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By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Red Sox Correspondent): Follow @ryandana1
While some people in Red Sox Nation have had concerns about the team’s offense recently, it is clear that the major worry at the moment is the bullpen.
Their starting rotation is no longer at the top of the league statistically, but it has still been good, and the offense is still at the top of the league in most categories. The Sox are 4th in the MLB in Runs Scored, and 2nd in Doubles, AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS. They’re also 1st in Triples.
The Bullpen was supposed to be a strength for the Red Sox entering the 2013 season, but it has been in shambles recently. At the forefront of the mess is Joel Hanrahan who I will talk about in-depth in a moment. First let me run through some of the other pitchers.
The Red Sox are 26th in the Majors with a 4.47 ERA from their relievers. Their BAA is .250 which is 23rd in the Majors, and they have 6 blown saves which is tied for 6th most in the MLB.
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Saturday May 11th, 2013
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
Haley Smilow was a busy reporter last year. So much so, that we probably wont be able to keep up with her to post them in time. In her latest interview - Haley talked to Craig Breslow (of the Boston Red Sox)… She asked him about being a Yale Grad.. Also, who is the biggest prankster he has ever encountered.
Haley pulls no punches in asking the Relief Pitcher about his life in this candid interview. Amongst other topics discussed were: What Breslow does for charity work and what advice he might have for young people.
Yale Grad Craig Breslow:
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By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Red Sox Correspondent): Follow @ryandana1
As it stands now, the Red Sox payroll is at about $157 Million. Below I will show a list of player salaries which comprise most of the budget.
We must also remember that last summer’s blockbuster deal/salary dump on the Dodgers holds Boston responsible for $3.9 Million of the salaries in 2013 of players they traded away.
On top of that there is about $10 Million that must be figured in for benefits/incentive purposes. This list will be in descending order of salary (average annual salary to be more specific) among players on the Red Sox payroll.
David Ortiz: This Is Our —— city – Mature dialogue so Parental Guidance is a must.
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By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer and Redsox Correspondent): Follow @ryandana1
I dare you to find a more exciting way to start a season than facing your bitter rivals? Taking 2 of 3 games from them on their field is even better. The start to the 2013 Boston Red Sox season has been good all things considered; much better than the starts to their past 2 seasons.
They spent the start of 2012 getting swept by the Tigers in 3 games, then losing 2 of 3 to the Blue Jays (This was before the Blue Jays had talent on their roster). The year prior, in 2011, the Red Sox came in with high expectations only to start the season 0-6 with series sweeps at the hands of the Rangers and Indians.
To take a quote from rap legend turned sports agent, (hint: he just stole Robinson Cano away from Scott Boras, uh-oh) “moral victories is for Minor League coaches.” Yes that would be Jay-Z.
In the Major Leagues it is all about where you stand in your division. After the 1st series of play for Major League teams the Red Sox were tied with Baltimore atop the AL East. I know I’m getting carried away; it is after all, only 3 games into the season, (Now a little bit further). In the end a win is a win, and a loss is a loss.
However, I want to look at how the Red Sox won (and lost). I want to do this because I think it sheds light on what they are poised to do in 2013.
Red Sox vs. Yankees Opening Day Recap:
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Sunday, January.20, 2013
For the the Boston Red Sox State Of The Union Part 1: The Hitters blog, click here.
The fate of the 2013 Red Sox may very well lay in two sets of statistics:
Lester: 9-14, 1.383, 4.82
Buchholz: 11-8, 1.326, 4.56
The first numbers cover the period from April 2010 through August 2011, when Lester and Buchholz were two of the best starting pitchers in the American League. “WHIP” — walks plus hits per innings pitched — has become a popular measuring stick for effectiveness.
Jon Lester Highlights:
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Thursday, January.10, 2013
By Nicholas Rossoletti (MLB Reports Trade Correspondent): Follow @NRoss56
Back in 2005, the Boston Red Sox brought up a 24 Year Old flame throwing phenom. Seven seasons, a World Championship and 219 Saves later, Jonathan Papelbon and his fastball had become something of Boston baseball lore. Papelbon was the kind of big strike out, big personality that fans grow to love at the back-end of a bullpen. From 2007-2011, Papelbon never posted a K/9 under 10.00 and never had less than 30 saves in a season. It seemed like Papelbon would become Boston’s answer to Mariano Rivera until the Phillies swooped in and signed Papelbon to a 4 year/50 Million Dollar Contract before the new CBA was even agreed to during the 2011 off-season. Suddenly, Boston was without its ALL-Time Saves Leader and in need of a new stabilizing force in the back of their bullpen.
After Papelbon signed in Philadelphia, the Red Sox went out and acquired Andrew Bailey from the Oakland A’s to fill the closers role. When the trade happened, the perception was that Andrew Bailey was the best player in the deal. The Red Sox acquired Bailey and OF Ryan Sweeney for OF Josh Reddick, INF Miles Head and Right Handed Pitcher Raul Alcantara. Bailey was coming off a 24 save season where he was worth less than 1 WAR (Win Above Replacement). It is important that we differentiate perception with reality at this point.
Joel Hanrahan Highlights from 2010-2012
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
A few months ago, our Lead Columnist/Website Founder (Jonathan Hacohen) wrote a brilliant piece about the assembly of the Oakland Athletics roster. He called it “MoneyBall 2.” Right after the piece, the A’s surged to the greatest record in the second half of the season and won the AL West. The team is now constructed of power hitters and power pitchers. The man behind it all is Billy Beane. I will not get into too much of this philosophy as you can read that piece here. What I intend to do is to show the roster of how it was comprised by Beane in the form of a roster tree. It is just like a family tree, however this shows trades dating back 2,3,4,5,6 fold etc.. in order to show you the mastery of the GM’s ability to field a roster on a limited budget.
The Future of the Oakland A’s: The Mustache Gang Meets the Bash Brothers: Revealing Billy Beane’s Master Plan click here.
The Oakland A’s 2013 Roster Tree Part 2: The Pitchers click here.
Follow @mlbreports Friday November 2nd, 2012
Kyle Holland: Although postseason baseball is a wonderful time for baseball fans everywhere, the end of the World Series becomes a devastating time. The start of November means no more major league baseball for almost 5 months. Ironically enough though, some fans love the offseason. They enjoy seeing where some of their favorite players will go and who their favorite team will get.
One prime example of these players during the this 2012-13 offseason is the ex-Detroit Tigers closer, Jose Valverde. He enjoyed great success during the 2011 season closing 49 out of 49 save opportunities. The 2012 season wasn’t nearly as impressive, as Valverde “only” saved 35 games. Then September and the postseason rolled around and he just wasn’t himself. On October 10th in game 4 of the ALDS, Valverde blew a 3-1 lead in the ninth against the Oakland A’s. On October 13th in game 1 of the ALCS, although not a save opportunity, Valverde blew a 4-0 lead against the New York Yankees before being pulled.
Jose Valverde became a free agent on October 30, two days after the Tigers got swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The Tiger publicly announced they are not going to make an attempt to re-sign Valverde. Now the question becomes: where will Jose Valverde end up for Opening Day 2013? Read the rest of this entry
Friday September 7th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: The Red Sox are in a state of disrepair. They just traded two of the key players who were supposed to carry them to several postseasons in the future, and a pitcher who had the stuff to regain his status as the ace of the staff. Not to mention the team also has a manager who does not relate well to players. The Red Sox went from first to worst in the span of about a year. Why?
It all started going wrong in September of last year. The Red Sox started a skid and then information came out that some of the pitchers were drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games in which they were not pitching during the pennant chase. The Red Sox had a horrible month and ended up falling out of playoff contention as the Orioles walked off on them in game 162 and Evan Longoria subsequently hit a walk off homer versus the Yankees to clinch a playoff spot for the Rays. Terry Francona, the manager who broke the Curse of the Bambino and won two World Series, was fired and general manager Theo Epstein was rumored to be leaving. Owners John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino promised that a collapse like this would not happen the next year. The good news: Red Sox fans will not have to worry about a collapse like last years’ now. The bad news: the Red Sox have been out of contention for almost the whole year. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto have been traded, and it looks like Boston will be rebuilding for at least the next couple of years. Chaos in Boston is an understatement.
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024- In one fell swoop, the Boston Red Sox went from a team with no payroll flexibility at all for years to come, to a team that only has 4 players under contract for 57.2 Million Dollars next year. It is actually around 43 Million Dollars for Dustin Pedroia (10 MIL), John Lackey ,(16 MIL) John Lester (11.6 MIL) and Clay Buchholz (5.8 MIL.) Now since they are paying about 15 Million to the Dodgers as part of the trade it takes the total up to about 57 Million. So how does the team look going forward? Not that bad actually. The have about 25 Pre-Arbitration to Arbitration Eligible Players to re-sign. A lot of them are under club control or will not fetch that much of a boost in pay. Jacoby Ellsbury will probably get a bump from the 8 Million he received this year and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will also be due a raise from the 2.5 Million in 2012 with his breakout power year. Daniel Bard is a “Super 2″ Arb Eligible Player and should not be that hard to resign considering his ineffective year. The most pressing thing to do is to resolve the David Ortiz matter and then to grab a couple of free agent pitchers and a power hitting First baseman or an outfielder.
Judging from my best estimate, it looks like the Boston Red Sox will have about an 100-110 Million Dollars for all of their Arbitration players, plus the guys already signed. This leads me to David Ortiz. He should be given a 2 or 3 year contract as soon as humanly possible at 15-16 Million Dollars a Year. He was the only player in the AL to have an OPS over 1 still going into tonight. Yes he has been hurt, but ‘Big Papi’ is not finished in the MLB. Yes he will be 37 heading into next year but he has been the best DH in the AL over the last 3 years. Ortiz had said earlier this year-that he would be open to playing for other teams so the brass better make him feel wanted or he will walk! He genuinely likes Pedroia so I am sure Ortiz could be persuaded to come back. You have to at least find this out early as it will let you know how to proceed on the Free Agent Market.
Here are some David Ortiz highlights. THIS VIDEO CONTAINS CLIPS COPYRIGHTED FROM MLB ADVANCED MEDIA. MLB REPORTS DOES NOT OWN THESE CLIPS.
For Part 1 of the Trade Breakdown: The LA Dodgers 2013 Top Ten Payroll click here .
ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: WBC Qualifiers, Suspending Aceves, Blowing Up the Red Sox and More
Sunday August 26th, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!
It’s 4:00a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning. While most of the baseball world sleeps- the Reports doesn’t sleep. Or at least this particular insomniac. Maybe it’s the excitement over the qualifiers of the 2013 World Baseball Classic coming in 24 days. Perhaps I can’t stop thinking about the Dodgers/Red Sox swap and analyzing in my mind who won/lost that trade. Whatever be the case, I’m about to jump into your weekly baseball questions. Some really good ones folks. Keep them coming every week! Tweet, e-mail, post on Facebook or comment on our site. Whatever you have to do, get your baseball voice heard on MLB reports
For the Batting Stance Guy video of the week, we present “Batting Stance Guy Impresses Manny Ramirez“. With all the insanity around Boston this season coming full steam ahead to this weekend’s monster trade, we thought it would be fun to go back in time and remember a kinder and gentler Manny Ramirez. Enjoy!
Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry
Sunday May 6, 2012
Bryan Sheehan (Baseball Writer): Seeing Mariano Rivera go down with a torn ACL is like driving by a car accident and reflecting on how easily it could have been you in that accident, or in this case- how it could have been your team’s closer cringing in pain on the warning track. And this is the year of the injured closer: from Boston’s Andrew Bailey to San Francisco’s Brian Wilson, closers across the league have been dropping like flies. Other closers, like the Angels’ Jordan Walden, have stayed healthy but haven’t played well enough to keep their coveted ninth inning role. Even though there has only been a month of baseball so far, much has changed for some clubs.
Today, I’ll be taking a look at every team’s closer situation, and breaking down how it got to be the way it is: Read the rest of this entry
Sunday April 15th, 2012
Sam Evans: The Boston Red Sox are in trouble. The A.L. East looks as strong as ever with four out of the five teams talented enough to make the playoffs. The Red Sox will have problems keeping up with the rest of the East due to some crucial injuries that they’ve suffered. First, the Red Sox just lost their best outfielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, for who knows how long. Also, Carl Crawford might be out until May. Maybe longer. A shaky bullpen is suffering from the loss of Jonathan Papelbon (free agency), Daniel Bard (moved to the rotation), and Andrew Bailey (injury), which does not help the Red Sox stay in contention. Some of their relief pitchers as a result need to step it up.
Other than the abysmal Orioles, the Red Sox have the worst bullpen in the A.L. East. The majority of their relief pitchers are unproven pitchers who don’t belong in a top-tier bullpen. Currently, the Red Sox plan to have Alfredo Aceves closing out games. Aceves has been considered a long reliever for most of his career and this past offseason, the Red Sox even contemplated trying Aceves out in the rotation. Read the rest of this entry
Monday April 2nd, 2012
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The 2012 fantasy baseball season kicked off this past week with the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners two game set in Japan. What can we learn from this series? Even in a hitter friendly park, neither of these teams can really hit. They will both struggle to score runs all year. Therefore, Bartolo Colon will have a lot of value pitching in the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum. Colon needs to be owned in all leagues, because he proved he still has something left in the tank last year. He is a must start option anytime he faces the Mariners and in most instances he pitches at home. The same is true with teammate Brandon McCarthy, who could perform to a near ace level this season. However, he does have an injury past, which also goes without saying with the old and portly Bartolo Colon. I also think this short series spoke volumes about the potential of Dustin Ackley, who can quickly emerge as a top ten option at second base.
With only two regular season games to reflect upon, let’s take a closer look at the end of spring training and its fantasy relevance. Henry Rodriguez is most likely available in your league, and the 100mph flamethrower will have the opportunity to close games as Drew Storen begins the season the disabled list. In 10 spring training innings, Rodriguez has allowed just four hits, but more importantly struck out nine batters compared to only two walks. The strike zone was the problem in 2011, when he still posted respectable numbers. But he seems to have found better control of the plate. He could be deadly and Zumaya-like. He should provide great value for strikeouts, and is great insurance for Storen owners, as I would not even be surprised to see him assume the closer role at some point during the 2012 season. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday February 1st, 2012
Sam Evans: Closing ballgames takes confidence, skill, and experience. There are select players that have earned the closer role at the highest level possible. These players come in all shapes and sizes, with diverse backgrounds.
Without further adieu, here are the closers for all fourteen American League teams:
New York Yankees: The Yankees have had the same closer for the last fifteen years. That is by far the longest stretch of any closer with their current team. Arguably the most successful closer of all time, Mariano Rivera has constructed his whole career around one pitch.
Rivera’s cutter is simply dominant. He breaks more bats than any other closer in the league, and he knows where to throw it to specific hitters. Even at 42 years old, hitters know what’s coming but still have no chance of making solid contact. In 2011, Rivera had a 1.91 ERA and he recorded 44 saves. Mariano Rivera still has at least five more years closing out games. The Yankees should be content with him as their closer for as long as he wants to pitch.
Tampa Bay Rays: Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth had a surprisingly effective 2011. Coming into the year, he was expected to compete with young prospect Jake McGee for the closer role. Farnsworth stole the show and was Tampa’s closer for the whole season. He posted a 2.18 ERA in 2012, along with 25 saves. It was a nice bounce back year for the once overpaid, angry reliever.
The Rays picked up the fiery reliever’s option for 2012, so he will likely retain his job as the Rays’ closer. However, if Farnsworth can’t get the job done, Joel Peralta or Fernando Rodney (87 career saves) will step in.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox bullpen has had a perplexing offseason so far. They let their closer leave in free agency and they moved two of their other best relievers to the rotation. Now, they’ll be trusting a young, former Rookie of the Year, who hasn’t thrown fifty innings since 2009. I think the Red Sox made the right move by letting Jonathan Papelbon walk, but I don’t see the benefit in moving Daniel Bard to their rotation.
Moving from Oakland to Boston, Andrew Bailey will have to learn to deal with constant criticism and media pressure. He’ll go from pitching in front of 10,000 people every night to almost 40,000. It’s impossible to quantify how much of an impact that will have on Bailey, but it’s got be at least a small factor.
The Red Sox will have a strong bullpen, despite which of their relievers end up in their rotation. Besides Bard, the Red Sox also acquired Mark Melancon who could see time as Boston’s closer. Melancon isn’t as good of a pitcher as Bailey, but he is still a strong option for late-inning relief.
I’m not high on Bailey and I see him having issues in 2012. Bailey relies too heavily on his fastball and his curveball was not effective last year. If he succeeds in Boston, then the Red Sox will look like geniuses for trading for him. If he struggles, then new General Manager Ben Cherington will have some questions to answer about the future of this bullpen. (I wrote more about the Red Sox bullpen here.)
Toronto Blue Jays: With the abundance of closers on the market, Toronto went out and got their closer of the present and future, in Sergio Santos. They had to give up Nestor Molina, a young starting pitching prospect, but they scored Santos and his team-friendly contract.
Since being converted from shortstop to pitcher a couple of years ago, Sergio Santos has molded into a top-notch closer. In my opinion, he has the second best slider in baseball. (Braves closer Craig Kimbrel gets a slight edge.)
The Blue Jays have a fairly strong bullpen and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos could always trade for more bullpen pieces. Rebuilding Toronto’s major league team is going to take a couple of years and right now the bullpen appears to be the least of their worries.
Baltimore Orioles: Jim Johnson emerged as a star for the Orioles in 2011. The twenty-eight year old reliever threw ninety innings but recorded only nine saves. The Orioles leader in saves last year was Kevin Gregg with 22 saves. This was surprising considering Gregg wasn’t even one of the Orioles top three relievers.
I’ve been a huge fan of Pedro Strop ever since he was with the Rangers organization. The twenty-six year old had a 2.62 FIP in 2011, and the Orioles have implied he’ll be their setup man in 2012. With Johnson, Gregg and Strop all gunning for the Orioles closer job in 2012, they’ll definitely have competition throughout the year. I’d expect Johnson to get the most saves, but Strop could have a breakout season as a 9th inning superstar. Plus Alfredo Simon could always get hot and take back the role if he fails as a starter.
Detroit Tigers: For the Tigers, having a closer they can trust to close out games in 2012 will be huge. The Tigers are going to have plenty of late-inning leads, thanks to a strong pitching staff and a powerful offense. Jose Valverde has been the Tigers closer for the last two years and he’s excelled at the back of the Detroit bullpen.
Papa Grande took a step forward in 2011. He saved 49 saves in just as many opportunities in 2012. His electric (and to a lesser extent, annoying) personality provides a spark at the end of Tigers games.
Valverde will be back in 2012 and will help Detroit down the stretch as they look to make a run at the World Series.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox no longer have a clear closer after trading Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays. Now, their bullpen will rely on the flame-throwing lefty Matt Thornton and rookie Addison Reed.
Matt Thornton had a rough 2011. He lost his closer job to a former shortstop and saw his strikeout rates plummet. In 2010, he struck out 12.02 batters per nine innings. In 2011, he saw that rate drop to 9.5. He also walked more hitters than he had in previous years, and his LOB% dropped to 61.2%. In 2012, he will probably see his numbers improve moderately- but not to the level they were at in 2010.
Addison Reed is the best prospect in the White Sox deprived farm system. He will probably start the year in the majors. He has a higher ceiling than any other White Sox bullpen arms and that might lead to a job closing for Chicago. Reed is a nice sleeper in 12-team leagues, in which you are looking for saves.
Manager Robin Ventura has said that Reed is likely to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. He also said that the closing job is Matt Thornton’s to lose. I don’t think it will be very long before Reed takes over the job from Thornton, so Reed will probably get the majority of saves for the White Sox this year.
Kansas City Royals: Last year, it seemed inevitable that the Royals would trade away their longtime closer Joakim Soria. Then Soria’s value dramatically dropped. In May, Soria gave up ten runs in ten innings, and Royals fans started to panic. Eventually, Soria got back to the pitcher he always was. He finished 2011 with 28 saves, his lowest total since 2007. General Manager Dayton Moore made the right move hanging on to Joakim Soria because his value was so low at the trade deadline.
For 2012, Soria will be the Royals closer barring a trade. Not to be forgotten is former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton who was signed this offseason. The Royals have a talented young bullpen that has the chance to develop into one of the best in the league.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins have no real closer heading into the 2011 season. Sure they have Matt Capps, who has 124 career saves. But he’s not a legitimate option if they plan on contending this year. They recently signed former Detroit Tiger Joel Zumaya who is coming back from a serious arm injury, but he used to be able to throw triple digits.
For fantasy players looking for sleepers, this team isn’t a bad place to start. Any one of the Twins pitchers could step up and take the closer role. This might be the worst bullpen in the league, so Minnesota will probably have to make some moves this year.
Cleveland Indians: The Indians a strong bullpen that should be able to give their starters a proper amount of rest. Vinnie Pestano is the best reliever on the team… and he’s not even closing. Pestano was worth 1.5 WAR in 2011, and he had 23 saves. If Chris Perez were to slip up in his closing duties, Pestano could easily fill in.
Chris Perez is a very good closer because he is a clutch performer. He doesn’t strike out many hitters and he walks a lot of hitters (1.50 K/BB in 2011), but he doesn’t blow many saves. He was 36 for 40 in save opportunities last year.
Even though Perez will likely be the starting closer on Opening Day, if Pestano keeps pitching like he has, he could eventually take over the position.
Seattle Mariners: The Mariners probably should have traded their closer, Brandon League, this offseason. As strong of an asset as League is, the Mariners won’t be contending in 2012.
When Brandon Leauge decides to throw it, he has one of the best splitters in the league. Last year he threw his splitter 28.2% of the time. Mariners fans want him to throw it more because of how dominating it can be. In 2011, using his splitter more led him to 37 saves and a 2.78 FIP. If League were to be traded or injured, Shawn Kelley, Tom Wilhelmsen, or Chance Ruffin would likely step into the role.
Oakland Athletics: Since the A’s traded Andrew Bailey, their closer responsibility is no longer set in stone. Brian Fuentes will likely start the year as their closer, but he has 37 career blown saves and is no longer the pitcher he once was.
The next pitcher in line to get saves is probably Fautino De Los Santos. As a rookie in 2011, De Los Santos struck out 11.61 batters per nine innings. Fautino De Los Santos may be electric but he only has thirty-two career saves (all of which were in the minors.)
Texas Rangers: The Rangers have the most depth out of any bullpen in the AL West. Joe Nathan will be the closer out of spring training. If Nathan were to fail, the Rangers also have Mike Adams, Koji Uehara (barring a trade) and Alexi Ogando (if he doesn’t start) waiting in the wings. If the Rangers bullpen were a flavor of milkshake- they would be banana. Not always the first thing that comes to mind, but after you try it, it’s much better than you expected.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels should have spent more money this offseason on their bullpen. Jordan Walden is far from a sure thing. Although it was his rookie year, Walden had his ups and downs in 2011. Walden looked nervous at times. Hopefully in his second year, he will have a better ” closer’s mentality.”
Setting up Walden will be most likely be Scott Downs, who was extremely lucky in 2011. Downs had 26 holds and a 1.34 ERA. He had a 3.40 xFIP and he left 86.4% of his men on base. In 2012, there’s no question that Downs is going to regress. The only question is how much.
Overall: The bullpens in the American League aren’t as strong as they look. There are talented pitchers on nearly every team, but no bullpen stands out as the clear winner. 2012 is going to be the an important year for closers, as there will be many AL teams in contention (especially if the 2nd Wild Card goes through). Some say that the whole closer role and mentality is not important. But once this year’s playoffs are upon us, I think 2012 will prove just how important closers really are.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter***
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan onFacebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.Follow @mlbreports
Thursday December 8, 2011
MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: With the Winter Meetings at an end, players/teams/agents are left standing to look over the game of musical chairs and who is left standing. A particularly interesting position was closer- with more eligible players than open positions. In the past few weeks, we have seen many signings and trades in this area. Jonathan Papelbon to the Phillies. Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays. Huston Street to the Padres. Francisco Rodriguez accepted arbitration from the Brewers. Heath Bell to the Marlins. Joe Nathan to the Rangers. Andrew Bailey is openly being discussed in the trade market as leaving the A’s. Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch joined the Mets. As a result, one big name is left standing with no dance partner. Ryan Madson is still on the open market with few promising prospects ahead.
As the story goes, Madson was supposed to re-sign with the Phillies. A reported 4-year, estimated $44 million contract was put on the table by the Phillies early in free agency. Player and agent (Scott Boras) happily accepted and a Philadelphia return was in order. Not so fast. There are conflicting stories on what transpired. Needless to say, there was never a firm deal in place and the Phillies moved quickly to sign the top closer on the free agent market, Jonathan Papelbon. Since then, there has been little discussion on Madson. There have been reports throughout the process linking him to the Jays, Marlins and Red Sox. Well…the first 2 teams have filled their vacancies. The Red Sox have Daniel Bard as the incumbent set-up man who could get a look at the closing position- although he may end up in the rotation. Other than that, there seems to be little hope for Madson.
Last night, Madson chose not to the K-Rod route and accept salary arbitration. As a result, he remains out in the market waiting for his next contract offer. Francisco Cordero is in the same boat, although he is still likely to go back to the Reds on a 1-2 year contract from the whispers around the league. But even if the Reds do not retain Cordero, it is unlikely that they will sign Madson- especially given the young players they still need to lock-up to extensions. So what other options exist for Madson? Perhaps the Orioles. Maybe the Rays. The options are getting bleak.
This is one of the few times that you will see Scott Boras caught “with his pants down” so to speak. For an agent that is well known to be able to create and stimulate markets and demands for his clients, Boras has come up short for Madson. The perception is that the Phillies did what was best for them in signing Papelbon, which left Boras outraged and in a bind. With little to no teams looking for closers, Boras essentially only has the Red Sox to work with. At this point, he may need to take a 1-2 year deal for Madson, in the $7-10 million range to rebuild his value and try again on the open market in the future. A risky proposition, but with few options- Madson may have no other choice.
I was actually quite surprised that Madson didn’t take the Phillies offer of arbitration. Based on his stellar 2011 numbers, he could have expected a strong 1-year contract at least. Now Boras and Madson are left to take their chances on the open market. For a closer with only 1 full year on the job, time is not on Madson’s side. A proven closer like Francisco Cordero knows that he find a contract soon. Heck, even K-Rod knows that he just needs another solid season under his belt and his next deal will follow shortly after. Madson was in line for his first and only big payday this offseason. If he gets hurt or becomes ineffective in 2012, that dream vanishes. Scott Boras better work overtime to get the Red Sox biting on his closer client. Otherwise, it may not turn out to be a very Merry Christmas in the Madson household this year.
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.