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Apparently the Red Sox are building an uber-bullpen

Dec 28, 2010, 1:39 PM EDT

brian-fuentes-twins Getty Images

They’ve already got Papelbon, Bard and Jenks.  It would seem, however, that Theo Epstein will not rest until he has ensured that all teams playing the Red Sox have but five innings in which to work: Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox are still eying Brian Fuentes. This is a long-term eyeing, as reports of the Sox’ interest were floating around nearly a month ago.

Fuentes had a 2.81 ERA and 47/20 K/BB ratio in 48 innings between the Angels and Twins in 2010.  He could probably close for a dozen teams. In Boston he’d be a lefty specialist.

Ah, how the rich are different than you and I.

  1. Joe Tetreault - Dec 28, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    Even more fun, the legion of Red Sox (of which I count myself a member) will no doubt loathe Fuentes each time he coughs up a lead, unless he’s positively perfect with each pitch.

  2. Detroit Michael - Dec 28, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    If there were a dozen teams for which Fuentes would be the best option as closer, he probably would sign with one of them.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 28, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Boston hated their division rival so much, that they became them.

    • Jason @ IIATMS - Dec 28, 2010 at 2:45 PM


    • marshmallowsnake - Dec 29, 2010 at 5:31 PM

      Someone had to do it.

  4. aaronmoreno - Dec 28, 2010 at 2:20 PM

    When you see Fuentes pitch, think “pie-throwing.”

  5. alexjs1 - Dec 28, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    If one looks at World Series winners over the last decade, money has helped but it hasn’t been the only factor. The Sox certainly spend more freely than most others, but they tend to do so without ravaging the farm system. They’ve also learned a lot from signings like Renteria and Lugo.

    They are spending money that other clubs don’t have, but they’re also doing it in a calculated fashion that I admire. Time will tell, but if they bump their TV ratings and get more playoff participation as a result, it will all be worth the investment.

    BTW – They’re different from you and me (not I).

  6. uyf1950 - Dec 28, 2010 at 2:58 PM

    “uber-bullpen”??? The 3 players mentioned in the piece Papelbon, Bard and Jenks in 2010 combined for 7-12 win/loss record, 19 blown saves and a combined ERA of 3.29 if that’s what people call building an “uber-bullpen” good luck. Papelbon and Jenks best years are behind them. The only one with upside in Bard.

    • proudlycanadian - Dec 28, 2010 at 3:22 PM


    • pwf207 - Dec 28, 2010 at 3:43 PM

      I mean I know it kind of goes without saying that a critique of pitchers based off W/L, blown saves and ERA is not really an effective one but still i believe in correcting and educating where I can. Jenks had over 10 k per 9 last year, his ERA is bloated from a .368 BABIP. he’s not overly homer-prone and he strikes out a lot of dudes and he walks a decent number. these are the kind of guys you want in the pen, the ability to strike out a lot of hitters, not give up homers and control the walks. Bard and Papelbon are basically clones of Jenks with some mild variations. Fuentes had over 11 k per 9 against lefties and didn’t give up a single homer to lefties. Add in the fact that if Theo is making the move, there is a very good chance it’s a good one; don’t mindlessly hate just cuz it’s the Sox. This is what an uber-pen would look like; if not this what else would you want (besides an army of Mo clones)?

      • pwf207 - Dec 28, 2010 at 3:47 PM

        it’s like Jason said, they have become like that which they despised, which is a damn fine model. however you slice it, Theo has had a killer off season; they gave up some very good prospect chips but got an elite player for them. that’s what you do w prospects if you are the Sox or Yanks, you fill holes, then you use your financial clout to add marquee pieces like crawford and jenks, maybe you overpay and over commit but that’s what you do.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:09 PM

      Gentlemen, call me old school but if blown saves in combination with a high ERA are not an indication of a closer or set up pitchers value to a team then nothing is. Quote strikeouts, etc… if you must but if he can’t stop the “other” team from scoring in critical situations he loses his value as a closer or set up pitcher.

      • JBerardi - Dec 28, 2010 at 5:19 PM

        What skill could be more useful in keeping runs from scoring in critical situations than the ability to get strikeouts?

      • uyf1950 - Dec 28, 2010 at 5:29 PM

        To Berardi – The same comment can be made for blown saves and an high ERA. I stand by my comment if a pitcher can’t stop the other team from scoring who cares if he averages 1 strike out per inning. What about the other batters in the inning?

      • JBerardi - Dec 29, 2010 at 1:44 AM

        The same comment could be made, but it would be wrong. There’s a lot more luck involved in racking up saves than in striking out batters. Ditto ERA (not a great stat in the first place, really bad when it comes to relievers).

      • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2010 at 4:56 AM

        To Berardi: So a relief pitcher/closer that has a high ERA, has blown a lot of saves and loses a lot games is more valuable in the bullpen than a closer who doesn’t blow saves and has a low ERA or wins more games than he loses but doesn’t quite strike out the same number of batters. By that reasoning Papelbon was a better closer in 2010 than Soriano because he struck out out 19 more batter in just about the same amount of innings as Soriano. Even though Papelbon blew 8 saves versus 3 for Soriano and Papelbon also allowed 2 more earned runs per 9 innings than Soriano. Good luck with that position.

      • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 29, 2010 at 1:53 PM

        Put it to rest already.

    • marshmallowsnake - Dec 29, 2010 at 5:32 PM

      Yankee fan^^^

      • marshmallowsnake - Dec 29, 2010 at 5:33 PM

        ^^^ = UYF1950

  7. pwf207 - Dec 28, 2010 at 3:53 PM

    sorry it was mattstairsisking who made that comment

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:00 PM


  8. pisano - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:10 PM

    Trust me, of that group Bard is the only one I’d have any faith in.

  9. proudlycanadian - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    If I remember my WW2 history lessons, a lot of those “Uber” thingies sunk beneath the waves.

  10. Glenn - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    The Sox aren’t going crazy here. They lost two top players to free agency (Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre). Then they signed a top free agent (Crawford) and traded for another marquee player (Gonzalez). It is more maintenance than buying a championship. Obviously they have to be one of the moneyed teams to do what they’ve done this off season, but it is not as Yankee-like as it seems at first glance. I do feel sorry for the Tampa Bays and San Diegos (wink-wink) who have to lose franchise players for lack of money.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Dec 28, 2010 at 4:52 PM

      I agree they’re not going ‘crazy’ but A-Gone and Crawford are not ‘maintenance’ for most any team.
      Adam LaRoche, Yorvit Torrealba, David Eckstein – those guys are ‘maintenance’ in keeping your lineup stable. A-Gone and Crawford are top-tier upgrades few can afford.

      And having Jenks as a backup closer/middle reliever at that salary is significant, not to mention they have the most expensive 4th outfielder in history – and that said, even hearing Red Sox and Fuentes in the same sentence at this point makes our heads explode a little!

      • JBerardi - Dec 28, 2010 at 5:21 PM

        “hey have the most expensive 4th outfielder in history”

        They signed Gary Matthews Jr!?

      • proudlycanadian - Dec 28, 2010 at 7:33 PM

        JBerardi wins for that observation!

      • Glenn - Dec 29, 2010 at 3:38 PM

        By maintenance I meant replacing lost players with others of somewhat equal value. I did say that only a team with big bucks could do what they are doing, but they are still a small market team or two behind the Yankees in payroll.

  11. pwf207 - Dec 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    to uyf1950: ERA varies greatly year to year, save opportunities are team dependent, a blown save could result from coming in with a guy on third and getting a grounder to the right side, getting the out but allowing the run. you need to stop looking at outcomes, like blown save and ERA because they are dependent on the rest of the team, not just the pitcher. seriously, would you hold it against the pitcher if he came in and got three straight outs but allowed a run to score and blew the save in the scenario i describe above? and the only way a pitcher can be sure he wont allow anyone to score is by striking people out, by the way. any other baseball outcome requires his teammates, so if you want to try and predict the success and pitcher will have getting people out strikeout ability is the best way. looking at past outcomes like ERA and trying to predict into the future requires assuming the same luck as past seasons. dozens and dozens of smart people have spent decades researching these kinds of questions, with no axe to grind just a desire to get closer to the truth; why do you willfully ignore all theses other opinions with a “call me old fashioned”?

    • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2010 at 10:30 AM

      Thank you for the education lesson. You still did not answer my question about Papelbon being a better closer than Soriano simply because he had a better strikeout ration. Using your rational Papelbon has to be. To answer your question no I don’t hold it against a pitcher who comes in with a man on 3rd base and that man scores and the pitchers gets a blown save. But in that very same scenario you mention the pitcher would not be charged with an earned run. My earlier post clearly states that a combination of blown saves AND a high ERA are an indication of a pitchers value to a team. Now let’s look at your example with one slight change. That same pitcher comes in with a man on 3rd base with his team leading by 1 run. That same pitcher gives up a double the man on 3rd scores the next batter gets a single and the man on second scores, but he strikes out the 3rd batter for the final out of the inning. Now that pitcher has not only blown a save and surrendered the lead but he has given up an earned run charged to himself and lost the game for his team. Same pitcher different set of circumstances. That’s why it’s my position that blown saves in conjunction with a high ERA are an indication of a closer/relief pitchers value and strikeouts may or may not be a good indicator. Are they the ONLY indicator, no but to ignore them seems to me that I’m may not be the only one “ignoring other options”.

  12. pwf207 - Dec 29, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    so by your logic Soriano was better than Mo last year. So if the Yanks sign Soriano, as you want, they should make him the closer? I agree that Soriano is better than Papelbon, but only somewhat. Soriano had a fluky year with a .212 BABIP. That is not repeatable, Mariano’s career BABIP is .273 and he’s the GOAT. so Soriano will regress a little most likely, unless he has become the new GOAT and by a huge margin and as his BABIP regresses so will his ERA, hell Papelbon’s career ERA is 2.22 and Soriano’s is 2.73 so as you can see ERA fluctuates wildly and isn’t predictive. I never said strike out rate is the only indicator, I also never said Soriano is worse than Papelbon. what I said was give the three plus power arms already in their pen plus the possibility of Fuentes as a Loogy, that’s pretty much the definition of an uber-pen. its what the yanks try to do to, power arms w strike out ability ala KRob and Joba and Wood last year. what is decidedly true is that blown saves and ERA taken together are a record of what happened when a pitcher was in the game taking into account defense, game context and luck. k rate BB rate and hr rate take the D out of it and are thus a more focused look at a just a pitcher’s ability to get outs, keep guys off the bases and keep runs from scoring.

    • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2010 at 2:57 PM

      Look at Soriano’s and Rivera’s ERA’s, WHIP and Blown Save numbers for 2010 and you will see they are practically mirror images of each other. I would say they had a very comparable season last year.
      Then compare Sorian’s and Papelbon’s numbers and if you can say with a straight face they had comparable seasons last year or even close to comparable seasons last year. More power to you.
      I’m not saying SO to BB rate, etc.. doesn’t take the defense out of the equation. What I am saying is if a pitcher can’t or doesn’t stop the “other” team from scoring his value to the team is diminished, and in MY OPINION a pitchers ERA in conjunction with blown saves (for closers/relief pitchers) is a good indicator. In your opinion it’s not, that’s fine. What I can/will say with absolute confidence and without reservation is there is no way I would take Papelbon over Rivera, period strikeouts or not.

      • pwf207 - Dec 29, 2010 at 3:57 PM

        well i didnt say papelbon over rivera, i asked soriano over rivera. i also said soriano WAS better than papelbon last year. your opinion is based on a misunderstanding of baseball, that a pitcher has it within theri total control to prevent the “other” team from scoring. you do not include luck and defense, two major factors in scoring runs and that is plain wrong. this is not opinion, it is fact. so when evaluating pitchers and their ability to prevent runs from scoring you can either try to measure the impact of defense and luck and subtract it out of the amount of runs a pitcher allows or you can look at the outcomes a pitcher has the most control over, that is walks, strikeouts and homers. as years of research have it is incredibly difficult to measure luck and defense, while more measurable is also tricky. so the majority of people who study questions of pitcher effectiveness have decided to use some form of defense independent measure. for your edification, things like DICE and FIP are better predictors of future ERAs than past ERAs, so even if you consider ERA important you should still look at defense independent stats. none of what i have said is opinion, it is all testable, repeatable evidence. seriously, why do you think you know better how to evaluate talent than guys who get paid to do it? I have no personal connection to FIP, i just read about it, understood it and learned how it could give me a better appreciation for baseball; why do you resist even considering it?

      • uyf1950 - Dec 29, 2010 at 4:24 PM

        To pwf207 – I guess we shall see if Theo Epstein is successful in building his “uber bullpen” this coming fall based on the criteria you and others believe. Until then it’s all conjecture. Enjoy the 2011 season.

  13. pwf207 - Dec 29, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    your opinion is like picking stocks based on current prices without considering things like earnings or debt. the people who have money on the line look at the underlying factors that lead to the outcomes, not just the outcomes.

  14. kcloutier - Dec 29, 2010 at 5:13 PM

    Ok guys, here is the real scoop.
    Theo wants every available reliever in spring training because 8 blown games us the difference between making the playoffs and watching them. I think he will have plenty of people fighting for jobs. Strike the guy out and end the threat or make sure the batter can only hit grounders, period.

    Now talking about other teams, they all make money and any team can afford one superstar, but if you can make money without spending for the superstar, that’s Real genius.

    TV and fan interest was down even though we were in it until the last week of the season. No offense to Nava, Kalish et al, but not many fans are going to pay huge ticket prices to watch those players and ticket prices ain’t going down.

    Finally, if you look at all the salaries the Red Sox probably will not have to pay in 2012, it offsets alot of what they added, it just seems higher because we look at a total in years instead of per year.

    Class is over!

  15. kcloutier - Dec 29, 2010 at 5:15 PM

    Oh by the way, Theo wants Hanley Rameriez back too. That happens next winter.

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