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Report: Red Sox will pursue Ryan Madson and Heath Bell

Nov 11, 2011, 5:12 PM EDT

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We’ve already talked about the Phillies’ side of things already regarding the Jonathan Papelbon deal, but what about the fallout for the Red Sox?

It once looked like Daniel Bard was the natural heir apparent for the ninth inning role, but whether it had to do with his struggles in September or not, it appears the Red Sox aren’t necessarily convinced that he’s ready for the gig.

According to Danny Knobler of, the Red Sox will be in on both Heath Bell and Ryan Madson this winter.

Neither figure to get as much guaranteed money as Papelbon, but they should do very well, even in a deep market for closer-types. Madson was reportedly close to a four-year, $44 million deal with the Phillies earlier this week and considering that Scott Boras is his agent, you can bet he’ll look for a similar deal elsewhere. As for Bell, he told Jim Bowden earlier this week that he would prefer to stay on the West Coast with either the Padres, Angels or Dodgers, but would also be open to signing with the Phillies or Red Sox.

Losing Papelbon is no doubt a blow for Red Sox fans who are witnessing some big changes this offseason. He’s the best closer in team history, so this probably stings a little bit. But I have a feeling they’re also happy new GM Ben Cherington wasn’t the one willing to give him a four-year, $50 million contract.

  1. uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:17 PM

    Color me surprised. In the very, very competitive AL East the Sox couldn’t just go into battle in the 9th inning with Bard. At least not yet.

    • JBerardi - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:27 PM

      It’s not about Bard’s ability to pitch in the ninth. Regardless of what inning he’s pitching, the Red Sox are going from two elite relievers to one elite reliever. You can’t just plug anyone into Bard’s roll and expect it not to matter just because they’re not the “closer”. You can lose a game in the seventh just as well as you can lose it in the ninth.

      • quintjs - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:34 PM

        not just two elite relievers to one, its that Papelbon and Bard are the only decent relief pitchers Boston has. I would think that Boston has no problem with Bard closing, they have a major issue with their other setup options. Its easier to sign a closer and keep Bard in setup.

      • quintjs - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:34 PM

        obviously that should read ‘had’…

      • uyf1950 - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:36 PM

        So true. But I still contend that Bard is not ready to be “the” closer. If or when he struggled in the 8th there was still time for the Sox to rebound or bring in Papelbon. Now if or when he struggles in the 9th (that assumes he’s their closer option) they have nowhere to go or nobody to bring in. Because by then it’s to late.

  2. pastabelly - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Papelbon was lights out in 07 but very ordinary since then. Too much money.

  3. bigharold - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    It’s entirely possible that the RS know something about Bard’s fall off in September that they have divulged. Regardless, they only had three decent pitchers in the pen last year, Aceves, Bard and Papelbon. Whether they give Bard the closer job or not they now need even more help.

  4. JBerardi - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:32 PM

    I hope the Red Sox aren’t in on Bell. His strikeout rate fell off massively last year. Forget the “closer” sheen, the guy just wasn’t a particularly good reliever last year (in the best pitchers park in the game).

    • schlom - Nov 11, 2011 at 6:02 PM

      Bell’s never really had much of a home/road split (2008 was the last season in which he had a big split).

      • miketreedy - Nov 11, 2011 at 6:22 PM

        Yes, but he still pitched a lot against NL West teams. Much different then pitching against AL East teams.

    • vanmorrissey - Nov 11, 2011 at 6:25 PM

      ……..agreed, and think that Madson is truly a better pitcher.

  5. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 11, 2011 at 5:45 PM

    Don’t overdo it, Ben. Make a good first move as GM. Sign one of K-Rod/Nathan/Lidge or obtain Bell, but for reasonable money. Despite Papelbon’s deal, there aren’t going to be 10 teams giving big money to 10 closers. Play it smart.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 11, 2011 at 6:10 PM

      This this THIS.

      And add Broxton to that list of potential targets.

  6. bosoxfan1950 - Nov 11, 2011 at 6:46 PM

    Way to go, Cherington! What? Are you learning impaired, intellectually challenged, or just plain stupid? Everyone knows that the biggest area of need for the Red Sox right now is PITCHING! And you’ve just let the Second-Best Closer in MLB walk away. And for nothing! Here’s a news flash for you, Ben, BARD IS NOT READY! May never be ready for anything other the ultimate set-up man in a bull pen. So, now what? I’d take Madson. But whatever you spend on the next “Closer,” just think, for a few million more, you could have kept Papelbon. Unless of course, because of the shambles the Red Sox are in dictated to Papelbon that he wanted to be elsewhere. Can’t blame him. Hell, I’m ready to get a new baseball cap. Been wearing an assortment of Red Sox baseball caps for over 60 years, through all the B.S. and the recent successes. But, this latest fiasco does indeed take the cake.
    That sound you hear is the plucking of chickens and that smell is the heating of tar.
    You better pony up and re-sign David Ortiz real quick or get ready for a very uncomfortable ride on a pole. Then, go get us some PITCHING!! GDI.

    • rotaryfone - Nov 11, 2011 at 8:46 PM

      You’re over 60? Aren’t you supposed to gain perspective with age?

  7. newpairofsox - Nov 12, 2011 at 7:04 AM

    Persoonally I think letting Pap walk was a good thing…after September’s swoon, the beer and chicken, Lackey’s foot in mouth… the pitching staff needed a wakeup call and a new presence. I think Cherington surprises us all with a Madson deal shortly, 4 years/$40 mil, something like that. Paps glory days are behind him.

  8. uyf1950 - Nov 12, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    I don’t think any of the remaining closers on the market get a 4 years guaranteed contract. I can see Madson getting 3 years and a 4th year vesting option that might be relatively easy to attain. But not 4 years guaranteed out of the gate. I do think he gets $9 or maybe at the outside $10M per season. After all 3 years at $9 or $10M per is nothing to sneeze at for basically pitching about 70 innings.

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