Back around Christmas, CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reported that there was mutual interest between Ryan Madson and the Philadelphia Phillies in a return. The hard-throwing righty, who spent his first eight seasons in Philly, is attempting an MLB comeback after missing two seasons with arm injuries. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick said Wednesday night Madson’s chance to prove that he still can be an effective MLB reliever, will come in the next ten days.
Ryan Madson, on comeback trail after missing 2 years with injuries, will hold full public workout for teams Feb. 7 in Phoenix.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 30, 2014
Crasnick also passed along that Madson did throw for “an unnamed club”, who appears to be the favorite to sign him.
Madson already held a private workout Tuesday for an unnamed club that is viewed as a frontrunner for his services.
— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) January 30, 2014
Naturally there is speculation that the Phillies were the “unnamed club”, but that is nothing more than speculation. Obviously it could be the Phillies and Salisbury’s report last month is enough reason to think that it may be the Phillies, but there is no guarantee that the Phillies were the “unnamed club”.
Last week’s signing of reliever Chad Gaudin could lead some to think that the Phillies have filled out the competitors for their bullpen, and Gaudin, who seems likely to make the MLB roster, would take away a potential roster spot from Gaudin. That said, Gaudin and Madson wouldn’t be competing for the same role, should the Phillies bring back Madson. As strange as it sounds, even after two seasons out of the MLB, if the Phillies brought back Madson, it would be to compete for the setup man role. Gaudin would be a long reliever, that could make the occasional spot start. As much as the Phillies seem to be going back to their mid-2000’s mindset, I think it’s safe to say they wouldn’t try Madson as a starter again.
Madson would be competing with the likes of Antonio Bastardo (lock to make the team because he is owed $2 Million), off-season acquisition Brad Lincoln (who will surprise a lot of people in 2014 with his ability to throw gas out of the bullpen), and Justin De Fratus (posted a 3.86 ERA in 58 games in 2013 and is only 28). Mike Adams, who will be nearly nine months removed from rotator cuff surgery on Opening Day, is the question mark.
Adams believes that he will be ready for opening day according to NJ.com’s Bill Evans, but as Evans also points out, Adams felt pain in his shoulder until November. That leaves me to think that Adams may be done, but from the sounds of the article, Adams will do his best to be pitching on Opening Day.
In that scenario, Madson wouldn’t have a spot on the Phillies MLB roster. The Phillies aren’t going to stick him in Triple-A, nor would he agree to that considering he will have other MLB offers. Madson has earned better than being stashed in the minors, even after missing two seasons.
Adams may get to Spring Training, and after watching him throw, the Phillies may realize that he is flat-out done. But for two reasons, this still wouldn’t affect Madson. First, Madson will be signed by then, so Adam’s Spring Training performance really won’t matter to the Phillies chances of signing Madson. Secondly, even if the front office thinks Adams is done, they will still try to trot him out there the next two seasons to justify the fact that he will get over $12 million for the next two seasons. They pretty much did the same thing with Roy Halladay over the past two seasons, didn’t they?
The point is, the sentimental value of Madson’s return sounds great. But, so does a return of Aaron Rowand, Roy Halladay, and Jayson Werth, among others, in their primes. Let’s be honest, are we really to believe a reliever who made a living off of mixing breaking pitches in with a high-nineties fastball, is going to be effective after missing two straight seasons with arm injuries? That kind of defies logic, unless Madson has completely reinvented himself. And even if he has, the Phillies have some arms out in the bullpen this year. I’m not high on Bastardo and I’m worried that Mike Adams is done, but I like the addition of Chad Gaudin and Brad Lincoln’s arms, think Papelbon will rebound from last season (at least somewhat), and I think some combination of Justin De Fratus, Michael Stutes, Jake Diekman, B.J. Rosenberg, and potentially Jonathan Pettibone (if he doesn’t land a rotation spot), will fill out the rest of the bullpen. If the Phillies have one spot on there team that might actually turn out to be reliable this season, it may be the bullpen—where there really doesn’t seem to be a fit for Madson.