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Phillies sign Jonathan Papelbon, but was Ryan Madson a better choice?

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In an interesting turn of events, the 4-year deal the Phillies apparently had with Ryan Madson is completely off the table, and former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon (pending a physical) will reportedly sign a 4-year deal close to $50 million dollars. The deal is the largest for a closer in the history of Major League Baseball, eclipsing the 5 year $47 million that Toronto singed B.J. Ryan for back in 2005.  Papelbon photo: zozone.mlblogs.com

Papelbon was a World Series Champion with the Red Sox in 2007 and is Boston’s all-time saves leader. However, the Red Sox September collapse followed by the change of management (on and off the field) in Boston might have unsettled Papelbon to the point where he wanted to make a clean break from the franchise.

Although there are questions as to whether Madson can consistently close in the majors, he would seem to be a better fit, has an outpitch, blew less saves than Papelbon in 2011, and would have come quite cheaper than Papelbon does. If Papelbon doesn’t have his fastball however, forget it. Just think of Brad Lidge in 2011. On the other side of the coin, Papelbon has more experience as a closer, and has thrown close to 200 less innings pitched in the majors than Madson.

However, as was the case with Jayson Werth, the Scott Boras factor most likely loomed large. In fact Boras apparently didn’t like the fact that Madson signed a 3-year deal for $12 million after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. Although Ruben Amaro's track record in acquiring free agents and retaining Phillies players is pretty spectacular, the Phillies have a shoddy history with Boras dating back to the J.D. Drew debacle, which is ryan madsonwhy it’s  surprising that earlier reports had Madson signing a reported 4 year-$44 million dollar deal earlier in the week. It’s quite possible the contract was affected by the ongoing CBA agreement, but Fox’s Ken Rosenthal reported that the deal was never a finished one.

Papelbon is a live wire. His demeanor on the mound makes him easily dislikable if he’s not on your team, but his fiery attitude could be a nice fit in a city like Philadelphia. Papelbon has faced arguably tougher crowds in Boston, so pitching in Philly should not be a problem for him.

On the other hand, tt’s sad to see Madson go. One of the most likeable Phillies in the clubhouse (and a great tipper by the way), Madson has been a club fixture since 2004. He is a home grown product, and has pitched in more games than anyone in club history. The “Bridge to Lidge” doesn’t exist if Ryan Madson isn’t on this team.

Is Ryan Madson a better fit for this team than Jonathan Papelbon? We shall see. Nonetheless, Philly2Philly wishes Madson the very best.

Now we move on to Jimmy Rollins.

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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