Track Record | The Process Report

Track Record

By Jason Collette//

It is a good thing that the Rays shut out the Yankees today to take the series, go ahead in the season series, and climb within one game of the top spot in the division.  If the club had lost the series, the talk on local and national radio and TV shows would have been somewhere around a doomsday scenario with the Yankees running away with the division by winning the series while adding the 2004 all-starts Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, and Austin Kearns while the Rays only made one move involving a pitcher with a 8.30 ERA. Ironically, that same 8.30 ERA pitcher induced a critical double play in the game today while facing one of the Yankees’ new additions and the Rays now find themselves behind just one game with their new shiny toy debuting on the roster tomorrow night.

There is a reason why RJ named this blog The Process Report because he, like myself, trust the process the Rays front office has utilized since taking over from the Naimoli Regime. The front office has set some trends with past behaviors so their lack of closing a big deal before the non-waiver trade deadline is not surprising given the fact the club did the exact same thing the past two seasons. This does not mean it was from a lack of trying because it was clear from Friedman’s comments the club was indeed active but it appeared they were very focused on Adam Dunn or Luke Scott for this process and neither were able to materialize for the price the club was willing to pay.  I mentioned earlier today that the club could very well feel that promoting Jeremy Hellickson, Dan Johnson, and even Desmond Jennings is better than anything they could have acquired to further address the bullpen or help the lineup and the club will find out if that is true rather quickly as Hellickson takes the mound tomorrow night against the Twins.

Adding Chad Qualls and his 8.30 ERA did not give me pause at all because Qualls was actually someone I wanted the Rays to acquire. When you hide the ERA column and stare at a high strikeout rate and a high groundball rate, it is easy to visualize Qualls coming in and doing exactly what he did in today’s game against Berkman. I do not like to blame bad results on luck too often, but it is impossible to use another term to describe what has happened to Qualls this season. His BABIP and LOB% are well off his established career norms and he appears to be fully recovered from the nasty dislocated knee-cap in 2009 so simply holding out for regression to the mean is the process here. Look at Qualls’ 2010 against his career numbers:

2005 79.2 6.8 2.6 0.8 .286 75% 58% 15% 3.28 3.75
2006 88.2 5.7 2.8 1.0 .254 75% 60% 15% 3.76 4.50
2007 82.2 8.5 2.7 1.1 .323 85% 57% 15% 3.05 3.94
2008 73.2 8.7 2.2 0.5 .294 69% 58% 9% 2.81 2.77
2009 52 7.8 1.2 0.9 .321 71% 57% 14% 3.63 3.14
2010 38 8.1 3.6 1.2 .434 52% 55% 14% 8.29 4.30
Career 447.2 7.4 2.5 0.9 .308 73% 58% 13% 3.74 3.76
Post-season 21 7.3 3.0 0.9 .299 66% 71% 22% 4.71 3.65

When looking at the acquisition, consider this front office’s track record in acquiring bullpen. Since the off-season heading into the 2008 season, the Rays have acquired thirteen different names for the bullpen: Grant Balfour, Troy Percival, Chad Bradford, Randy Choate, Lance Cormier, Winston Abreu, Jeff Bennett, Brian Shouse, Jason Isringhausen, Russ Springer, Joe Nelson, Rafael Soriano, and Joaquin Benoit. That collection of names has contributed 639 innings of work to the Rays’ bullpen across the last 2.6 seasons and has a collective 3.59 ERA, a 4.14 FIP, a 7.7 strikeout rate, a 2.1 strikeout to walk rate, and has stranded 75% of their runners. Outside of the disastrous 12.2 innings that Bennett contributed and the rather forgettable second year from Percival, the Rays have been quite successful in identifying bullpen talent.  I know they have earned my trust in talent acquisition so much so that I was applauding the move to trade for a pitcher with an 8.30 ERA which may be the highest ERA of any trade deadline deal in modern history. After all, Grant Balfour had a 7.66 ERA the season before the Rays acquired him and Joaquin Benoit had four of six seasons in Texas with ERA’s over 5.00. There is a process in the Rays’ front office and it has served them, and the fan base extremely well these past three seasons.

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