Four years and $50 million for Papelbon? Seriously, Philly?

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There were many, many potential closers on the market this morning. None had signed yet. None made the sort of money Jonathan Papelbon did last year, have the mileage on their arms that he does and most of them aren’t his age.  Yet, somehow, Ruben Amaro decided that Papelbon needed a four-year, $50 million deal.

You OK with that, Philly fans?  You OK with Papelbon getting one more year and $13 million more than Brad Lidge got on his last deal?

Not to say that Papelbon is bad.  He’s not. Had a really nice bounceback year in 2011.  The real issue here is a four-year deal for a closer of any stripe.  Those are pretty rare and rarely have they ever worked out. Joe Nathan had a decent one at the same age as Papelbon.  As Alex Speier noted in a column the other day, though, 11 closers have been given multi-year deals worth $9 million or more.  With the exception of Mariano Rivera, they just haven’t worked out and most have been fairly disastrous.  And that’s just multi-year deals, not four freaking years.

I’ll grant that Papelbon could be a moderate improvement over Ryan Madson in the near term, but it doesn’t make them markedly better as a team. It certainly doesn’t make them any younger, as this deal takes Papelbon through his age 34 season. It doesn’t help the Phillies bottom line by damn sight, and it’s already pretty heavily-loaded with big salaries owed to aging players.

So the question is why? Why these dollars to this dude?  Why, when there are other holes to fill on this team — offense is a concern, pitching not nearly as much — do the Phillies need to go out and get an expensive Proven Closer?

I’m baffled.

Phillies promote Chris Young to pitching coach position

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Chris Young joined the Phillies as their assistant pitching coach last offseason. This offseason he’s getting a promotion: the Phillies just named as their main (um, top? lead? alpha?) pitching coach for the 2019 season. He replaces Rick Kranitz.

Ken Rosenthal, who reported the promotion, says that the Phillies didn’t necessarily want to shake up their pitching coach situation, but that since several clubs wanted to hire Young away, it was either promote him to the top job or lose him. That’s bad news for Kranitz, but he remains under contract for 2019 and will, in the meantime, be allowed to interview elsewhere.

The Phillies pitching staff ranked 11th in runs allowed in the National League in 2018. They were tenth the year before that, but some early season uncertainty and mismanagement by Gabe Kapler and a late season collapse served to hide what was, for most of the season, a bit of a better staff than the year before. The Phillies obviously credit Young for that and want to keep him in the fold.