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Madson Says “Better Red Than Dead”

Ruben Amaro Jr., would never publicly admit to making a mistake.  Amaro could accidentally set fire to the Citizens Bank Park press room and never admit it.  It’s not in his DNA.  Publicly, the Phillies will defend the contract of Jonathan Papelbon until the end of days.

But after seeing former Phils’ closer Ryan Madson sign a one-year, $8.5 million deal with the Cincinnati Reds last night, you wonder if the Phillies front office is second-guessing their over-aggressive signing of Papelbon this morning.

I’m not going to say a ton of stuff that has already been said over and over again.  Amaro simply misread the market on closers this offseason.  He attacked the market like John Bowker does an 0-2 curveball.  He acted as if there were only one or two decent options on the market with dozens of teams all clamoring for the same guys, when in fact, the number of closers seeking a destination far outweighed the number of destinations available.

By the way, in my post last week on Ryan Madson, I noted that Cincinnati would be the best fit for the former Phils’ closer…

Cincinnati still needs a closer, and they appear to be making a run at a division title this year.  They’ve made some bold moves (namely acquring Matt Latos from San Diego and Sean Marshall from Chicago) and see an opening in the NL Central, where Pujols is already out of the division and Prince Fielder could soon follow.  They have only $65 million guaranteed for 2012 at the moment and even though it’s not a big market, they could probably afford to pay Madson the roughly three-year, $33 million deal he’s likely looking for.  And while the Reds do play in a bandbox, they have some good young positional talent, a decent top-of-the-rotation, and were in the playoffs just two years ago, so Madson could convince himself he’s headed to a potential winner.  Cincinnati would make the most sense, and seems like a good fit for both.

Cincinnati is clearly trying to win it all in the next two years before Joey Votto prices himself right out of Charm City.  With Madson only signed to a one-year, $8.5 million deal (which is less than he would have gotten in arbitration from the Phillies, by the way), the Reds made out like bandits.  They got a cheap player that produces at a high level while maintaining flexibility for next year and beyond.  The move further solidifies the Reds as a contender in the National League in 2012.

The Phillies, meanwhile, will receive two draft picks as compensation for losing Ryan Madson.  Unfortunately, they will not receive the Reds’ first-round pick, #14 in the draft, because that pick is still protected under the “old rules.”  The Phils will get a pick in the compensatory round between the first and second rounds, as well as the Reds’ second round pick.  Those picks right now would be 39 and 72 (thanks to Baseball America’s Jim Callis for the info there).

The good news is, Jonathan Papelbon is the second best closer in baseball.  The Phillies got themselves a heck of a pitcher with their money, even if it is someone who will only appear in about 5% of the team’s innings this season.

Still, you have to wonder what Ruben Amaro Jr. is thinking this morning.  Is he kicking himself for jumping on the closer market too early, or is he satisfied with what he’s done?  I can’t imagine there’s not a twinge of buyer’s remorse.

Frankly, Ruben needs to do a better job at reading the market and being patient going forward, like he did with Rollins.  Perhaps this closer snafu will educate Ruben when it comes to future moves.

But I won’t be holding my breath.

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