Results tagged ‘ Chad Qualls ’

Evaluation from the Inside

The Phillies say they assess everything in the offseason from the 40-man roster to the Minor League system to the coaching staff.

Even the scouting department.

“Just like in any other part of our organization, everybody is being evaluated,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Everybody.”

Even himself?

“Oh, I would think so,” he said.

Every organization has hits and misses throughout the year: good and bad free agent signings, good and bad trades, a player released that should not have been released, a player that got promoted that surprised everybody, etc.

The trick is minimizing the misses.

The Phillies have had some misses lately. They released right-hander Jason Grilli in July 2011. He had a 1.93 ERA in Triple-A Lehigh Valley at the time. He signed with the Pirates, and had a 2.91 ERA in 64 appearances this season. They acquired outfielder John Bowker from the Pirates in Aug. 2011, considering him a better bench option than Lehigh Valley outfielder Brandon Moss. Bowker went hitless in 13 at-bats, while Moss, who had a fantastic season in Lehigh Valley, signed a contract with Oakland in December. He has hit .287 with 21 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .947 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 258 at-bats this season. They signed Laynce Nix to a two-year, $2.5 million deal in December, despite the fact he had never signed a big-league contract before and had a lengthy history of injuries. They signed Chad Qualls in January, despite terrible splits away from PETCO Park. He stunk, and the Phillies traded him to the Yankees on July 1. And one wonders why they did not have legitimate interest in somebody like Josh Willingham, who looks like a steal with the three-year, $21 million contract he signed with the Twins.

Now, the Phillies signed Juan Pierre to a Minor League contract, which was a big bargain. He has hit .310 with 37 stolen bases and has been a positive presence in the clubhouse. They acquired left-hander Jeremy Horst from Cincinnati for Wilson Valdez in the offseason, which looks like an absolute steal. Horst is 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in 31 appearances, while Valdez (but … but … but … he was the team MVP in 2010!) is hitting .203 with a .458 OPS with the Reds. Other Minor League free agent signings like Kevin Frandsen and Erik Kratz played well enough that they could be on next season’s Opening Day roster. The signings of Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins also worked out well in their first seasons, although a contract can never truly be judged until the end. But Papelbon did his job, and Rollins will finish among the top third of shortstops in baseball in OPS.

“We evaluate all those things,” Amaro said of the good and bad moves. “We don’t hit on every single guy. At the same time I think we’ve done a very good job hitting on most. I have a great deal of trust in Mike Ondo, who heads up our pro scouting staff. He’s as thorough and as good as there is. I think Mike and his people did a great job at the Trade Deadline. We got some very, very good players. We came away with some players that we believe really helped our organization and are going to make some impact on our club pretty soon.

“Listen, we’re talking about human beings here. When you try to make moves that you think will work out and don’t for whatever reason, a lot of the stuff is not under your control. I feel pretty confident in the people that we employ to be the eyes and ears of our organization. I think we have as good a group of people in our baseball ops department as any club in baseball.”

One thing is certain: the Phillies need more hits this offseason. They need to find the next Willingham. They need to sign a relief pitcher or two where, unlike Qualls, they don’t have to cross their fingers and hope things break right for them to have good seasons. They need to find the right solution at third base, despite almost no attractive options.

Qualls: Losing Was Getting to Everybody

Chad Qualls joined the Yankees today.

He is a lucky guy. He went from last in the National League East to first in the American League East, and from nine games under .500 to 18 games over .500 in a blink of an eye.

Qualls told reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam Berry, about the situation in Philadelphia.

“Obviously it’s an organization that wants to win,” he said. “They were hit by a lot of injuries, and they didn’t want to try to use that as an excuse, but I think the losing was getting to everybody. It just kept getting tougher and tougher over there. I wish them the best. No ill will or anything like that. I’m just glad I can move on to a better situation.”

I think it’s pretty clear everybody in the organization is frustrated. Injuries have hurt the team (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Vance WorleyJose Contreras, Mike Stutes, David Herndon, etc.). Other players have not played to their career averages (Cliff Lee, Jimmy RollinsShane Victorino, etc.). The team is showing no signs of life while sinking fast in the standings. It’s not a fun place to be right now.

Qualls Is Gone

The Chad Qualls era is history.

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.

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Options Other Than Qualls? None Right Now

Fans are tired of watching Chad Qualls pitch for the Phillies, but the team has no other options at the moment.

Because Jose Contreras, Mike Stutes, David Herndon and Justin De Fratus are on the disabled list, and because Triple-A right-hander Phillippe Aumont just recently returned from the disabled list, the only other right-hander other than Jonathan Papelbon in the bullpen is Michael Schwimer.

“I’ve been here seven or eight years, and I’ve been in a lot of tough spots down in the bullpen,” Charlie Manuel insisted. “We’re trying to do some things.”

Trying to do some things?

“We’re trying to see if we can improve our team,” Manuel said. “We’re in a tough spot right now. I think everybody knows that. We’re in a tough spot, but we still have to come out and play as good as we possibly can and see if that’s enough.”

Phillies assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said the team is “always trying to get better. That’s what our job is. We’re constantly trying to get better, whether it’s internally or externally.”

Asked if there is more pressure to make a move considering Manuel is so shorthanded in the bullpen, Proefrock said, “We always feel like we’re under pressure to get better. That’s our job. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

He also said he is not aware of any financial limitations to make a move, although it is worth noting it is rare for big trades to be made more than seven weeks away from the July 31 non-wavier trade deadline. And now that there are two wild card teams in each league more teams believe they are contenders and less willing to trade top talent.

“I don’t think there’s anybody out of contention,” Proefrock said. “There may be teams more inclined than others to do something. A team in contention might have a need that’s different than we have and there might be a match. You never stop exploring things. Our objective is to get better. That’s what we’re charged with. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what we talk to our scouts about constantly. When things are going good, we’re doing the same thing. There isn’t more pressure.”

Hunter’s Homer, Worley’s Hurt, Diekman Impressive

Ah, Chicago, Milwaukee’s little brother to the south.

The Phillies got into town last night following a 4-3 victory over Houston in 10 innings. Some crazy things happened in that game, but perhaps none as crazy as Hunter Pence‘s error in the ninth inning that allowed the tying run to score and his game-winning homer in the 10th. (To be fair, a double followed Pence’s error, so the tying run would have scored anyway, but Pence has had his troubles in right field this season and fans have let him hear it.) Elias Sports Bureau found that over the last 30 years only two other players have hit a game-winning home run after making an error that allowed the tying run or go-ahead run to score.

The others? Drum roll please …

Juan Uribe (Aug. 8, 2007) and Jimmy Rollins (June 23, 2010).

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The Phillies today placed Vance Worley on the DL with right elbow inflammation. Worley said yesterday he wasn’t worried, but whenever a pitcher has discomfort in his elbow it’s a concern. We don’t know how serious the injury is, but we should learn more today at the ballpark, so check back later for an update.

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Jake Diekman looked great in his big-league debut yesterday. The Phillies put him into a high-leverage situation and he excelled. If he continues to pitch like that it will be interesting to see how quickly he moves up the bullpen’s food chain because the Phillies desperately need late-inning stability. Antonio Bastardo has looked much better recently, which is encouraging, but Chad Qualls has a 7.36 ERA in his last nine appearances dating to April 24 and Jose Contreras isn’t reliable. He has a 9.00 ERA in 10 appearances, allowing at least one base runner in eight appearances.

One thing on the Phillies using Jonathan Papelbon in a non-save situation Monday: the Phillies often use their late-inning relievers after they have warmed up, even after the game situation has changed. I thought they might have used Diekman in the ninth Monday, but when Papelbon entered the game I wasn’t like, “Holy crap! What are they doing?!?!” I said, “Well, I guess they wanted Papelbon to pitch because he’s already warmed up.” I’m not sure if Papelbon would have been available to pitch Tuesday if he hadn’t pitched Monday, but in my opinion it comes back to this: It wouldn’t be an issue if they had more reliable arms in the bullpen. For example, in 2010 Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee could chose from Brad Lidge (2.96 ERA), Ryan Madson (2.55 ERA), Chad Durbin (3.80 ERA) and Contreras (3.34 ERA). Manuel and Dubee are incredibly shorthanded right now, which is why they really could use Diekman to step up.

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • June 16: Barnes & Noble, Wilmington, Del, 2 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Get Up!

The Hardball Times has an excellent note about the Phillies, which seems fitting considering they are struggling to get back to .500:

Ninety years ago today the Phillies were a .500 franchise for the last time.

That’s pretty amazing, but here is the most incredible line in that note: “To get back to .500, they’d have to average 87 wins a years for the next century.”

Of course, these Phillies couldn’t care less about that. They’re 16-19 and trying to get to .500 for the first time since May 3, and above .500 for the first time since Opening Day. They are 2-1 since Charlie Manuel ripped into his team Wednesday, but they will need to play much better against much stronger competition to make a run in the National League East. I have a lot of people asking me if I think the Phillies are cooked. I don’t believe so, but they have about two months to prove me right before Ruben Amaro Jr. potentially makes big changes before the July 31 trade deadline.

So because it’s Monday and nobody likes a Debbie Downer, here are some numbers that might leave you encouraged (maybe?):

  • The Phillies are averaging 4.7 runs per game over their last 19 games. If they had been scoring at that pace since Opening Day, they would rank fourth in the National League in scoring. It’s also a better clip than last season, when they averaged 4.4 runs per game for the season. If they can keep it up they should win more than they lose, assuming the pitching is there.
  • Phillies starters have a 3.03 ERA, which ranks third in the league. It goes without saying the only thing that has not been an issue this season is the Phillies’ starting pitching. It has been consistently good since the beginning of the season. (Remove that brutal start against Atlanta, and Roy Hallday has a 2.12 ERA).
  • It’s the bullpen that has been awful. Its 5.12 ERA is 15th in the league. It is a very small sample size against the second-worst offense in the league, but the Phillies bullpen allowed four hits, one run, two walks and struck out nine in seven innings over the weekend against the Padres. Antonio Bastardo has allowed one hit, three walks and struck out five in seven innings in his last seven appearances. Chad Qualls said he discovered a mechanical flaw in his delivery, which he said is easily fixable. He threw two scoreless innings over the weekend. And, yes, that was Jonathan Papelbon pitching in a save situation yesterday for the first time since May 1.

Make anything of those numbers?

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Jim Salisbury and I co-authored the book The Rotation, which is now available. Check it out here! Here are our upcoming book signings:

  • June 2: Citizens Bank Park, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
  • June 16: Barnes & Noble, 4801 Concord Pike, Wilmington, Del., 2:00 p.m.

Check out my Facebook page. Follow me on Twitter.

Phillies Need Relief

More of the same.

The Phillies offense has been the focus since the beginning of the season, and it played a role in last night’s 7-4 loss to the Mets. The offense scored its runs in the first two innings, but shut down the engines and barely made a noise the rest of the night.

That seems to happen often.

But it’s the bullpen that is this team’s Achilles heel right now. It has been absolutely dreadful.

Phillies relievers had a 2.01 ERA in 14 appearances through April 20. They have a 6.97 ERA in 16 appearances since.

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Phillies Are .500!

Ah, one more win and the Phillies will have a winning record for the first time since April 5.

Just a little sarcasm to start the morning.

(Actually, I just really wanted to put a link to that Simpsons clip.)

The Phillies scored enough runs to win last night, but they have scored three or fewer runs in four of their first six games. So they are not out of the woods yet, but it certainly helps Phillies starters have a 1.60 ERA through six games. Joe Blanton was impressive last night, allowing three hits and one run in seven innings. The Phillies are 13-3 in Blanton’s last 16 regular-season starts at Citizens Bank Park, although he has a 4.29 ERA.

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Phillies Sign Qualls (Chad, Not DJ)

The Phillies believe they made a low-risk move today when they signed Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.

“Chad was one of those guys that was available to us at a reasonable price for what he can do,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He has the ability to pitch in the seventh and the eighth. We’ll see where he fits. Charlie (Manuel) and (Rich) Dubee and Chad will decide that, but he’s certainly a guy with a power-sinker and power-slider combination. He was throwing very well at the end of the year. He’s had some battles with consistency, but he clearly has ability and some durability. And those are pretty important elements.”

Qualls, 33, went 6-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 77 appearances last season with the San Diego Padres. He had a 1.96 ERA in his final 19 appearances, but also went 4-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 38 appearances on the road compared to 2-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 39 appearances in pitcher-friendly PETCO Park.

Can he pitch outside PETCO?

“We looked at it. We saw it,” Amaro said. “We took a look at some of that data and information, but at the end of the day when we discussed it with our scouts we just felt like this type of a risk on a guy was not all that big of a risk. We kind of know what we’re going to get out of him.”

Right-handers hit just .218 with a .537 OPS against him last season, while left-handers had much better success, hitting .320 with an .881 OPS.

“If he’s throwing strikes regularly he’ll do some damage for us,” Amaro said.

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Amaro offered some other updates last night at the Philadelphia Sports Writers’ Association dinner, including an injury update on Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell possibly retiring a Phillie. Click here for more.

Get Your Halladay Fix


halladay 02.jpgIt’s been a few minutes since the last Roy Halladay update, and if you’re like me, you’re probably getting the shakes from withdrawl. So here are a few tidbits to get your fix, you baseball junkie:

- Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon he did not have a sense either way if the Phillies would make a trade – any trade – before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. But we know most baseball insiders still consider the Phillies the favorites to get Halladay. And we know the Phillies remain hot after Halladay. Former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick has been in Toronto recently, and Blue Jays scouts have been combing the Phillies’ farm system as they decide on the prospects the Phillies would need to include to acquire the former Cy Young winner.

- Here’s the kicker if the Phillies and Blue Jays pull the trigger at the last hour: Halladay won’t need to change hotel rooms. The Phillies play the Giants in San Francisco from July 30 – Aug. 2 and the Blue Jays play the Athletics in Oakland from July 31 – Aug. 2. Both teams are staying in the same hotel in San Francisco.

- Amaro said any reports about his prospects being untouchable (or tradeable) are purely speculative, including reports that the Phillies have told the Blue Jays that Double-A Reading right-hander Kyle Drabek would not be traded. Amaro wouldn’t say if they would trade Drabek or not. “There are some people we would not trade and there are some people we would, and it’s all subject to change,” Amaro said.

- Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he expects a package “similar or better” to packages the Orioles received in 2008 for Erik Bedard and the Indians received in 2002 for Bartolo Colon. The Orioles received All-Star outfielder Adam Jones, All-Star closer George Sherrill, top pitching prospect Chris Tillman and two others for Bedard. The Indians received Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, All-Star outfielder Grady Sizemore, second baseman Brandon Phillips and Lee Stevens for Colon.

- There is some thought the Phillies, if they are unable to land a quality starter, will turn their attention to the bullpen. AOL Fanhouse reported this week the Phillies have scouted Diamondbacks closer Chad Qualls. Sherrill could be available at the right price. Bullpen help makes sense. The Phillies just placed left-hander J.C. Romero and right-hander Chad Durbin on the 15-day disabled list, and closer Brad Lidge continues to struggle.

- The Phillies still hope to land a right-handed bat for their bench. They fell short in recent weeks in their pursuit of Mark DeRosa and Scott Hairston. “We have different pursuits,” Amaro said. “We’ll continue to pursue all of them. And we’ll decide by the 31st which is our biggest need. … We’re just trying to improve our club if we can. If it’s with pitching, it’s pitching. If it’s with a bat, it’s a bat. We’ll try to address all these issues. These are all issues that are easier said than done. It doesn’t mean they’re going to be done. They may be done internally, too. Are we trying to improve our club in those three areas? Yes, but how we line it up and prioritize it is something that we’ll keep to ourselves.”

- Asked which he would prefer: a starter or a reliever before the deadline, Charlie Manuel didn’t miss a beat: “I prefer the horse. The horse keeps you out of your bullpen.”

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Pedro Martinez threw 60 pitches in a simulated game and felt fine. He is expected to begin a rehab assingment Sunday with Single-A Clearwater.

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