July 13, 2004

First-half MVP: Ryan Madson

Stupid, predictable joke: What do Ryan Madson and gauze have in common?

I won’t answer.

The Phillies’ moto for the first half should be something like the answer to that question:

Phillies’ First Half: We stopped the bleeding for now.

The bleeding came from the jugular in one giant gush: the entire starting rotation, besides Eric Milton, were either hurt or sucked.

So a giant load fell on the front of the pen, not the ass-end guys like Tim Worrell and Billy Wagner, who drew most of the attention as big off-season signings.

For long-arm duty, the team used to slap together a squad of pitchers like Hector Mercado, Dave Coggin and Jose Santiago. But with no starter making it past the 7th inning in the first half, it made the job of rookie Ryan Madson, displaced starter turned middle reliever, all the more vital. All he did was rack up 6 mop-up wins while posting a team-best 2.03 ERA.

When Vicente Padilla and Randy Wolf went down with injury, fans figured the team would call upon Madson to fill a starter spot. The team decided free agent veteran Paul Abbott and AAA vet Brian Powell could serve as a temporary solution, to the ire of many fans.

But folks who are still clamoring should realize that Madson proved more valuable in mop-up. The team leaned on him like a starter anyway, handing him the ball for 53 innings, getting back 40 Ks and a 1.22 WHIP.

What other rookie in the NL has meant more to his team than Madson has to the Phillies? Votes, please.

Ryan Madson's excellent first half meant more the the Phillies than any other player, including Jim Thome and his 28 ding-dongs.

Also getting MVP votes: 2. Bobby Abreu; 3. Jim Thome; 4. Billy Wagner; 5. Eric Milton; 6. Pat Burrell; 7. Chase Utley.