have 2 assists against the Habs, but the team is giving up a lot of shots while he is on the ice, not something you want to see against one of your top defensemen.
  2. Wayne Simmonds -- Simmonds has dropped to a minus-3, worst on the team (not including Brayden Schenn,who has only played in 4 games)and has not registered a point in the last 4 contests. His physical play is still there, but Wayne needs to tally some points, especially with all the injuries right now. His relative Corsi of -6.9 could use some work as well.
  3. Ilya Brzygalov -- “Bryz” has not looked sharp in his last two outings and was pulled after surrendering 3 goals on 9 shots against the Isles. He simply needs to be more consistent or “Bob” will be starting instead.
Well,that does it for this week’s 3-on-3, join me next week when we look back at two lonely road contests against the Ducks and the Coyotes.

Lundqvist Blanks Flyers In Rangers ' 2-0 Win

Henrik Lundqvist had 32 saves as he led the way for the New York Rangers' 2-0 win over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.

Brad Richards netted the game-winning goal in the first minute of the second period, while Carl Hagelin scored his first career NHL goal.

Sergei Bobrovsky, after getting the win yesterday against the Montreal Canadiens, suffered the loss despite saving 30 of the Rangers' 32 shots. The Flyers' inability to score today extends their goal-less streak to 80:06 dating back to the Claude Giroux with less than 6 seconds in the second period yesterday.

Tensions were high entering the game, due to the Wayne Simmonds/Sean Avery alleged racist/sexist insult incident in the pre-season and all the hype surrounding the impending Winter Classic.

To address such intensity, Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust only 4 seconds after the opening faceoff. Rinaldo ended the bout with his jersey covering his face, but he held his own against the New York pugilist.

Shortly after the fight, the first scoring chance of the game came via a Scott Harnell breakaway. Lundqvist denied the attempt.

After the scoring chance, multiple players started jawing after the whistle which led to coincidental minors for Simmonds and Prust.

The two decided to scrap once they exited the penalty box, engaging in a fight where both participants landed good punches.

The tension seemed to lessen over the remaining minutes in the first period, as the Rangers controlled most of the offensive chances in the first twenty minutes. Despite being outshot 12-7, the Flyers defense didn't break, keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard.

To start the second period, the Rangers tried to cheat their way to a goal. After being decked by Braydon Coburn in the crease, Ryan Callahan set up a screen which enabled Richards to slide the puck over the goal line with his glove.

The play was initially counted as a goal, but the situation was shipped up to Toronto, and after they looked at the replay, made made the right call keeping the game scoreless.

The Rangers put the puck in the net shortly after the Richards gaffe, but this time it was legal. As Andrej Meszaros was still in the box for his elbowing call from the first period, Richards ripped home a slapshot from the top of the circle to Bobrovsky's left eluding Callahan, who was once again screening the Philly netminder. Richards' eighth of the season gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 54 seconds.

Richards' goal was part of a period where the Rangers outshot the Flyers 10-6 and entered the third period with a 1-0 lead over Philly.

Five minutes into the third period, the second goal of the game was scored and it put the Flyers in a two-goal hole with only 15 minutes left.

Ryan McDonagh fired away from the left point and the rebound found Hagelin,  who was standing in the slot alone right in front of Bob. After putting a backhander on Bob, Hagelin's second chance bounced up in the air and to the left of the Flyers' net. Bobrovsky was still looking around when Hagelin batted the puck into the cage just before it hit the ice.

The final fifteen minutes saw a slew of shots from Philly, but not too many scoring chances. Lundqvist was forced to make several saves, but none of the spectacular variety were needed as the Rangers won the first of six against their perennial rivals.

One has to wonder if Peter Laviolette is trying to send a message by starting Bobrovsky today. After starting yesterday's game less than 24 hours ago, the obvious choice for today would have been Ilya Bryzgalov.

Is Laviolette trying to make Bryzgalov work harder and focus better in his next game so he won't be pulled again? Bobrovsky is hot, as of late, but most times goalies don't start back-to-back games on consecutive days. There has to be a reason behind the decision.

Notes: The Flyers have lost three straight to the Rangers (0-2-1) and have been out scored 12-2 in that span...Saturday marked the first time the Flyers have been shut out all season long.  The Atlanta Thrashers hung a 1-0 defeat on Philly at home last March 31...The Flyers have been shut out back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden (7-0 loss on March 6th)...This was the first time the Flyers didn't allow a first period goal since last Thursday's 2-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes...Prust's 12 PIM is the most he's recorded in a single game since he posted 15 PIM against the New York Islanders on March 31...The Flyers out hit the Rangers 19-7 in the first period...The Flyers have given up the first goal in each of their last five games (2-3-0)...The Flyers fell to 2-1-1 against the rest of the Atlantic Division this season (PIT 0-0-0, NYR 0-1-0, NJD 1-0-1, NYI 1-0-0).


Baseball Announces New CBA: Breaking down the new changes in baseball

Posted by Kevin Durso

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Center, Is Flanked By Vice President Of Labor Relations Rob Manfred, Left,

Rob Manfred, Bud Selig and Michael Weiner were all key players in basball's new five-year collective bargaining agreement. (Courtesy of SI.com)

A strike-shortened season in 1994 cancelled the World Series. Since then, baseball has been committed to making sure that the Fall Classic gets played every year. With the agreement on a new collective-bargaining agreement, a five-year deal expiring in December 2016, major league baseball has done just that, marking another five years of peace between owners and players. That will put the league at over 20 years of peaceful negotiations.

In the new CBA, baseball has made several changes. For those of you who haven't been following the negotiations, or who may just not understand the new changes, here's a look at what was announced today.

Scheduling/Realignment/Postseason

  • The Houston Astros will move to the American League West in 2013, evening the leagues to 15 teams apiece, and creating six divisions of five teams each. This will likely change the way interleague play is. While nothing has been formally announced, it is believed that the schedule will change to include 30 interleague games starting in 2013. Teams play 18 interleague games every season at the moment. Interleague games will also be played throughout the season, not at the set period in June as in previous seasons.
  • For doubleheaders held prior to the September 1 expansion, rosters are allowed to expand to 26 players instead of the usual 25.
  • The MLB Postseason is getting expanded again. First, two additional wildcard teams are being added, one in each league. If the new format had been in place in 2011, the Red Sox and Braves would have made the Postseason. The two wildcard winners will play a one-game playoff to decide the winner of the "wildcard round" then advance to the NLDS to face one of the three division winner. With five teams from each league advancing to the Postseason, baseball has also removed the inner-division rule, meaning teams like the Phillies and Braves could meet as early as the NLDS, not the NLCS as before. This has been confirmed for the 2013 season, but there is still a chance that baseball decides to implement it for the 2012 season.

Reserve System

  • All eligible free agents can now enter the free agent pool the day the World Series ends without declaration. There will be a five-day "quiet period."
  • The tender date for free agents is now December 2, starting in the 2012 season.

Draft Pick Compensation

  • Starting with the 2012 season, the "Type A" and "Type B" system that had previously been used to rate free agents will be eliminated.
  • Relief pitchers also are no longer labeled under this system, effective immediately. Teams that signed relief pitchers are subject to surrender a pick to the player's previous team if signed before deal was reached (i.e. Papelbon's deal with the Phillies means the Phillies lose their first-round pick to the Red Sox). Under the new system, teams like the Phillies, who likely lose Ryan Madson (previously labeled Type B) will still gain a draft pick, but from a random team, not the team that signs the player.
  • Certain regulations apply to players who are worth compensation:
    • A player must have played the entire season with the same team.
    • A free agent is subject to compensation if his previous club "offers a one-year guaranteed contract with a salary equal to the average salary of the 125-highest paid players from the previous season." The offer must be made at the close of the "quiet period" and exercised within a seven-day period.
    • A team that signs a player subject to compensation will still lose their first-round pick, provided it is not one of the Top 10 picks overall. If that is the case, that team can offer their second-highest pick as compensation.
    • The player's former team will gain a pick which will be used after the first round of the draft in reverse order of winning percentage from the previous season.
  • The minimum salary in major league baseball will increase from $414,000 to $480,000 in 2012. In 2013, it will increase again to $490,000. The league minimum salary tops out at $500,000 starting in 2014 and remaining the same until the deal expires.
  • Salary arbitration eligible players (otherwise known as "Super Twos") percentage will be increased from 17 percent to 22 percent.

Draft

  • The First-Year Player Draft will be held during the week of the All-Star Game. Draft picks can only sign minor league contracts. Teams are allotted a certain amount of money to offer for bonuses. That balance is only affected based on picks in the first ten rounds. Picks after the first ten rounds do not go toward that allotted balance. If teams go over that balance by 0 to 5 percent, they are subject to pay a 75 percent tax on overage. That same penalty is coupled with the loss of a first-round pick from 5 to 10 percent overage. 10 to 15 percent overage is subject to a 100 percent overage tax plus the addition of a second-round pick being recinded. And finally, teams that go over by 15 percent or more are subject to pay a 100 percent overage tax and the loss of two first-round picks.
  • Additionally, clubs with the lowest revenue and market size have the opportunity to gain more draft picks through a lottery system.

International Players

  • A similar signing bonus amount is also allotted for international players.
  • While international players are not part of the First-Year Player Draft, there is a chance that by the end of the deal, the Draft could include international players.

Revenue Sharing

  • The revenue sharing plan remains the same as it did in the previous deal, as "transfer amounts will grow with revenue and changes in disparity."
  • The teams in the fifteen largest markets will no longer receive revenue sharing by the deal's end in 2016. That sharing will go to the lesser market teams.

Income Tax

  • The luxury tax will remain at $178 million next season before increasing to $189 million for 2013. A huge note for teams that approach that luxury tax, like the Phillies: repeat offenders of the luxury tax rules will be taxed 50 percent, instead of the previous 40 percent that the Yankees have recently paid. First-time offenders only have to pay a 17.5 percent overage tax, but repeat offenders are subject to increasing increments of 30, 40, and finally 50 percent.
  • Teams that finish under the income tax in one season will be judged as first-time offenders the next time they go over the income tax.

Health/Safety/Drugs

  • All players participating in on-field activities (players, managers, coaches) are prohibited from using tabacco products when conducting an interview, appearing at a team event or interacting with fans.
  • There is now a new mandatory evaluation program for players suspected of alcohol use.
  • Effective immediately, no new players may use low-density maple bats.
  • By the 2013 season, all players will begin wearing a newly designed helmet by Rawlings that is designed to protect against 100+ mph pitches.
  • The concussion policy (7-day DL) has been improved and will be used once again in future.
  • Starting in 2013, there will be a drug testing policy that includes hGH testing. This process will be tested during Spring Training of the 2012.

Instant Replay

  • Instant replay has been expanded to include reviews for fair or foul balls and "trapped" ball plays.

Baseball's new changes bring about some favorable reviews and some questionable calls. Sure, aligning the divisions creates a balance that every other major sport has, so moving one National League team to the American League makes complete sense.

However, what do we need an extra playoff team for? Wasn't this Postseason a sign that the playoff system was fine just the way it was? Actually, what this Postseason didn't do was force the owners and players to change their minds about a playoff system that had change already in the works. This expansion was being talked about prior to this Postseason. Now, they have simply put it in effect. While I don't agree with the addition of another wildcard, the one-game playoff is a great way to implement the new system.

The expansion of instant replay forces serious consideration of the next step. The only other possible play left that could be deemed reviewable is safe/out calls. With the next expansion of replay, baseball may want to invest in a challenge system similar to the NFL. Give managers two challenges a game and use replay then. It keeps the human element in the game while using replay to ensure most calls on the field end up correct.

Finally, the interleague play increase is both good and bad. While it takes away from the division games, thus possibly eliminating rivalries, it does give teams a chance to face every team within a few years, and also could force closer races in all divisions, which could increase the number of races in the later stages of the season.

Most of these changes will go unnoticed or have little effect on the way the game is for the fans. But the fact that baseball managed to reach a deal with such ease after two extensive lockouts in other major sports shows that they not only still care about the good of the game, they made it a point to finish the deal as soon as possible. Now there are no worries for five years, and changes from now until then will likely be at a premium because of all of the changes already on hold for the 2013 season. Still, a lot is changing in baseball, but it is still going strong after all these years.


The Phillies Will Be Heard on the FM Dial in 2012

Posted by Frank Klose

Sportstalkphila

According to David Grzybowski of La Salle University's Sports Talk Philadelphia, Howard Eskin announced last night at the Broadcast Pioneer Awards that the Phillies broadcasts will be broadcast on the new 94 WIP as well as 1210 AM.

Eskin himself retweeted Grzybowski, seemingly confirming the report.

The Phillies Radio Network has long had a relationship with 1210 AM under WCAU-AM, WOGL-AM, WGMP-AM, and WPHT-AM.   

Previously, Phillies Radio Network producer Ian Cohen told me that WPHT's long-reaching signal was something keeping the Phillies on the AM dial.  However, those of us living near trackless trolley lines, train lines, or near the Market-Frankford elevated line know that the strong signal can be moot.   Now, the Phillies will have the best of both worlds.

So far WIP's move to the FM dial has been well-utilized, as the station has used the AM station to broadcast Sunday night and Monday night football while maintaining local programming on the FM dial.


Where In The World Will Sandberg Be in 2012?

Posted by Christina Angelos

(courtesy of Philly.com)

Last time I wrote something about Ryne Sandberg, he was being interview or being considered by two major leauge clubs. However, things have changed. Since the Cubs do not want a manager without coaching experiences in the majors, Sandberg is out. The Cardinals also considered Sandberg, but they already hired a new manager, former catcher Mike Matheny.

Where does that leave him?

Sandberg belongs to the Phillies. He could be the best choice to be the successor when Charlie Manuel contract expires in 2013. And fans already love him here in Philadelphia since he has done a great job with the Iron Pigs.  However, there is a chance where Sandberg could be offer a coaching job on a big-league staff. Let's hope not. I will keep you updated if anything changes. 


Papelbon deal settled, says "there was no hesitation"

Posted by Danielle Wilson

Pap

It's official. Madson's out, Papelbon's in. Jonathan Papelbon, the 30 year old closer from the Boston Red Sox, is without a doubt one of the greatest closers in the game. Those words are music to Ruben Amaro Jr's ears. Papelbon and the Phillies have agreed on a four-year, $50 million contract with a vesting option which would bring his total salary to $63 million. Just this afternoon, the deal was finalized for a grand total of $58,000,058. Uh-huh. The extra $58 was completely necessary.

Here are a few excerpts from his press conference this evening at Citizens Bank Park:

"I knew these guys wanted me, and I made my decision right then and there, there was no hesitation."

"The Phillies showed that they were interested in me and I wanted to make this decision quick and get it over with, and the Phillies showed the utmost loyalty to me."

"There's something in my heart that feels like I was meant to be here and play in front of these fans."

"I don't think for a closer, there's no difference between leagues. I gotta go out there and preserve wins for the team, that's the bottom line. I've had my fair share of ups and downs, those situations make you better, and I definitely feel that the situation in Boston last year will make me a better pitcher. I'm not going to shy away from being a cannibal as a pitcher. I've always gone about my business that way."

He's hungry for a championship, and he's more than happy to have landed a deal here in Philly.

Welcome aboard, Pap.

Jonathan will be wearing number 58 on his back for the next four or five years. I wonder which number Antonio Bastardo will choose now that his is taken!


So, Did Phillies' Ruben Amaro Screw Ryan Madson, or Did Scott Boras Screw Madson?

Posted by Frank Klose

Ruben_Amaro_2

Some thoughts on the Ryan Madson situation as I sit and eat during my lunch break:

Ryan Madson was a career Philadelphia Phillie.  With the possible departure of Jimmy Rollins, only Chase Utley would have been a longer-tenured Phillie had Madson re-signed.

Now, Ryan Madson's Phillies career is over and he is upset.

Going into the offseason, I really felt that the Phillies and Madson would continue their relationship.   Madson seemed to love being a Phillie, conversing with the Phillies fans during batting practice and while in the bullpen, and signing autographs for kids during games.  So, what exactly happened?

ESPN's Jim Bowden, former General Manager of both the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals is under the belief that the Phillies used Ryan Madson in an almost underhanded way to land Jonathan Papelbon.   I tend to disagree with the case, but based on the facts available from both Bowden and Jim Salisbury.  

So, what happened?  The following has been reported:

Scott Boras initially wanted a five-year contract from the Phillies.

As we have heard frequently heard, Ruben Amaro wanted three years.  Eventually, Bowden says, they came to an understanding that it would take four years to agree on a deal.

Ruben Amaro increased his offer from $9 million per year to $11 million per year

In late discussions November 7th, Amaro agreed to move from his target number of $9 million per year.

Ruben Amaro at some point in this discussion may have mentioned he would need to seek ownership approval

Bowden writes, "During my 15 years as a GM...on two occasions I made an offer to a player that I definitively said was pending ownership approval. His response to me both times was that [Boras] wouldn’t even take the offer to the player until ownership approved it first."

So, if indeed coming to the understanding that four years, $11 million per year is what it would take to sign Madson, Boras never would have presented the offer to Madson if following earlier practices.

In my tenure selling appliances it was common that a customer, even though we negotiated a price, would say, "I need to talk this over with my wife."  In some ways that meant, "I understand what it will take to make a deal, but I need to think this over some more, and see what my wife thinks about it."  

Amaro does not make decisions on his own, though he hs plenty of power to make decisions.  At this point he could have talked it over with his baseball people, especially if he had a "I need to talk to my wife" moment where he had to leave the negotiation to talk things through.  Something must not have sat right with Amaro at that time.

Bowden reports that "concurrently" the Phillies were talking to Papelbon and others.  Is it that so much of a stretch to believe that someone said, "If we're going to go this far for Madson, why not just a little bit more for Papelbon?"

Many criticize the Papelbon deal, but applying 90% of those arguments would equally apply to a $44 million Madson deal over four years.

Was a deal struck?  Bowden thinks yes, Amaro says no; did a counter-offer kill it?

Bowden is critical of the Phillies in this situation, stating,

"...simple business etiquette dictates if an offer is extended by the general manager, the organization needs to live up to that offer, otherwise it never should have been made in the first place."

Amaro denies there was ever an agreement, though reports suggested they agreed on four years and $44 million.  

In fact, Jon Heyman of SI.com says that Madson was presented with a four-year, $44 million offer by his agent Scott Boras.   Heyman indicates that Madson accepted, as long as there was a vesting option for a fifth year and $13 million.   Had this been the case, no, that does not constitute an agreement unless Amaro agreed to that vesting option.  It sounds like he did not.

Bowden does say, "Montgomery and Amaro are men of high character and integrity, and this isn’t how they normally do business."   Maybe it is because they did not deceive.

Amaro told Heyman, "I will stand by my history of integrity forever.'' 

Papelbon's deal reportedly would be $60 million with his vesting option, Madson's deal would total $57 million had the Phillies agreed to that vesting option.

Ruben Amaro called Ryan Madson to apologize

What did Amaro apologize for, exactly?  Is it because he did something wrong in the negotations to give Madson false hope?  Or could it be that he is sorry they were not able to work out a deal, since they greatly cared about each other? 

Amaro does not need to apologize for making a baseball move given free agency.   Once Madson hit free agency and the negotiations began, Amaro had to make what he felt was the best baseball move for the team, and put personal feelings aside.  Of course, they could have worked out a deal before Madson was ever a free agent.

Despite what people think of giving a four-year deal, the closer position being overrated, or break down every moment of Papelbon's career, the marketplace is one that demands a four-year contract and these dollars.   I might think $20,000 is too much for a new car, but I'll be hard-pressed to go buy a decent one right now for much less.

Scott Boras gets big-money deals, and likely will with Madson

If Madson's only objective was to re-sign with the Phillies, he may have not picked the right agent.  Many believe there are many teams willing to spend big money on a closer.   It's possible that Madson will do better than four-years, $44 million.   Now that his emotional ties with Philadelphia are gone, he can cash in. 

So, what happened?

I really think this is a case of the Phillies making what they felt was the best baseball decision.  Love the decision or hate the decision, the people getting paid to make the decisions felt that Jonathan Papelbon was going to do more for the Phillies over four years than Ryan Madson could do, and the money was so close that the scale was tipped to Papelbon.

I think the Phillies were comfortable with four years, $44 million, but not with the vesting option that appeared in the counteroffer.  At that point, the Phillies were not comfortable.

I do not think anyone screwed anybody; Madson got caught in the trap that is free agency.   He is upset that he was not able to work out a deal with the only organization he had never known.  Maybe he did not think free agency would end this way and that his agent would just get him the best possible deal with the Phillies.   

Life is full of disappointments. Madson will get over it (probably helped by signing a massive deal), and life will go on.


Phillies' best moves will be subtle, but successful

Posted by Kevin Durso

Jim Thome could be one of the Phillies' more successful minor signings (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Daily News)

Late last night, Jonathan Papelbon arrived in Philadelphia, ready to take his physical, and officially become a member of the Phillies. He is just another superstar name joining a club that's had a knack for landing the biggest names every time moves are made, whether it be as free agents or trade acquisitions.

However, the Phillies' biggest strength will fall on their luck in finding gold in a scrap yard. The signings that don't cost as much, yet still perform like stars are the ones that will help define this team, and not only add to their success, but possibly make them a force to be reckoned with once again.

It's no secret that the Phillies have some interest in Michael Cuddyer. That's exactly the type of player the Phillies need to make a subtle move successful. Cuddyer, should the Phillies get him at the right price, could cost no more than $5 million next season, a bargain compared to the near $10 millions he is said to be asking. Cuddyer has averaged 20 home runs and 85 RBIs in the past three seasons. That kind of production for that price is not only exactly what the Phillies need, it's the only way they will win.

Look at the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Who ever heard of David Freese or Allen Craig before this series? What about the small players like Rafael Furcal, Ryan Theriot and Skip Schumaker? It is the no-name players that sometimes make a championship team. Freese is a prime example of that, entering the Postseason virtually unknown, and coming out a World Champion and MVP.

The Phillies, then, need to take their focus on the top and turn it down a notch. Being able to have the financial status to sign anybody is a great thing, but it is the little things that set a team apart.

Jim Thome's signing is one that strikes me as just that. You don't really have expectations, but you know the leadership, will to win and work ethic you're getting.

The Phillies have been linked to Grady Sizemore and Jason Kubel, and those are exactly the kind of players the Phillies need.

Time will only tell how the Phillies decide to set themselves apart from the rest of the league. The players that become members of the Phillies remains to be seen. But instead of ignoring those minor signings, pay close attention. They could just be the game-changers of 2012.


Phillies Sign Papelbon: Is it a Good Move?

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

The Phillies' signing of reliever Jonathan Papelbon to a free agent contract worth a minimum of $50MM (4 years/$50MM, with a $12MM option for Year 5) was surprising this early in the offseason. Was it a smart acquisition by the Phillies? Let's look at the pros and cons of the move.

Reasons why the Papelbon signing was a good move:

1. Papelbon was the best elite free agent reliever available.

Just look at Papelbon's stats in 2011: 12.17 K/9, 8.70 BB/9, 2.16 xFIP. Simply incredible numbers. Ryan Madson is an elite reliever, and I would argue that he was the second best reliever available in free agency. Papelbon is better, and it's not especially close.

2. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was determined to sign an elite "closer."

Amaro indicated early that he had every intention of signing an elite closer. His aggressive decision to sign Papelbon during the first week of free agency serves as evidence that he was determined to pursue this course of action (and not merely posturing via the media). Amaro succeeded in signing the best reliever available.

Reasons why the Papelbon signing was not a good move:

1. At four years, and $50 million, it was an overpay of massive proportions.

Papelbon is a great reliever. But he will likely pitch fewer than seventy innings next season. As long as Charlie Manuel continues to let the save rule govern his bullpen decisions, many of those innings won't even be the highest leverage innings. Even if Papelbon was used in the most optimal way, it's highly unlikely that he (or any reliever) could merit an expenditure of that size.

2. Relievers' performances frequently vary from year to year.

The majority of relievers see their effectiveness vary from year to year. In any four-year period, many will miss time due to injury, and/or see their effectiveness reduced due to injury concerns. Papelbon has been outstanding for each of the last six seasons, but there is no guarantee that he will (or won't) remain outstanding for the next four. If he does miss time, or lose some of his effectiveness, the contract will look even worse. The Phillies spent the last three seasons with a declining $12.5MM "closer" on their payroll. Hopefully, the Papelbon deal won't be reminiscent of the disastrous Lidge deal. (Or worse. If Papelbon sustained a career-ending injury in Year 2, the Phils would spend $25MM in Years 3 and 4 for zero production. As Papelbon is signed for his Age 32 through Age 35 seasons, the potential for injury may be even higher.)

3. The signing affects the Phillies' ability to sign additional free agents, in the short-term.

(The Phillies, despite their recent personnel moves, do not have an infinitely sized payroll. It's likely that they will only spend up to the luxury tax threshold (of $185MM in 2012?).)

Papelbon's $12.5MM contract is similar to the expiring contract of middle reliever Brad Lidge. It has been argued that the Phillies simply "gave Lidge's money to Papelbon." This is an oversimplification. The Phillies' payroll did decrease, as a result of the expiring contracts of Lidge, Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins, and Roy Oswalt. However, the Phillies approached the offseason with the following needs: SS, LF, OF/1B (to cover during Ryan Howard's recovery period), reliever(s), bench. Additionally, Cole Hamels and Hunter Pence will receive raises ($3MM each?) Cliff Lee is scheduled for a $10.5MM raise from 2010, while Shane Victorino's salary increases by $2MM. The Phillies did have some money to spend, but putting so much of those funds into Papelbon's contract effectively reduced the quality/quantity of additional free agent acquisitions (though this may not be transparent).

4. The signing affects the Phillies' ability to sign additional free agents, in the longer term.

(The Phillies, despite their recent personnel moves, do not have an infinitely sized payroll. It's likely that they will only spend up to the luxury tax threshold (of $185MM in 2012/$190MM in 2013?).)

The Phillies, with the addition of the Papelbon contract, now have $92.5MM guaranteed to five players for 2013. (Halladay: $20MM, Howard: $20MM, Lee: $25MM, Utley: $15MM, Papelbon: $12.5MM). That will likely be approximately half of their available payroll for 2013, with twenty roster spots still to be filled. After 2012, ace starter Cole Hamels will be a free agent, and would likely require approximately $18MM/yr. to retain. Elite center fielder Shane Victorino will be a free agent, and can expect a contract worth $12-$15MM/yr. Slightly above average right fielder Hunter Pence will be arbitration-eligible, and can expect a contract in the $12-$15MM/yr. range. Before the Papelbon signing, retaining these players would have been extremely difficult. Now, the Phillies will likely only be able to afford one of these three free agents. (Hopefully, it will be Hamels!)

5. The $12.5MM spent on Papelbon could have been better spent elsewhere.

With many veteran relievers available in free agency this offseason, it should be a Buyer's market. For $12.5MM, the Phils could have gotten two good relievers. If they had given these hypothetical relievers two-year contracts, the Phils could have reduced their risk exposure (not locked into paying these relievers for Years 3 and 4, as they are with Papelbon). With Antonio Bastardo, Philippe Aumont, and Justin De Fratus as young (cheap) bullpen options, the Phils could have evaluated their situation after the 2013 season, and signed new free agent relievers/selected internal (cheaper) options. The money saved by filling high leverage roles with their young (cheap) relievers could have been spent elsewhere. If you are just considering the 2012 season, the Phillies could have likely spent $6-8MM on a "Joe Nathan-type" for 2012, and put the $4.5-$6.5MM "saved" towards other needs. A shortstop, perhaps?

6. Papelbon probably could have been signed at a lower cost.

Amaro decided he wanted Papelbon, and raced to overpay him, despite the Buyer's market for relievers. Only a limited number of teams can afford a $10MM+ closer. By waiting, and using the leverage the market provided, Amaro likely could have reduced the yearly outlay to Papelbon. More importantly, he might have been able to reduce the number of guaranteed years. Even reducing the contract from four years (+option), to three years would have been a significant improvement.

Jonathan Papelbon was the best free agent reliever available. With the possible exception of Mariano Rivera, there is probably no reliever the Phillies would rather have pitching the ninth inning. However, Papelbon comes at an exorbitantly high price, both in salary, and in the associated opportunity cost (probable inability to retain other players, as a result of Papelbon contract). Amaro got his preferred closer, but the organization will likely face future repercussions as a result.