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

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

Phillies can exhale after bullpen nearly blows 10-0 lead

BOX SCORE

The moment when the ball struck first baseman Tommy Joseph’s glove for the final out of the Phillies 10-8 win over the Mets — dealing a major blow to their rival’s wild card hopes in the process — felt more like a collective exhalation than a moment of celebration (see Instant Replay).
 
Two days earlier, the bullpen faltered suddenly. A game-tying two-run homer by Jose Reyes in the ninth was the first body blow. The game-winning three-run homer by Asdrubal Cabrera was the knockout.
 
Saturday, the collapse occurred over the course of five innings as the Phillies let a lead that was once 10-0 slip away, one drawn-out at-bat after another.
 
Missing, of course, was the moment of impact in the proverbial slow-motion car crash, thanks to well-placed sinkers and four-seamers from Michael Mariot.
 
“The bullpen’s been sputtering,” manager Pete Mackanin said in an understatement.
 
Joely Rodriguez entered in the sixth inning with a 10-4 lead to face a string of lefties and it quickly became apparent that he did not have his fastball. A middle-in four-seamer that caught too much of the plate was slapped for a double by Mets shortstop Gavin Cecchini, his first major-league hit and a run. A second run scored when a little dribbler by third baseman T.J. Rivera died on the third base line, leaving Rodriguez with no play.
 
“He just didn’t throw quality strikes,” Mackanin said.
 
Even the normally-reliable Hector Neris struggled on Saturday. In his 77th outing of the season, Neris walked two straight batters and then surrendered an RBI double to Cecchini of his own which narrowed the lead to 10-7 and thrust the uncertainty of a save situation onto Mackanin.
 
Mariot was given first crack at the ninth inning one day after Mackanin said he would give Jeanmar Gomez a break from closing duties.
 
Mariot’s audition got off to a rough start. He gave up a pinch-hit solo home run to Jay Bruce — who had been mired in an 0-15 slump — with one out in the ninth and then walked Eric Campbell and Michael Conforto after a pair of grueling at-bats that lasted a combined 18 pitches.
 
The two hitters fouled off eight of Mariot’s pitches and took several four-seamers that just missed the plate.
 
“I was pretty upset about that,” Mariot said of the four-seamers that missed. “I was hoping to get at least a swing or maybe a call on those. Talking to [catcher] A.J. [Ellis], I think he said that they missed but I was hoping at least one of them to get called a strike.”
 
Gomez was up in the Phillies’ bullpen but Mariot ensured that Mackanin wouldn’t need to throw the recently-struggling closer back into the fire in a high-stress situation.
 
Mariot was able to locate his fastball when he needed to most. He fooled Lucas Duda with a two-seamer that the slugger popped out to Freddy Galvis and got Travis D’Arnaud to ground a four-seamer outside right back to him.
 
“I just told myself: ‘keep throwing strikes and good things will happen,’” Mariot said.
 
He threw just enough strikes to ensure that the Phillies didn’t end up on the wrong end of what would have been the Mets’ biggest comeback in team history.

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

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College football wrap: Auburn upsets No. 18 LSU with controversial finish

AUBURN, Ala. -- Gus Malzahn was ready to try anything to get a win for his Auburn Tigers.

Malzahn relinquished offensive play-calling duties. Following his daughters' advice, he traded his usual game-day visor for a cap. And then, when the clock expired and LSU players were celebrating an apparent last-second win, the Auburn coach put all his faith in a ruling he couldn't control.

Daniel Carlson kicked six field goals and Auburn beat No. 18 LSU 18-13 on Saturday night after officials ruled Danny Etling's apparent last-gasp scoring pass came after time expired.

Malzahn said he knew there were only zeroes on the clock before the snap to Etling.

"I was pretty confident time had expired," Malzahn said. "It was just a matter of going to the booth and confirming it."

Etling rolled to his right and found D.J. Shark in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard pass, setting off a short-lived celebration by LSU players (see full recap).

Hornibrook proves he's ready in Badgers' win over Spartans
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- By the time Alex Hornibrook's first start was over, there wasn't much question about whether he could handle one of the toughest road tests in the Big Ten.

Hornibrook threw for 195 yards and a touchdown, and 11th-ranked Wisconsin turned its early-season showdown with No. 8 Michigan State into a rout, beating the Spartans 30-6 on Saturday.

"You've got to have respect for a guy whose first start is against a Michigan State defense," Wisconsin running back Corey Clement said.

"He's going to come out the next game and do even better. I think he's just getting his feet wet."

The freshman quarterback outplayed fifth-year senior Tyler O'Connor, his Michigan State counterpart. The Badgers (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten) were the better team in the first half and then outscored the Spartans 17-0 in the third quarter (see full recap).

No. 23 Rebels find their rhythm, beat No. 12 Georgia 45-14
OXFORD, Miss. -- Mississippi quarterback Chad Kelly faked the handoff and then took off running toward the end zone. A few seconds and 41 yards later, the quarterback had cruised through the middle of the Georgia defense and into the end zone untouched.

It was pretty much that easy for the Rebels all afternoon. Ole Miss finally built a lead it couldn't give away.

No. 23 Ole Miss rolled to a 45-14 victory over No. 12 Georgia on Saturday, building a 31-0 lead by halftime and a 45-0 advantage by midway through the fourth quarter.

Kelly threw for 282 yards and two touchdowns. Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) broke a 10-game losing streak in the series dating to 1996 (see full recap).

Dobbs rallies No. 14 Vols to 38-28 win over No. 19 Gators
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- This time, Tennessee delivered the comeback.

And in the process, the Volunteers took out 11 years' worth of frustration on Florida.

Joshua Dobbs accounted for five second-half touchdowns Saturday and No. 14 Tennessee erased a 21-point deficit to beat No. 19 Florida 38-28 and end their 11-game losing streak in the annual series.

"I didn't see anybody blink," Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. "Nobody flinched. They just kept playing."

This marks the first time Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) has beaten Florida (3-1, 1-1) since 2004. The Volunteers had lost to Florida by one point each of the last two years despite leading in the fourth quarter of both games (see full recap).