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Friday, May 01, 2009

Brian Fuentes, Anti-Closer: Yankees 10, Angels 9

Though I keep whining about Brandon Wood's absence, the offense once again did its job despite the absence of Vlad. I missed all of it — except for the final at-bat in the bottom of the ninth — thanks to a last-minutey veterinary appointment for Romeo, who started licking one of his paws to the point of rawness. The sixth I kept track of on the phone, and what a fusillade it was. The Angels finally got to Andy Pettitte and then Mark Melancon late, with the Halos scoring six runs, all with two out. It was an impressive rally, one they added to in the seventh against Jose Veras and former Angels prospect Edwar Ramirez. Tacking four more on, it looked — with only nine more outs to get — like the Angels stood a chance.

Unfortunately, the bullpen continued its erratic behavior, and after Rafael Rodriguez left the game with men on first and second and nobody out, Jose Arredondo couldn't get that double play ball he needed, and next thing you know the Yanks are back only by a single run.

That of course meant that Brian Fuentes would enter the game with no margin for error. By the time I got in the car with a very doped-up Romeo, the bases were already loaded with nobody out, and that, really, was the game right there. Of course, you can blame that on Rafael Rodriguez and his 4.91 ERA, but then Arredondo left the game with a 6.75 ERA, and which one of them has been in the majors longer? Fuentes should have been able to get three outs for the win, but he's an above-average pitcher who is gonna lose plenty of games for you before the season's over. It's his second loss so far this year, and it's only May 1.

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Ruined GMJ's best game ever as an Angel - he was awesome, and Mathis was clutch.

I still say WTH? Sciosc needs a shorter leash, and again, keep bringing up the top kids like Reckling and Walden and giving them a try. Ortega's worked out. Fuentes shouldn't bee seen in the ninth anymore for awhile.
Only two numbers need matter here: 8 and 19. Eight is the number of innings Fuentes has pitched. Nineteen is the number of men he has put on base over that time.

It takes a tremendous amount of managerial forbearance to let a pitcher place 19 men on base in 8 innings. At some point you have to wonder if between forbearance and indifference we're just splitting hairs. At some point this season Mike's gonna need to prove he's something more than a legacy contract. There's no reason to assume an "above-average" closer in the NL knows anything about closing in the AL.
Plan B would be ... who?
Besides K-Rod, our bullpen is mostly the same as last years. Shields and Arredondo have decided to melt down at the same time. Oliver is hurt because we thought he could start. And Fuentes has decided to become extremely hittable. Our bullpen isn't great but they won't be this bad the entire year...I hope. There isn't a need to rush one of our young arms, hurt his development and start his free agent clock early.

That being said, I'm pretty sure the Angels run of dominating the AL West is about over. The Halos need to figure out a way to build a bullpen for the upcoming years, instead of some patchwork temporary fix.
This game came down to awful bullpen management. Again. Arredondo can't pitch with runners on. We knew this last year and it's been even more apparent this year.

We need to stop losing games where we have late 5-run leads. The key to that is avoiding our decidedly crappy relievers (Rafeael Rodriguzez? come on!) when the game is still, technically, in question. A Shields 7th, Arredondo 8th, and Fruntes 9th would've protected a 5-run lead.
Plan B which should be implemented ASAP is to have a quick hook. Fuentes should be gone. When we get back to Lackey and Santana, two other kids that should be in there are Ortega and Palmer. We broke Finley in back in the 'pen. He turned out OK.

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