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