Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Papelbon ’

Use Pap or Not?

I have received lots of questions about Jonathan Papelbon since yesterday’s 5-4 loss to Pittsburgh.

The Phillies lost two consecutive games on walk-offs, and the Phillies did not use Papelbon either time. Fans want to know why the Phillies didn’t use him. The reason is simple: managers do not like to use their closer in tie games on the road. Charlie Manuel doesn’t. Larry Bowa didn’t. Honestly, if you can find a manager that regularly uses his closer in tie games on the road please let me know. I know that answer isn’t going to be satisfactory for many, but managers want their closer pitching in save situations. Use your closer in a tie game one night then maybe he’s not available the next night when you have a save situation. Think about it that way, too. You can’t pitch the guy every day.

Now, Rich Dubee said he thought about having Papelbon pitch in Saturday’s game, but only because he didn’t want Papelbon warming up several times during the night (think about what happened to Brad Lidge in the 2008 All-Star Game … not good).

“How many times am I going to crank Pap up?” Dubee said.

But why didn’t the Phillies use Papelbon with two outs in the eighth inning yesterday? The Phillies had a one-run lead, so it was a save situation. Papelbon has pitched more than an inning in a save situation 39 times in his career. He has pitched one or fewer innings in a save situation 210 times.

He is 2-1 with a 2.09 ERA and 31 saves (79.5 percent) when he pitches more than an inning.

He is 2-11 with a 2.52 ERA and 189 saves (90 percent) when he pitches one or fewer innings.

“It’s a little early,” Dubee said. “You want me to run him out there 162 games? It’s hard. You’ve got nobody else to close the game. If you had somebody with experience closing the game, if you had (Jose) Contreras, then you might think about doing it.”


Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Opening Day Thoughts

Like the crane kick from Ty Wigginton.

A few thoughts on Opening Day:

  • Roy Halladay dominated as usual. He allowed two hits and struck out five in eight scoreless innings. Much has been made about his 5.73 ERA this spring — he hadn’t had worse than a 4.00 ERA in his previous six springs — but I think a few things went into that. First, this team has enough concerns with its offense (i.e. injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley). An injury or slippage from one of the Big Three could be catastrophic and had fans wearing the worst. Second, there already was last month’s report that Halladay isn’t throwing as hard or looking as sharp. Third, Halladay acknowledged his right arm has a lot of miles on it. That is something everybody knows, but I think it hit some people that, “Hey, this guy isn’t going to pitch forever. Is he winding down earlier than we thought?” Halladay’s fastball averaged 90.16 mph yesterday, according to pitch f/x data. It topped out at 90.9. Last year his fastball averaged 91.3 mph. What do we make of this? He isn’t throwing as hard, but it’s just one start and it’s early in the season (obviously). But hitting is timing and pitching is upsetting timing. Halladay is a master on the mound because he changes speeds and has pinpoint control of his pitches. Losing a little on his fastball shouldn’t make him Adam Eaton. (God forbid). And I believe in a player’s track record. Until Halladay shows he isn’t one of the best pitchers in baseball — if not the best — I will continue to expect him to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. I’m sure the Pirates thought he was yesterday.
  • The offense didn’t alleviate any of its concerns, but it’s one game.
  • Charlie Manuel started John Mayberry Jr. in left field, in part because he wanted the righty-lefty matchup against Pirates left-hander Erik Bedard, but also because he wanted to show a little faith in Mayberry. Mayberry, who had a bad spring, rewarded him, going 2-for-4 with a double and making a couple nice catches in left field. Mayberry is this lineup’s wild card. If he can continue last season’s success it would be a huge boost to the offense while Howard and Utley are out.
  • Freddy Galvis bounced into a couple double plays in his first two at-bats, but he looked good in the field. That’s why the Phillies have him. He can play defense, which is what you want with Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.
  • Jonathan Papelbon showed us Cinco Ocho for the first time.


Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.
  • May 10: Tredyfrrin Public Library in Stafford, PA, 7:30 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Papelbon Talks More Phillies Fans vs. Red Sox Fans

Jonathan Papelbon chilled in left field with some of his former Red Sox teammates during BP today at Bright House Field.

He is getting used to his new surroundings, but he certainly endeared himself to Phillies fans earlier this month, when he told WIP (610 AM) that Phillies fans are smarter than Red Sox fans.

“The difference between Boston and Philadelphia, the Boston fans are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball,’’ Papelbon told WIP. “The Philly fans tend to know the game a little better, being in the National League, you know, the way the game is played. I’ve had a guy take off his prosthetic leg and throw it in the bullpen in Boston.’’

Papelbon explained himself further today.

“Obviously, I wasn’t trying to offend nobody, man,” he said. “I was just calling a spade a spade. I’ve been in the bullpen down there many times in Boston and this guy doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about. It happens in Philadelphia, too. I’ve been in the Philadelphia, but I was simply saying because the American League is different than the National League, there’s a little bit more thought process that goes along with that.”

So he wasn’t taking a shot at Boston fans?

“No,” he said. “I knew it was going to be read that way. But that’s the thing: I don’t really care. The fans that know me in Boston … it’s kind of irrelevant. But I’m not going to throw shots at Boston fans, no. They’ve been there for me for so many years. I was just making a statement National League vs. American League, you know? Bunting and all that. I can’t remember us bunting three times.”


Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

Season Over: Madson Needs Tommy John


Mark Sheldon covers the Reds for He just reported Ryan Madson needs Tommy John surgery:

The ligament in his elbow is torn off the bone and he will need Tommy John surgery that will end his season before it begins. Madson was examined this morning in Cincinnati by team medical director Dr. Tim Kremcheck.

The Reds did not take an insurance policy on Madson’s one-year, $8.5 million contract because it was a one-year deal and the club policy is not to do insurance on one-year deals.

A couple thoughts from the press box at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers:

Can you imagine if the Phillies had signed Madson to a four-year, $44 million contract, considering the injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley?


Can you imagine if the Phillies had resigned Madson and not resigned Jimmy Rollins? The Phillies would be without a closer, first baseman, second baseman and have Freddy Galvis playing shortstop.

You have to feel bad for Madson. He took a big risk signing a one-year contract with Reds, which means he will not sign that lucrative deal following the season.

It might never come now. You never know.


Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here!
Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • April 2: Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 3: Chester County Book Company in West Chester, PA, 7 p.m.
  • April 26: Barnes & Noble in Marlton, NJ, 7 p.m.

The Number Shuffle

If you have any interest about the numbers on the back of the Phillies’ uniforms …

We know Jonathan Papelbon‘s alter ego “Cinco Ocho” is based on the No. 58 on the back of his jersey.

But when he came to Philadelphia he knew Antonio Bastardo had the number. No big deal. Papelbon and Bastardo have the same agents, so Bastardo had no problem handing his number to the Phillies’ new closer. (Papelbon gave Bastardo a Rolex for the effort.) Of course, then Bastardo needed a new number. Phillies director of team travel and clubhouse services Frank Coppenbarger gave Bastardo a few options, and Bastardo finally settled on No. 37.

Now, Justin De Fratus wore No. 37 the final couple weeks of the 2011 season. But that’s not enough service time to keep it, so he handed the number to Bastardo. Not that he minded. Because when Coppenbarger started to rattle off a few numbers for De Fratus, he blurted out, “How about 79?”

“Are you serious?” Coppenbarger said.

“Yeah,” De Fratus replied. “I wore it in the (Arizona) Fall League (in 2010).”

Coppenbarger said he had no problem with that. In fact, he liked it because De Fratus will never have to worry about any player asking him for his number ever again. But he also made sure De Fratus really wanted it. Coppenbarger said, “Hey, if you pick this you’ve got to stick with it. If your teammates start giving you a hard time you can’t start switching around.” De Fratus said he wanted it.

So he’s got it.

And that’s how Papelbon got 58, Bastardo got 37 and De Fratus got 79.

“I wore it in the Fall League and I had a good Fall League,” De Fratus said. “So why not?”


From Sunday in Clearwater:

Cinco Ocho’s Intro Music? It’s A Secret

Greetings from Clearwater.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I have an unhealthy obsession with players’ intro music. And no intro music is bigger than a closer’s intro music. So after Jonathan Papelbon‘s news conference ended this afternoon and after he finished a couple TV interviews, I asked him if he had chosen his song. Papelbon had the Dropkick Murphys I’m Shipping Up to Boston while he closed for the Red Sox, but that won’t work in Philadelphia for obvious reasons.


“I’ve got one,” he said.


“I cannot share it,” he said. “That stuff is top secret, man.”

Papelbon said it’s a hard rock song, one he planned to use in Boston before he got asked to use I’m Shipping Up to Boston.

“That’s about as much as I can give you,” he said.

He said it’s not Philly related like I’m Shipping Up to Boston is Boston related. But then there really aren’t any popular Philly-type songs like that, are there? The Rocky theme song is played so much it just wouldn’t work. I mentioned Eye of the Tiger, which is kind of Philly related, and Papelbon said, “I feel like that might be a little bit too corny.”

So I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Reds Get Madson

Ryan Madson wants to be a closer, so while the Phillies would have loved to have had him in their 2012 bullpen as a setup man, he is headed to Cincinnati on a one-year, $8.5 million contract.

I never would have predicted that in November.

Back in November it appeared the Phillies and Madson were close to a four-year, $44 million extension. But the negotiations hit a snag (one side said they had a verbal agreement, the other side said they didn’t) and the Phillies decided to spend $6 million more to sign Jonathan Papelbon. Meanwhile, the closing opportunities for Madson dried up and instead of getting the monster pay day he hoped, he has to pitch in Cincinnati for one season before hitting the market again. That’s not exactly how Scott Boras planned it, but that’s the situation.

It will be a strange spring training without Madson and possibly Brad Lidge in the clubhouse. They were the final two pieces of the 2008 World Series bullpen. But there is still a chance Lidge is back. He remains unsigned, and the longer he is out there I think the chances improve the Phillies could sign him to a Minor League deal. Read Paul Hagen‘s story on Lidge here.

Hagen recently joined after leaving the Daily News. He is an awesome addition to our staff. Hagen will be writing plenty of national stories, but he’ll get a chance to write his share of Phillies stories, too. That’s great for everybody. I actually meant to post this back in December, but … welcome aboard, Paul. Thrilled to have you on the team.

Rollins Is A Happy Man

I talked on the phone a few minutes ago with Jimmy Rollins. Here is what he said about his three-year, $33 million contract with the Phillies, a lengthy negotiation process and more:

QUESTION: Are you happy this is finally over?
ROLLINS: Yes, I’m glad that it’s over. It’s good that it’s over for both parties. It’s an issue that’s been going on. Negotiations take time and both parties usually get a good idea where a finish line can be. It usually takes time to get there, but we got there.

QUESTION: Are you happy with the deal? You had asked for five years, and I also had heard you were unhappy with the pace of the negotiations.
ROLLINS: I never said that or even hinted toward that in any way. No, it’s not true. I wasn’t upset at the pace. I was glad it took a while because both sides were showing that they care. This is a business. There is a sports side of it and a business side of it, and the business side of it is always the most difficult part. Making sure that the numbers fit and the years fit and that both parties can be happy going forward is how business is. This is where we both sit and both parties feel comfortable going forward.

QUESTION: Do you feel you met the Phillies half way? You wanted five. They wanted three. But it sounds like the vesting option for the fourth year is easily attainable.
ROLLINS: That’s very accurate. The tough part is you’ve got to stick to your guns and they’ve got to stick to their guns. You negotiate. If I hadn’t started so high then we probably would have been looking at a two-year deal with a vesting option for three. People that understand business, they get it.

QUESTION: As long as you’re healthy you feel you will get that option?
ROLLINS: Exactly.


Contract Goodies

Here is some random contract info, if you like to look at these types of things. Some of these — like Papelbon — you might have seen. Others you probably haven’t.


(in alphabetical order)

  • Ryan Feierabend. Minor League contract for $17,000/mo. Agreement for Major League contract for $135,000. $495,000 in Majors. If not on 25-man roster by June 15, player will be released if requested.
  • Kevin Frandsen. Minor League contract for $16,500/mo. Agreement for Major League contract for $100,000. $575,000 in Majors. Major League invitation to Spring Training.
  • Pat Misch. Minor League contract for $18,000/mo. Agreement for Major League contract for $120,000. $470,000 in Majors. If not on 25-man roster by June 15, player will be released if requested. Player may sign with Korea or Taiwan team for $25,000; with Japan team for $50,000, if prior to Feb. 15; $75,000 if between Feb. 15 – March 31; $150,000 if after March 31. Major League invitation to Spring Training.
  • Jonathan Papelbon. $50,000,058. $11,000,058 in 2012; $13,000,000 in 2013; $13,000,000 in 2014; and $13,000,000 in 2015. Vesting Option for $13,000,000 in 2016. Option vests if 55 games finished in 2015 or 100 games finished in 2014-2015 and NOT on the DL at the end of 2015 with right shoulder or elbow injury. Plus: $50,000 for All Star; $100,000 for World Series MVP; $50,000 for LCS MVP; $100,000 for Cy Young or Rolaids ($75,000-2nd; $50,000-3rd); $50,000 for Gold Glove. Limited no-trade provision.
  • Scott Podsednik. Minor League contract for $17,000/mo. Agreement for Major League contract for $150,000. $750,000 in Majors. Plus: $25,000 for 200 plate appearances; $25,000 for 250 plate appearances; $25,000 for 300 plate appearances; $25,000 for 350 plate appearances. Plus: $25,000 for All Star ($15,000 selection); $50,000 for MVP; $25,000 for World Series MVP; $25,000 for LCS MVP; $25,000 for Silver Slugger; $25,000 for Gold Glove; $25,000 for Comeback Player of the Year. If not on 25-man roster by June 1, player will be released for 25-man spot on another team if requested. Major League invitation to Spring Training.
  • Carlos Rivera. $78,250 in Minors. $480,000 in Majors.
  • Brian Sanches. Minor League contract for $18,000/mo. Agreement for Major League contract for $120,000. $625,000 in Majors. Major League invitation to Spring Training.
  • Brian Schneider. $800,000. Plus: $50,000 for 65 games; $50,000 for 75 games; $50,000 for 85 games; $50,000 for 95 games. Plus: $50,000 for All Star ($25,000 selection); $100,000 for MVP; $100,000 for World Series MVP; $50,000 for LCS MVP; $50,000 for Gold Glove.
  • Raul Valdes. Minor League contract for $15,000/mo. Agreement for Major League contract for $100,000. $450,000 in Majors. Major League invitation to Spring Training.

The Papelbon Deal

Jonathan Papelbon is in town today for a physical, so expect an official announcement and introductory news conference later today.

Lots and lots of reaction about Papelbon’s four-year, $50 million deal.

My first reaction? Wow. That is a ton of money for a closer, considering the Phillies just finished a three-year, $37.5 million deal with Brad Lidge. Lots of risk there, and knowing the way pitcher’s break down (there is a reason Pat Gillick hated going longer than three years on pitchers) it wouldn’t surprise me to see this deal haunt them down the road (although Papelbon has never had surgery or been on the DL).

My second reaction? The Phillies got the best closer on the market.

Let’s address a few things that popped into my head as I read comments on Twitter, e-mail, Facebook, etc., since Friday:

- I heard no complaints when reports broke early last week the Phillies had reached an agreement on a four-year, $44 million deal with Ryan Madson. The difference between Madson and Papelbon is $6 million over four seasons. That’s nothing. It’s not going to prevent the Phillies from keeping Jimmy Rollins or signing Cole Hamels to a contract extension. It’s $6 million. When it came time last offseason to sign Cliff Lee or not, Phillies president David Montgomery stopped looking at the total committment and started looking at the difference between the two offers, which was roughly $10 million over five seasons. Montgomery stopped thinking $120 million and started thinking $10 million more and we have Cliff Lee. He pulled the trigger. I think the same happened here. Instead of $50 million it was $6 million more and we have the best closer on the market. And Papelbon was the best closer on the market. He has put up better numbers than Madson (and almost everybody not named Mariano Rivera) since the beginning of the 2007 season, and Papelbon was closing the entire time in the American League East. Those are some high leverage situations. Like Roy Halladay, Papelbon should find life a little better in the National League East.

- If you think four years, $44 million or four years, $50 million is too much for any closer, then what was the alternative? Francisco Rodriguez? Joe Nathan, who had Tommy John surgery and turns 37 later this month? Ruben Amaro Jr. thinks he might have future closers in Phillippe Aumont or Justin De Fratus, but they’re not ready right now. And the Phillies are trying to win now. It would be too much of a gamble with Halladay, Lee and Cole Hamels in the rotation. I understand it’s a lot of money for a guy that’s only going to pitch 60-70 innings every season, but those innings are important. Dallas Green once told me the closer might be the most important spot on the roster in today’s game because nothing is more demoralizing than blowing a ninth-inning lead. Sure, the Phillies survived Lidge’s disastrous 2009, but I’m not sure Phillies fans want to take that roller coaster ride again. I’m not sure the players want that again, either.

- One thing I really liked about Madson is that he seemed to be a great mentor to the younger pitchers in the bullpen. I’m not sure if Papelbon can fill that role or not, but it seems to me this bullpen is missing a good veteran presence. I wouldn’t mind seeing the Phillies bring back Lidge on a one-year deal, or somebody else who can help Mike Stutes, Antonio Bastardo, David Herndon, De Fratus, Aumont, Michael Schwimer, Joe Savery, etc., learn on the job.

- As soon as the season ended Amaro said he wanted a veteran closer for the bullpen. He budgeted for this. My only question now is how much left does he have to spend? So far he hasn’t addressed the offense, which he stressed in his postseason news conference. If the Phillies sign Jimmy Rollins and Michael Cuddyer, I think fans will be happy with that. If they only sign one, people naturally are going to wonder if that’s enough.

- I remember my first few years on the beat when fans were ripping the Phillies for not spending or doing enough. Now some are upset because they’re spending too much. Sometimes you have to take a risk. Is there a chance the move backfires? Oh, absolutely. There’s definitely a chance of that. But if I’m Amaro I’m not comfortable having Halladay, Lee and Hamels hand the ball to K-Rod, Nathan or a youngster the next season or two. And the first couple years of this deal are the most important while Halladay, Lee and Hamels are closer to their primes. Keep in mind Hamels becomes a free agent following next season, too. This could be the final season of the Big Three. You don’t want to waste a bunch of their wins with an unreliable closer. tackles the Papelbon signing.

6ABC catches Papelbon at the airport.


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