Jonathan Papelbon agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Phillies, pending his physical. How does his signing impact Jimmy Rollins, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge and Michael Cuddyer? This is the third top-tier name with the same approach, and that indicates what you can expect and when during this off-season.
I will do a monthly Baseball-Fix Monday for November (2 parts) and one in December. Depending on how quickly things develop, that may change accordingly. It will be December 5 or if a deal is near, I’ll delay posting by a week. I will start January 9 with a weekly version, and will publish after every game that is not washed out during the year.
My format will remain the same for 2012 with Nitecap Insight, The Precap and The Apocalyptic Horsemen. The opening will feature certain players plus participants who warrant mention, good and bad, for what they have done in the contest or clubhouse. Penthouse Occupancy will cover all remarkable plays and solid performances during critical moments by the red pinstripes. The best of those will receive The Crystal Champagne Toast. Cholley’s Doghouse is filled every now and then with a slacking effort. The Outhouse is for something that stinks, like a bad ump call. The Glass House is a stone’s throw away for a man who blows his opportunity to nail a juicier role. The Miniature Mansion is for off-field excellence, like a locker-room influence. However, these houses don’t have visitors after every battle
NOVEMBER BASEBALL-FIX MONDAY:
The Answers, Part 1:
The second half of this article will be next Monday morning, because the 2012 dollars for Papelbon won’t be made public until this week. The money aspect is critical to how Rube Amaro operates ahead of the curve. He moves quickly to fill his most pressing requirement, attacks his second need, and he addresses his other holes with his remaining funds. He simultaneously adds small pieces and negotiates with young stars who are still under control. You can expect swift progress on J-Roll and Cuddyer, because the Phils must have a steady shortstop and a versatile right-handed stick with power. Cuddyer can handle leftfield, while John Mayberry Jr. and Jim Thome hold down first base in April. Cuddyer can also spell Polly Polanco, Chase Utley, Hunter Pence and Ryan Howard.
Rube had swaps in place for Doc Halladay and Cliff Lee at the 2009 trading deadline. He went with Lee, which was his second choice. He made an offer to Lee for 2010 plus, but completed the Halladay deal when he felt his original intention would be elongated. Now, he has sprinted away from Ryan Madson, landing Papelbon for his biggest unfilled role. By mid-December, Amaro will again work his magic once or twice.
Over the weekend the debate centered on who is the better closer: Papelbon or Madson. Both are about the same age. Mad Dog took a long time to conquer the lock-down responsibility, and if he has an extended struggling period, it is unclear that he will survive. Lidge went through that and Papelbon rebounded after a down 2010. That said, the big galoot with the bug-eyed look has a 6-summer resume, including All-Star and postseason appearances. “Cinco Ocho“–58 (his number)–is his self-declared nickname and he brings his riverdance to the Bank.
The big question for 2012 is that the new guy is a fly-ball hurler in a homer-friendly field, but Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park are not pitcher’s arenas. Plus, Pap had to work against the toughest divisional offenses in the sport. He will have a huge advantage with opponents who have few or no at-bats against him. Papelbon is now in an ace-heavy environment, where he could develop a secondary pitch by 2014. You cannot go wrong with either Papelbon or Madson at this time.
Rube usually offers a fair contract, especially when he has two acceptable candidates. In 2009, he acquired Lee after Toronto demanded too much for Halladay, and he snagged Doc when Cliff’s agent was overly negotiation prone. The return of Lee last season almost didn’t happen, which proves that Amaro’s fast directional change toward Halladay was the right decision. Originally, there was disappointment when the General came to town instead of the Doctor, but that didn’t last too long. By the following spring, Halladay was here and everybody wanted Lee too.
Rube operates on a straight line with the biggest requirement first, which is a closer behind his number ones. He began 2012 with $62M available for 15 of 26 players, but $30.5M would go to 11, like Cole Hamels and Pence. The other 9 are familiar faces: Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley, Michael Martinez, Wilson Valdez, Antonio Bastardo, Brian Schneider, Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr. and a lefty reliever, like Raul Valdes or Joe Savery. The signed 10 are: Halladay, Lee, Joe Blanton, Jose Contreras, Chooch Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Polanco, Shane Victorino and Thome. A 26th man is required until Ryno returns in April or May.
Rube spends until he hits his financial ceiling, which was $31.5M for 5 roster spots: a closer, a shortstop, a 26th slot (Cuddyer or Pete Orr) and 2 arms in that exact order. If Papelbon’s 2012 dollars are $12.5M, that would leave $19M for 4 jobs in next year’s ledger, which could be $1.5M between Orr, Michael Stutes and another young wing. The difference is that he doesn’t exhaust his resources with his first hole unfilled, doesn’t get in a biding war, and he has the certainty of a top-tier performer before turning to his secondary target during November.
The Answer, Conclusion will be published next Monday morning. There are 72 story lines from the 2011 season that can be found in my author archives ( Tal Venada ).
The Phillies finished 42 games over .500, which equaled a season of many positives. I have many summer-long highlights of puzzle pieces, especially after drubbings and defeats. I alternated the 2011 ERA For The NL East ( Philadelphia Phillies: 2011 ERA For The NL East At Game 162 And Final ) and 2011 ERA For The MLB 5 ( Philadelphia Phillies: Final 2011 ERA For The MLB 5 At Game 162 ) with the last 2 in the link. Check out The Phillies page by placing the pointer over MLB at the top, and click on the name. Thank you, to all who bookmark my page, because feeds are erratic at times. Many visitors come from these outlets, and it is always obvious when one of those didn’t work. Tal’s Handy Stats is daily coverage.