Phillies Pick Papelbon Over Madson

Only a few days ago, it seemed as though the Phillies would be going into the 2012 season with the bullpen set just as in 2011: with Ryan Madson as closer. The rumored four-year, $44 million dollar deal between Madson and the Phillies blew up nearly as soon as it was “confirmed.” Less than a week later, the Phillies have reached an agreement with a new closer. According to Jim Salisbury of Comcast Sports Philadelphia, Jonathan Papelbon will be the Phillies new closer after inking a four-year, $50 million contract on Friday. The deal also includes a $10 million vesting option for a fifth year.

The analysis on long, expensive contracts for relievers tends to be simple: don’t do it. Despite the quantity of data suggesting otherwise, though, teams continue to hand these deals out. This is either a case of the biggest winner’s curse in sports or, potentially, the teams know something we don’t.

As such, the more pressing question, at least to me, is whether the Phillies were correct in tabbing Papelbon over Madson. The first round draft pick the Phillies pay for signing the Type-A Papelbon will likely be recouped through a compensation pick from the similarly classified Madson. Six million dollars over four years isn’t a significant difference for a team like the Phillies, either, so I think it’s fair to simply look at the merits of each pitcher on the field.

The above visualization charts the ERA- and the FIP- of both pitchers over their careers. The chart can be tough to read in its default form, but if you click on the image above, you will be taken to a page which gives the options to highlight ERA- and FIP- individually*, which I think paints a better picture.

*To do this, simply click on the lines of interest.

It is worth noting that Madson’s career picture is a bit tainted by his 2006 season, one in which he failed as a starter before moving back to the bullpen. Still, outside of the past two seasons, Papelbon has been far superior in terms of ERA-. Looking at FIP-, Papelbon even returned to his fantastic 2006-2008 form, a time when he was truly an elite reliever. Overally, Papelbon holds a dominant career lead in both categories. His career 52 ERA- has never been beaten in a single season for Madson (82 career ERA-), and Papelbon’s 58 FIP- has only been equaled by Madson (83 career FIP-) once, in 2011.

In projecting relievers — particularly relievers entering their age 31 seasons, as both Madson and Papelbon will do this season — attrition rates are key as well. These rates are high overall, but the previous career success of Papelbon has to make him the more reliable choice of the two. Papelbon has never had a stint on the disabled list and has spent the last six years of his career closing in the toughest league and division in the game. Madson has been relatively injury free himself, but has missed time with shoulder, hand, and oblique injuries. In terms of reliability, Papelbon gets the edge.

Madson has made a big career surge recently, but there is little reason to expect him to improve over his 2010-2011 performance. We have seen the top of the mountain for him. Papelbon showed the kind of stuff in 2011 that made him great from 2007 to 2009. If we see that Papelbon for even just the first two years of his new contract, he will end up with more value than Madson, particularly to a Philadelphia Phillies team with a championship window significantly wider in 2012 than it will be in 2014.




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171 Responses to “Phillies Pick Papelbon Over Madson”

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  1. Kyle says:

    Sign Lidge to a 3-year, $36MM deal. Learn nothing from the experience. Sign Papelbon to a richer deal for more years.

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    • DD says:

      Check, check, check.

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    • Robbie G. says:

      Depressing, isn’t it?

      Why couldn’t Philly save themselves tens of millions of dollars by promoting Antonio Bastardo to closer, waiting for the big spenders to blow their wads in free agency, and signing one or two extremely affordable relievers to replace Bastardo’s production? Or promoting a minor leaguer or two; seems like Philly has a fair number of good relief pitchers at the AA and AAA levels of their farm system.

      I mean, if St. Louis can win the World Series with a closer whose name I can’t even think of off the top of my head, can’t Philly win the World Series with Bastardo closing ballgames?

      And why is Philly seemingly on the verge of spending a bunch more money on Michael Cuddyer, who will, upon Ryan Howard’s return, be a platoon player (with John Mayberry), at best? Mayberry looked like a pretty good every day ballplayer to me during the final couple of months of last season. Nice all around player and obviously at a very nice price.

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      • Robbie G. says:

        Sorry, I just realized that Cuddyer and Mayberry are both right-handed, in which case I officially have no idea how Philly justifies a relatively large contract for Cuddyer upon Ryan Howard’s return. I will be surprised if Cuddyer is more productive in 2012 than Mayberry, so demoting Mayberry once again for the sole purpose of justifying a relatively large contract for Cuddyer just does not seem like a good idea.

        A few veteran left-handed outfielders who would probably be perfectly serviceable as a regular until Ryan Howard return, and some or all of whom will likely be quite affordable: David DeJesus, Johnny Damon, Kosuke Fukudome, Laynce Nix.

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      • Kyle says:

        It’s frustrating. The cash could be so better spent elsewhere. Even a closer-by-committee would have been better than paying him this much. The team has many more glaring needs.

        Ruben Amaro has wasted a remarkable amount of money recently. In addition to the Papelbon deal, let’s not forget the disgusting contract he gave to Ryan Howard (it pisses me off to even think about) two years before he needed to. He could have let Howard’s contract expire and signed the far superior Pujols or Fielder for less money (since Howard’s deal set the market for first basemen). Here’s to hoping Amaro gets run out of town.

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  2. Kyle2 says:

    Can’t wait to see which teams sell high on “discount” RP. Love off season.

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  3. Joel says:

    “Papelbon or Madson?”

    For that price, the answer should have been “neither”.

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  4. Mitch says:

    were the Sawx certain to offer arbitration to Papelbon?

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    • NBarnes says:

      Offering arb to Papelbon this offseason has been certain since 2009.

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    • The irony with that (arbitration) is that Papelbon would have made damn near the same amount of money. Unreal. I can’t believe the deal Amaro got, or that Papelbon wouldn’t use the arbitration process to wait for more.

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      • All this time Papelbon lent the impression that he wanted the most money he could get, so he went year-to-year, settling for the best annual pay the process said he was worth. But that isn’t true. He just wanted out of Dodge.

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      • Joe says:

        Or he didn’t want to risk go year to year in case of an injury?

        While he likely would have made more than 12.5m in this year’s arbitration case, if he suffers a significant injury he may not continue to make a bunch of money in his next arbitration case. (and at that point he probably doesn’t get a 10m+ deal and might have to take a smaller deal to prove his health)

        Also, at some point a team will stop offering him arbitration – if he got say 14mil this year, do the Red Sox continue to offer arbitration every year? It’s not a foregone conclusion he would get offered arbitration every year until 2015.

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  5. Nate says:

    I can’t read the article, the Yamaha ad is covering it.

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    • Nate says:

      Gone after I posted.

      Anyway, all this RP is pretty funny for the Phils, given how much their position players regressed. I’m sure we all don’t understand why that money wouldn’t go to Reyes or Rollins.

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      • B N says:

        Even with this signing they can still get Reyes or Rollins. If they do that, they’re probably stuck with their rotation as-is however (with Blanton, Kendrick, and whoever is ready in AAA to pick up the final 2 spots). Not the choice I would make, but Papelbon technically* has shown he could earn close to his contract (… if he puts up another set of 3 WAR seasons for the whole thing).

        But yah, I think it’s pretty crazy myself even with that. As evident in some of my comments when the Madson at $11m/yr, I think the Phillies should be keeping extra payroll available to address 1B if Howard has setbacks in recovering (which happen oh… basically always for Achilles injuries? Something like that).

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      • Mike N says:

        B N: Forgetting about Vance Worley?

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      • Adam B says:

        I wish my team were “stuck” with the Phillies’ rotation as is :(

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      • B N says:

        I am, actually! I completely forgot about Worley for some reason. That’s a pretty big oversight. He’s basically assured a spot, which greatly improves the SP situation (one would assume). I mean, I don’t expect last year’s performance, but a low 4 ERA would be an improvement over either of the other guys.

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  6. agam22 says:

    Can I pick option c, none of the above

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  7. Whaaaa? says:

    This deal is just not good. I don’t know what else to say.

    Every time I see a top reliever hit the market, I know someone is going to massively overpay for him. I just hope it’s not my team, and we dodged a bullet on this one.

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  8. tdotsports1 says:

    Papelbon is a river dancing douchebag.

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  9. Born in DC says:

    Tyler Clippard this year versus Pap last year. Identical 1.2 WAR.
    Yet Clip allowed half as many runs, while pitching 21 more innings.
    What do I not understand about how WAR is calculated?

    2011 Nationals 3 0 0 72 0 88.1 10.60 2.65 1.12 .197 95.6 % 20.2 % 9.5 % 1.83 3.17 3.20 1.2

    2010 Red Sox 5 7 37 65 0 67.0 10.21
    3.76 0.94 .287 68.7 % 38.3 % 9.1 % 3.90 3.51 3.56 1.2

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      Clippard had a .197 BABIP, which screams out: “WARNING regression ahead!”

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      • Born in DC says:

        So, David, WAR has nothing to do with how a player performed in an actual Major League season, but is all about what they will do next year? Odd, because yesterday’s discussion ….”Best rotation ever”, boiled down to WAR, fractions of WAR, pitchers contribution at the plate adding to WAR, ad infinitum, to prove how staffs were better or worse than the Phils in 2011.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        You’re acting like how WAR is calculated is some sort of giant secret and no one has ever asked these questions before.

        WAR takes into account what a pitcher is responsible for. Such a low BABIP is a product of small sample size and defense, not what the pitcher actually did. Pitchers can’t control where balls go once the batter hits them to such a degree that 10% fewer balls in play go for hits than they would for the average pitcher. So, WAR has everything to do with what a pitcher did during the actual season.

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      • BlackOps says:

        WAR, is, a mystery.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        I think it is credible Clippard is a true low BABIP player. If you strike out that many, forcing weak contact among the others is certainly possible.

        That said, he is unlikely to show sub 0.200 BABIP in 2012. He still will be one of the best shutdown pitchers in 2012.

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Why isn’t anyone actually explaining how reliever WAR is calculated?

        Reliever WAR is calculated using FIP and a process called chaining which adjusts for the replacement level of the bullpen using the leverage statistic. I’ll give you an example as to why chaining is used.

        Let’s say Ryan Zimmerman hits the DL, they replace him with a replacement level player like Alex Cora. That’s how we arrive at the replacement level adjustment for position players. We know this.

        Now let’s say Drew Storen gets hurt. The Nats call up say Colin Balester, but they hardly use him. They don’t sub him in as the closer but rather as the last man in pen. Clippard instead moves up to closer, Burnett, Coffey, and Rodriguez to set up work, etc. So instead of replacing Storen with a replacement level reliever, they’re effectively replacing him with their second best reliever. They feel the pain most earlier in the game.

        The end result is that the further back you are in the bullpen depth chart, the harder it is to accrue WAR. Now in Clippard’s case, that’s probably negligible since they used him in a lot of high leverage scenarios. The reason his WAR is comparably “low” to Papelbon’s is that low BABIP isn’t reflected in FIP.

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      • CaR says:

        Yeah, well if WAR counts on patently false claims that pitchers don’t have the lion’s share of responsibility on the vector/velocity of balls in play, then it is fairly useless.

        It is a factual statement that (for example), Roy Halladay is attempting to steer slow rolling grounders to his middle infielders via a slider, or cutter early in counts. Those pitches effectiveness are based off other pitches, and when executed and set-up properly, there is a reasonable probability that his intention will come to pass. Do many other variables foil this strategy at times? You bet. Does that prove randomness? Not in my view.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Brad, that is not how FG WAR is calculated, nor is it “above replacement” since those other players are not replacement level (generally AAAA players/rule 5 draft types). The implication of your WAR calculation is that Jeter has had negative WAR ever since A Rod moved to NYC because he could have subbed in for him and done a better job. Similarly, if Storen gets hurt, a better pitcher takes his place and he would get negative WAR.

        The definition of FG WAR is in the glossary, it is based on FIP and the zero point is based on a fraction of time a team can expect to win once a reliever is in, with a separate fraction for closers (I have no idea why a closer is not a reliever, or why a pitcher is not a pitcher).

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      • hk says:

        @ CaR,

        Then why is Halladay’s BABIP worse than Kyle Kendrick’s?

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        @CaR: During the last three seasons Roy’s BABIP has been: .306, .290, and .298. His career number is .292.

        Roy is league average at getting outs on balls in play. Thanks for the great example of how the best pitcher in baseball is average at controlling where the ball goes once the batter hits it. Halladay is good because he strikes guys out, doesn’t walk many, and doesn’t give up homeruns.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        @Barkley: I think Brad just worded his third paragraph awkwardly. fWAR for relievers is calculated based on chaining I think.

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      • CaR says:

        Well, if that’s your response, we have reached an impasse. Let me get this straight from your SABR perspective. You will claim to know the hows and whys of all things in baseball until you run into a situation such as this which requires some knowledge and experience that you (or 99%) of your brethren ) don’t have. The catch-all claim of random variation that should ‘normalize’ doesn’t begin to describe what’s going on and I find it to be both lazy, and ignorant.

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      • Oscar says:

        Hey CaR: you’re real stupid.

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      • CaR says:

        Good one Oscar. Take a while to come up with that one? Gotta be able to do better than “I don’t know how, let’s call it random variation’ to convince me you know what you are talking about.

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      • TLD says:

        CaR, random variation occurs elsewhere than just baseball, it’s a viable tool in statistics, and if you understood baseball math at all you would be able to follow that. I’m sorry you’re stuck in the stone age, but that’s really not the fault of people who accept statistics that show real things, instead of misleading statistics such as batting average and RBIs.

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      • Nathan says:

        I can’t believe this is yet another post where the comments stir up the same old argument about how pitcher WAR shouldn’t be calculated with FIP.

        Basically, one of two things is happening here. Either the person making this point is a regular FanGraphs reader…

        If that were the case, they would know damn well this debate crops up daily and they would also know damn well that all of us in our mothers’ basements do agree that the eyeball test tells us that pitchers have some (varying) control over BABIP. The point made from our basements is that we have no good way to measure it, and the numbers we do have currently imply that BABIP suppression is a very rare skill at best.

        So if you are whining about pitcher WAR and BABIP yet again, and you read FG regularly, then the only conclusion is that you are trolling.

        …the alternative is that you really are a new FG reader or only drop in once in a great while. In which case, please search the site to find, I would say quite literally 100+ arguments about this topic if you want to see all the arguments in one direction or the other.

        This is one of those stupid arguments where if everyone would just stop frothing at the mouth they would probably see clearly that there’s actually very little disagreement on the issue…

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  10. Alex M says:

    Really interesting stuff — Split the graphs for easier reading:

    http://public.tableausoftware.com/views/PapelbonVsMadson_1/Dashboard1?:embed=yes&:toolbar=yes&:tabs=no

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      I can’t read the graph, and when I saw, “visualization charts” I had to stop reading I was laughing so hard. Are there listening charts (harkening charts?).

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  11. Jon Peltier says:

    If you ignore Papelbon’s 2005 season, his ERA seems to be following a significant upward trend.

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    • Ari Collins says:

      0.92, 1.85, 2.34, 1.85, 3.90, 2.94.

      It’s a general upward trend, but it looks to me like it’s just that year 1 and year 5 are luck-based outliers.

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  12. Born in DC says:

    2011 Tyler Clippard 88.1 IP 18 Runs 1.2 WAR
    2011 Jonathan Papelbon 67.0 IP 29 Runs 1.2 WAR

    Something wrong with worshipping at the altar of “WAR”, guys.
    Just sayin’

    Oh, and how about a cogent rebuttal, instead of hitting the dislike button?

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    • Jross says:

      Paps has > K/9 and < BB/9, and HR/9

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    • SDiaz says:

      Born in DC may be wrong, but at the end of the day he just does not understand how WAR is calculated.

      You on the other hand are a homophobic ass.

      I’d rather talk to someone with a poor understanding of WAR than some backward fucker like yourself.

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    • hk says:

      Maybe the better comparison is:

      2010 Clippard: 91 IP, 3.07 ERA, 1.4 WAR
      2011 Clippard: 88.1 IP, 1.83 ERA, 1.2 WAR

      The difference was Clippard’s BABIP was .284 in 2010 and .197 in 2011. According to Fangraphs’ way of calculating WAR, Clippard provided less value in 2011 despite the lower ERA because an inordinate number of the balls that were put in play, but did not leave the yard, were turned into outs. Basically, what comparing Clippard’s 2010 and 2011 numbers shows is that Clippard was pretty much the same pitcher in both years, yet his results differed due to randomness or luck. You reserve the right to agree with the premise behind pitcher BABIP, but you’ll have to make a strong argument against it on this website to further the conversation.

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      • World According to FIP says:

        Now I understand! Let’s take Aaron Rodgers. The only “true” results for a QB are when he hands the ball off, or spikes it to kill the clock. As soon as it leaves his hand, he has no more control over it. The defense determines whether the ball is intercepted, knocked down, or they are nice enough to allow a receiver to catch it. When his completion rate is 85%, that is just random noise, surely it will regress to the league average. Now FIP makes total sense when it’s principle is applied to other sports.

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    • Here’s a cogent rebuttal:

      Tyler can’t pitch out of the stretch so he isn’t as valuable as others are.

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    • haha says:

      it’s like the meaning of words changes constantly or something. language, how does it work? try to keep up.

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  13. Born in DC says:

    Sorry, stats for Pap in 2010, not 2011.

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  14. Theo says:

    fWAR is calculated based on FIP, not runs allowed, which accounts for Clippard and Papelbon having the same WAR value despite Clippard’s apparently superior performance.

    The reasoning behind the decision to use FIP was detailed in these two articles:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/why-our-pitcher-war-uses-fip/
    http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/why-our-pitcher-war-uses-fip-part-two/

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    • Born in DC says:

      But WAR for batters is based on Runs Actually Produced.
      Right? Why the discrepancy?

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      • Theo says:

        In theory, the offensive part of WAR is based on theoretical run production, since linear weights are based on the run expectancy of each hit, which isn’t dissimilar from the use of FIP and “theoretical” run prevention for pitcher WAR. Using ERA for WAR would be like using runs scored and RBI’s for offensive WAR, as measures of what “actually happened”. Those two articles probably do a better job of explaining it than I could, though.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Yeah, there is a disconnect here, and there is a reason for it.

        For batters, what happens to a ball in play is counted, but the status of the bases before the hit is not counted. So if you hit a home run, the number of runner on is not counted (just the average number of runners on) and if you hit a triple, it doesn’t matter if you subsequently score.

        For pitchers, Ks, BB, and HRs are counted, but not anything about balls that are hit but do not go over the fence (balls in play).

        The thought is that there are batters who are better or worse at hitting line drives, so they should be rewarded in their stats, while pitchers tend to get more of a mix of batters and so they mainly control the numbers in FIP (shown above).

        The essential implication is that pitchers control K, BB, HR while batters control BB, actual base hits, actual outs.

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    • The Real Neal says:

      They should also “chain” starting pitcher’s WAR then, because when your ace goes down, the innings aren’t given to your #1 AAA starter or long man, they’re also spread amongst other relievers, and to some degree your other starters. There’s no way Chris Carpenter pitches 237 innings this year if Wainwright is around. It’s slippery slope analysis, but it explains in part why Fangraphs devotees under-value closers compared to major league GM’s.

      The Red Sox, for instance, continued to offer Pappelbon arbitration, even though he has “earned” his salary since 2008. Why is that? At a very basic level it is because WAR under-values elite closers.

      There is also the concept of marginal leverage. You’ll often hear people talk about how there’s no need for the luxury of an elite closer on a bad team. What they are expressing, is that a player who you can succeed in high leverage situations, is more valuable if you present him with more high leverage situations. So for a team like the Yankees, Phillies, or Rangers, an elite closer is worth more because his innings are more often pitching with one run leads in the ninth than Heath Bells’ were in San Diego.

      Say you have two closers. One who closes 80% of his 15 1 x run leads and one who closes 60% of his 15. Closer A gives you 12 wins, plus say, one more win where you blows the save. Closer B gives you 9 wins, plus 2 wins when you blow the save. So the difference in those two closers is 2 actual games won (assuming their results in all other games are equally valuable).

      Now, ask the Rays and the Cardinals, how valuable two additional wins were to them over the course of the season.

      Put the same two closers on a bad team that only has 10 one run leads in the 9th, and you get roughly one difference in wins, so an elite reliever is worth $5 million more to a playoff caliber team than to a crappy one.

      That’s why GM’s who understand all of the aspects of baseball, like Epstein and Cashman will pay premium prices for premier closers (or setup men), despite what fangraphs tells you their “in a vacuum” value is. Those guys are much less likely to shell out $7 million for a ho-hum closer than other GM’s will, though. The other GM’s think “If Pappelbon makes $12.5, and my guys is two rungs below him, he must be worth $7 million.” No, your guy is worth $4 million because there are 80 guys around MLB who can do what he does, given the opportunity.

      And then the Fangraph guys take that $7 million for a 1 WAR player muddle it in with all the other signings and conclude that 1 WAR is worth X (4.3 million this year?) dollars.

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      • MakeitRayn says:

        Its more like the Cashman and Theo had the money to spend, and could afford to over pay to secure a great closer. While the Rays pick up relievers and slot them in the closer/setup role (in front of MLB’s best defense) and turns them into Type A/Bs and cashes in when someone over pays for them (Beniot/Soriano).

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      • The Real Neal says:

        According to this website called Fangraphs, Benoit was underpaid this year, and the Rays traded for Soriano and his $7.25 million contract, while he “earned” $6.2 million.

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      • MakeitRayn says:

        Does trading for not fall under the same category of “pick[ing] up”? All I am saying is not all GMs give out lucrative FA contracts to closers.

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      • The Real Neal says:

        The Rays don’t give out lucrative FA contracts to anyone, so comparing them to the A’s, Phillies and Red Sox is pointless.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        The reason you don’t need an elite closer on a bad team is not because there are fewer leads to protect; I’m not sure there’s any correlation there. For instance, Papelbon had 11 fewer opportunities this year than last, despite the team winning an additional game. But because the value of a win is not linear (i.e., a 90-win team gains a LOT from becoming a 92-win team), a team near the postseason threshold can get more value from additional wins. That’s why an elite closer on a bad team is a waste, but it’s the same reason an elite player at any position is a waste on a bad team.

        But you’re also vastly overestimating the difference between an elite closer and a “ho-hum” closer. There just isn’t that much spread in the ability of any major league pitcher to close a one- to three-run lead with three outs to go. Witness some of Jose Mesa’s Saves/Save Opportunies: 33/38, 27/34, 24/28. Those three years he did the job 84% of the time, despite ERAs of 4.98, 4.76, and 6.52 (!), respectively.

        And as a final note, Papelbon doesn’t keep getting offered arbitration. He has, in fact, never been offered arbitration. They just haven’t non-tendered him, leading to him going through the natural pre-free-agency arbitration process.

        So, basically, nothing you said was at all right.

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      • B N says:

        “So for a team like the Yankees, Phillies, or Rangers, an elite closer is worth more because his innings are more often pitching with one run leads in the ninth than Heath Bells’ were in San Diego.”

        This statement is actually patently wrong. Teams with bad offenses and good SP can end up with MORE save opportunities than teams like the Yankees with great offenses. For example: http://paulsporer.com/2011/03/16/save-opportunities-according-to-team-performance/

        The difference in opportunities between the save opps for a 90+ win team and a low 70 win team is about 5 saves out of 60. So 20 extra wins gave about 5 extra save opps. Moreover, the 70 win team had about 59 save opps- for about 84% of their wins being save opps. Conversely, your 90+ win teams are getting about 70% of their wins as save opps.

        These are total opportunities (not just opps for the closers, as that would confound things with usage) but the annual save totals for closers generally reflect this- otherwise wouldn’t you generally expect Rivera to be near the top in saves annually, rather than around 40 ever year?

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      • B N says:

        Found a better article on this: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8765

        So… back in 2008 the Mariners actually had 7 more save opps than wins. With 61 wins and 68 possible saves. Meanwhile, the Yankees, with 89 wins had a measly 56 save opportunities. On the converse, a highly winning team like the Angels had 90 opportunities because they won a lot of games and did it mainly though pitching.

        Hope that puts that theory to rest: winning teams don’t generate save opportunities. Teams that can’t score many runs but can prevent them get them.

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      • BN,

        Did you just cherry pick three data elements to prove a point?

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  15. Born in DC says:

    I am just gently trying to suggest that FIP is an absolutely BULL SHIT statistic.
    I mean, the way the game is actually played, on the field, pitchers know when and where to trust their fielders. Walking a batter, KNOWING you’ll get the next batter to ground into a double play (and he does) should be just as valuable, as striking out both batters. But FIP worships the latter pitcher, and figures the first pitcher got lucky.

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    • Theo says:

      There are some pitchers under-rated by FIP (such as Mark Buerhle), but they are the exception rather than the rule. No pitcher can KNOW that they’ll get a double play; hell, even the best sinkerballers only get gounders on 60% of balls in play, and even if they get a ball on the ground there’s a very real chance (~25%) that it’ll go for a hit. Putting baserunners on is playing with fire, and it is always better to strike someone out than to let them put the ball in play, even with the possibility of a double play.

      (Incidentally, FIP is generally quite fair to pitch-to-contact groundball artists, as they tend to limit walks as a result of throwing a lot of strikes, and limit homers by keeping the ball out of the air.)

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      • Born in DC says:

        KO’s good for pitchers. I get it. Are they equally bad for hitters, when calculating wOBA, and WAR? No. Something about that lack of symmetry really bugs me. When a batter faces a pitcher, singles, triples, strike outs, whatever, should be as good for the batter as they are bad for the pitcher. Seems like it should be a zero sum game, statistically, and it is not. And then that disparity is blended into one stat, and merged into another (WAR) and assigned a dollar value, and you wind up with something that produces a weirdly off kilter result. Like this ….
        2011 Tyler Clippard 88.1 IP 18 Runs 1.2 WAR
        2010 Jonathan Papelbon 67.0 IP 29 Runs 1.2 WAR

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      • Mister Delaware says:

        Re: Strikeouts. They’re good for pitchers because they’re a universal positive. They aren’t bad for hitters because strikeouts tend to correlate with power. For hitters w/ 200+ PAs last year, the correlation between isoP and SO% was .30 (and higher the previous two years). So whereas hitters who strikeout a lot tend to offset it with power (cost of doing business, so to say), pitchers who strike out a lot of hitters don’t tend to give up more XBH. A symmetrical +/- system just doesn’t work here.

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      • The Real Neal says:

        No, hitters who strike out a lot and don’t hit for power don’t make it to the major leagues. Correlation is not causation.

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    • Adam says:

      Well, different sites calculate WAR differently. Personally, I don’t love calculating pitchers’ WAR by FIP, though I’d hardly call it bullshit. There are problems with ERA-based calculations – big ones – for all the reasons that make ERA problematic in the first place.

      But if you want a more ERA-based WAR, just go over to baseball-reference. They calculate Papelbon’s WAR at 2.0, and Clippard’s at 3.4.

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      • Born in DC says:

        Actually, Baseball Reference has 2011 Clippard at 3.4 WAR with the 2010 Papelbon year as a mere 0.4 WAR.

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      • Born in DC says:

        Yeah, I’m not really seeing the problems with ERA-based calculations. It measures how many runs are scored when a pitcher is on the mound, and his fielders don’t screw up. That pretty much tells me what I need to know. If a “walk is as good as a hit” then a weak bouncer to second is as good as a strikeout.
        Whoever came up with FIP, is a false prophet.

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      • byosti says:

        “and his fielders don’t screw up”

        You realize that being a good fielder encompasses more than just making or not making errors? FIP helps solve for the differences of fielding ability and random fluctuations of balls landing more or less than normal.

        “a weak bouncer to second is as good as a strikeout”

        No, because these weak bouncers can sometimes, randomly find a whole. If pitchers could control exactly where the ball would go in the infield, wouldn’t it have been wise to not let players like Mark Reynolds have no chances at fielding a ball? Instead all of his 200 some balls in his zone should have been more appropriately been in JJ Hardy’s zone, but pitchers cannot control this.

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      • jake says:

        I thought baseball-reference’s WAR used RA not ERA.

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    • MalinsDad says:

      I suggest you try reading last year’s copy of THT Baseball annual. There is an article there written by Tom Tango that provides a simple explanation how FIP works, since he can explain it better than me, although others have already given very good explanations about it.

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    • chuckb says:

      It sounds like your real gripe against FIP is the fact that it, in your opinion, “underappreciated” Tyler Clippard. If his FIP was 1.12 I don’t think you’d be adamantly opposing it the way you are.

      We get it. You love Tyler Clippard. He’s awesome.

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    • Bill says:

      Intuitively, it seems wrong that “Every ball in play has an equal chance of being an out”, but scads of data re-enforces this statement. Yes, there are exceptions, but as a rule, the more batters a pitcher strikes out, the more predictable his results become. BABIP can be controlled, but the vast majority of pitchers cannot control it on a consistent basis.

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  16. Born in DC says:

    @ Barkey Walker So, both pitchers and hitters count BB, (even if the pitcher rolls the ball, or throws it “Just a bit outside” ) but only pitchers count K’s? And no one finds this odd? And all of Modern Sabermetrics, revolves, like the Sun around the Earth, on this “theory” that after the ball leaves his hand, the pitcher has little control.

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    • Barkey Walker says:

      K is just another way of getting out, not that different from a line drive hit right to an outfielder.

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    • Nathan says:

      You really aren’t getting it. These points are addressed numerous times on this site, included right in the main articles, not just in comments on a million other posts.

      99% of us agree that FIP is not perfect — that in SOME cases a pitcher can show a true skill to suppress BABIP. But our points are 1) the numbers show that this type of pitcher is the very small exception to the rule (that is, BABIP suppression is a very rare skill) and 2) we don’t currently have a good way to measure the things we’d need to know to determine how much of a skill BABIP suppression is and can be (though we sure would love to be able to do this).

      And the theory is more like, the pitcher has little control once the ball hits the bat… not once it leaves his hand.

      Also, you are the one saying that “only pitchers count K’s”. I’m not really sure exactly what you mean, but you should read about linear weights and check out the links to Tango’s articles about game states. Massive amounts of data have shown us that in different situations, a K is “worth” different amounts to a hitter (that is to say, less bad or more bad, not really “worth” something good). That supports both the “conventional” knowledge and the new knowledge. Perhaps that is the reconciliation you are clearly looking for between the two.

      The big difference is that the pitcher is really the one player that can stand alone under perfect circumstances. This is why a K is always super valuable to a pitcher and his team. It delivers an out with less room for error than any other event.

      When measuring skill, or even how well a pitcher did play in isolation, the calculation is not and cannot be the zero sum you want it to be (unless he strikes out every batter faced).

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  17. Harry says:

    I think that Edwin Starr said it best: “WAR (huh?), what is it good for? absolutely nothing!”

    Right, guys?!

    -5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Jaron says:

    Somebody help me out- if Madson’s a Type A, and the Phillies offer him arbitration (which I would expect them to given he’d be likely to turn it down) then won’t they not only gain back the pick they lost but also add one from whoever signs Madson? If so, choosing Papelbon over Madson seems pretty savvy when the difference is 6mil.

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    • filihok says:

      They have to give up a pick to sign Papelbon.
      They’ll gain it back when someone signs Madson.

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      • NS says:

        No, wtf. Everyone keeps saying this. They will gain someone else’s pick. It was possible to gain someone else’s without losing theirs. They lost theirs and they don’t get it back.

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      • Jaron says:

        I think that’s what we meant. Lose a pick, get a pick. I was talking more about “getting back” a pick of the same round, not the specific pick that they lost in the first place.

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    • hk says:

      If MLB does not change the CBA, if the team that signs Madson finishes in the bottom half of the MLB standings, the signing team would relinquish a 2nd round pick, not a 1st round pick. Also, if the team that signs Madson signs a higher rated Type A free agent, the former team of the higher rated Type A free agent gets the signing team’s 1st round pick and the Phillies would get the signing team’s 2nd round pick. Therefore, there’s a chance that the Phillies will give up their 1st round pick and get back a 2nd round pick. Regardless, they will get a sandwich pick.

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      • Jaron says:

        Thanks. So, worst case scenario, they give up a first round pick and gain back a sandwich pick and a second rounder. I could see them thinking that the extra pick made the extra $6 million for Papelbon worthwhile. They get a player they like better for a negligible (for them) extra cost and at the end of the day gain a draft pick.

        Of course, signing either for that much money is most likely a bad idea.

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      • Jaron says:

        *Worst case scenario if the CBA stays as is on compensation picks.

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      • vivalajeter says:

        Well, there’s also the chance they get a 3rd rounder instead of a 2nd rounder. The Marlins’ first round pick is protected. If they happened to sign someone like Fielder or Reyes, plus Madson, then the 2nd round pick would go to the Brewers/Mets (I’m assuming they’re ranked higher than Madson).

        Best case scenario, the Phillies can actually make out on the deal. They had a lousy 1st rounder to begin with, so they could get a better 1st rounder plus a sandwich. But there’s a chance that they don’t even get a second rounder to go with the sandwich pick.

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      • The Real Neal says:

        Actually if a team were to sign Reyes and Madson, the Phillies would get the first pick. Only Fielder, Pujols, Wilson and Ortiz were ranked ahead of Madson. By not resigning him, they’re going to get the 4th pick in the supplemental round, #34 over all, and somewhere between a first and 3rd round pick. If they did resign him, they’d get the 30th pick overall.

        They’ve already won on the draft pick deal, unless he accepts arbitration (at which point they could probably trade him for some decent value) or a team with a protected pick signs 3 guys from that list, which isn’t likely since it’s 2 first basemen and a DH.

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  19. Keystone Heavy says:

    The Graphs on here are getting a little too artsy for my taste… please dont use that tableav thing again!

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  20. Jon Bongiovi says:

    I continually have to hear from Phillies fans on how much “balls” Ruben Amaro has for making deals like this. Amaro owned Boras, they insist. I still want to know what Amaro will do when they run into an 86-win season and their great fans leave their park half full every night as a result. The chopping down of a $175 million payroll to a $120 million payroll when half your money is allocated to Howard, Cuddyer, Lee, and Papelbon is going to be a sight to behold.

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    • Dave says:

      You have no idea what your talking about. It would take a helluva lot more than an 86 win season for the fans to leave. Live in Philadelphia for one second and see how much the city cares about this team. You’re a joke.

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      • antonio bananas says:

        Yea, because before they were winning they cared SO much. I mean, the admiration your fans have for the team even when they’re losing is on par with the love Cubs fans have for their team (who also made the mistake of signing a bunch of old guys to long deals).

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      • hk says:

        @ antonio,

        That’s a tough argument to make because there’s not much recent history of the Phillies having both a bad team and a good ballpark.

        1971-1975: The Vet was new, the team was bad and the Phils were in the top 1/3 of NLB teams in attendance.

        1976-1983: The team was a contender and the attendance was pretty consistently 2nd in the NL.

        1984-1992: The team averaged a 5th place finish (out of 6 teams) in the NL East and the dual purpose stadium was already in disrepair, yet they drew ~2M per year (middle of the road attendance for a poor team).

        1993: Fluky World Series

        1994 – 2003: Very bad teams + playing in the worst stadium in the league + a front office that alienated the fans = bad attendance

        One thing that I notice in the new ballpark is that many more families* go to games whereas it seemed like the games at the Vet were attended by almost exclusively adult males. It remains to be seen how the fans of the 5th largest market in America will support the team in this ballpark when the inevitable fall occurs. There’s a lot of demand in the secondary markets for Phillies tickets (check StubHub to see the mark-up on regular season games), so I believe there’s a pretty good case to be made that the team will continue to attract large crowds to the Bank when the team’s performance falls off and the premiums on StubHub come down, thereby making the games more affordable for some.

        * I know, you think because one fan threw up on other,s that all Phillies fans do that and you probably think that all Dodgers fans are gang members, all Yankees fans spit on the wives of the opposing team’s pitchers, all White Sox fans (and their fathers) rush the field to attack the opposing team’s 1st base coach, etc.

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      • haha says:

        You’re right, Dave. It would take an 85 win season and the Eagles actually doing something in the playoffs. Philly is an Eagles town. The Phillies are just a placeholder while Eagles fans keep telling us to “wait til next year.” Philly sports “fans” are the joke.

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      • antonio bananas says:

        No, I don’t think ALL Philly fans do that. However, I do know you guys have a reputation. Not just in baseball, in football, hell even in pro wrestling you guys are known as being vulgar and disgusting. Philly just has vulgar disgusting fans. Sorry.

        Also, “just because one fan throws up on another” well that’s one more fan than St. Louis and Chicago have that puke on other people…..or throw batteries…..or shout cuss words…..

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      • Phrozen says:

        Oh great. Here we go again. Philly fans are the worstest ever blah blah blah.

        There are assholes everywhere. Chicago? Look up Disco Demolition Night. St. Louis? Look up Lloyd Hutchinson. Not to say that there aren’t any assholes in Philly–of course there are–but they are everywhere. You don’t think your city has them? Look closer.

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      • antonio bananas says:

        what the hell is your argument? I’m saying “all phillies fans are pieces of trash” and I’m not saying “call midwest fans are nice”. I’m saying, for the most part, Philly fans are wse than midwest fans. You’d be hard pressed to find people who disagree with that statement. it’s especially true when you look at all sports, not just baseball as I’ve already said.

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      • Phrozen says:

        My argument is that, Philly fans are not “wse” than any other fans. All fan groups are prone to insane acts of stupidity, and until a scientific study is done to demonstrate that it’s “wse” in Philadelphia than, say, St. Louis, I’m gonna keep calling Bullshit.

        And no, I’m not hard-pressed at all to find people who disagree with that statement. And for the record, I do not live in Philadelphia.

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      • chuckb says:

        In 3-4 years they’re going to be a 66 win team and will be eagerly awaiting Eagles spring training.

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      • Bill says:

        I used to love going to Phillies games in the last years of the Vet. $4 Round trip on the El and $6 dollar upper deck seats. There were at most 20K fans in the park, so we could walk down to the lower deck and sit where we liked. I pretty sure this was in Philly, but if you insist that Philadelphia cares about the Phillies too much for this to have every happened, I guess I’m mistaken. Perhaps I was living in Pittsburgh all that time and didn’t realize it.
        Philadelphia is a football city. Citizens Bank Field will not sell out when the Phillies are losing.

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      • Phrozen says:

        Well, Bill, to be fair, the Vet was a miserable old building at the end. It was an unpleasant place to go when the team was winning, let alone the craptastic AAA Phillies of the late 1990s.

        But yeah, once the team stops winning, like all teams, the sellout crowds will peter out.

        That won’t happen in three-four years, though, chuckb. Maybe eight years.

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    • antonio bananas says:

      *not saying all philly fans are trashy*

      It’s just a different culture. My girlfriend had a roommate from philly. She cussed all the time “let’s go get some fuckin supper” etc. We just aren’t like that in the midwest. I work at a restaurant that gets a lot of travelers on route 66. The northeasterners RAVE about how much nicer people in the midwest are. I was at a game at Wrigley this summer where I sat by 2 new yorkers who were AMAZED at how nice people were.

      So the evidence I have is that Philly fans (and northeastern fans in general) are generally seen by players, people, and broadcasters as crude and midwestern fans are seen as nice and humble. It’s a stereotype for a reason.

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      • Phrozen says:

        Yeah, that’s not anecdotal or anything.

        One of my coworkers is from St. Louis. She also cusses all the time. Last week, she said, “Good Morning, Fuckers,” at a staff meeting.

        Do you believe all stereotypes about midwesterners? Poor cows…

        Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get some fuckin’ supper.

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    • Nathan says:

      This is no different than any city and fans of any team. Wins = fans, losses = empty seats.

      The one thing I think baseball has going for it over the other sports is that it is still a part of Americana — it is played during the summer when the weather is generally enjoyable, the kids are out of school, and mom and dad have vacation days at the ready. Because of the volume of games and size of the ballparks, it is a relatively affordable event for a family to go out, enjoy the weather, eat some junk food, and watch a hopefully decent game.

      Basically what I’m saying is, a bad baseball team with a really good ballpark can sell tickets better than a bad basketball/hockey team, regardless of how nice their arena is.

      We saw it happen here in Detroit — when Comerica went up, despite how bad the Tigers were, they were able to generate enough buzz to get people out to games. And even as the Tigers continue to underachieve given the gobs of money they spend on payroll, people in southeast MI still love to go to the ballpark — honestly, because we like to have a few beers on a nice summer day, enjoy the scenery, and if the Tigers win, that’s an added bonus.

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  21. antonio bananas says:

    How many 30 somethings getting paid way too much do they want? None of this bogus “we’re like the Yankees, we’ll just sign more” because no you’re not, your fans projectile vomit on each other and won’t show up if the team is bad.

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    • Phils_Goodman says:

      Well, well, well. Look who’s mad.

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      • antonio bananas says:

        How am I mad? Because I point out things? As a Braves fan, I’m happy they signed him for so much. It’s hilarious. Congratulations on the best rotation ever throwing shutout after shutout in the playoffs and leading you guys to a World Series. What an awesome team and organization you guys have. Such a rich history of winning.

        No, I’m not mad, you guys are having your run and it’s just about over. Sign Paps, hell, sign Reyes, I would LOVE for them to sign Reyes, who is also too old for a big deal (especially for a speed guy). Do it, please. I want you guys to look like the Cubs with a bunch of old guys with contracts too big to move.

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    • Phrozen says:

      Won’t show up if the team is bad? Hahahaha! You guys don’t show up if the team is GOOD!

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  22. All you posters are doing is following a FG narrative that closers aren’t worth the money, ignoring that every GM in baseball vehemently disagrees with that conclusion. It can’t be that any one of you actually believes that signing one of the top 3 closers in the game for a relatively paltry $12m a year is a bad deal.

    He’s 31, not 38, and owns a spotless injury report since he started closing. He is also more dominating than the $15m man himself: Rivera.

    Get your heads out of your asses and think for your goddamn selves for once.

    Outstanding deal, Amaro. Good luck with the untested Bard, Cherington.

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    • hk says:

      Which GMs vehemently disagree with that conclusion? Name one (other than Cashman, who has no budget constraints) who has paid $12.5M to a closer for more than one season or one who has signed a closer to a 4+ year contract and had it work out well.

      “Good luck with the untested Bard” sounds a lot like the “good luck with Madson as your closer” comments that Phillies fans heard when the Phils turned to Madson after Lidge and Contreras were injured this year. Also, your comment should be “good luck with the untested Bard” plus however you choose to allocate the $12M that you are not spending on the closer spot.

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      • Barkey Walker says:

        Smith paid an deflated equivalent for Joe Nathan.

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      • I’m just going to use Cot’s first 5 teams (you can bore yourself w/ the rest).

        Angels signed Fuentes for the 2nd highest annual rate on team in 2010. Now with Walden, although also signed Rodney to 9th highest annual rate, as BACKUP.
        Astros w/ Lyons. 5th highest annual rate in 2010. Melacon takes over.
        Athletics. Even with Bailey, they signed Fuentes to 5th highest rate on team.
        Blue Jays. CBC, and Francisco, who they signed to lead, owns the 5th highest annual rate on team.
        Braves. Wagner in 2010, 5th highest annual on team. Venters now.

        You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about. You want to talk about real WAR? Closers such a Papelbon, Rivera, and Bell WILL actually add 5 or so wins to their team’s totals. They’ll do so because they’re dominating in a role so few others are even average at.

        $12.5m a year. Not a single intelligent Sox fan thought Papelbon could be had so cheaply. Not after Rivera’s $15m per. No way.

        Now I, nor anyone else can say if Papelbon will be worth shit in 2012, though I suppose he’ll find the going easier in the NL. But if he duplicates any of his years except 2009, he will be well worth the money.

        “plus however you choose to allocate the $12M that you are not spending on the closer spot.”

        WTF, they spent $142m on the worst LF in baseball. You presume too much.

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      • B N says:

        @Sultan: Your numbers actually indicate precisely why it is not a great idea to sign closers for a lot of money. I mean… Fuentes, Francisco, and Lyons were all pretty terrible signings. Do they not count as closers for some reason? Heck, Fuentes got signed TWICE for being a closer and wasn’t worth it. So sure, some GMs love closers. The Angels REALLY love closers.

        The Red Sox have demonstrated that they like closers, but they’re not really quite ready to go steady with them. As a Red Sox fan, I figured Papelbon would get around $12-$13m. I also really hoped it wouldn’t be the Sox who gave him that money. Sure, a great closer will probably have about 5 less blown saves (88% conversion versus 75%, 45 opportunities). With that said, you aren’t assured to lose all of those games unless they’re on the road. Moreover, if you used $12m toward a 3 WAR position player, you might never see those extra 5 opportunities because you’re winning games by more than 3 runs more often.

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      • First off, because I knew HK was pulling an opinion from his ass, all I did was use the first 5 teams on Cots. Obviously better examples are out there.

        But the fact that those closers didn’t work out shouldn’t suggest to you that they’re poor investments. All signed players are potentially poor investments, but I’d say that top ranked closers are better bets than most.

        Look at the truly dominating closers: Rivera, Hoffman, Smith, Franco, Wagner, Reardon, Percival, and so on. They all pitched into their late 30′s without a hitch. Same can’t be said about top starters, or even positionals.

        “The Red Sox have demonstrated that they like closers”

        I disagree. In fact, their history has shown that they hate closers, until they concede that their hate isn’t rational, and then go sign the best one they can find. And sometimes even win titles because they realized right.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        Look at the world champions, and almost none of them have closers they signed as free agents.

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    • Red Foo says:

      “He is also more dominating than the $15m man himself: Rivera.”

      Statistics disagree. But screw those things!

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    • HodgyBeats says:

      Sultan of Schwwingg, you are simple.

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    • B N says:

      “Good luck with the untested Bard”

      Actually, I’d prefer Bard at this point. He’s just about as good, younger, and cheaper. Would I prefer young Papelbon to Bard? Sure. Young Papelbon was great. And this year’s Papelbon was solid too, mainly by limiting his walks. But Bard has been lowering his walk rate each year in the majors also. I would be entirely unsurprised to see Bard be a better pitcher next year.

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      • Bard is no where near as good. With more confidence I could see him getting there because his stuff can be better, but not now.

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      • chuckb says:

        The fact that he uses the line “Good luck with the untested Bard” directly contradicts his first line that “every GM in baseball vehemently disagrees with that conclusion” (that closers aren’t worth the money spent on them). I wonder if he realizes that.

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      • How’s that?

        The Sox obviously think Bard can be successful in the role, so the money saved is gravy. If they were more rational, however, they would seek Carmine’s advice and realize that, no, he probably won’t be.

        Besides, dollars to doughnuts they sign some other reliever for half of Papelbon’s salary, to go along with half his performance.

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    • NBarnes says:

      “He’s 31, not 38, and owns a spotless injury report since he started closing.”

      Papelbon’s injury record is pretty much the mathematical opposite of spotless. That he hasn’t had a problem in the last four years or so is more a testament to how incredibly carefully Boston has tracked him and used him than his own durability.

      Frankly, I more than half expect the Phillies to overuse Papelbon in 2012 and then watch his arm fall off in 2013.

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      • DavidCEisen says:

        Doubtful, The Phillies had the third lowest bullpen usage of any team last year and have enough solid relievers that they won’t need to use Papelbon too much. Papelbon pitched more innings last year than anyone in the Phil’s bullpen.

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      • Jonathan says:

        Not only that, but the “spotless injury history” is complete BS. Papelbon got shut down for the last month of 2006 due to shoulder troubles. People will often look at his innings total from 2006, see it’s in line with the rest of his career and assume he pitched a full year. Those who remember, though, look into his splits and notice he pitched his last inning of the 2006 season on September 1.

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      • Jonathan says:

        “Doubtful, The Phillies had the third lowest bullpen usage of any team last year and have enough solid relievers that they won’t need to use Papelbon too much.”

        Am I the only person who feels this statement makes the signing look even more ridiculous?

        The Phillies don’t use their bullpen as much as the average team, so the obvious solution is to overpay like mad for a closer?

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    • DavidCEisen says:

      “every GM in baseball vehemently disagrees with that conclusion”

      I can make up unsubstantiated, hyperbolic claims as well. Anyway, if that statement were even remotely true, why are the Sox’s going with Bard as their closer and not resigning Papelbon? They certainly have the money to prioritize the closer position.

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    • chuckb says:

      You should really pay a little more attention to what’s going on around baseball. Closers getting paid this sort of coin are dwindling. Fewer GMs are making financial outlays like this one, not more. That Ruben Amaro is behind the curve is hardly Earth-shattering.

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  23. Louis says:

    Lots of trolls on this post.

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    • World According to FIP says:

      Once the ball leaves Aaron Rodgers hand, he has no control over whether it is caught by a teammate, an opponent, or flutters to the ground incomplete.

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      • Louis says:

        Yeah because baseball and football are the same thing.

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      • CaR says:

        No, he is excellent at his craft so he puts the receiver in position to make the catch more often than the next guy. Therefore, more catches. Random variation claims are made by non-athletes staring over the fence and trying to join the game.

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      • haha says:

        If Rodgers had to direct a batted ball toward a receiver, your comparison might have a chance.

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      • chuckb says:

        It’s a well-known fact that Rodgers’s receivers are the scrappiest bunch in the NFL.

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      • Nathan says:

        That’s not really what FIP is attempting to measure. It is more attempting to eliminate the variability of what happens after the ball hits the bat and ends up in the field of play somewhere. FIP is still in a way measuring what happens between the time the ball is released and the moment it hits the catcher’s glove. So that’s the first massive problem with your analogy.

        Second massive problem with your analogy — FIP isn’t about completion rate… pitching isn’t really about completion rate because you wouldn’t get to the bigs if you couldn’t at least stay around the strike zone most of the time. Your post isn’t equivalent to FIP, it’s more like saying, “Once the ball leaves Roy Halladay’s hand, he has no control whether it is in the strike zone or not.” Which is like saying, “Grass is purple.”

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  24. Judy says:

    Phillies sign former Red Sox who Yankee fans despise, hard to beat that for troll attraction.

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  25. Phils_Goodman says:

    Pabelbon’s career performance has actually been worth $12.25-12.75 M per year in current WAR/$ (65 annual innings at $4.9 M per WAR), so while all of the reliever risk factors are still there, the Phillies at least got a guy who is _capable_ of performing up to that level. Of course, that means the Phillies would only break even on the WAR/$ balance and they are assuming all of the risk if he does not, but as an expensive, older, contending team with a stacked rotation, Pabelbon fits. You could argue that he is worth more to the Phillies than the typical team, and that the Phillies are one of the teams more justified in acquiring a luxury like Pabelbon.

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    • hk says:

      As a Phils fan, I don’t have a problem that they chose Papelbon over Madson because I think he’s the better pitcher. The problem is that RAJ again misread the free agent market and overpaid in years and AAV (like he did with Moyer, Ibanez, Polanco and Baez). I am not as concerned about the overpaying in $ as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the remainder of their off-season. However, the extra year(s) make it look like 2014 and 2015 are going to be spent watching expensive, declining players represent a major portion of the roster.

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      • You’re insane. Amaro signed Papelbon for a less than market contract. Not unlike Lee, Papelbon presumably thinks he can win a title or two there.

        As a Philly fan you should be ecstatic.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        It’s not a below-market contract, because if someone else had offered more, Papelbon would have taken that. He’s just looking for the most money, he’s not signing with Philly because he loves it. (He’s stated this many times, unashamedly. And good for him, he SHOULD get the most money he can get.)

        It amazes me that you can think that $50MM with a vesting option bringing it up to $60MM is a below market contract. What do you think the market price is? $70MM?

        And Cliff Lee’s supposedly below-market contract pays him more annually than anyone else was offering. And if the easily-vesting vesting option does indeed vest, it will be a bigger contract than anyone was reportedly offering.

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      • I’m not looking at the $50m at all. I’m looking at the $12.5m per year, believing that Papelbon should remain healthy throughout the entire contract.

        I really don’t know how Amaro was able to sign him so cheaply (relatively), but coming on the heels of his reported offer to Madson, which failed one day later, it kind of smells like a ‘take it now or leave it’ kind of proposal. I must believe that Papelbon really wanted to play for that team.

        To repeat, Papelbon would have wound up with similar money going through the arbitration process (or settlement, thereof) with Boston.

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      • hk says:

        As I said, I think Papelbon is better than Madson, so I will be very happy if the $12.5M does not prevent the team from filling their remaining holes this offseason. However, as history has shown, giving 4 year contracts to relief pitchers is very risky business and I fear about where the team is heading in 2014 and 2015. In summary, (1) I like that signed Papelbon, particularly for the next two years, (2) I really don’t care much about the $12.5M if it doesn’t prevent them from filling other holes and (3) I think that the GM’s propensity to tack extra years on contracts has hurt the team in the past (Moyer, Ibanez, Baez and probably Polanco and Contreras) and this contract may come back to bite them in 2014 and 2015 when they will have a number of others who are also making big money at ages when past history has shown players decline.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        Even besides the fact that ignoring the length of a contract is evaluating a deal without most of the information (no one says that paying A-Rod $27MM at age 34 was overpaying, but paying him that at ages 38-42 is insane), how many relievers are earning more than $12.5MM a year? How is that possibly a below-market salary?

        And to return to the contract length and your convenient ignoring of it, would 6 years $75MM be too much, if it was still the same per-year pay? 8 years $100MM? 10 years $125MM? Obviously the total amount of money you give a guy matters, not just how much you give per year.

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      • “Even besides the fact that ignoring the length of a contract is evaluating a deal without most of the information (no one says that paying A-Rod $27MM at age 34 was overpaying, but paying him that at ages 38-42 is insane)”

        As stated, I’m ignoring the length of his contract because elite closers have had nice success through their 36th year. That’s not the same as with ARod’s contract where Cashman must had known that even elite hitters don’t last until their 42nd year, clean.

        “how many relievers are earning more than $12.5MM a year? How is that possibly a below-market salary?”

        Rivera is making $15m per. His backup is making $11m per. Any shmoe who puts up one half decent year is making $5-6m per.

        Plenty of evidence supporting a $15m+ annual contract to arguably the best closer in baseball.

        “would 6 years $75MM be too much, if it was still the same per-year pay? 8 years $100MM? 10 years $125MM?”

        No clue. I guess it depends on how much risk the team wants to take on. Do I believe that Papelbon will be pitching extremely well through his 38th year though? Hell, yeah. I do, and the history of elite closers backs me up there.

        Gotta go.

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      • HK, Papelbon is not a fucking “relief pitcher”. He is an elite closer, of which there are very, very few of in the league. Stop trying to compare him to Lyons, for Christs sake.

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      • Ari Collins says:

        So… one guy has earned more than him per year ever. And that makes it below “market value.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        And if your longevity argument consists of, “Rivera and like three other guys in history did it, so Papelbon’s a good bet to as well,” you kind of a little bit super lose.

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Joe says:

        Sultan players do not get offered arbitration in perpetuity…. you keep saying he could have made more…. yeah maybe this year….

        At some point he would get non-tendered… whether it’s because the arb price just kept rising or whether he suffered an injury and/or performance level dropped. You think a strategy of hoping the Red Sox offer a 34/35 year old close in 2014 or 15 is a reasonable thing?

        He may have gotten a couple of mil more this year in arbitration but he’s trading that for 3 (possibly 4) additional contract years. If he takes arbitration this winter are there many scenarios where his FA value would go up being a year older? What happens if he gets injured or his performance diminishes?

        I think the whole discount / want to play in Phily thing is a bit of a reach. He traded going year to year in arbitration for security… it might mean fewer dollars this year but there’s no way of telling whether it means fewer dollars overall..

        Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Jon Bongiovi says:

      I can’t imagine Ruben Amaro or anyone associated with the Phillies’ front office even knows what Fangraphs is based on the signings he has made as GM, but maybe Sultan of Schwwingg is his son-in-law or something? Because you must be the only person in the world, other than Amaro, who thinks the Phillies got Papelbon for BELOW MARKET VALUE.

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      • I can’t imagine Amaro or anyone associated with the Phillies FO knows about FG, because some of the opinions professed here are pure shit.

        They’re pro’s. Why would they pay mind to attention seeking kids?

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      • Ari Collins says:

        Ahh, the appeal to authority. Always makes sense!

        Vote -1 Vote +1

      • hk says:

        Sultan,

        Ruben Amaro took over a World Champion with a $98M payroll and one of the top minor league systems in baseball. In the three years since, he has (a) increased the payroll by $68M with another $10M or so increase coming this year during a period when most teams were cutting their payroll, (b) traded away a lot of the prospects that he inherited and (c) overseen 0 championships. During his tenure, he’s made some shrewd moves (the first Lee trade, the Halladay trade and the Oswalt trade) and many not so shrewd ones (the second Lee trade, the Howard extension and just about every free agent signing). I don’t know or care if he reads Fangraphs, but I do know that he’s pissed away a lot of money on free agents and, unless the Phillies plan to exceed the luxury cap, his poor negotiating with free agents and with Howard’s extension are going to close the team’s window to win another championship very quickly. If the Phils have no limit to how much they can and will spend, then how much and how many years they gave Papelbon (and Moyer, Ibanez, Baez, Polanco and Howard before him) is irrelevant. However, if they are nearing the maximum that they’ll spend, this GM has gutted the farm system and nearly doubled the payroll, yet the team still has some serious holes.

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      • Jon Bongiovi says:

        Not so sure that Oswalt trade that everyone in Philly was orgasmic over looks so shrewd now. Gose could be a stud. Oswalt had some pretty shaky playoff moments for the Yankees of the NL.

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      • hk says:

        Jon,

        Good point about the Oswalt trade. I’ll call it a wash as Oswalt did provide value and did not cost too much because of the cash that HOU paid. The crazy part of that deal is that HOU did not even hold onto Gose, but don’t get me started on Ed Wade.

        So, the feathers in Amaro’s cap are the Halladay trade, in which Amaro was aided by the fact that Halladay wanted to come to Philly, and the first Lee trade, which was great, but would have been much greater if it had not been undone by the second Lee trade. Amaro traded away Lee’s age 32 season (at a cost of $9M) for three prospects when apparently he did not have to do so for budgetary reasons only to give up a 1st round draft choice to re-sign him for $120M for his age 33 through 37 seasons. That’s a classic blunder on the level of getting into a land war in Asia.

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  26. Hunter says:

    I can not believe that I just read someone passionately arguing that this deal is below market value. Wether this was Fangraphs, ESPN, Sons of Sam Horn, or whatever Phillies sides exists out there, I would have never guessed that would be someone s response.

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  27. jim says:

    that seems a little unnecessary

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  28. Dan G says:

    As a Sox fan, I’ll miss Paps. The Phillies made a strong offer and he took the money. As far as his antics go, they’ll grow on you. Philly probably was willing to take the risk on years since they know he has the ability to handle a tough market.

    If I were a GM, I’d look at the 4 years 50 mil contract as – 2 years at 15 (what I think he is worth today on a 1 or 2 year deal); 1 at 12 and 1 at 8. I still might get burned a bit in years 3 or 4, but even if he is not closing, he will still likely be worth 5 or 6 mil in that last year.

    I’m hoping the Sox will sign someone with some closing experience; I doubt they will go with Bard as their only closer. In fact, I wouldn’t mind putting Bard in the rotation.

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    • Jonathan says:

      Bard doesn’t have the repertoire to start. He can’t maintain his fastball velocity over six plus innings and without that to fall back on, he can’t get hitters out three times through the lineup.

      I’m perfectly content to give Bard the closer’s role except for the fact I find the closer role vastly overrated and much prefer him in the singificantly more valuable “fireman” role where the manager has no qualms bringing him in when he’s most needed rather than when we’re up by three runs or less exclusively in the ninth.

      Personally, I’m hoping the Sox grab a guy like Nathan who’ll likely agree to sign for one or two years so that they can keep utilizing Bard in key situations in the sixth through eighth innings. You don’t need an elite closer when your lineup can put up 5.4 runs per game.

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