Qualls Is Gone
Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee summoned Qualls into Charlie Manuel’s office before this afternoon’s game against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park, where he found Ruben Amaro Jr., Scott Proefrock and Manuel waiting for him.
Amaro told Qualls he had been designated for assignment. The Phillies selected left-hander Jeremy Horst’s contract from Triple-A to take his place on the roster. Horst went 1-2 with a 2.11 ERA in 38 1/3 innings in Lehigh Valley.
“We just felt it was the right thing to do,” Amaro said. “There have been some inconsistencies with him. It’s something we’ve discussed a little bit over the last several weeks. His stuff is good. I just don’t know that he’s been as effective as his stuff has shown.”
The Phillies have 10 days to dispose of Qualls’ contract. They can trade him, release him or place him on waivers. If Qualls clears waivers, the Phillies could ask him to accept an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. But Qualls could reject the assignment and elect to become a free agent, although he would forfeit the remaining $1.15 million on his contract.
Qualls has asked to be traded, although the Phillies might be hard pressed to find a suitor.
“We’ll see if there’s some interest out there,” Amaro said. “At this point there had not been any interest out there for him.”
Qualls went 1-1 with a 4.60 ERA in 35 appearances this season. He had a 4.26 ERA in 15 appearances this month, although 13 of the 15 appearances were scoreless. But while he held right-handers to a .250 average, left-handers hit .377 against him, making him ineffective in critical late-inning situations.
“I felt like I had throwing the ball really well all June,” Qualls said. “I had a tough May. The organization feels like they want to make a move. That’s fine. It’s part of the game. I asked Ruben to trade me. That’s basically what he’s trying to do. I feel like I’m a big-league pitcher. I’ve been doing this for a long time. If I go out there yesterday (he allowed three runs in one inning Wednesday) and have a 1-2-3 inning we’re not having this conversation. It’s a little weird that we’re here.”
But the Phillies also could be changing the chemistry in the bullpen. Qualls’ blasé demeanor is different from former Phillies veteran relievers like Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre and Tom Gordon, and might not have jived with a mostly inexperienced bullpen that has included rookies like Michael Schwimer, Jake Diekman, Joe Savery, B.J. Rosenberg and Horst.
The Phillies bullpen entered Thursday with a 4.62 ERA, which ranked 28th in baseball, so Qualls is far from the bullpen’s only problem.
Qualls was asked if he was a scapegoat for the bullpen’s collective woes.
“I expect more out of myself,” he said. “I could have thrown the ball a lot better while I was here. I don’t want to say that I’m a scapegoat or anything like that. It’s just a move the organization wants to make. This is the way it is. I can’t change it. I can’t bad mouth anybody or argue. That’s not the type of person I am. I’ve been playing a long time so I don’t want to burn any bridges. You just have to accept it and move on, just like anything else you handle in life.”
Asked if he would accept an assignment to Triple-A, Qualls said, “I have no idea.”
Amaro said he isn’t sure what the Phillies would do, either.
But Amaro said he knows the Phillies bullpen needs to improve if the team expect to make the postseason for the sixth consecutive year.
“It’s an area that we need to address,” Amaro said. “But right now we’re going to address it with the guys (in the organization) … we’ve got to give the guys an opportunity to try to grow. How much they can grow through the course of the season we don’t know.”
But how patient can the Phillies be with rookie relievers when the team is trying to win?
“It is a little bit of a balancing act,” Amaro said.
Of course, the real solution is a trade or two for a veteran reliever, but Amaro said teams aren’t eager to trade pitching right now. That might come next month closer to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
“One of the residual effects of the two Wild Card teams is you’re not going to see a lot of movement,” Amaro said. “Because there are going to be a lot more teams in it, or at least believe that they are. Us being one of them. As far back as we are right now we still believe we have a chance to be a contender. We are one, but obviously we have to play more consistent baseball over the next several weeks.”