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.

Minor League Baseball eclipses 40 million in attendance for 14th consecutive season

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Minor League Baseball announced on Wednesday that, for the 14th consecutive season, the league has eclipsed 40 million in total attendance. 20 teams set single-game attendance records and seven teams set franchise records for single-game attendance in their current parks.

ESPN’s Keith Law, who has been covering the minor leagues for quite a while, did the math:

Minor League Baseball president and CEO Pat O’Conner, whose most prominent stint in the public eye involved him disingenuously justifying the underpaying of his players, said, “Minor League Baseball continues to be the best entertainment value in sports, and these numbers support that. For us to top 40 million fans for the 14th consecutive season despite the weather challenges our teams faced in April and May is a testament to the continued support of our loyal fan bases and the creative promotions and hard work done by all of our teams across the country.”

Major and Minor League Baseball are quite happy to make money hand over fist on the backs of their players, but are too cheap to pay them adequately for their labor.