Ruben Amaro Teaches Chad Qualls to Miss Bats

Bill wrote earlier today about Chad Qualls being designated for assignment. I know that many of you have taken comfort and joy from being rid of Qualls, but none more so than Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. I know many of you do as well, even though, as I write this, Kyle Kendrick has just given up back-to-back home runs to Casey McGehee and Pedro Alvarez in the first inning, so I have a feeling the public anger may not have abated quite so much.

Therefore, it is with great pride I submit to you the transcript of the conversation that took place between Qualls, Amaro, and Phillies assistant GM Benny Looper. As you’ll see, Amaro cashiered Qualls in quite an interesting fashion.

(Chad Qualls gives up home run)

Qualls: For the blood of the Phillies!
Looper: Ruben! Get down! (Looper tackles Qualls as home run ball hits Amaro in the shoulder. Amaro falls over.)
Scott Proefrock: Somebody’s popped the general manager!
Amaro: AAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHH! (Looper wrestles baseball away from Qualls and hits him with it. Amaro struggles to his feet.)
Amaro: Whose pitcher are you? Speak smart and speak up.
Qualls: (mumbling)
Amaro: What’s he saying, boy?
Looper: I think he’s making his peace with his agent.
Amaro: To hell with that. He makes his peace with me. (Amaro crouches over Qualls and draws a piece of paper from his briefcase.) I’m making the phone calls around here tonight, you gopher-balling, washed-up reliever. Whose pitcher are you? We miss bats in this bullpen–whose pitcher are you? Do you see this release order? I’m going to teach you to miss bats with this release order. Whose pitcher are you? WHOSE PITCHER ARE YOU?
(Qualls slumps back, dead. Amaro stands.)
Amaro: Well that didn’t help us win very many games. Fine bullpen arm. Shame about it, I don’t think it can be mended.




The End of the Chad Qualls Era

The much-ballyhooed end of the Chad Qualls era is upon us, as the Phillies have designated the right-handed reliever for assignment. Qualls had a disastrous time in Philly, posting a 4.60 ERA that is, somehow, far too kind to him. He surrendered one home run per every four fly balls, an obnoxiously-high rate — the second-highest among relievers (min. 30 IP), in fact, behind Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners.

At the end of January, when the Phillies signed Qualls, Paul Boye warned of Qualls’ declining K-rate. In 2012, it is nearly half the rate it was in 2008 (13.6%, 23.7%). Not much else had changed in the time between ’08 and ’12: he still surrendered walks at an infrequent rate (between 6 and 7%) and allowed home runs at his normal pace (between 11 and 14% of fly balls). It all went haywire this year, though, as he became nothing more than a piñata for opposing hitters.

The obvious struggles occurred against left-handed batters, who posted a staggering .480 wOBA against him in 60 plate appearances, compared to the .282 of right-handed hitters in 80 PA. You can see the difference in the heat maps here:

In the past, I have argued that the Phillies should be able to identify these weaknesses and utilize their relievers accordingly. Last year, for example, I saw potential for J.C. Romero to have utility as a LOOGY (a left-handed, one-out guy), but Charlie Manuel gave him the handedness advantage against fewer than two out of every five batters. Likewise, Qualls could have had value as a ROOGY but likely nothing beyond that.

Qualls was a relatively cheap ($1.15 million) gamble that didn’t pay off in the end. Fortunately, the Phillies didn’t commit multiple years and multiple millions of dollars to Qualls the way they have in the past with Romero, Jose Contreras, and Danys Baez, among others, so it’s no big deal. Soon, another team will, like the Phillies, pick up Qualls only to ignore all of the warning signs and fail to utilize him correctly, giving up tens of unnecessary runs. Then, they will release him soon thereafter in frustration. The baseball world, she never stops turning.