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Friday, November 11, 2011

A look at the Papelbon signing

For some reason that I cannot fathom, I had it in my head that the Phillies new closer wasn't nearly as good as he is/has been. Taking a look at some of Papelbon's stats over his career:

K/9 is 10.67
BB/9 is 2.41
ERA 2.33
FIP 2.60
xFIP 2.16

Last year, he compiled 12.17 K/9 to go along with a 1.40 BB/9 rate which gave him over an 8 K/BB. I'm not crazy. I knew he was good, I just wasn't aware how good.

To put those numbers in perspective, Ryan Madson has had one season with a K/9 over 10, and Brad Lidge has a career BB/9 of 4.2 which isn't good. Lidge and Papelbon both signed with the Phillies for the same AAV. I think it's clear that the Phillies overpaid Lidge at least in comparison to Papelbon.

So, now we're all extremely ecstatic about the signing right? I am not so sure that I am. Yes, he's very good, but was it necessary to acquire such a high profile closer? I would have been perfectly content had the Phillies re-signed Madson. I also would have admired the Phillies had they sought out a lower profile reliever to fill the closer's role. I'm not about to say that this signing will surely handcuff the Phils from making other important moves with regards to their roster, but it just might.

I certainly believe they could have signed Madson for less than Papelbon. He doesn't have the same "resume" that Papelbon has - Madson just finished his first season where he was a full-time closer. Papelbon also has better stats. There were rumors this week that the Phillies offered Madson $44 Million over 4 years. The Pap deal is reportedly worth $50 Million for 4 years. I see this signing as setting the bar for Madson to probably make around what the Phillies offered him, so I'm not positive why they didn't spin this potential signing to bring back Madson, a comparable pitcher, for less money.

More importantly, in my opinion, the Phillies came into this off-season needing to fill two big holes: SS and Closer. It isn't even arguable in my opinion that getting a solid SS is more important than getting a solid closer. The huge chunk of cash they threw at Papelbon just might remove Rollins from the Phillies' future, which I would not be happy about. There aren't a lot of great SS options outside of Rollins and Reyes, and Freddy Galvis is almost certainly not the answer. In the minors, he has compiled a .246/.292 AVG/OBP. He reportedly is great defensively, but those are Wilson Valdez type numbers coming against minor league pitching.

Rollins will almost certainly not sign until Reyes does. Reyes is most likely the more coveted FA. He is slightly worse than Rollins defensively, and considerably better than Rollins with the bat. He is also younger. The only questions teams might have about Reyes is his attitude and his on-field antics. The Phillies really need to sign a quality SS this off-season because they are clearly trying to win now (Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Papelbon, Utley, Howard, Victorino, and Pence), and a less than stellar SS would not be ideal.

The Phillies might have proven that they don't handcuff themselves when it comes to acquiring players, but we'll just have wait and see how the rest of the roster fills out before we can truly judge the Papelbon signing.


hk said...

Isn't your last sentence contradictory? If they cannot afford to bring Jimmy back, won't they have handcuffed themselves with the Papelbon deal?

Scott Graham said...

I meant more along the lines of in the past how everyone thought that Roy halladay's contract and Ryan Howard's enormous contract would prevent the phillies from making moves, and then they signed cliff lee to a large contract. I'm just suggesting that maybe the front office had loosened the purse strings, and a 50 million dollar contract to a closer isn't terrible if it doesnt stop them from signing a solid ss. If it does, then they messed up. I feel like my point was very similar to a comment LTG made over at crashburnalley.

hk said...

Got it. It sure does seem like they don't have a strict budget. However, if they end up with Clint Barmes or (I can't believe I'm actually typing this) Yuniesky Betancourt at SS because they can't afford Jimmy, the Papelbon deal will really suck. However, my concern is the years more than the dollars. Even if the $12.5M doesn't prevent them from signing Jimmy, they have shown an unwillingness to remove a big salary player from his role for anything other than injury, which means Papelbon could be closing in 2014 and 2015 (and maybe even 2013) while not being the best reliever in the pen. Of course, since Charlie is the manager, this could be a good thing as the better relievers will often pitch in the higher leverage situations in the 7th and 8th while Charlie saves Paps for the 9th, sort of like 2010 when Charlie lucked into having Madson pitch a ton of high leverage 8th innings setting up for Lidge.

Jon said...

You write, "The only questions teams might have about Reyes is his attitude and his on-field antics."

Isn't his health a major question? The last 3 years he has played 126, 133 and 33 games.

Scott Graham said...

Haha very true about accidentally pitching the better pitchers in the higher leverage situations.

I was actually set to post about the phillies targeting the wrong position (closer over ss) yesterday morning before the deal, but didn't finish it in time.

I just don't see why we naturally assume that Papelbon at 35 won't be good. I'm not saying he's the next Mo, but he is very good, and doesn't walk very many people. I'm not too familiar with what his out pitch is, but I was always skeptical about lidge's skill because he relied on hitters swinging at pitches that would bounce at the plate. When his velocity trailed off, it gave hitters more time to see that his slider wasnt going to be a strike.

Scott Graham said...


I guess you're right. It seems like he usually has trouble with his legs (maybe a training/conditioning problem?). Good point, though. I clearly overlooked that.