Thursday, January 1, 2009

Brian Fuentes 2009

Now that Brian Fuentes has been signed to close for the Angels in 2009, the Shields vs. Arredondo argument can be put to rest. They'll both be used to set up Fuentes, who should be an able replacement for Francisco Rodriguez. Fuentes had arguably the best year of his career in 2008, strikout out 12.4 batters per nine innings, while walking only 3.3. He does allow too many flyballs (32.6% groundball rate), but if he repeats those numbers he stands a good chance of outperforming K-Rod this year. Even if he reverts to something more in line with the rest of his career (say 10.0 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9), he'll be excellent. While the league change may cause some to expect a drop off in performance, I don't think that will be the case for two reasons. First of all, he'll escape from Coors Field, to a more favorable home park. And second of all, changing leagues has much less impact on relievers than on starters, since they rarely get to pitch to other pitchers anyway.

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