Blog Entry

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

Posted on: November 11, 2011 4:38 pm
Typical Phillies.

Lots of money. A little intrigue. And the best guy on the market ends up at Citizens Bank Park.

They needed a closer, with Ryan Madson heading into free agency. And after a strange week in which they agreed (or didn't agree) on a deal that would have paid Madson $11 million a year, they agreed (this time for real) on a contract that will pay Jonathan Papelbon a little more than $12 million a year.

Papelbon has a deal with the Phillies, sources confirmed to on Friday afternoon. He'll get $50 million for four years, with a vesting option for a fifth year.

The Phillies get a soon-to-be 31-year-old closer who has more than just survived in the American League East, with 219 saves for the Red Sox over the last six years (third in baseball behind Francisco Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera). They get a guy who has closed out a World Series, a guy coming off a strong year.

They get a guy who will go into the season as the no-doubt closer . . . something Madson never did in nine full seasons in Philadelphia.

Remember, when Brad Lidge was hurt last spring, the Phillies didn't hand Madson the ninth inning. They left him in the eighth inning, and put Jose Contreras in the ninth -- until Contreras got hurt.

Madson eventually proved he could handle the job. He ended up with 32 saves (one more than Papelbon), and the Phillies felt comfortable enough to try to bring him back.

Depending on who you want to believe, they may even have offered him $44 million for four years, a deal that sources close to Madson said he agreed to. Phillies sources insisted that no such deal was ever made.

We may never know the full truth. We do know that the Phillies, who had already been talking to Papelbon even as they negotiated with Madson, eventually decided to sign the ex-Red Sox closer instead.

We also know that Papelbon is a safer bet than Madson, basically the same age and with a much longer and better track record as a closer. Madson looked good in 2011, but in a role where success is often a year-to-year thing, it's very easy to say you'd rather have Papelbon.

The Red Sox would have rather kept him, and now they're left without a closer. They'll be in on Madson, and also Heath Bell, who are the top two remaining closers on the market.

Madson is left without a deal. He'll have interest from the Red Sox, and also possibly from the Rangers, Nationals and others. There are lots of closers available (Rodriguez is also on the market), and plenty of teams that could use one.

Meanwhile, the Phillies have done what they always do, what they did last winter when they signed Cliff Lee, what they did when they traded for Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence.

They spent big, and they went out and got the best guy out there.

It doesn't guarantee that they'll win, obviously not. Putting Halladay and Lee together in a dream rotation didn't guarantee the Phillies a title, either.

It does get their offseason off to a flying -- and typical -- start. They still need to find a shortstop (retaining incumbent Jimmy Rollins is their obvious preference), and they'd still like to find an outfield bat (Michael Cuddyer seems to be the top choice, although not at his current asking price).

But finding a closer was general manager Ruben Amaro's top task this winter.

It cost him a lot. It wasn't at all simple.

But in the end, he got the best one available.

Since: Aug 18, 2009
Posted on: November 15, 2011 10:29 am

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

Why don't we use Thome as a leadoff man?

Since: Dec 11, 2006
Posted on: November 15, 2011 8:14 am

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

Srkisrle-no way the Phils could afford Reyes AND Pujols. Pujols is getting to the point where he is only an average defensive first basemen (although he did make a few nice stops in the WS), so putting him at third would be the equivalent of baseball suicide. It looks like the Phils will let Oswalt and Ibanez walk and not get Reyes, Pujols or Madson ovbiously. With Papelbon already in the fold, if they can bring back Rollins I would call that a solid offseason. Worley is a very solid #4 starter and Pence will be there for the whole season this year. Rollins isn't what he used to be but SS is so thin league-wide he is still one of the better ones. The whole thing with the Phils will be health due to their aging core. They already have one albatross contract in Howard and two other big ones with Lee/Halladay, they were never going to be in on Reyes/Pujols or Fielder, Wilson, etc. They should be able to hold off Atlanta again next year, but they have a closing window to win.

Since: Dec 10, 2006
Posted on: November 15, 2011 3:55 am

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

All the Phils needed to do was to sign Reyes, Pujols and Madson.  Let go Oswalt, Ibanez and Rollins.  Play Pujols at third when Howard gets back and it would have been the easiest WS win in the history.  

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 1:40 pm

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

Madson wanted a guaranteed 4th year and a player-option 5th year, which is why they couldn't give Madson a 3 year $11 mil per contract.

I would not have liked that move either.  Closers (not named Rivera or Eckersley) are a dime a dozen.  The reason you see bad ones like Lidge rolled out year after year is because of bad contracts dictate that they keep their jobs.  They are an enigmatic group, so why pay them like superstars?  Granted, Papelbon has been consistent for most of his career, but history tells us that it is only a matter of time.  I suspect that is why teams that have success don't marry themselves to 1 guy longterm.  I have said it before, the last 10 WS teams, only 2 established superstar closers among had guys like Hermanson (closer for all of 1.5 years in the majors), Motte, Papelbon (only 2nd year in majors), Foulke (average closer at best), Lidge (up and down career before and since WS victory), Urbina (see Lidge), Wainright (only 3 saves before or and none since that playoff run, in regular season or postseason), etc.  The only superstar, Rivera.  The only other established closers, I suspect Percival and Wilson, though I would not call Percival a superstar.

Closers can be found much easier and cheaper than 3b or 2b or SS, their most significant holes.  I would have given the job to Bastardo and/or Stutes and gotten some cheap middle relief pitchers (look at Kimbrel this season in Atlanta, or Neftali Feliz, or, by golly, Motte).

Since: Sep 5, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:35 pm

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

south philly resident and fan. this move baffles me. why not give madsen 3 yrs $11 mil per ? now they gotta overpay paps for 4 yrs and an option for a 5th yr when they really need a 1b, 3b and of like michael cuddyer or at least 3b aramis ramirez....?

my 17 game ticket plan sure is paying someone....

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:17 pm

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

sorry about all the bold in the last email....don't know how that happened

To the Pitt fan upset with the Phillies trying to "buy a championship", I would be upset too if I were a Pittsburgh fan.  But not at the is the system that is broke and hurts the small market teams.  That is why I have been saying for years that we need a salary cap and floor.  But I will never fault the Phillies, Yankees or Red Sox (and before that, the Braves, the Angels, etc., though the Braves no longer go crazy with buying players) for trying to buy the best talent available.  I just wish the Phillies put the money where it was needed, like new bats.  Utley and Rollins and Polanco are done, and Howard is a question mark with that injury.  Will he be his old self at any time next season?  I would bet on no, so we need another bat (like to see them take a chance on Grady Sizemore).  Hell, I would buy Pujols, make him my 3b when Howard gets back, and pray for a lot of strikeouts by my pitchers.

Since: Sep 6, 2006
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:10 pm

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

From damnyankee13

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

Is concrete your name because theres concrete between your ears?Haters make all sorts of excuses for their team's lousy showings but the truth of the matter is the teams lousy.The phillies aint ever gonna be good for anything but lafghing stocks. Look at your paper eagles..And I know all the players on the phillies  are home grown or are they smoking it?that new closer you signed, O, he, not home grown?[guess your smokin it then] and your 4aces,3 now, are working for peanuts because they just love your cheesesteaks

Actually, you dope, I like the Yankees...they have always been my AL team, from about the time I was 10 (1980).  But how does my paper Eagles have anything to do with a discussion about baseball?  Seriously, should I then talk about something like the fact that the Knicks haven't won the NBA title since 1974, and my Sixers won it in 1983?  How does that affect the current Phillies or Yankees?

My homegrown post was in response to some other idiots post...I was pointing out how irrelevant his post was....totally a waste of space, like my response to him, and now your response to me.

Since: Jan 9, 2007
Posted on: November 14, 2011 12:08 pm

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

If your team spent money, and their owner wanted to win a championship, YOU WOULD BE ALL IN.  Stop hating on a team that wants to win.  That is all that is coming out of this comment from you, HATE & JEALOUSY!!!
  Go Phillies!!!!!1

Since: Aug 27, 2010
Posted on: November 14, 2011 11:19 am

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

Ah yes, this signing does not surprise me. It's the Phils. Trying to buy a Championship once again. $12M for a closer. Yea that's pretty much taking the market so high that no one else can bid for his services except for 4 teams. Wonder who's next on the shopping list for Philly. Reyes? Pujols? Probably.

Will they be over $200M this year Philly fans? They sure are going to try, which is what they do best.

Since: May 26, 2011
Posted on: November 14, 2011 10:44 am

Lots of money, but Phillies get their closer

My take is, you have lot of close games because the offense is lacking, so that's exactly when you need a good closer.  Sure losing close games wasn't a weakness last year BECAUSE we had a good closer.  So we need to continue that.  Plus, you never know from year to year how the bullpen will be, so you need a couple guys you can count on to preserve games for your aces. 

As for the offense, sure I'd like to see it improved, but I just don't see one guy out there that you could bring in and solve it with.  Sometimes you have to solve the problems you can, not the ones you'd like to. Closer was a solvable problem.  Offense is more complicated.  Mostly it is going to take some of the guys we have staying healty and playing up to their potential.  Hopefully some of the young guys stepping up too. 

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