TBOH Debate – 2/5/2014


Image Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Every week, the writers of That Ball’s Outta Here debate the key issues facing the Phillies.  Joining me this week are Spencer Bingol, Alex Cheremeteff, Emily Gruver, and Michael Lecke.

Would you rather the Phillies sign A.J. Burnett with the understanding that they then likely won’t have the financial flexibility to make a move at the deadline?  Or would they be better off seeing how things go and having the freedom to make an addition later in the season?


I’m not a fan of the idea of making additional major moves at the deadline with this team (or at least for any player requiring significant “financial flexibility”). Any significant additions in a season where the ceiling is a 2nd Wild Card spot is trading away prospects for a shot in the dark. It’s the old “mortgaging the future” cliché.

Signing A.J. Burnett addresses the most obvious hole that would exist were the team still in contention around the deadline (the rotation). Also, with FIPs of 3.52 and 2.80 over the last two seasons (and combined 3.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 rates), he’s significantly better than the kind of pitchers normally traded at the deadline.

Basically, the team should spend whatever money they feel like they need to have an off-chance at competing NOW. Burnett won’t cost a fortune, has performed well of late, and doesn’t cost a draft pick. In the long-term, spending money won’t hurt you nearly as much as spending prospects.


I would sign A.J. Burnett to a two-year contract. He is a workhorse who will give the Phillies 200 innings and around 200 strikeouts. Plus, he is a ground ball pitcher who had a ground ball percentage of 58% last season.  Even at 37 years of age, he is still a legitimate Number 3 starter.

A Top 3 of Lee, Hamels and Burnett would look very nice.  If Miguel Gonzalez wins a starting job, the Phillies could have a formidable rotation with Kyle Kendrick as the long man coming out of the bullpen.


As much as I would love to add Burnett, who is solid and will add depth to the starting rotation, we have to keep in mind that he’s 37 years old. I would rather wait for better options.


Considering the other options for the rotation, Burnett would be a huge upgrade.  With him in the third spot, I could at least talk myself into the Phillies finding their way into the playoffs.  And who knows, if the Phillies are in contention at the trading deadline, maybe they could find a few more dollars to spend?


The Phillies current starting rotation has a cavernous hole at #3 behind Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Everyone sees it. It’s a glaring flaw. Depending on the money, Burnett would be a decent option to plug the gap. As for financial flexibility, the Phillies are a long way off from the luxury tax. If the team shows enough grit under Sandberg to make a run, the purse strings will open up and Ruben will have some room to operate. Meanwhile, without a #3, they’re not likely to last long enough in the race to be buyers anyway.

Image Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

If Ryan Madson is truly healthy, should the Phillies sign him?


Absolutely. Chad Gaudin had a 3.34 FIP last season over 97 IP and still didn’t require a major league commitment – Ryan Madson hasn’t pitched since 2011. He’s only a Minor League deal at this point.

His last five active seasons, Madson compiled a 2.89 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 8.6 SO/9, 1.192 WHIP and a total of 7.9 rWAR. If he’s HEALTHY, he’s a no-brainer signing.

He’ll be 34, so at his age he’d already be a heightened injury risk, but (again) at his price there’s nothing wrong with depth. He’d cost next to
nothing, has a decorated late-inning history, and if he passes his physical he’d be great value. Ruben will get more ignorant “HE’S OOOOLD” comments online, but it would be the smart thing to do.


If Ryan Madson is truly healthy, I would sign him to an incentive-laden, one year contract.  Low-risk, high-reward.  He would give the Phillies a veteran arm coming out of the bullpen who could also mentor some of the younger relievers.

Also, if the Phillies decide to trade Jonathan Papelbon at some point during the season, Madson can step in and close games.  This could be a win-win situation, assuming that he truly is 100% healthy.


Yes, the Phillies should sign Madson. Yes, I know he’s 33 and hasn’t played for a while now, but the Phillies need to improve and add depth to this shaky bullpen. He played for the Phillies for nine seasons and is familiar with the team and the players; why not give him a chance?


Madson was awesome when he was here, and was one of my all-time favorite players.  So why not take a chance on signing him to a minor league deal?  What’s the worst that could happen?  He becomes awesome again and they have to re-sign him to a larger deal at the end of the season?


Mad Dog might as well come back! Truly, Madson was a huge plus for our bullpen while he was here. But after two lost seasons to injury it would have to be a minor league, no-risk deal. He would need to win a job. How great it would be to see him back in top form for the Phillies again! Not holding my breath, though.

What do you think?  Feel free to share your opinions below!

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That Ball’s Outta Here (@FS_TBOH)

Alex Cheremeteff (@AlexCheremeteff)

Emily Gruver (@EmilyGruver3)

Mike Lacy (@MikeLacy_215)

Michael Lecke (@Bee5pace)