The Jonathan Papelbon signing has significant effects for the Philadelphia Phillies. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. brought in a high-profile closer near the beginning of the free-agency period, ensuring that the team will have a lights out pitcher in the ninth inning for the next four years.
Papelbon’s signing also has adverse effects on the future of Ryan Madson in Philadelphia but will benefit the young arms—Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes—in the bullpen.
The Philadelphia Phillies are paying Jonathan Papelbon $50 million to pitch the ninth inning of close games. There’s no way Ryan Madson comes back to the club.
The Phillies have almost always had an All-Star caliber closer during the last 10 years. Jose Mesa was excellent in 2001 and 2002, Billy Wagner was terrific during his two years, Tom Gordon was an All-Star in 2006 and Brad Lidge helped bring a World Series championship to the team.
Papelbon follows Madson in keeping the Phillies’ streak of top closers running. Madson has been recruited to go to the Washington Nationals by former Phillie Jayson Werth, and the Boston Red Sox have also expressed interest in Madson’s services.
Last year, Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes were relied on a ridiculous amount down the stretch, becoming almost the focal points of a bullpen that was decimated by injuries and unreliable performances by veteran pitchers.
The two had pitched the previous year in Triple-A but became valuable parts of the ‘pen down the stretch for a contending team. When Ryan Madson was injured, Bastardo even filled in as the closer and did so admirably.
With Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies won’t be heading into 2012 expecting to rely on one of their two young guns as a closer. This will allow Stutes to pitch in the seventh or eighth inning of games and Bastardo to fill the same role, as well as serving as a lefty specialist.
Jonathan Papelbon is a four-time All-Star who has been saving games for the Boston Red Sox for the past seven seasons.
Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. had said before the offseason began that the team wanted a veteran closer, whether it be Papelbon, Ryan Madson, Heath Bell or another option.
Papelbon was arguably the best free agent closer on the market, and Amaro—who has a penchant for bringing in the best player available to the Phillies—locked up a lights out pitcher early in the free agency period.
Losing Ryan Madson—and Brad Lidge—and subsequently failing to sign an All-Star closer would have hurt the Philadelphia Phillies.
The team would have had to go with unproven pitchers Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes. As good as these players are, it’s a lot of work on their arms to pitch as many high-leverage innings as they did in 2011.
Having Papelbon for four years gives the Phillies a near-automatic guy in the ninth inning. Whereas Madson’s success as a closer was based off of just one year, Papelbon has been saving games consistently since 2005.
He and Bastardo give the Phillies two tough relievers to match up to Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves.