Phils Add Right Handed Bullpen Help With Chad Qualls

Phils bolster bullpen with veteran righty Qualls

By Todd Zolecki / MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA — The Phillies wanted more bullpen depth, so Tuesday they signed right-hander Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.

Qualls, 33, is expected to join a ‘pen that could include Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Contreras, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Kyle Kendrick and Dontrelle Willis, with several others in the mix in Spring Training.

Chad Qualls

Qualls provides the Phils another veteran right-handed arm, which might prove necessary because of the uncertainty surrounding Contreras’ health. Contreras had right elbow surgery last year, and while the Phillies believe he could be ready close to Opening Day, nobody is certain.

“Chad was one of those guys that was available to us at a reasonable price for what he can do,” Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Tuesday. “He has the ability to pitch in the seventh and the eighth. We’ll see where he fits. [Manager] Charlie [Manuel] and [pitching coach Rich] Dubee and Chad will decide that, but he’s certainly a guy with a power-sinker and power-slider combination.

“He was throwing very well at the end of the year. He’s had some battles with consistency, but he clearly has ability and some durability. And those are pretty important elements.”

Qualls, 33, went 6-8 with a 3.51 ERA in 77 appearances last season with the Padres. He had a 1.96 ERA in his final 19 appearances, but he went 4-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 38 appearances on the road, compared to 2-3 with a 2.09 ERA in 39 appearances in pitcher-friendly Petco Park.

“We looked at it. We saw it,” Amaro said. “We took a look at some of that data and information, but at the end of the day, when we discussed it with our scouts, we just felt like this type of a risk on a guy was not all that big of a risk. We kind of know what we’re going to get out of him.”

Right-handers hit just .218 with a .537 OPS against Qualls last season, while left-handers had much better success, hitting .320 with an .881 OPS.

Qualls has more appearances (512) over the previous seven seasons than any other pitcher. He is 38-34 with a 3.78 ERA and 51 saves in 537 career appearances with Houston, Arizona, Tampa Bay and San Diego.

His deal includes performance and award bonuses. He will wear No. 50.

“If he’s throwing strikes regularly, he’ll do some damage for us,” Amaro said.

Amaro said he does not expect any similar moves before the beginning of Spring Training on Feb. 19.

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The 5 Best Things About Citizens Bank Park

By Kyle Yahn (Contributor)

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Since its opening season, in 2004, Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has completely changed the face of the Phillies organization.

In 2003, the Phillies ranked 24th in the MLB in attendance. After the inception of Citizens Bank Park in 2004, they rose all the way to fourth. The Phillies have now led all of baseball in attendance for the past three seasons. They are now working on a 204-game sellout streak going into the 2012 season. The stadium sells out every single night, and the atmosphere is perpetually electric.

Not only does this state-of-the-art, $336 million stadium draw in massive crowds, but it supplies them with everything that a baseball fan could possibly dream of.

The Philadelphia Phillies have created a model of success for other teams to follow in Major League Baseball. Over the past decade, they have gone from the basement of the National League to a perennial powerhouse. This turnaround all began with the introduction of the baseball paradise that is Citizens Bank Park

The Views

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There is not a bad seat in the entire stadium. Whether in the nosebleeds or right behind home plate, the fans are always right on top of the action.

This is great, considering the majority of the 43,647 seats are filled on a regular basis. In fact, in the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Phillies averaged an attendance capacity of 104.1 percent.

Those extra 4.1 percent may be some of the most exciting places to be anyway. With the atmosphere of the ballpark and the fans who inhabit it, standing room only seats can be just as fulfilling as front row seats.

And if you miss any of the action, just take a look at the recently installed and massive 40′ x 70′ LED scoreboard in left field—the largest in the National League.

The Bullpens

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There couldn’t be a more perfect feature to a baseball stadium than the bullpens at Citizens Bank Park.

These are especially fun to be around when a rival team is in town, as the visitors’ bullpen lies within ample heckling distance of the Philly faithful. Philadelphia sports fans are notorious for their passion and um…providing a comforting environment for opposing players and fans.

However, the bullpens in Citizens Bank Park aren’t only good for taunting opposing pitchers. If you’re sitting in the point of right center field (seen in the image), the Phillies staff is only a few feet away. I myself have had a conversation or two with Rich Dubee, the Phillies pitching coach, when seated in this area.

It’s a truly unique experience, and that’s why these bullpens are one of the greatest features of Citizens Bank Park.

The Food

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The food at Citizens Bank Park is incredible.

There’s the classic Philly lineup in center field, with Tony Luke’s, Campo’s and Planet Hoagie, and there are several places to get ballpark classics like burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, cracker jacks and soft pretzels scattered throughout the concourse.

And of course, there are a myriad of locations to get some ice cold refreshment.

However, my personal favorite has to be Chickie’s & Pete’s crab fries. These Old Bay-covered french fries—dipped in cheese sauce of course—are the epitome of baseball bliss. Unfortunately, the line never ceases to cost you at least a half an inning.

They are worth the wait.

The Atmosphere

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Mix together consistent sellouts and the spirit of the Phillies fan base, and out comes undeniably the best atmosphere in Major League Baseball.

It’s difficult to express in words the kind of feeling Citizens Bank Park gives off. You have to experience it to truly understand.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, home of the New York Mets, over the past two years, and as I walk around these stadiums, there is a dullness that never even remotely appears in Citizens Bank Park.

From Game 1 to Game 162, the Phillies fans are always in full support of their team. This is something that is rare and special in the game of baseball, and is what gives Citizens Bank Park the greatest atmosphere in the world to watch a baseball game.

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Love em’ or hate em,’ there’s no way around it. Philadelphia Phillies fans are the best in the game.

Their passion, faithfulness and knowledge of the game set them apart from all other baseball fans.

Phillies fans endeared themselves to the world during Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN after their reaction to Osama Bin Laden‘s death in May of 2011.

The Phillies fan base can be described in a few simple adjectives: rowdy, obnoxious, rude, fickle, unforgiving and perfect.