More Bullpen Moves in Minnesota

The word around the twittersphere is that Brian Fuentes is heading to the Twins with a player to be named later heading back in return. It is doubtful that the PTBNL is of any real value, but the Angels certainly have no need for a closer whose contract ends this season. I can say that with pretty good confidence because the vesting option on Fuentes’ contract stipulates that he needs to finish 55 games in 2010 to activate it. Fuentes is at 33 this season and is headed to a team with at least two relievers ahead of him for saves.

Since the Twins have little to worry about Fuentes’ vesting option, this can be seen as simply a very short-term rental. This looks like just a little extra insurance to better the Twins’ odds of outlasting the White Sox for the AL Central title. My question is whether adding Brian Fuentes actually betters the bullpen.

After a down season in 2009, Fuentes has not rebounded meaningfully. His fastball speed is still down and the ground balls are even more infrequent in nature. Fuentes has regained some of his lost strikeout rate, but not a lot and he’s been treading water thanks in part to his .250 BABIP. Fuentes’ tenure with Anaheim paints him as being close to a replacement-level reliever.

The Twins have had a very strong bullpen this year. Jeff Manship, Matt Guerrier and Glen Perkins are the only active members of the team who have posted a FIP above four while in the bullpen. Perkins was done in a very small sample and he’s more of a starter anyways.

This move certainly makes the claiming of Randy Flores even more curious as Fuentes is simply a better version of Flores and Fuentes isn’t even all that good. If the idea is to ditch their claim on Flores and replace him with Fuentes to be their LOOGY, that individual move at least makes sense. If the Twins keep both of them, then I’m wondering who loses his job to make room because there’s a decent chance that Fuentes is less useful. I understand the motivation behind wanting to grab whatever improvement is out there, but I’m left feeling there isn’t much or any improvement to be had in this case.

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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

24 Responses to “More Bullpen Moves in Minnesota”

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  1. Peter says:

    As a twins Fan I love this deal. With Jose Mirjaes on the DL the twins bullpen needed a proven lefty. Plus Fuentes has valuable playoff experience and gives the twins another, albeit non elite, option at closer. Perhaps in the playoffs Gardenhire will play the matchups in save situations, but I doubt it.

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    • YiYang says:

      Playoff experience giving up that 11th inning, game-tying, save-blowing home run to A-Rod.

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      • Googners says:

        You know who else gave up a save blowing, game tying home run to A-Rod in the playoffs? Joe Nathan. It happens to the best of them

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Yeah, on an 0-2 pitch.

        I really felt for Nathan on that one. Obviously, he did not intend to throw a cockshot in that situation. I can’t even imagine what he felt as soon as he could tell where the pitch was going.

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      • Steve L. says:

        Actually, Nathan’s pitch was on a 3-0 count. He threw 3 straight sliders that were nowhere near the zone and there were guys on base already so he had to groove one and A-Fraud didn’t miss.

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  2. MattCappsRULES says:

    If Matt Capps brought the nats a decent prospect in Ramos I’m guessing the Twins will be sending Sano, Kepler and Hicks in this deal. Brian Fuentes is an ALL STAR!

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  3. RyanD says:

    As a Twins fan, I am a fan of this deal, assuming of course that the PTBNL is no one significant.

    The main reason for this is Gardy’s usage of the bullpen. With Mahay done for the year and Mijares also out for at least a little while, Flores would have become the go-to lefty for Gardy. And Gardy loves to match up his lefty(ies) against left-handed hitters. Unfortunately, Flores is actually no better against lefties in his career than he is against righties. Fuentes, however, does have the traditional platoon split, meaning he will fit that role much better.

    In addition, I think Fuentes is clearly a better pitcher than Flores regardless. To say they are comparable is a mistake. Fuentes has a much better career FIP and xFIP and, while it has been significantly worse than it was when he was in the NL, Flores will also be making that transition now.

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  4. Erik says:

    Fuentes is a better pitcher than Glen Perkins – whom he is likely to replace when the Twins make a roster move.

    The Twins needed a reliever that they could go to when it comes to facing difficult left handed hitters – and they got that in Fuentes.

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  5. adohaj says:

    As a Twins fan this deal Puzzles me. Our pen was already a team strongpoint. Sure we aren’t giving up anything to get Fuentes but there isn’t a true need for him. Personally i’d rather see Crain, Rauch or Guerrier than funetes

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    • Erik says:

      There isn’t a true need for Fuentes?

      How so? The Twins, prior to the Fuentes move, were going to rely on Randy Flores and Glen Perkins as their left handed relievers. Do you really trust those guys in a high leverage situation?

      This Fuentes move makes plenty of sense for the Twins.

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    • Steve L. says:

      Team strongpoint?

      If you look at simply numbers I can see how you might make that conclusion, but you obviously haven’t been watching the games. The Bullpen has been a liability lately, not an asset. They would have been drastically exposed in a playoff series, now they are in good shape.

      This was a great move for the Twins.

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      • Bill@TPA says:

        “If you look at simply numbers I can see how you might make that conclusion, but you obviously haven’t been watching the games.”

        That people on this site have let him get away with saying this for nearly 24 hours now astounds me.

        If you look at the numbers, you’ll realize that the perspective you get from watching the games becomes skewed. You remember the inevitable bad performances and forget the much more frequent good ones.

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  6. TBo says:

    To say that Fuentes is no better than Flores is a joke and you need to do some looking at your actual website. Fuentes has been very tough on lefties this year and thats what the Twins brought him in for.

    Capps is the closer and Crain is the main 8th inning guy. Adding Fuentes to the mix is a no brainer to anyone whos paying attention.

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  7. Jesse says:

    Yeah, there’s really no doubt that this is an improvement for the Twins. He’s not coming to close, and the Twins don’t have an effective left-handed pitcher in the bullpen: Mahay is done for the year, Mijares is still out, Perkins just isn’t very good and neither is Flores.

    Fuentes can do what the Twins need him to do: get left-handed hitters out and get people to swing and miss.

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    • Luke in MN says:

      Yeah, this move is clearly about the platoon split for Fuentes, which is quite good. The Twins bullpen’s season numbers look pretty good overall, but those were racked up with Duensing (now in the rotation), Mijares (now injured), and Mahay (injured) taking care of lefty high-leverage situations. Really, this was the most glaring hole on the team and this fills it nicely.

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  8. Nick says:

    Fuentes is a better reliever than Guerrier or Rauch. If Crain continues to be unhittable he is the main 8th inning guy, but if Josh Hamilton or Robinson Cano comes up in the 8th, I like the idea of going with Fuentes over Crain. If Crain is unavailable, Fuentes is still the best option for the 8th, since he is actually pretty tough on righties (career .231 avg against).

    Most importantly… Glenn Perkins is not in the bullpen and Flores (the new Ron Mahay) becomes strictly an early inning LOOGY until Mijares comes back (then Flores is dumped). Guerrier, Rauch, Crain and Fuentes is a pretty formidable 7th-8th crew.

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  9. John says:

    Boy, this article is awful. How about something other than baseless opinion?

    Why the Twins got Fuentes:

    Fuentes against LHB 2010: .132/.209/.158
    Fuentes against LHB Career: .213/.301/.309

    Think maybe losing both Mahay and Mijares meant then wanted a lefty specialist out of the pen?

    Even if Flores remains on the roster for now, does it matter so long as he is pushed out of high leverage innings by Fuentes?

    Poorly thought out article.

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    • WY says:

      I agree, especially given the loss of Mijares and Mahay to injuries. There’s also this:

      “If the Twins keep both of them, then I’m wondering who loses his job to make room because there’s a decent chance that Fuentes is less useful.”

      I mean, September 1st half a week away. Once they get to that point, they can keep them both, and then some.

      I just wonder why this post was even written considering how little actual knowledge of the situation was brought to it.

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    • Steve L. says:

      I agree with your guys’ thoughts.

      The writer of this article obviously is not a follower of the Twins nor did he look into any situations or motivations behind why it happened.

      This moves makes so much sense it’s almost laughable that it was allowed to happen. Especially with the White Sox in the same division, currently above them on the Waiver scale, and the injuries that have happened in their bullpen as well.

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    • Bill@TPA says:

      gotta agree…a very rare clunker by Mr. Carruth and FanGraphs. All you’ve got to look at is the split numbers on this very site to see why this is a good move. 2010 FIP of 1.39 and career 2.71 against lefties. Now, any time he faces a right-handed batter in an important spot with any of Crain, Guerrier, Capps, or Rauch left in the ‘pen, that’s a failure by Gardenhire. But if he sticks to the lefties, it’s a very solid addition.

      Also encouraged by how Gardnehire chose to use him in the first game–brought him in to get Branyan for the final out of a 1-0 game. The Twins aren’t invested in getting “saves” for ANY of these five pitchers, maybe only one or two of which will be around (and not getting saves, Nathan willing) in ’11, so one would hope that they would ditch that whole managing-for-the-statistic thing and just use the best pitcher in the best spot. If used right, Fuentes improves their bullpen in a really significant way that is, frankly, kind of hard to miss.

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  10. NotDave says:

    Least perceptive article in the history of Fangraphs? A high hurdle to clear, I know, but it’s top 5 minimum.

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