The Ryan Madson affair isnt a case of crying over spilled milk for the Cincinnati Reds, it is a case of crying over spoiled milk.
It is if somebody paid for a half gallon of milk in a convenience store and when they opened it for consumption it was spoiled.
On a much larger scale, the Reds paid free agent Ryan Madson 8.5 million for one year to be their closer in 2012. But when he tried to throw in spring training, something was wrong, desperately wrong.
They nursed his ouchy elbow for nearly five weeks, giving him treatment and backing him down on his throwing program.
Just when it seemed he was ready to go, after telling people all spring that this was something normal, something he has gone through before in his career, Madson broke down again.
He was sent to Cincinnati for a full examination by team physician Dr. Tim Kremchek and an MRI revealed the ligament was torn from the bone.
To repair it, Tommy John ligament replacement surgery is necessary and it takes a miminum of a year, usually longer, for a pitcher to recover.
The Reds do not have insurance on Madson because they routinely do not insure one-year contracts, so they are out 8.5 million. There is an 11 million mutual option for next year, an option the Reds arent likely to pick up for a pitcher coming off major surgery and still rehabilitating the arm.
Fans are reacting negatively already, wondering why the torn ligament wasnt discovered before the Reds signed Madson on January 20.
Thats because the ligament wasnt damaged then. He underwent a full examination before the contract was signed and passed. He underwent a full examination before spring training began and again passed.
Fans wonder how a pitcher can tear a ligament without ever throwing a pitch in a game. It can happen playing catch on the side. It can happen doing PFP pitchers fielding practice. It can happen picking up an equipment bag.
Nobody knows how it happened. But it happened.
And some fans wonder if the Philadelphia Phillies dumped damaged goods on the Reds. Thats not true, either.
The Phillies didnt push Madson on the Reds. In fact, they offered him a multi-year contract, but when Madson balked the Phillies went elsewhere and signed free agent Jonathon Papelbon. So, there was no trade involved, no skullduggery, the Phillies wouldnt have offered him a long-term deal if they knew something was wrong with his arm.
It was just one of those unfortunate things that happen every year to every baseball team, a hazard of the game.
And crying over spoiled milk doesnt solve anything. The Reds do have options.
As manager Dusty Baker says, I dont dwell on the negative. I dont worry about what happens. You look to how you fix it and move on. There is nothing you can do about it, so you dont fret over it.
Fortunately, the Reds traded for lefthander Sean Marshall, a guy with some closing experience with the Chicago Cubs and a guy who wants to be a closer.
The Reds traded lefthander starter Travis Wood and rookie outfielder Dave Sappelt for Marshall with a plan to make him the teams premier lefthanded set-up guy.
Nick Masset and Bill Bray are other alternatives. Both had early-spring arm problems, but both appear healthy and ready to do what is necessary, if the Reds prefer to leave Marshall in the set-up role.
But Marshall appears to be the best alternative. And Bray can move into Marshalls lefthanded set-up role.
Thats why I say you never have enough pitching, said Baker. You have to have contingencies. We saw this last year when we lost two starters at the end of spring training Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey. We thought we had too much pitching, but you never have too much.
As far as the extra spot in the bullpen vacated by Madson, there is still the chance Aroldis Chapman could land there. Or maybe Homer Bailey.
All spring, Bailey and Chapman have pitched on the same day, competing for the No. 5 spot in the rotation. Based on numbers, Chapman is far in front 1-0, 1.50 ERA, two walks, 12 strikeouts to Baileys 1-2, 7.93 ERA, seven walks, six strikeouts.
Bailey is out of options, so it isnt likely theyll risk losing him by trying to send him back to the minors. He could land in the bullpen.
Thats what spring training is for, to find out things, said Baker. We still have time to make adjustments.