Phils Close the Deal for A Closer

12 Nov

It was no surprise that the Phillies would sign a closer this off-season.  But what might have come as a surprise to many is that the Phils new closer is not named Ryan Madson.  Despite reports that a deal was almost complete between Madson and the Phillies earlier in the week, it was announced yesterday that the Phillies have come to terms with one Jonathan Papelbon.

For those not familiar with the name, Papelbon has been the closer for the Boston Red Sox for the past six seasons during which time he has been one of the top closers in the game.  Although both Madson and Papelbon had strong 2011 seasons, the biggest difference between the two men is experience.

For Madson 2011 was his first primarily in the closer role and when it comes to closers not named Rivera it is often tough to repeat success year-to-year.  Papelbon has done that with 219 career saves to Madson’s 53, pitching in the tough NL East against teams like the perennial powerhouse New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays.

Both men are the same age (Madson is 31 and Papelbon will turn 31 at the end of this month,) both are hard throwers but even Madson fans would be hard-pressed to question Papelbon’s body of work.  Papelbon brings his career 2.33 ERA as a closer to the Phillies as well as strong play-off experience.  As the clock ticks on this aging line-up, perhaps Amaro wanted to give the team’s strength, the starting pitching, even more insurance down the stretch.

It is a long deal (four years) to give to a closer and some are reporting the biggest ever given to a reliever but as a fan not responsible for the team’s purse strings it’s hard not to appreciate GM Ruben Amaro’s continued aggressiveness in the free agent market.  Last year he went after and got the preeminent starter on the market in Cliff Lee and this year he has done the same with the closer.  Now he needs to show the same aggressiveness in getting  a bat or two.  I know, I know, I want everything, right?

Perhaps Amaro also wanted to shake up the clubhouse a bit after the team’s early play-off exit.  Papelbon is a bit of a personality known for scowling off the mound at opposing batters but if he is as effective for the Phillies as he has been for the Red Sox the last six years, Phillies fans will embrace Papelbon, scowl and all.

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4 Responses to “Phils Close the Deal for A Closer”

  1. geetie cohen November 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Thanks for the background information on our new closer, my knowledge of teams other than the Phils is woefully short. Maybe Mr Amaro will have a Thanksgiving surprise this year. It could happen????

  2. Ray November 12, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

    Susan,

    A good pickup. Most will question the longer deal, but he is as good as Madson, so we didn’t really give up anything other then salary. Now we just have to lock up the short stop position.

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