Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Chad Qualls Added To Phillies Bullpen

With Jose Contreras' health in question, Amaro saw a need for a veteran arm in the bullpen. A bullpen that is built with youth aside from Papelbon needs someone capable of taking the ball on regular basis. Chad Qualls is that man, he is one of the most durable relievers in the game and certainly fills the "veteran" role. The Phillies signed him yesterday.

The Stats:
33 years old
Right-handed relief pitcher
Most appearances in MLB since 2005 (512)
8 MLB seasons with Astros, Diamondbacks, Rays, and Padres
Contract- 1 year $1.15M
Career ERA- 3.78, WHIP- 1.27
Has been a solid reliever every year of his career with the exception of 2010, which was disastrous (7.32 ERA, 1.80 WHIP).
Saves- 51, Holds- 130

Phillies 2012 Bullpen: Jonathan Papelbon/Closer, Antonio Bastardo/Set-Up, Chad Qualls/Set-Up, Kyle Kendrick/Longman, and Dontrelle Willis/LOOGY. Hopefuls- Michael Stutes, Joe Savery, Raul Valdes, Brian Saches, Michael Schwimer, Justin De Fratus, David Herndon, David Purcey, and Phillippe Aumont. Health Concern- Jose Contreras.

My Take: I don't see the point in Qualls. Essentially this was a Valdez for Qualls swap, and I'd rather have Valdez. Most of the hopefuls on the list above would likely do as well as, or possibly better than Qualls will next season. Michael Martinez, who is Valdez's replacement, is less likely to do as well as or better than Valdez next season. So I don't understand paying Qualls $1M+ to do the job some kid making league minimum could do that is already in the Phillies system.


Corey said...

overpaying old worn out bullpen pitchers is weird because the phillies have done such a good job of developing young pitchers for the bullpen. like ryan madson, and... that other guy... ummm...

GM-Carson said...

Michael Stutes is as good as Qualls. Herndon isn't that far off. Schwimer, De Fratus, and Aumont have potential.

Phils are so close to the luxury tax that I would have preferred they go with a mix of the guys they already have, rather than paying Qualls. I don't think Qualls is bad. He's decent, but I think the kids are going to be decent too.

Look at Qualls home/away splits. He was awesome at Petco, crappy elsewhere. His K/9 plummeted last season, not a good sign.

GM-Carson said...

For a team that reportedly does not want to pay any luxury tax, signing Qualls for three times what one of Michael Schwimer, Justin De Fratus or Phillippe Aumont would make is an odd course of action.

Every half-a-million dollars is of material significance to the Phillies at this juncture, and the potential trade-offs here are the stunted development of prospects and reduced payroll flexibility down the road to bolster the roster if the need arises.

This is the perfect example of a deal that looks great until context is introduced. It won’t kill the Phillies at all, and there are certainly positives to having a durable groundballing reliever on the roster: Qualls has a career 57.5 percent groundball rate and has made more appearances since 2005 than any other pitcher.

However, if the Phillies never pursued him, it’s not as if fans would have aggressively clamored for him, as many were content to see what some of the youngsters can offer. Under that guise, he is the very definition of an unnecessary addition, one that might work out, but wasn’t on anyone’s radar, and shouldn’t have a material effect on the team’s success in the coming season. But given the fact that the Phillies guaranteed his salary at the major league level, he is going to play a more prominent role on the team, especially given Charlie Manuel‘s proclivity to use experience as a crutch to put veterans in spots they no longer belong.

A team doesn’t sign Qualls to pitch the sixth inning, so odds are he’ll be splitting setup duties with Jose Contreras and Antonio Bastardo, if not taking them outright.

Speaking of Contreras, it’s entirely possible that this move signals that the Phillies lack confidence in his ability to stay healthy this year. If Contreras can stay on the mound, there is even less of a need for another reliever. Without knowing the details of his rehab and progress it’s tough to tell what he’ll provide this season. In that case, Qualls is like a setup man insurance policy. If Contreras can’t pitch much, Qualls can step right in. If Jonathan Papelbon gets hurt, one of Contreras or Qualls could fill in, as the Phillies are a team that typically values experience in the closer role. But if everyone remains healthy the Phillies bullpen doesn’t make much sense.

Papelbon closes after Contreras sets him up. Kyle Kendrick — who was recently guaranteed $3+ million in an arbitration-avoiding contract — serves as the long-man and spot starter. In between those three are Antonio Bastardo, Dontrelle Willis, Chad Qualls, Michael Stutes, and an open spot for David Herndon or one of the aforementioned relief prospects. The Phillies could also choose to lump Stutes in with that group and allot two roster to Stutes, Herndon, Aumont, De Fratus and Schwimer. It would represent a novel approach to their roster construction that would give the prospects a better chance to stick in the major leagues. The more likely scenario is that Stutes and Herndon fill out the final two spots while the prospects fill in when injuries arise.

What makes the situation more confusing is that the Phillies witnessed, via Michael Stutes last season, how an unheralded relief pitching prospect can perform well over a small sample of innings. They may value experience, but Stutes was immediately thrust into higher leverage situations and thrived. His peripheral numbers invited much-merited skepticism, but that doesn’t invalidate his success last year. It’s less understandable that a team wouldn’t give ample opportunity to their reliever prospects when they just experienced the benefits of decent production at the league minimum salary.

As for Qualls, a declining strikeout rate is a concern, but he limits free passes and keeps the ball on the ground. If he can get back to the 7+ K/9 area and sustain his groundball rate, he can pitch very effectively and potentially provide surplus value on top of the deal.

Same thing I'm trying to say, just with more words.

Bob D said...

I see this as a sign that Contreras is not totally healthy.

It also allows Rube to make a trade (which he has done often, right near end of spring) from a position of strength (relievers) to aquire a key piece for roster. Say Herndon or Stutes was flipped for an utility infielder?

Look at Atlanta's relievers, they had a number of young prospects come up and succeed. The Phils easily have that same potential.

Schwimmer, DeFratus, & Aumont in my opinion can right now pitch better than most of these guys.

Randy said...

GM Carson. So, in short, what youre saying about this signing is, basically, "WTF?" Agreed. Still little prospect of scoring more runs.

GM-Carson said...

1) Full season of Utley- plus.
2) Full season of Pence- plus.
3) Full season of Mayberry/Nix platoon instead of Ibanez- plus.
4) Bench of Thome, Pierre, Nix, Wigginton, and Martinez instead of Gload, Francisco, Valdez, Martinez, and Orr- plus.

Of course, Howard is injured, so that sucks.

Preserve Jon said...

I see Qualls as a 7th inning guy capable of being inserted in high leverage situations when a starter gets into trouble in late innings.

It's not our money. I see no problem with this signing.

SirAlden said...

Great Post GM-Carson.

I think this does mean that in addition to Pappelbon, they want one Vet that is for certain, and Contreras is not.

GM-Carson said...

Preserve Jon- you're right, it's not my money. And if the Phils are willing to go beyond the salary tax threshold near the trade deadline to improve the team, then I'm fine with this move. Qualls is alright. I'm okay with him in the bullpen, he's not going to hurt. I just think the Phils have a nice group of youngins ready for the Bigs that are reliefe pitchers.