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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.