Tag:Brian Fuentes
Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:43 pm

Closer watch: Franklin, Nathan, Thornton out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

John AxfordAs we're getting deeper into the first month of the season, some of the "small sample size" arguments are losing their luster and managers are getting itchy. There's no position in baseball that causes more consternation than the closer's spot -- and few are easier to change. 

On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Ryan Franklin was out as his closer, joining Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire in making changes in closers already this season, a common April occurance.

Here's a look at where all the closers in baseball stand at this moment:

Out -- Ryan Franklin (Cardinals), Joe Nathan (Twins), Matt Thornton (White Sox).

We won't know who the replacement for Franklin is until it comes to a save situation (Matt Snyder took a look at who may get the call -- and I'll agree that Mitchell Boggs gets the first shot) and even then, we'll have to have a few save situations until we get there.

Matt Capps has taken over for Nathan, who is not back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery, in Minnesota.

Thornton may get the call if the White Sox get in a save situation, but Ozzie Guillen has no confidence in anybody in his bullpen and has said he just doesn't have a closer.

Hanging by a thread -- John Axford (Brewers), Sean Burnett (Nationals), Kevin Gregg (Orioles).

Axford (pictured) started his season off by blowing a save in Cincinnati and added another Monday night. He's struggled with his command this season, but the Brewers don't have too many better options.

The Nationals have gone from no closer, to Burnett back to no set closer. After Burnett blew a save on Friday, Drew Storen closed with two innings on Sunday against the Brewers. The two are expected to share the job, but Burnett's not "out" because he's still half in.

Hand wringing -- Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers), Joakim Soria (Royals), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets).

These are three marquee names, but there's plenty of worry surrounding the trio.

Soria has struggled and has a 5.59 ERA, blowing one save, while Broxton hasn't blown a save, but has given up plenty of runs. He has an ERA of 6.14 and his manager's vote of confidence.

K-Rod, well, he's got plenty of issues, including a contract with a vesting option that the Mets aren't really interested in seeing him meet. That said, it's not like he's getting a lot of chances to close out Met victories for the team with the National League's worst record.

Nobody's perfect --  Brian Fuentes (Athletics), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Jon Rauch (Blue Jays).

Rauch has been good, converting all three of his saves this season, but the return of Frank Francisco complicates things for him in Toronto.

Solid -- Mariano Rivera (Yankees), Heath Bell (Padres), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Huston Street (Rockies), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates), Leo Nunez (Marlins), Chris Perez (Indians), Brian Wilson (Giants), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Jose Valverde (Tigers).

Sure, Rivera blew a save last night. I think Joe Girardi may give him another shot.

If a save falls in a forrest -- Francisco Cordero (Reds), Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox), Brandon Lyon (Astros), Brandon League (Marienrs), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays), Jordan Walden (Angels).

If the rest of the closers are in a "small sample size" argument right now, these guys have a "tiny sample size."

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Posted on: January 16, 2011 5:17 pm
Edited on: January 16, 2011 9:58 pm

A's add Fuentes to bullpen

Brian Fuentes The A's have continued to bolster their bullpen this offseason, adding former Angels closer Brian Fuentes to a two-year deal, the Associated Press reports.

According to a tweet from FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the deal is worth $5 million per year, with incentives for finishing games.

On Friday, the A's added Grant Balfour and then re-signed the arbitration-eligible Brad Ziegler. With Balfour, our own Evan Brunell ranked the A's bullpen as the fourth-best in baseball with its only weakness being a "lack of a top left-handed option." With Fuentes, the A's now have that and one of the best bullpens in the game.

Fuentes wasn't the best closer around, but with the Andrew Bailey finishing out games for Oakland, he won't be asked to do that for the A's, leaving him as a setup man, which is likely a better role for him. Left-handers hit just .128/.222/.149 against him last season.

Fuentes, 35, had 23 saves for the Angels last season before an August trade to the Twins for a player to be named (Loek Van Mil). The lefty appeared in nine games for the Twins, earning a save and allowing no runs in nine games. Overall, he was 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA with 24 saves in 48 appearances in 2010, striking out 47 batters in 48 innings while walking 20.

In 2009, Fuentes led the American League with 48 saves. He signed a two-year deal before the '09 season worth $17.5 million.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:30 pm

Rays pursuing Fuentes

Brian Fuentes The Rays have turned their attention to Brian Fuentes as they continue to rebuild their bullpen, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

As of a couple of weeks ago, Fuentes was reportedly looking for something in the neighborhood of three years and $15 million, which seems like a longshot given the backlash to recent long-term deals given to relievers. While he's not likely to get three years, plenty of teams are interested in Fuentes, with SI.com's Jon Heyman reporting this week that eleven teams are interested to one degree or another: the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Rays, Rockies, Mariners, Twins, Pirates, Phillies, Brewers, Yankees, and Mets.

According to the Times, the Rays are now making a big push for Fuentes, and they can offer the lefty something many of the other teams can't: a shot at closing. Fuentes led the majors with 48 saves for the Angels in 2009, but had only 24 solit between the Angels and Twins last year. He needed 55 games finished to vest a $9 million option for 2011, but only finished 35.

Fuentes, 35, had a 2.81 ERA in 48 appearances in 2010 with a 1.063 WHIP. He was nails against left-handers, holding them to a .128/.222/.149 line and zero homers.

-- David Andriesen

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Posted on: December 28, 2010 3:17 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2010 3:17 pm

Cards GM likes club's defense and more

In another impossibly slow day in between Christmas and New Year's, we bring you a roundup of the latest news, a term to be used loosely...

  • Cardinals GM John Mozeliak admitted he sacrificed defense in favor of offense this offseason by adding Lance Berkman and Ryan Theriot. Berkman is impossibly being asked to play right field when he has no business being back in the outfield while Theriot was moved to second by the Cubs for a reason -- and dumped onto the Dodgers who then dumped The Riot on the Cards. Ah, but --

    "I'm of the belief that the defense question is being overstated," Mozeliak told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Overall, the idea that we've lessened our club that much defensively I guess I understand from the comment that we traded Brendan. But I don't see the big change. I think this is going to be a good defensive club, if not better."

    Hogwash. Remember this quote when the Cardinals are falling apart on defense, move Berkman to left and go on the hunt for a better middle infielder to replace either Theriot or Skip Schumaker, expected to man second.
  • The Nationals saw Cuban defector Yunesky Maya named as the Dominican Winter League's pitcher of the year. Maya posted a 1.32 ERA in eight starts, whiffing 42 batters in 41 innings as MASN reports.

    Maya had a 5.88 ERA in five starts for Washington at the end of the season but will be looked upon to help deepen a rotation that will be without Stephen Strasburg for most, if not all, of 2011.

    The Rookie of the Year award, meanwhile, went to Eury Perez, who played at Class A in 2010 and is evolving into a possible leadoff man for the Nats in a couple years.
  • SI.com's Jon Heyman reports the Red Sox are still looking at left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes, who reportedly wants three years and around $15 million. No wonder he's still on the market.

    Also no word on if Fuentes is intimidated by the length of time the Red Sox have spent staring at him, which has been all offseason. Would creep me out.
  • Jeff Francis has received plenty of interest, but no contract offers as the Canadian tells the Vancouver Province.

    There is rumored interest from the Mets, Yankees, Rangers, Nationals and Pirates, but Francis is keeping his cool.

    "It's exciting for people to read because they think there's lots of things happening," Francis said, "but it's not as fast-paced as it's all made out to be. Teams are interested, but that's about it at this point."

    Jeffrey Franchise helped lead the Rockies to the 2007 World Series but has been plagued by injuries since, having surgery to repair a torn labrum in 2009 and struggling to produce in 2010.

  • A sad Christmas for Matt Kemp, who split up with singer Rihanna just before the holiday after an 11-month romance as the Toronto Sun reveals. Perhaps Kemp's focus will be improved in 2011 after questions around his desire and relationship with Rihanna surfaced as questions in his inconsistent 2010. Of course, if he continues to not produce, there will be those who say he's taking the breakup hard.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:54 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2010 12:26 am

Crain to White Sox, RP market booming

Crain The White Sox have agreed to a three-year deal with Jesse Crain, as Peter Gammons reports .

This is the latest in a series of three-year deals given to relievers. First Joaquin Benoit set the market, then Scott Downs and Matt Guerrier followed.

Gotta say, it's a good year to be a middle reliever.

Crain recently finished up a year in which he pitched 68 innings of a 3.04 ERA. He boasts a career ERA of 3.42 along with a 4.48 xFIP, so may be hurt by the move to homer-friendly US Cellular Field.

That said, Crain is just 29 and punched out 8/21 batters per nine in 2010, walking 3.57. Throwing an average fastball that is just a hair under 95-mph, he matches up with Chicago's affinity for hard-throwing relievers.

In other relief news, Hardball Talk has Bobby Jenks nearing an agreement with the Rays. This is a fantastic agreement for both sides, as Jenks will land somewhere where he won't have any trouble sewing up a closer's gig. That'll allow him to spend 2011 trying to rehabilitate his value, while the Rays pick up an underrated pitcher who seemed to clash with skipper Ozzie Guillen in Chicago. (However, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal says Jenks isn't close to a decision and has also heard from the Yankees.)

The Red Sox continue their slew of uninspiring relief signings, blanching at the three-year demands out there. A day after inking Matt Albers, the Red Sox have brought back lefty Lenny DiNardo, as WEEI reveals. The deal is of the minor-league variety. DiNardo was with the Red Sox from 2004-06, then traveled to the A's where he enjoyed success on now-Red Sox pitching coach Curt Young. He struggled from 2008-10 with injuries and bounced from the A's to Royals and back to Oakland. Now, he'll serve as depth for Boston with an outside shot toward winning a bullpen job out of spring training.

The Jays, meanwhile, aren't asleep at the switch in finding a reliever. They're hot after Octavio Dotel, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. Dotel could potentially close in Toronto, which may appeal to the 37-year-old. The club could pit Dotel and Jason Frasor in a contest for the job. Dotel isn't the reliever he once was, but in a market where three-year deals are the norm for relievers, Dotel suddenly starts to look attractive on a one- or two-year pact.

Lastly, the Yankees are hard after a left-handed reliever. That puts them in line for Brian Fuentes, Pedro Feliciano, Arthur Rhodes, and more. Rhodes was thought to be close to a deal to re-up with the Reds but with the market the way it is, may listen to alternatives. Fuentes is the best lefty on the market, so the Yankees will have to pony up, but they have a ton of cash burning a hole in their pocket.

UPDATE : Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports has Crain's deal at three years, $13 million.


Also, Kerry Wood is headed back to the Cubs, as Rosenthal adds . The two sides are working on an agreement for Wood to set up Carlos Marmol, freeing up Andrew Cashner for the rotation.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: December 15, 2010 9:32 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2010 9:40 pm

Top 10 free agents remaining

Okay, so all the big names are off the board now, and quite a few solid names are gone as well.

Now teams are left to fight over the scraps, and how clubs go about filling their holes with the remaining names can have major implications on a season. There will be teams who are done spending and shopping for bargain-bin pickups, teams who have been jilted and can spread money around and more.

No more Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth or Victor Martinez may not be exciting, but there's still plenty more machinations ahead. The trade market may also start heating up now that teams can more clearly identify their holes or surplus players.

So who are the top 10 free agents left?

Gregg 10. Kevin Gregg

Gregg closed for Toronto in 2010 and surprisingly held his own in the AL East after years of being a miscast closer and flaming out of Chicago. He's still not a great option, but as someone willing to ink for just two years, Gregg's market may open up what with the crazy three-year pacts being handed out.

How about: The Orioles seem to be the top (only?) suitor for Gregg, so let's take the safe route here and tab Gregg to the O's. This would push Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara to setup roles, and give the O's what suddenly looks like an intriguing top three in the bullpen that could do wonders for the young rotation's confidence in nailing down wins.

Fuentes 9. Brian Fuentes

Fuentes is another mediocre closer but as a left-hander with strikeout stuff, is in plenty of demand as both a setup man and closer. Fuentes is looking to max out the years on his contract but has a top team in the Red Sox chasing him, plus plenty of other clubs with the financial wherewithal to import Fuentes.

How about: The Yankees. New York has money to toss around and a need for a left-handed reliever. Fuentes ranks above Pedro Feliciano in the remaining market for lefties and Fuentes may be willing to pitch just in front of Mariano Rivera. He's likely too pricey for Colorado.

Hall 8. Bill Hall

Hall revitalized his career in Boston as a super-utilityman and rediscovered the pop he left behind mid-decade in Milwaukee. Another good season would really open up his career prospects. He's been closely linked to the Dodgers, but there's no shortage of teams that would want him as a backup. The club that can offer him the most playing time is likely the team that snags him.

How about: The Dodgers. L.A. has made a habit of collecting average players and hoping quantity beats out quality. Problem: they still haven't solved their left-field conundrum. Hall makes a lot of sense here as he can back up at multiple positions and serve as insurance in case they need to move him out from left field.

Thome 7. Jim Thome

Thome is 40 years old and still bashing home runs, cranking 25 in 340 plate appearances for the Twins. However, he looks to be squeezed out by the impending return of Justin Morneau and emergence of Delmon Young. As someone who will come on a one-year deal and a cheap base salary, any team with a hole at DH has to be interested.

How about: The Rays. The market for DHs is small, but Tampa Bay are one such team that could use Thome's thump and have a DH spot -- and no potential for losing the spot -- waiting for him. In addition, Thome could benefit from the short porch in Yankee Stadium and the moving in of the right-field fence in Boston.

Jenks 6. Bobby Jenks

Jenks has often had a tumultuous career in Chicago as Ozzie Guillen hs never been a fan. However, Jenks was actually better than Rafael Soriano in 2010. Jenks's xFIP was 2.62, while Soriano checked in at 2.81. Over the next three years, Soriano is certainly the better property, but the point is that Jenks has actually been a better pitcher these last few years than given credit for.

How about: The Rays. Yes, Tampa Bay is slashing payroll, but they still have some room to spend dollars. They have an empty bullpen, putting them in position to pick and choose from any remaining reliever out there and handing them the closer's job. Jenks, however, is the only one who would likely accept a one-year deal to rebuild his value before hitting free agency again after the year. Tampa won't complain about that. (The Jays were the original pick here, but a Hardball Talk report that has Jenks and Tampa Bay close to an agreement changed that.)

Lee 5. Derrek Lee

Lee started the year hobbled by a thumb injury, and Aramis Ramirez's own struggles compounded the issue for the Cubs. Lee bounced back in the second half and showed he wasn't cooked with the Braves. However, his stock is down enough that a one-year deal could work in his best interest -- and teams would be only too happy to oblige.

How about: The Padres. Lee is a Northern California boy, and is the best first baseman remaining on the market. The Orioles seem focused on Adam LaRoche, and the Nats are talking to LaRoche as well, but Lee should provide the bigger bang for the buck in 2011. The Padres desperately need a first baseman and could make the case to Lee that they are better positioned to win in 2011 than either the Nats or O's.

Ordonez 4. Magglio Ordonez

Looking past how much Ordonez was overpaid the last few seasons, you see an outfielder still capable of hitting with the stick. His agent, Scott Boras, is currently being unreasonable in salary demands but since when is that news? Of the outfielders left on the market, Mags is the best bet of all to produce in 2011.

How about: The Tigers. Detroit still needs a bat, and that outfield as comprised (Ryan Raburn-Austin Jackson-Brennan Boesch) does not look pretty. There's motivation on both sides to get a deal done.

Pavano 3. Carl Pavano

Pavano is a quality starter, there's no doubt about that. He can soak up innings and function as a solid No. 3 in any rotation, but he seems to be benefiting from a positive groundswell of support as there's not much differentiating him from Joe Blanton. He's understandably trying to capitalize on a market run amok, but Pavano's injury history and advanced age is working against him here.

How about: The Twins. Minnesota wants Pavano back and Pavano wants back in the Twin Cities. It's possible that Pavano, seeking a three-year, $30 million contract, could leave money on the table to do so.

Soriano 2. Rafael Soriano

Soriano is a lights out reliever but seems to be suffering from a curious lack of interest. Yes, his pedigree as a closer is one reason for that as teams are balking at four years and a high salary. One might think teams are learning their lesson when it comes to overpaying for relievers, but unfortunately it appears that teams are only getting smarter when it comes to paying closers, not relievers as evidenced by the ridiculous three-year deals handed out to relievers. But riddle me this: if someone like Matt Guerrier can get three years, how can Soriano not demand four?

How about: The Rangers. Texas is scrambling to find a pitcher to replace Cliff Lee. Pavano's a possibility, but how well can he play in that park? It may be better to go for the quality arm in Soriano and convert Neftali Feliz to a starter.

Beltre 1. Adrian Beltre

The best player left on the market, Beltre can pick it with the best of them and enjoyed a strong season at the plate. There's enough question marks about Beltre's offense that he's going to have to move significantly off his salary demands unless he phones Oakland and asks for the five-year, $65 million deal to be put back on the table.

How about: The Angels. It makes too much sense for the Angels to sign Beltre. They have a gaping hole at third and missed out on Crawford. Beltre, meanwhile, has seen his suitors dwindle as the market hasn't broke in his favor. This is a match for both sides that is too obvious. Then again, the Crawford-Angels match was obvious as well. As long as Los Angeles continues to negotiate as if there are no other teams involved, they will continue to miss out. The Halos could stand to be more aggressive.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: December 6, 2010 10:54 am

Red Sox looking into Brian Fuentes

Fuentes As the Red Sox are set to introduce Adrian Gonzalez Monday, they may be hot in pursuit of another player to add onto the team.

Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports that Boston is interested in left-hander Brian Fuentes. Fuentes, who closed with the Rockies and Angels before finishing 2010 as a setup man with the Twins, recently had a suitor fall out for his services in the Diamondbacks. Arizona is trying to rebuild its bullpen, but Fuentes won't be a part of that as MLB.com 's Steve Gilbert notes.

No longer.

The Red Sox have no left-handers currently in the bullpen thanks to the non-tendering of Hideki Okajima, although the club may yet elect to use prospect starting pitcher Felix Doubront in that role.

Fuentes may be able to command a multi-year deal in light of Joaquin Benoit's three-year deal with the Tigers.

-- Evan Brunell

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Posted on: November 9, 2010 7:58 pm
Edited on: November 9, 2010 9:29 pm

Hoffman eyeing D-Backs?

Trevor Hoffman Trevor Hoffman has repeatedly said he'd like to find a closer's spot for 2011 and in lieu of that, he could retire.

On Monday, Evan predicted four possible landing spots , and Hoffman must have been reading, as he mentioned Evan's No. 1 possibility -- the Arizona Diamondbacks.

"I've known [Arizona general manager Kevin Towers] for such a long time and I figured having a little history there would help," Hoffman told MLB.com's Barry Bloom . "But I don't know. I'm coming off a tough year. I don't know if people are going to be turned off by that or not. I hope the strong second half I had will compensate."

Hoffman's agent, Rick Thurman, told Bloom he hasn't talked directly with Towers yet, but has discussed relievers with the team. Thurman also represents Brian Fuentes, Arthur Rhodes, Will Ohman, Octavio Dotel and Chan-Ho Park.

"We just kind of glazed over the topic of Trevor," Thurman said. "They're looking for a closer. They need a lot of pitching. They're looking for back end relief help."

UPDATE: Towers tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he hasn't spoken to Hoffman or Thurman, but will certainly listen.

"You'd be nuts if you didn't at least consider somebody like Trevor Hoffman," Towers told Piecoro (via Twitter ).

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com