By R.J. Anderson //
In one of the more sudden moves of the waiver deadline, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sent Brian Fuentes to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named later, or cash. This move can be taken as a somber admittance on Tony Reagins’ part that the Angels are out of the playoffs race as well as an admittance that maybe the Fuentes signing did not work out quite as planned – as if the Fernando Rodney signing last off-season didn’t hint at that conclusion.
Below is a chart showing the Angels’ and Twins’ respective bullpens with innings pitched, leverage index (a statistic which measures the amount of pressure based on the base/state and score matrices; the higher the leverage score the more pressure-packed situations entered), saves, and earned run average. Logically, Rodney will be the Angels’ permanent closer for now, but keep an eye on Kevin Jepsen and Jordan Walden. Both have the ability to rack up strikeouts and with youth (and contract status) on their side, the Angels could very well be nearing a return to the homegrown closer model they enjoyed with Troy Percival and Francisco Rodriguez.
As for the Twins, Fuentes is destined for a set-up role. One of the best relievers in the game between 2003-2008, Fuentes just never adjusted to the American League as his strikeout, walk, and home run rates went the wrong way. That last bit might not be a surprise given the extremity of Fuentes’ flyball tendencies. But when a pitcher is giving up more home runs after moving away from Coors Field, well, it’s not a good sign.
One item about Fuentes’ recent history that is a good sign for the Twins is his ability to get left-handers out. Southpaws are hitting .135 off Fuentes this year. In the past, he has shown the proficiency to shut same-handed batters down completely for long stretches. If the Twins stick to using him primarily but not exclusively versus lefties, then the odds are they will be happy with their acquisition. Matt Capps is still in line to record most of the saves for Ron Gardenhire’s club, although Fuentes will probably slip in one or two this month just based on matchups and rest days.
To sum this up: Hang onto Rodney for now with an eye towards Walden or Jepsen next season. If your league counts holds, grab Fuentes. Otherwise, the 2010 fantasy season implications for this move are limited.
For more on Brian Fuentes, Kevin Jepsen, Jordan Walden, and other late season additions, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.