Friday, November 26, 2010

Chad Qualls For Closer

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If there's one guy in the majors who suffers from the Hugo Reyes AKA "Hurley Syndrome", it's Chad Qualls.

Even though he was seemingly doomed by the Baseball Gods in 2010, I believe he could be the perfect candidate for the vacant closer job with the Toronto Blue Jays.

At first glance of his peripheral 2010 statistics, one might assume Qualls had an off year. I would agree with that statement to an extent, but a better way of putting it is Chad Qualls had a very unlucky year.

We're talking "Hurley from Lost" unlucky. Like play your favourite numbers in the lottery, curse yourself and everyone around you, and land on a freaky-ass island where they have to punch in those very same lottery numbers into a computer every 108 minutes unlucky.

Qualls had a BABIP of .399 in 2010, and that's about as unlucky as you can get for a pitcher. His BABIP took the cake for pitchers who logged 40 or more innings.

Another upside to signing Chad Qualls is his durability. Since 2004, he's only spent a total of 36 games on the disabled list. The only other free agent closer on the market who has spent less time in the DL is Kevin Gregg - who has a perfect attendance since 2004, by the way.

Of course, all of this all hinges on Chad Qualls declining arbitration from the Tampa Bay Rays. He's a Type B free agent, which means the Blue Jays wouldn't have to surrender a draft pick if they sign him.

Even if it's not as the closer, Qualls brings some veteran experience to an otherwise inexperienced bullpen. Chad Qualls has 51 career saves under his belt and close to two full seasons experience in the closer role.

So I've talked about his previous merits and how 2010 was a down year for Chad Qualls, but let's get down to what it would cost to bring this guy in to Toronto.

He made $4.85 million this past season on his contract delved out by the D-Backs and coming off a rocky 2010, I'd fathom he'd have a tough time commanding anything north of $3 million dollars for a one-year contract.

If anything, he's a cheap arm in the bullpen and if Alex Anthopoulos plays his cards right and Qualls comes up big in the first half, AA can parlay Qualls into some prospects at the trade deadline.

Maybe it's a bit of a stretch for the Blue Jays to sign Chad Qualls, but I'm going to admit it was the Hurley Bird that told me it was a good idea.

13 comments:

  1. Actually, as a type B, the supplemental pick is awarded by MLB, not handed over by the Jays. They Jays would only have to give up a pick if he was a type A.

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  2. Anon, good to know - thanks! This free agent thing is still a learning process for me. Now that's an even bigger incentive for the Blue Jays to get Qualls.

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  3. I'm in. He'd have at least the same value/effectiveness as Gregg did, and worst case, he's a solid 7th/8th inning guy.

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  4. I like Qualls as a solid vetern guy in the pen. But, for the same reason I would also like to see Jesse Crain there as well. Having both these guys would definetly stablize the pen and give us options at closer. In a year where AA doesn't seemed poised to spend a lot in FA, 4 mil for each of these guys who as you mentioned could be flipped at the deadline, seems very reasonable.

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  5. If we are annointing Chad Qualls as our closer, why dont we look up Joey McClaughlin and Roy Lee Jackson, see what they are up to. Dude, Chad Qualls might be able to get away with closing games for an AL Central division team, but not for a team in the AL East. For crying out loud, the Red Sox are pondering getting rid of Jonathon Papelbon because he blew 6 or 7 saves, and you think Qualls is the answer? Note to self: I should start a blog...

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  6. 5th Starter, exactly - Qualls doesn't even necessarily need to be the closer, he'd probably do well as set-up man as well.

    Anon 1, there was a great blog post earlier this week about how the Blue Jays should go after Crain. Seems like with Nathan coming back, the Twins might not need him back in the bullpen anyway.

    Anon 2, it's funny because some folks said the exact same thing about Kevin Gregg when the Blue Jays signed him. That the comfy confines of the NL Central were nothing compared to the big, bad AL East. Barring that, I'd say Gregg fared pretty well this past year against the likes of the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays.

    I can't say for sure how Qualls would do against AL East, but I can't imagine it would be any worse than Kevin Gregg in 2010.

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  7. Ian BJH - Sorry, I wasn't one of the people who thought Gregg would be overmatched. Kevin Gregg had an extensive closer resume with the Angels, Florida, and the Cubs before he came here. Sure, he had struggled mightily in Chicago, but I took that as an off year. Qualls only became a closer out of necessity. If the Jays are going to turn to Chad Qualls to close games, then why not give that money to Jason Frasor/Scott Downs, and let them close games?

    But while we are on the subject of the Jays bullpen, I must say that usually I can see a team's next 3 moves coming a mile away, but in this case, I am somewhat perplexed with the Jays having effectively let go almost their entire bullpen, including closer. I sure hope AA hasn't fallen so in love with draft picks that he's willing to go into next season with a patchwork bullpen made up of other teams' castoffs...

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  8. Anon, if anything it was Gregg who was his own worst enemy this past year. His 4.58 BB/9 alone is what killed him.

    I wouldn't be surprised to see Frasor accept arbitration. He's a great strikeout pitcher (9.19 K/9 in 2010), and I imagine his salary would come in around $3 million.

    You're right, the bullpen is a huge question mark, considering as many as three guys (Gregg, Downs, Frasor) could all walk if they decline arbitration. If that's the case, AA's going to have to delve into the scrap heap and see what he can find, because I don't think there are many other arms back in Triple A who are ready to step into the Blue Jays bullpen yet.

    Great discussion here anon, thanks for commenting!

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  9. Qualls is no good. Trust me. As a lifelong D-backs fan, we were amazed we got anything in return for this guy at the trade deadline. He took a line drive off the knee at the tail end of the 2009 season, and has never been the same since.

    If he's purely a middle-relief guy, no big deal. But do not give this man the ball with the game on the line.

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  10. I love the idea of taking a journeyman closer, letting him build up his saves total and letting him walk for picks. I was thinking it would be great if the Jays did the same thing again but I didn't really have a guy in mind until I read this blog post.

    It would be silly to get too attached to any free agent because you never know if another team will come in and offer something ridiculous. When that happens, you just have to move on and find value somewhere else. That being said, if the price for Qualls is low, I would be happy if the Jays took a shot on him.

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  11. Anon, thanks for the perspective from AZ. A similar thing happened to Vernon Wells: he had a wrist injury in 2008 and his 2009 season was a complete write-off. It took him almost a year and a half for him to get back on track, so hopefully the same thing happens with Chad Qualls.

    NoisyFlowers, if the Jays can get him for less than $3 million, I say go for it. If Gregg comes back, he's going to want $3-4 million to come back, so I can imagine Qualls would be willing to sign on the dotted line for less than that.

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  12. Ha - I actually wrote half my comment this afternoon and had to leave, and Ian, you totally jumped right on the Frasor thing. He is probably 50/50 on accepting arb, so losing half the bp isn't a sure thing. Would you honestly give up a 1st rounder and a contract on the guy?! He's a total crapshoot, and a reasonable option to be back in the Jays bp, but hard to know for sure. We might wait a week to see what choices we make.
    On Qualls, the guy does look unlucky - his BABIP spiked, but his K/9 stayed constant (worry when both change. See Ryan, B.J. - 2007). He pitched to 91 guys in the AL and started to pull it back around, but it was still ugly and the Ks dropped. I'd take a gamble, but even 3m sounds high - wait to see on Frasor, and look for Quall at around 2m.

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  13. QJays, it really is a toss-up with Frasor at this point. Just my guess, but I'm saying he does accept arbitration because honestly I don't think he'll find a better offer out on the free agent market.

    Plus, we sort of have a preview of what Qualls is like pitching in the AL East. Not phenomenal, but not that bad either. I'd happily give him $2-3 million.

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