Posted on: March 8, 2012 12:15 pm

Madson on walk-in music: 'I don't want any'

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- With closers playing musical chairs this winter, the biggest question of the spring became . . . music?


Jonathan Papelbon moved from the Red Sox to the Phillies, so the Dropkick Murphys say he can't use "Shipping Up To Boston" as his walk-in music. Andrew Bailey moved from the A's to the Red Sox, and the music question is big enough that Bailey opened a Twitter chat Wednesday night by saying, "FYI, no walk out song yet."

And what about Ryan Madson, who moved from the Phillies to the Reds?

Last year, Madson entered games to "Don't Stop Believing'." Theoretically, he could do the same this year, since the song isn't exactly tied to Philadelphia.

But Madson said he doesn't want it. In fact, when the Reds asked him what song he wanted, he said he told them he didn't want anything.

"I just want to go out there and get three outs," Madson said Thursday morning.

Madson is in good spirits, despite some elbow soreness that has kept him out of early Cactus League games, and despite a winter that saw him leave the Phillies after talks about a multiyear contract strangely fell through.

"I'm a simple guy from California," he said.

He signed a one-year deal with the Reds for $8.5 million, a little apprehensive about changing teams for the first time in his career.

"I didn't really know what to expect, but it's been great," he said. "I like all the guys. They're very cool."

And about what happened at the end in Philadelphia, when he was offered at least a three-year deal and then seemed close to signing a four-year deal?

"I don't even care anymore," Madson said.
Posted on: March 4, 2012 1:30 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 2:00 pm

Amaro: Phillies weren't best team in 2008

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Were the Phillies the best team in baseball the last two years, despite not winning the World Series?

Perhaps, but what about in 2008, when they did win it?

"The team in 2008 that won the World Series was not the best team in baseball," a National League general manager said this week.

Not just any NL general manager, either. It was Phillies GM Ruben Amaro.

"Things fell right, and we were fortunate that Tampa Bay beat Boston. Frankly, I didn't like the matchup of the Phillies and Boston."

The 2008 Phillies won 92 games, fifth in the majors behind the Angels, Rays, Cubs and Red Sox.

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 3, 2012 2:06 pm

With free agency approaching, Hamels is popular

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The fans in Phillies red cheered Cole Hamels Saturday.

And . . .

"The Yankee fans were really nice to me, for some odd reason," Hamels said after his two-inning spring debut. "Maybe they were having fun in the Tiki Bar."

Or maybe they were aware that Hamels is eligible for free agency next winter.

If the Yankees stick to their talk about getting their payroll under $189 million, a big Hamels contract wouldn't fit. Besides, as CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman wrote a couple of weeks back, the smart money says that Hamels eventually signs a new deal to stay with the Phillies.

Until he signs, though, fans in other cities can dream. They can tell him how much they want him, too.

"Fans prepare," Hamels said. "They know when things are coming up. When I was playing with Cliff [Lee] in 2009, I saw it all the time."

Category: MLB
Posted on: March 2, 2012 4:52 pm

Expanded playoffs, and what might have been

The other day, Terry Francona was saying that if the new double-wild-card playoff system had been in effect last year, he'd still be managing the Red Sox.

That may well be true. Not only that, but if the new system had been in effect the last two years, Francona's Red Sox would be on a five-year streak of making the playoffs, and would have missed out on October just once in his eight seasons in charge.

A few other what-might-have-beens:

-- The team that would have benefited the most if baseball had gone to two wild cards instead of one in 1995: The Giants. They would have made it to the play-in game in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2009, which means they would have been in the postseason nine of the last 15 years, rather than just five.

-- The play-in game would have featured two teams from the same division a little less than a third of the time, but it would have given us an all-AL East matchup three times in the last four years. It would have been Yankees-Red Sox in both 2008 and 2010. Had that happened, would anyone have been claiming that the rivalry needed rejuvenating?

-- The second wild card wouldn't have saved the collapsing 2007 Mets, but the 2008 team would have had at least one more game.

-- The Phillies' string of consecutive postseason appearances would now be at seven years, rather than five. The Phillies would have been in the play-in game in both 2005 (against the Astros) and 2006 (against the Dodgers).

-- The Blue Jays, who haven't been to the postseason since their back-to-back titles in 1992 and 1993, would have made it in 1998. And the Expos, who didn't make it to the postseason after 1981, would have been there in 1996. But even expanded playoffs wouldn't have helped the Pirates (still no playoff appearances since 1992) or the Royals (none since 1985).

Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:39 pm

Victorino likes new playoffs, wants even more

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- In a way, baseball's new expanded playoffs are set up to benefit a team like the Phillies, who have won their division five straight years but twice were beaten by a wild-card team in the first round.

But if the playoffs are changing, as it's now expected that they are, Shane Victorino wants more.

"Why not make all three series seven games?" Victorino said Wednesday. "That's what I'd like."

Victorino's Phillies lost a best-of-5 first-round series to the wild-card Cardinals last October, after leading the major leagues in the regular season with 102 wins. The Phillies lost to the wild-card Rockies in the first round in 2007.

One big benefit from the new system is that it will reward division winners, and particularly the team with the best record in each league. It will make it harder, although certainly not impossible, for a wild-card team to advance to the World Series.

That should make the regular season more meaningful.

It also guarantees baseball a pair of knockout games to begin the postseason.

"I think it's great for baseball to have that extra game," Victorino said.

The team that survives the one-game wild-card playoff will face the team with the league's best record, after already burning through its best available pitching and also having to travel.

Of course, the Phillies had a chance to set up their pitching going into the first round last year, and the Cardinals, who didn't clinch the wild card until the final moments of the season, did not. And the Phillies still lost.

Would they have lost if the series had been best-of-7?

There's no way to know that, and we do know that a best-of-7 first round isn't happening right now. A second wild card team is happening, and it's extremely likely that it happens this year.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 29, 2012 5:19 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 5:24 pm

Rollins didn't leave, but sure thought about it

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Jimmy Rollins has never played for any team but the Phillies. With a new three-year contract that will take him through to when he's 36, and a vesting option that could take him to age 37, there's a real chance now that Rollins will never play for any team but the Phillies.

But he sure did think about it.

Rollins said Wednesday that he was intrigued enough by the idea of playing at home in California that he even considered signing a one-year contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent again next winter.

The idea would have been that the Giants, who could use Rollins but had no money to chase him this winter, could be in a better position next year, when they won't be paying Aaron Rowand and will be entering the final year of Barry Zito's contract.

The Giants still need to pay Tim Lincecum and need money to keep Matt Cain as well, so there's no guarantee they would have chased Rollins next winter, either. Rollins, who grew up in Oakland, said he only knows that the Giants "had some players asking around" about him earlier last season.

In the end, Rollins opted for security, and opted to stay with the Phillies. Truth be told, it would have been hard for him to leave the only organization he has known, even if the California option had been open to him.

"This is where I've been since I was 17 years old," Rollins said. "If you go somewhere else, for a while, you would feel like a traitor."

Rollins did have strong interest from the Brewers, but he didn't want to leave Philadelphia to go to Milwaukee. Had there been interest from the Giants or another team in California, the decision would no doubt have been tougher.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 29, 2012 11:12 am
Edited on: February 29, 2012 11:17 am

Howard treated for infection

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Phillies won't say Ryan Howard had a "setback."

They will say that they're not sure when he'll be able to resume workouts.

However they phrase it, it can't be great news that Howard's surgically repaired Achilles tendon became infected.

Howard, who ruptured his Achilles tendon on the Phillies' final play of the 2011 playoffs, had a procedure done Monday to clean out the wound. Howard was then placed on antibiotics. The procedure was significant enough that Phillies athletic trainer Scott Sheridan said, "It'll be like a new wound."

The good news, Sheridan said, is that once doctors went in and looked, they found that the repaired Achilles tendon is "intact and not compromised."

Howard had been able to take batting practice and some other limited drills. He's not yet far enough in his rehabilitation for the Phillies to set a timeframe for his return, one of the reasons they can avoid talking about setbacks.

"I don't prefer to use that word," Sheridan said.

So will this keep him out of baseball activity for days, or weeks?

"I truly don't know," Sheridan said.

Howard, who went to Baltimore to see the doctor who operated on him, is expected back in Phillies camp this afternoon.
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 17, 2012 1:49 pm

$69.5 million for 1 win? Yankees will take it

Is $69.5 million too much to pay for one win?

Not necessarily.

What if without that one win, you don't win the World Series? And with it, you do?

I asked basically that question, boiled down to 140 characters, on Twitter Friday morning. And Yankee fans overwhelmingly answered that yes, the ridiculous amount of money they spent on A.J. Burnett was worth it.

And I agree.

The maddeningly inconsistent Burnett was more bad than good in his three years in the Bronx. His ERA for the three years (4.79) is the highest in Yankee history for anyone allowed to make 80 or more career starts.

And while I'll agree that win-loss records don't tell the entire story about starting pitchers, Burnett's 34-35 Yankee record (for a team that was 104 games over .500 during that span) tells a lot.

His postseason numbers (2-2, 5.08 in seven starts) are really no better, and the Yankees' reluctance to allow him to start in the playoffs is more telling than anything else.

But about that one win . . .

It came in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, against the defending champ Phillies. Without it, the Yankees go down two games to none, heading to Citizens Bank Park for Games 3, 4 and 5.

Without it, you could easily argue that the Yankees don't win in 2009, and that they go into spring training this year still having won no World Series since 2000.

Burnett pitched well that night, and he had to. He allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings, with nine strikeouts, and handed the ball directly to Mariano Rivera, which is the formula for success for any Yankee starter. Here's the column I wrote on Burnett that night.

It was a shock to many, including the Phillies.

"He never got outside of himself," Jimmy Rollins said that night. "That's very untypical of A.J."

Burnett had other good games as a Yankee, but you could argue for the rest of his New York career, he was no better (and often worse) than any pitcher the Yankees could have signed for a lot less than $82.5 million for five years.

Or $69.5 million for three years, since the Pirates have agreed to pay Burnett $13 million in exchange for taking him off the Yankees' hands.

The Pirates originally hoped to do the deal for just $10 million, leaving the Yankees on the hook to Burnett for $72.5 million.

Apparently, they decided that was too much for one win. But $69.5 million wasn't.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com