Originally posted on Phillies Nation  |  Last updated 2/3/12

The signing of Chad Qualls means the Phillies are staring down the barrell of a loaded Luxury Tax gun. Photo: AP

The signing of Chad Qualls wasn’t one of the bargain basement signings like Juan Pierre or Joel Pineiro where a Phillies fan can argue if it doesn’t work out, we can stash the journeyman 33 year-old reliever in Triple-A. Instead, the signing of Qualls for $1.15 million was a little puzzling, perplexing, and pushed them right to the threshold of the dreaded luxury tax. And while my colleague Corey Seidman did a fantastic job illustrating why it wasn’t the best signing, I’d like to argue it was a good signing for reasons you may have and may not have anticipated.

In Jonah Keri’s piece on Albert Pujols’s contract, Keri says the going rate for 1 win is about $5 million. Corey praised Qualls for a nasty sinker-slider combo that induces groundballs and projected him as a .3 to .7 win reliever for 2012, which would be a bargain. Bill James has predicted Qualls somewhere between his very good 2009 and serviceable 2010, making Corey’s prediction spot on. Where I differ with Corey is how Qualls place on the team effects the young arms around him and how this signing reflects on the Phillies.

Injuries Happen, Call-Ups are Used

In 2011, the Phillies used 22 pitchers, 18 from the bullpen at some point. In 2010, those numbers were 21 and 16, 2009 saw 22 and 18, 2008’s numbers were 18 and 14, and 2007 saw 28 pitchers take the mound for the Phillies with 23 of them seeing relief duty. 2007 is unquestionably the outlier, but consider this: 16 pitchers appeared for the Phillies out of the ‘pen for 10 or more appearances in 2007 in a worst case scenario, everybody-got-injured-or-is-horrible year. In 2011, with a relatively stable ‘pen? 10 pitchers had at least 10 appearances, with 8 with 24 or more.

Qualls is a serviceable pitcher that was had at the right price. Admittedly, I am intrigued by seeing Michael Schwimer, Justin DeFratus, Phillippe Aumont, and Joe Savery receive an extended shot at the Majors, but signing Qualls will not reduce their chances. Other circumstances that happened at the end of this year and in the off-season have dramatically increased their chances, if anything.

Every year, it felt like the Phillies would trot out a combination of Andrew Carpenter, Scott Mathieson, and Mike Zagurski to varying degrees of effectiveness any time there was an injury. One was traded to Toronto, Mathieson left for Japan, and Zagurski was traded to Arizona. Those road blocks are gone. And the difference with Schwimer, DeFratus, and Aumont? They’re younger and fresher than the previous trio was when they were receiving their shots. If any of those three, along with Savery, does get an extended look due to injury, the Phillies have no problem retaining those players on the roster if their performance remains at a high level, examples being Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo.

Injury candidates that may land young arms a spot: Bastardo, Joe Blanton (either from the ‘pen or an injury that gives Kendrick a starting spot instead of the swing-man role) and Jose Contreras.

The Reality that Stutes and Bastardo May Have Caught Lightning in a Bottle

For the first half of the year, Stutes looked like the missing link in the bullpen. The 24-year old was fantastic but hit two distinct walls: in June and in September. And it wasn’t all that crazy to suggest Bastardo was one of the best set-up men in all of baseball midway through the season. Like Stutes, however, Bastardo ran into a wall and lost effectiveness late in the season. There is a real possibility that at some point for either one of these pitchers, the wheels may fall off again, leaving an opportunity for one of the young arms to get their opportunity.

What Luxury Tax?

And perhaps the most exciting, and abstract interpretation, of the Chad Qualls signing is the possibility that the Phillies are willing to go above and beyond the Luxury Tax threshold to acquire the players they need to win a World Series. Philadelphia fans, myself included, long loathed the Yankees and Red Sox, and sometimes the Cubs and Mets, for being big pocketed bullies who did whatever it took monetarily to build a championship team. The Phillies haven’t entered that realm; they’re already in it.

Does the Chad Qualls signing mean they’re going to be able to re-sign Cole Hamels for whatever his price tag may be after the season? Not at all. But what it may suggested is with the added revenue of selling out every night, increased ticket prices, and the very real new TV deal that is around the corner, the Phillies will go straight up to the Luxury Tax and sometimes cross it to acquire the right players.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

WATCH: Justin Bieber arm wrestle Sixers center Joel Embiid

RUMOR: Celtics sign Green, Zeller and two others to contract deals

Kevin Durant Thunder jerseys going for less than 50 cents in OKC

Why are Saints holding out on contract talks with Drew Brees?

Jay Gruden gives out primo parking spots to hard-working players

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Colts' Jones suspended four games for PED use

Report: Royals have interest in Nick Markakis

Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence 911 call released

Manu Ginobili talks interest in 76ers before sticking with Spurs

Lakers reportedly have ‘unnamed trade target in mind

Report: Rodman a 'person of interest' in hit-and-run

George makes return to Team USA following leg injury

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

Orioles affiliate pay tribute to David Bowie on their jerseys

Report: Rangers pushing trade efforts for Sale

Russell Martin day-to-day after sauna-related mishap

Celtics reportedly unwilling to give up much for Jahlil Okafor

Report: Jay Bruce drawing trade interest

Vitale: Trump’s speech “filled with lies,” might write in Coach K

Report: Nationals ‘want in’ on Chapman sweepstakes

Hornets co-owner blasts NBA, city for taking away All-Star Game

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker