Madson Declines Arbitration, Likely Done as a Phillie

Madson Declines Arbitration, Likely Done as a Phillie

The signing of Jonathon Papelbon to a five-year deal worth in excess of $50 million largely ensured that the Phillies would be departing with long-time reliever Ryan Madson.

Still, there was always the chance that the closer market would dry up and that Madson would accept arbitration so as to the test the market anew next winter. Alas, it was but a dream.

Word is now out that Madson has declined arbitration with the club, effectively ending his time in Philadelphia (save for some head-spinning move on the part of Ruben Amaro). Mad Dog leaves town with not only a World Series ring, but also (little
known fact) with a staggering number of the club's minor league records
for starting pitchers.

Though he caught an inordinate amount of flack during his tenure Philadelphia—much of which was probably generated during his struggles to close the ninth in limited opportunities in 2009 and 2010—he remains on the market as one of the premiere relievers in the game, and this team's best option out the pen for the last three seasons.

For reference, 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 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.

I bring these facts to the table not only to eulogize Mad Dog's time in Philly, but to properly explain his body of work. As a Madson fan, it's always been puzzling to me why the guy was never given, at least in my estimation, his proper due. Every clean seventh or eighth or even ninth was summarily dismissed as guy "just doing what he was supposed to" while his occasional rough ups were touted from the mountain tops as reasons why he either a) couldn't close or b) was somehow less than adequate.

As for concessions on my part, I recognize that his postseason numbers leave a little to be desired, and that I could rightly be accused of straw-manning elements of the fan base who never embraced him. It's just sad for me to know I won't get to watch him throw that world-beating change-up as a Phillie any longer.

More than likely, I'll now find myself on the other side of the fence, ignoring Papelbon's 19-in-a-row to focus on his blown 20th; and I'll probably be wearing my Madson t-shirt when I do it.

For another take on his career, check out Patrick Berkery's piece over at the Philly Burbs on where Madson ranks all-time amongst Phillies relievers.

FOR MORE: Check out our Hot Stove 2011 roundup

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

Sixers take lasting lessons from talk with Will Smith at team dinner

GALLOWAY, N.J. — The sprawling city skyline could have been the highlight of the Sixers' team dinner at One Liberty Place on Monday night. Instead, it was a surprise celebrity appearance that left them in awe.

Will Smith, who is part of the Sixers’ ownership, caught the players off guard when he visited with the team to offer advice and answer questions.

“Man, that’s one of my idols,” Nerlens Noel said following the first training camp session at Stockton University. “Everything he said I really took in and all the guys did too.”

Rather than entertaining the group with his acting or musical skills, Smith imparted important lessons that are applicable in sports. The 48-year-old has had decades of success across multiple platforms, and he offered pieces of wisdom that can resonate in any situation. 

“If you have bad people around you, that’s how people see you and that’s how you are,” Joel Embiid said. “He said to have good people around. That’s the main thing I got from that.”

The Sixers had differing memorable moments the morning after Smith’s visit, which demonstrated how many topics he addressed with the team. 

“He’s a good guy,” Ben Simmons said. “I definitely learned a lot from hearing him talk … You’ve got to look at things from a positive and negative with every situation.”

Jahlil Okafor was especially caught up in Smith’s appearance. Smith is Okafor’s favorite actor, most notably for his role in I Am Legend, and impressed Okafor with his character. 

“We already know about his accolades and how smart he is and obviously he’s an entertaining person,” Okafor said. “But it just seemed like he really wanted to be there to help us out. I just took away that he was a great person.”

Okafor also added, “It just helps [to hear from him] because the road to success is pretty much the same. It’s about being focused, it’s about knowing that you’re going to be knocked down, you’re going to fail. That was one of the messages that Will Smith shared, was expect failure but the main thing is to get back up.”

Noel previously had seen Smith courtside at Sixers games, and this was his first opportunity to hear directly from him. Noel listened to everything Smith had to say, from how to deal with the media to ranking his best and worst movies. 

“Never get caught up in too much of the negativity,” Noel recounted. 

While people view professional athletes as celebrities, the Sixers were on the opposite side Monday evening. 

“It’s hard to get starstruck nowadays,” Noel said. “But when you see Will Smith, it’s a whole different ballgame.”

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

Tonight's lineup: With only RHPs left, could Ryan Howard start every game?

If healthy, Ryan Howard is expected to start all three games in the Phillies' final series of the season Sept. 2-4 at home against the Mets.

He might also start the entire Braves series.

The Phillies' final six games are all against right-handed starting pitchers: Julio Teheran, Mike Foltynewicz and Josh Collmenter in Atlanta; Robert Gsellman, Bartolo Colon and Noah Syndergaard with the Mets. That could mean six starts for Howard before his time with the Phillies expires.

Howard's batting average has been below .200 for practically the entire season, but he's been much better since the All-Star break, hitting .259/.325/.598 with 11 homers, five doubles and 25 RBIs in 123 plate appearances (see game notes). He went 0 for 6 in his last two starts but homered in each of his two previous starts to reach 23 for the third year in a row.

Here's the Phillies' full lineup Tuesday against Teheran:

1. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
2. Roman Quinn, LF
3. Odubel Herrera, CF
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Ryan Howard, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Freddy Galvis, SS
8. Aaron Altherr, RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff, P

Matt Kemp is out of the Braves' lineup.

1. Ender Inciarte, CF
2. Adonis Garcia, 3B
3. Freddie Freeman, 1B
4. Nick Markakis, RF
5. Tyler Flowers, C
6. Jace Peterson, 2B
7. Dansby Swanson, SS
8. Mallex Smith, LF
9. Julio Teheran, P

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