Alternate Take: Market Validates Phillies on Madson, but Doesn't Justify Deal with Papelbon

Alternate Take: Market Validates Phillies on Madson, but Doesn't Justify Deal with Papelbon

Kulp is 100% right that the free agent market has validated the Phillies' decision not to re-sign Ryan Madson for the amount of money he sought. That said, Madson's absurd contract demands hardly excuse the choice the team ultimately made in signing Jonathan Papelbon.

Indeed, Kulp's most insightful point in his argument that Madson's Availability Validates the Phillies is his concession that "for some people, no closer is worth the $50 million the team gave Papelbon."

In this case, the Phillies weren't wrong in opting to part ways with Madson; instead, they were wrong in their choice to spend that as much money as they did in the way they did it. As sad as it is to say, the Phillies' decision to say "no" to Scott Boras doesn't let them off the hook for saying "yes" to a pitcher with as high a price tag and an arguably lower return on investment than the one they denied.

For reference, we published the following figures on December 8, 2011 in our piece on Madson declining arbitration with the Phillies, a move that all but guaranteed the end of his time with the club:

Prior to closing 32 of 34 save opportunities for 2.37 ERA in 2011, only Mariano Rivera, Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol and Darren Oliver had posted lower ERAs [than Ryan Madson] in as many innings of relief since 2007. With that in mind, as Madson's numbers were right in line with those of Bell in 2011, it's reasonable to think that the team who signs him will have to fork over Bell-like money (3 years and $27 million). Consider those contract figures and statistics when you revisit what the Phillies just paid for Madson's successor in Papelbon.

As for Papelbon, it was only his 3.90 ERA in 2010 that kept him off the above list. Moving on to compare all three in 2011, the former Red So(ck) did feature a lower WHIP than either Bell or Madson (.933 vs. 1.149 and 1.154), but also sported a higher ERA (2.94 vs. 2.44 and 2.37).

Arguing that Papelbon is on the downside of his career also isn't unthinkable given his horrid season in 2010 and his struggles down the stretch in 2011. On the other hand, with the exception of the month of June and the last two weeks of September, 2011 otherwise seemed like a bounce back year for the 31-year-old.

Those statistics and trends bear one of either two possibilities: Papelbon is either on the downside of his career, or he is comparable to Madson and Bell.

Regardless of which is the case, and debate that as you will, it seems very hard to contend that the Phillies didn't overpay Papelbon in light of the deal Bell signed and the one Madson has yet to receive.

In short, Ryan Madson's fouled up free agency doesn't excuse the team from overpaying for someone else, especially if that someone else is arguably worse. This doesn't mean that Papelbon doesn't have the tools to earn his $51 million, rendering this argument moot, it just means that the team overestimated his value as related to comparable options.

If they were going to pay for a closer, then last two years of baseball should have evidenced Ryan Madson and Heath Bell as the safer investments. In any case, none of them should have been offered $51 million, an assessment with which 29 other teams agree.

Previously:
>>>Madson's Availability Vindicates Phillies
>>>Madson Declines Arbitration, Likely Done as a Phillie

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Flyers got some swagger back Sunday night.

But especially so on the power play, which entered Sunday's clash just 2 for 19 over the last six games.

Two markers on the man advantage helped the Flyers edge the Canucks, 3-2, at Rogers Arena in Vanvoucer (see Instant Replay).

“It all comes back to finding a way to produce – and they did that tonight,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who had called for his power-play participants to rediscover that swagger.

Hakstol’s club won for the first time in its last nine games in Western Canada. More importantly, the Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference.

Thanks to the power-play success, the Flyers built a 3-0 lead in the game’s first 23 minutes and then hung on, atoning for a sub-par effort in a one-sided loss to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night.

The Flyers converted two of three power plays while blanking the Canucks on all four of their man advantages. The loss prevented the Canucks (26-28-6) from getting closer to a Western Conference playoff berth.

“I thought we were playing some pretty good hockey of late, but the pucks weren't going in,” said Flyers center Brayden Schenn, who scored the winning goal on the power play at 2:38 of the second period. “Tonight, we tightened up defensively again from Edmonton's game and were able to score a few more goals. It's a huge two points going home."

Wayne Simmonds, also on the power play, and Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers’ other goals.

“We needed a win,” Simmonds said. “Especially after the game in Edmonton, this is good for the morale."

Shayne Gostisbehere assisted on all three goals, recording the first three-point night of his career.

Schenn’s winning goal came only a minute and 27 seconds after Voracek gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 1:11 of the second by sending Sean Couturier’s huge rebound into a gaping net behind Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. Voracek’s goal was his first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

How did long sought-after goal make him feel?

"Like I scored a goal,” deadpanned Voracek. “We won the game. That’s the way I looked at it. It doesn't matter who scored the goals. Special teams were huge tonight. I liked our power play. We were going all 60 minutes. This one kept us in the race."

The Flyers were a well-rested team thanks to a two-day break between games and a three-day break before the start of the road trip. The Canucks, on the other hand, were playing their second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip. But there was still considerable suspense over the final 30 minutes.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen tallied for the Canucks, who are known as comeback artists, at 3:43 and 12:42 of the second, respectively, before the Flyers shut Vancouver down the rest of the way. Voracek indicated the Flyers were not nervous in the final frame.

"I don't think we changed anything to be honest,” he said. We were pretty tight in the neutral zone. We didn't give them much. When we had a couple of breakdowns, [Michal Neuvirth] was on his act.”

Neuvirth stopped 18 of 20 shots as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 28-20. He enjoyed a much better start Sunday, holding the Canucks scoreless in the opening period after allowing four goals on his first 12 shots on Thursday in Edmonton. One of his better saves came with just over a minute into the game as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close.

"I felt good,” said Neuvirth. “I have been practicing well and playing with confidence. The last game, it didn't work out. I put that one behind me and restarted my mind and got back to work tonight.”

“I thought he was excellent,” said Hakstol. “He was calm and settled in there. You can go back through that 60 minutes and you can pick out three or four pretty darned good saves.”

Neuvirth excelled while making his fourth consecutive start and sixth in the past seven games overall.

“It feels good,” he said of the heavy workload. “It feels better when we win.”

But he was not about to get too excited. The Flyers have a tough clash at home Wednesday against NHL-best Washington and a road game Saturday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field against the rival Penguins as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

“We have a tough schedule coming and we have to be ready,” Neuvirth said.

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

Sixers Twitter rejoices in the Kings' pick swap after DeMarcus Cousins deal

All hail the pick swap.

When word got out that the Sacramento Kings traded DeMarcus Cousins to the New Orleans Pelicans, Sixers fans on Twitter rejoiced.

On July 10, 2015, the Sixers traded away the rights to Artūras Gudaitis and Luka Mitrović, and, in return, received an unprotected 2019 first round pick, Nik Stauskas, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and the right to swap first-round selections in the 2016 and 2017 drafts.

The Cousins move appears to significantly weaken the Kings, who are 24-33 and just 2.5 games better than the Sixers, so the pick swap looks healthier than ever.

But, for now, enjoy some samplings of Sixers Twitter from after the trade.

Here are some of the best tweets.