In Bad News for Phillies Fans and Wishful Thinkers, Ryan Madson Still Wants to Close

In Bad News for Phillies Fans and Wishful Thinkers, Ryan Madson Still Wants to Close

Amongst the Phillies' clear offseason needs is an arm to own the eighth inning and set up a reliable bridge to closer Jonathan Papelbon.

None of the these options in 2012 — Chad Qualls, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes, Michael Schwimmer, Joe Savery, Raul Valdes, Jake Diekman, Jeremy Horst, Justin De Fratus, Brian Sanches (if I forgot anyone, I'm sorry) — proved capable.

Jose Contreras spent most of the year on the DL and the Phillies declined his option.

Josh Lindblom came over in the Shane Victorino trade and was consistently erratic (4.63 ERA, 1.543 WHIP) in 26 appearances.

Phillipe Aumont has legitimate stuff if he can just learn to locate.

So the Phillies need someone to take over in the eighth, leading many a fan to ask, "What's Ryan Madson doing right about now?"

You remember Ryan — the tall kid with the fastball, changeup and cutter whose agent overreached in free agency, landing his client a one-year deal that proved potentially disastrous to his long-term security when he almost immediately blew his UCL and headed for Tommy John surgery. The guy the Phillies opted not to pay $50 mil to so they could give it to Papelbon. You remember.

He would seem like a great candidate for the job, if only he wanted it. Which, unfortunately for anyone looking to get him back in red pinstripes, it doesn't seem like he does.

Courtesy Bob Brookover in the Inqy:

If Ryan Madson and his agent, Scott Boras, get their way, the veteran reliever will not return to the Phillies in 2013.

Boras said Sunday that Madson wants to remain a closer and that "a lot of teams have already expressed interest" in him in that role.

That, of course, would erase Madson from the Phillies' plans because they already have Jonathan Papelbon in the closer's spot.

I'll just have to keep wearing my Madson t-shirt "ironically," I guess. Miss you, Mad Dog.

Any other eigth-inning names you'd like Ruben Amaro to throw against the wall? Or are you too consumed by the black hole at third base and the magic show in the outfield?

In defense their respective defenses, Kevin Frandsen is genuinely likable and Dom Brown is just so damn long, the latter of which matters when it's basketball season and you're scouting centerfielders.

First tease of Sixers' new Nike uniforms pops up on Twitter

First tease of Sixers' new Nike uniforms pops up on Twitter

Nike kicks off an 8-year exclusive partnership with the NBA and will be the official provider of all jerseys, shorts, and basically the classic parts of the basketball uniform.

A number of team's have already released what their new jerseys with a Nike swoosh will look like. The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings have shared images of their new jerseys.

Chris Heck, the Sixers' Chief Sales and Marketing Officer best known for tweeting images with only a #OnBrand hashtag, shared what appears to be the first look at the new Sixers' gear with a Nike logo.

As you may or may not be aware, Nike is doing away with a traditional "home" and "away" uniform, instead producing four different uniforms for each team that they can choose from.

Nick Williams giving Phillies missing ingredient — a feared hitter — early in career

Nick Williams giving Phillies missing ingredient — a feared hitter — early in career

MIAMI -- Nick Williams has been a major-leaguer less than three weeks and his progress has accelerated so swiftly that the Phillies are already trying to pump the breaks.

“I’m not going to say a whole lot about him right now,” manager Pete Mackanin said of his 23-year-old rookie right fielder. “I don’t want to jinx myself.”

Williams, elevated to the three-hole in the batting order on Tuesday, is batting .316 with four doubles, three triples and two homers — including one grand slam — in just 16 games.

In the past six games, Williams has 11 RBIs. And he is one of just four Phillies in more than 100 years to produce multiple RBIs and multiple hits in four straight games, a list that includes Greg Luzinski (1977); Chuck Klein (1932) and Lefty O’Doul (1929).

Williams is also one of just three Phillies with an OPS north of .800. Williams leads the team in OPS at .963. He is followed by Aaron Altherr (.898), who figures to be out multiple weeks due to a hamstring injury; and Howie Kendrick (.879), who is on an injury rehab assignment at Double-A Reading.

Kendrick, who is in the last year of his contract, will likely be gone soon, perhaps by the July 31 trading deadline, if he can prove he is healthy enough to contribute to a playoff contender.

Meanwhile, Altherr and Williams have both played right field this year. Assuming Williams continues to play well, Mackanin will have to sort it out, and, presumably, one of those two players shifts to left.

For now, the Phillies need the quiet Williams to continue making noise with his bat because this is a team that ranks second-to-last in the majors with 365 runs scored.

And that’s after taking two out of three games from the Miami Marlins this week in a breakout offensive performance by the entire team. The Phillies scored 20 runs in the series, their second-best showing in a three-game set all year.

The Phillies had five players come through with multi-hit games in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over the Marlins. Seven players turned that trick in Wednesday’s 10-3 victory in which the Phillies set a season high with 20 hits (see story).

“Hitting is contagious,” Williams said in advance of Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Brewers, which starts a 10-game homestand. “When you see so many guys do it, I always think of it as, ‘If he can do it, I can do it.’ ”

Mackanin this week talked up Maikel Franco, who has been used as the cleanup batter 38 times this year and has hit fifth and sixth 20 times each.

Franco, according to Mackanin, leveled off his swing in a productive batting-practice session on Tuesday, and the manager predicts a big second half from him.

Perhaps Franco can settle in as the full-time cleanup hitter.

Perhaps Franco can provide quality protection for Williams in the three-hole.

Perhaps this can become a thing, Williams and Franco.

Fact is, age-wise, they are well-positioned to grow together with the Phillies. Franco is 24 — he just seems older because he broke into the majors in 2014 — and Williams is 23.

And although Williams is younger, he seems mature. These thrilling three weeks do not appear to have fazed him. He is not, for example, trying to pull everything.

“Growing up,” said Williams, who is from Galveston, Texas, “I always heard, ‘Hit it where it’s pitched.’

“If (pitchers throw) away, hit it that way. If they come in, pull it. … I just trust my hands.”

At 32-61, the Phillies are miles away from contention, and further still from their 2008 team that won the World Series.

Progress has been slow, but finding some hitters that will strike fear in the hearts and minds of opposing pitchers and managers will be a fine start.

Intentional walks are often a show of respect. Right now, no one on the Phillies has drawn more than four intentional passes.

If you look back at the ’08 Phillies, Ryan Howard was walked intentionally 17 times. Chase Utley was walked intentionally 14 times.

That’s what happens when you hit 48 homers like Howard did that year.

That’s what happens when you hit 41 doubles like Utley did that year.

That’s what happens when you’re dangerous.

The Phillies are hoping that Williams, a former second-round pick and part of the package received from the Texas Rangers in the 2015 Cole Hamels trade, can be anywhere near that dangerous one day.

For now, though, Mackanin would prefer less talking and more hitting.

“I just want to watch him continue to play,” Mackanin said, “(continue to) be aggressive at the plate.”