The Phillies do not currently have a closer. They need one. Here are the free agent options.
Pros: Madson has to be the first choice to be the Phillies closer for2012. He’s done nothing but improve over the last few seasons and despite not being named closer to start 2011, he ended up with the job and performed commendably. He ended the year with 32 saves and a 2.37 ERA. He’ll likely be a Type A free agent, which will reduce interest by some clubs.
Cons: Money and that damn Scott Boras. Boras got Rafael Soriano “closer money” (3 years, $35 million) from the Yankees last season. Now, noboby but the Yankees would pay that money and nobody will give Ryan Madson that sort of money this year. But, three years seems about right and Boras will try to take the deal to $30 million… but he’ll fail. I see three years (2 with an option?)at about $8-9 million per year.
Pros: He’s pitched and succeeded in many high pressure situations. He’s played for a winner and is accustomed to playoff baseball. He strikes out a ton of batters and doesn’t walk many (87:10 in 64 innings in 2011).
Cons: The Red Sox gave him $12 million to avoid arbitration last season. He’s going to want major cash.
Pros: He’ll probably be slightly cheaper than Madson because of hisage. Also because he’s older he’ll have less leverage in terms of years.
Cons: Buyer beware on Heath Bell, because he may be a huge disappointment for somebody. His “baseball card numbers” look great. 43 saves. 2.44 ERA. But a closer inspection of his stats looks troublesome. He benefitted from a low BABIP* (.261) and his xFIP was 3.67. The biggest reason for the rise in xFIP was very poor strikeout numbers. Bell struck out only 51 batters in 62 innings. In 2010, Bell’s BABIP was .322 but it didn’t affect his overall numbers much because he struck out almost four more batters per nine innings compared to 2011. If Bell has a 2011 strikeout numbers next season, you could be looking at a 3.50+ ERA and number of blown saves.
(*It’s interesting to look at Bell’s BABIP. His lifetime BABIP is.301. Mmmmm, regression to the mean. But during his first three years in the league with the Mets, it was close to .360. Since he went to the Padres, it’s been close to .280. Interpret that on your own…)
Pros: He’s been helping the Phillies win games for years. He’ll be dirt cheap.
Cons: He probably can’t close games anymore, which is a prerequisite for the job. He’s coming off a weird elbow injury and he’ll likely never throw 99-100 again and he doesn’t really have any effective secondary or off-speed pitches.
Pros: He’s one of the youngest FA closers available.
Cons: He wasn’t very good in 2011 and he hasn’t been very consistent, alternating between good and bad years. While this pattern would have him pitching well in 2012, I wouldn’t bet on it. I also don’t trust a closer that doesn’t get strike outs. Capps on had 34 Ks in 65 innings.
Pros: He’s probably the cheapest option. He also has good strikeout numbers, getting about 10 per 9 innings.
Cons: He’s not really a candidate to be a full-time closer. Instead, he’ sa guy you’d get to set-up or go “closer by committee.”
Pros: Lots of material to blog about.
Cons: Giant a-hole.
Other closers that could become free agents if their team options are declined - Francisco Cordero, Jon Rauch, Rafael Soriano, Jose Valverde, Joe Nathan, and Kyle Farnsworth.