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CONTRACT KILLERS

Nov. 21, 2011
Nov. 21, 2011

Table of Contents
Nov. 21, 2011

LEADING OFF
Inside: THE WEEK IN SPORTS
SPECIAL REPORT: SCANDAL. SHAME. A SEARCH FOR ANSWERS.
PRO FOOTBALL
  • Remember the 49ers? After eight dismal years, the former glamour team has been reborn—as a band of blue-collar misfits led by an intense new coach and a roster full of NFL castoffs

PRO HOCKEY
PRO BASKETBALL
  • J.J. Barea, the breakout star of the NBA Finals, wants to get back to work. Until he does, he'll be hanging out with his girlfriend— a former Miss Universe—on the tropical island where he's a hero

HEY SIXTEEN
  • HAS A LOT ON HER MIND. THE YOUNGEST WINNER IN LPGA TOUR HISTORY HAS THE GAME, THE DRIVE AND THE CHARISMA TO BE THE NEXT MEGASTAR IN WOMEN'S GOLF. IF ONLY SHE COULD FIND A DATE TO THE PROM

Departments

CONTRACT KILLERS

Apparently the first entry on Ruben Amaro Jr.'s off-season to-do list was Throw gobs of money at a closer. Last week the Phillies' G.M. was reportedly close to giving incumbent stopper Ryan Madson a four-year, $44 million contract, which would have been the fifth-largest deal ever for a reliever. But by the weekend Amaro moved on to bigger things, signing free agent Jonathan Papelbon away from the Red Sox for four years and $50 million—the most lucrative reliever contract ever. History suggests that spending big, in years and cash, on free-agent closers is a mistake. Here's how the five biggest pre-Papelbon closer deals have panned out; in terms of WAR (wins above replacement, 3.0 being a solid figure for a closer), teams have generally gotten less bang for their bucks as the years have gone by. (WAR data from baseball-reference.com.)

This is an article from the Nov. 21, 2011 issue

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[The following text appears within a chart. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual chart.]

MARIANO RIVERA

Yankees 2008--10, $45 million

FRANCISCO CORDERO

Reds 2008--11, $46 million

BILLY WAGNER

Mets 2006--09, $43 million

B.J. RYAN

Blue Jays 2006--10, $47 million

JOE NATHAN

Twins 2008--11, $47 million

KEY

WAR FOR SEASON

DID NOT PLAY THAT SEASON

1ST YEAR

2ND YEAR

3RD YEAR

4TH YEAR

5TH YEAR

WAR

4.0

3.0

2.0

1.0

0.0

-1.0

PHOTOJOHN BIEVER (RIVERA)PHOTOAL TIELEMANS (CORDERO)PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON (RYAN)PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON (WAGNER)PHOTOCHUCK SOLOMON (NATHAN)PHOTOWINSLOW TOWNSON (PAPELBON)JONATHAN PAPELBON