Ryan Madson

A look at the closer market minus Jonathan Papelbon


The Phillies just went and bought themselves the best closer available this winter. Now we’ll see who else is ready to ante up.

Here’s how I ranked the available closers in the top 111 free agents:

6. Papelbon
12. Heath Bell
14. Ryan Madson
16. Francisco Rodriguez
24. Francisco Cordero
40. Joe Nathan
45. Jonathan Broxton
47. Matt Capps
53. Frank Francisco

Those first five guys were always pretty much guaranteed to open next season as closers, and Nathan is certain to have a job in that role if he wants one. The remaining three are possibilities as cheap closers but could also sign as setup men.

And the teams looking for closers now that the Phillies are out of the hunt:

San Diego
L.A. Dodgers
N.Y. Mets

Other possibilities: Washington, Texas, Chicago White Sox, L.A. Angels, St. Louis

I’m ordering those teams in presumed willingness to spend. I think it’s pretty much a given that Boston, Cincinnati and Toronto will sign new closers, probably from among the “big four” remaining closers. San Diego is a wild card; the Padres would spend a substantial amount to re-sign Bell, but they’ll probably go cheap if they can’t land him.

It seems to me that it’s much more of a buyers market now with the Phillies and Papelbon out of the mix. I think the Red Sox would love Madson, but not at the four years and $44 million he was rumored to be getting from Philadelphia. Now, however, he might come off the board substantially cheaper than that. The Blue Jays want a big-time closer, but it’s hard to see them going past $10 million per year. I expect Cincinnati will simply re-sign Cordero. Teams like the Orioles and Mets could gamble on Broxton or Brad Lidge.

One way it could potentially shake out:

Boston: Madson – four years, $36 million
Toronto: K-Rod – two years, $18 million
Cincinnati: Cordero – two years, $16 million
San Diego: Bell – accepts arbitration
Minnesota: Nathan – two years, $12 million

Now, on the other hand, there’s still the possibility those contracts could go substantially higher. The Marlins could decide to throw big money at a closer if they get spurned by Albert Pujols and Jose Reyes. The Rangers could decide to shift Neftali Feliz to the rotation and then bid for Madson. The Nationals could trade Drew Storen and make a run at Madson. The Cards would have money to spend on the bullpen if Pujols decides to head elsewhere.

As is, though, I think the teams that are patient will be rewarded and that the Phillies’ decision to give $50 million to Papelbon will look like a big overpay at the conclusion of the winter. But only time will tell.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.