Ryan Madson hopes to stay with the Phillies, but wants to be a closer

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Ryan Madson is in the final season of a three-year, $12 million deal and the setup man told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he “would love the opportunity to stay and finish my career here.”

Madson also told Gelb that he’d like the chance to be a closer and with the Phillies likely to decline their $12.5 million option on Brad Lidge for 2012 there’s an opportunity to assume ninth-inning duties in Philadelphia.

Gelb speculates that the payroll won’t have enough room to keep both Madson and Lidge, but it remains to be seen if the Phillies are comfortable with the notion of Madson as a full-time closer. He’s struggled at times when asked to fill in for Lidge, but Madson’s overall body of work as a setup man shows him as one of the elite relievers in all of baseball and there’s little doubt he could translate that success to the closer role if given an extended shot.

Of course, Madson has been so consistently excellent as a setup man that several teams are likely to offer him a closing gig if he hits the open market. Since moving to the bullpen full time in 2007 he has a 3.01 ERA and more strikeouts (252) than hits allowed (242) in 269 innings. During that time the only relievers in baseball to throw as many innings as Madson with a lower ERA are Mariano Rivera, Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol, and Darren Oliver.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.