Madson, formerly with the Philadelphia Phillies, is relatively new to the role of the closer. He had been an excellent setup man for Brad Lidge, but he finally grabbed that closer’s role last year as Lidge was injured for the beginning part of the season.
Admittedly, he was so good as a setup man, that I kind of hated to see him leave that role. However, he responded very well, and he put up what was arguably his best major league season.
He appeared in 62 games and had a 4-2 record with a 2.37 ERA, 32 saves, and a 1.15 WHIP. He also averaged over one strikeout per inning, and he averaged almost four strikeouts for every walk. Because of that blend of a solid repertoire and control, he is exactly what you would want in a closer.
That is why Cincinnati fans should be extraordinarily excited about this deal.
Last season, Francisco Cordero was shutting the door for the Reds. He had a very good season tallying up 37 saves with a 2.45 ERA. He appeared in 68 games with a 5-3 record and a 1.02 WHIP. He is not a strikeout pitcher, but he gets outs consistently, and that is what is ultimately important for a closer. Obviously, there is nothing wrong with having Cordero finishing out games. That is not why I am excited about Ryan Madson for the Reds.
The option on Cordero’s contract for 2012 was worth $12 million. That is a substantial sum of money, but it is also substantially more than the $8.5 million that will be paid to Ryan Madson.
Is Cordero worth substantially much more than Madson? Looking at the stats above, I would argue that they are relatively comparable. Cordero had more saves, Madson has a lower ERA, Cordero had a lower WHIP, and Madson had more strikeouts. Yes, there are differences, but the point remains that both of these pitchers are very talented.
Sabermatricians might even argue Madson was quite a bit better then Cordero in terms of Wins above Replacement, but even that is controversial. According to FanGraphs, Madson had a score of 1.7 and Cordero only scored 0.1. However, according to the Baseball Reference version of this statistic, Cordero was ahead at 2.3 whereas Madson only scored 2.2.
Obviously, since nobody can decide which one of these two athletes is better, it seems as if they must be relatively comparable.
Therefore, if you are a Cincinnati Reds fan, would you rather save $3.5 million that could be invested in other areas of the franchise? Of course you would. (Incidentally, that is also I am not happy that the Phillies got rid of Madson. They spent more money than necessary to get another comparable closer in Jonathan Papelbon).
It is never easy to lose a successful player, but the Cincinnati Reds got an amazing bargain in Ryan Madson. They saved money and did not have to sacrifice quality. Congratulations Cincinnati on your new acquisition.