Phillies Sign Chad Qualls

Whether it was the desire to add a more proven Major League arm to the ‘pen or a move made over concerns about Jose Contreras’s rehab, the Phillies and right-hander Chad Qualls agreed to a one-year/$1.15M deal this morning.

The move all but fills out the Opening Day bullpen, and assuming health across the board – something that obviously can’t be taken for granted with this club – the bullpen will likely be constituted as such:

  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Antonio Bastardo
  • Chad Qualls
  • Dontrelle Willis
  • Michael Stutes
  • Kyle Kendrick
  • One of David Herndon/Justin De Fratus/Michael Schwimer/Jose Contreras

It’s something of a makeshift ‘pen, even with the big arm looming at the end. Will Bastardo return to midsummer form? Is Willis going to keep demolishing lefties as a reliever? Can Stutes keep the walks in check, and can Kendrick keep my blood pressure below 180/110?

As for Qualls, what are we to make of a downward-trending strikeout rate? The past four seasons have seen a steady drop in Qualls’s punch-outs per nine, migrating from 8.7 in ’08 to 7.8, 7.5 and 5.2(!) in the following years. Going by Fangraphs’ pitch type data, Qualls is not leaking velocity on his fastball or slider.

One thing that stands out for Qualls over the past two years is the amount of contact batters are making on pitches out of the zone, detailed here. Hitters are chasing Qualls’s stuff more over the past couple of years, but they’re making far more contact, fouling or putting balls in play that, when missed in a two-strike count, would be strikeouts.

The third column in the above picture, denoting movement by Qualls’s sliders across both horizontal and vertical planes, show pretty significant drops from 2010 to 2011. While that’s not entirely conclusive, it seems to lend itself toward the idea that, while Qualls’s velocity may not be fading yet, the crispness of his breaking stuff seems to have lost an edge last season.

Perhaps this is a correctable issue. Qualls is a veteran who knows what he needs to do to prepare for the season. If Rich Dubee and Co. see something in the spring that needs addressing, hopefully it’s corrected then, and Qualls turns into a relative steal for a ‘pen that could use him at his best.

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  1. LTG

    February 02, 2012 05:22 PM

    Taco pal,

    I appreciate your reasoned response, but you mischaracterize what I said. (Now that I looked back at your post, why did you address the meta-point comment only to BB? I made the meta-point first.) After I show this I’ll go into why burden-of-proof (BOP) arguments cannot be cast aside (as you originally suggested) but are inevitable part of the argumentative process, although they won’t necessarily be relevant in every argument.

    But before that I should apologize if I mischaracterized your conclusion. I based that characterization on this: “However, my argument was not that Kendrick has definitely improved, but that we should be open-minded about the possibility that he may have improved.” I didn’t actually read the article to verify that you were representing yourself accurately. So, my bad. (Incidentally, awh, who originally posted the article, implicitly accepted my characterization of your conclusion in his post that followed mine.) As you’ve reframed the conclusion it is still incredibly weak and follows from the statistical premises as you have presented them here, trivially in fact because your conclusion just is your premises (xFIP in particular).

    So here’s what I said, “The reason to attend to the burden of proof is that we have not only to evaluate the strict validity of an argument (whether the premises imply the conclusion) but also whether those premises are true (or at any rate plausible and to what extent). Establishing the burden of proof can reveal whether we ought to consider a premise plausible or implausible.” Notice the lack of a three box system or the commitment to ruling out spectrums. Of course, plausibility runs on a spectrum! Also notice that I say BOP arguments *can* reveal, not that they do in every case. And, notice that plausibility is not the same possibility. Nevertheless, here’s how you characterize me, “LTG is a bit closer to the mark, although I think he/she is overstating things. We don’t live in a binary (or trinary, I guess) universe, where we can only categorize our claims into one of three boxes: definite, possible, and impossible. When you’re talking about baseball predictions, almost nothing is definite or impossible, and the “possible” box is a wide, continuous spectrum. Some things are barely possible. Some things are very likely. Some things are in between.” I don’t see where the things you say touch on the things I say about BOP arguments nor do I disagree with anything you say there, except in so far as they are supposed to be criticisms of what I said. I suspect that you inferred from my supporting Phillie on the BOD point that I was also supporting him on the rest of his argument. (I don’t.) I suspect this because the reasons you give in that passage are better as arguments against Phillie’s criticisms than against anything I said.

    Now, why should intellectual or practical arguments truck in BOP? The basic answer is that we have to make decisions under the non-ideal circumstance of having insufficient information to make a decision from certainty. The purpose of argumentation is to convince a subject S to form a belief B. (In your case, B is something like “It is somewhat likely that KK has improved.”) That argument has certain premises P1-Pn. P1-Pn imply B, that is if P1-Pn are all true then B must be true. Thus, in order to decide whether to form B or not-B (assuming S cannot form both, which would be incoherent, or neither, because S is forced to decide once the deliberation becomes relevant), S must discern whether P1-Pn are true. But S is a human under the circumstances of limited knowledge and cannot determine whether each is true for certain and must substitute plausibility for truth. Therefore, S must discern whether each of P1-Pn is more plausible than its negation. In order to discern plausibility S must use inductive generalizations. Direct empirical evidence can be used as well as statistics that summarize the evidence and even common sense or the smell test. Sometimes the evaluation of the inductive generalizations is easy; other times it is controversial. When it is controversial, one way to end the evaluation is to turn to whether the BOP lies in supporting the premise or in supporting its negation (especially when all other evidence forces a toss-up between them but not only). One condition under which BOP considerations are useful occurs when there is a disagreement over whether a piece of evidence points to the premise or its negation. This is not a matter of a tiebreaker but rather establishing what the evidence (most likely) means. Therefore, S might have good reason to use BOP as a part of evaluating whether to form B in situations where BOP is not only a tie-breaker. And certainly BOP is not just “…high school debate team filler.”

    Any disagreement with that analysis?

  2. LTG

    February 02, 2012 05:28 PM

    I also want to reiterate something I’ve said here before. That there is reasonable disagreement over a question (for example, who was the better player: Steve Jeltz or Chase Utley?), does not entail that the answer is subjective. Whether the answer is subjective depends on whether the question aims at subjective standards or non-subjective standards and, if non-subjective, then also the existence of the non-subjective standards.

  3. Phillie697

    February 02, 2012 05:45 PM


    We’ll just have to agree to disagree before you start criticizing me for not caring about what you want to care about. Don’t need that conversation, no sir.

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