The Ryan Madson Wheel Spins

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This is why the owner/team president has to be involved and aware of all negotiations and offers that are being discussed.

After it was reported that the Phillies and Ryan Madson had agreed to a 4-year, $44 million contract with a $13 million option for a 5th year, suddenly the brakes screeched and, lo and behold, it wasn’t “official” or it wasn’t “done-done”; or team president David Montgomery hadn’t give his approval; or something.

Montgomery has given GM Ruben Amaro a remarkable amount of freedom to do what he wanted to do; to bolster the big league product by whatever means necessary (trading the entire farm system), and at whatever cost he recommended (the Ryan Howard $145 million catastrophe; bringing back Cliff Lee); now it appears as if Montgomery is closing the vault when a financial commitment makes no sense whatsoever.

Madson, after his first year as a semi-full time closer, was apparently offered a dollar amount that would potentially have lured the battle-tested and better Jonathan Papelbon to Philadelphia.

The Madson signing is on hold.

Murky details are provided in this Philadelphia Inquirer piece where Bob Brookover says that the Madson camp may have “misinterpreted” (whatever that means); and that “it could be argued that Madson is coming off a better 2011 (than Papelbon)” without bothering to make the argument.

The “argument” would be inconvenient to make because it doesn’t exist. Papelbon’s better. Papelbon was better. Papelbon will be better.

It’s a form of public castration of an executive to prevent an agreed-upon deal after the fact, after it’s been reported that it was done—and I do believe it was done—but Montgomery is right to say “wait a second” and reconsider the options of what can be purchased or maintained with that amount of cash.

Whether it was the public reaction; media and blogger ridicule; or basic common sense—it’s only relevant in the perception of Amaro. In trusting their baseball people, club bosses have signed off on contracts that they were uncomfortable with. Perhaps these circumstances were such that said owners/CEOs felt it was more important not to undermine the titular head of their baseball operations. But this Madson contract was and is ludicrous and now it’s going to be even more embarrassing to the Phillies if they still agree to those numbers after hesitating because Madson simply is not going to be worth that money.

This is why the head of the organization proper has to be cognizant of what’s being offered; the GM has to have a number in mind and run it by the people who sign the checks before presenting it. Scott Boras—Madson’s agent—can get any story he wants into the media at any time, true or not; once the details of the deal were out there, the magnitude of the investment became clearer…or maybe Montgomery didn’t even know about it, which is somewhat unfathomable, but possible. Teams will let such occurrences pass to protect the organization from the aura of ineptitude that happens everywhere, but is generally relegated to teams like the Mets, Orioles and Pirates because it’s convenient to frame those teams as not knowing what they’re doing. But there are no GMs with full autonomy to do whatever they want—it’s a myth—and the spinning from the club’s PR department won’t gloss over that reality.


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