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Athletics’ closer Brian Fuentes rips manager Bob Geren

May 24, 2011, 9:14 AM EDT

Bob Gerer, Brian Fuentes, Daric Barton

Brian Fuentes has been inserted late into tie games a lot recently. While one possible takeaway from that is that the manager trusts you to get the team out of tight spots, that strategy has led to Fuentes (a) not being entirely sure what his role is; and (b) taking a bunch of losses.

He’s not too thrilled with that, it seems, and in today’s Chronicle, he says that manager Bob Geren’s handling of him has been “pretty poor” and that there has been “zero communication” between them of late.  Guess what: I bet that’s about to change:

Brian Fuentes has been the A’s closer all season. Now he doesn’t know what he is. Thanks to manager Bob Geren.

“The games in San Francisco were unorthodox managing,” said Fuentes, who criticized Geren after Monday night’s 4-1 loss to the Angels for his in-game managing and communication skills. “I thought it was a National League thing. But tonight was pretty unbelievable.”

Um, Brian, you do know that Geren was the best man at Billy Beane’s wedding, right? You think you’re going to win this one?

  1. clydeserra - May 24, 2011 at 9:30 AM

    Geren is in a contract year. The 6 game losing streak has featured some odd bullpen usage. And A few weeks ago Geren threw fuentes overboard after one of his losses, telling the media that despite having been used on consecutive days prior, and even going more than one inning I think one game, ‘Fuentes said he was ready to go’ (paraphrasing).

    So despite the personal relationship, there may be something happening in the next few days.

    • APBA Guy - May 24, 2011 at 11:51 AM

      Clyde-do you have anything solid on this? AN has been on a “Geren is an idiot” rampage for a while now. But Beane seems more remote than ever. I guess shoulder replacement surgery can do that, but my guess is we’ll see Fuentes DFA’d before we see Geren fired.

      • clydeserra - May 24, 2011 at 1:52 PM

        Nothing solid, and I don’t know if geren will be fired. In fact this probably reduces his chances of being fired so Mgmt will not look like they are catering to a prima donna.

        I am surprised I haven’t heard more about the quote i referenced. I really don’t think this is out of the blue for Fuentes. I think it is more retaliation than anything else.

  2. kopy - May 24, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Too bad the Twins don’t have any solid catching prospects to make a move for this guy. They could really use a proven closer.

    • saltmanz - May 24, 2011 at 11:09 AM

      Too bad they didn’t hang on to him after last year.

  3. dwishinsky - May 24, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    I think that this actually breaks the Beane-Geren loyalty potentially. I think that Fuentes just said what A’s fans, and even reporters have questioned for a long time – what the heck is Geren doing with his bullpen? Beane is a smart guy and the drumbeat is in near unanimity to get rid of Geren, there aren’t any people on Athletics Nation for example saying, “hey give him a shot, he did this right”. You don’t even have unanimity on what the colors of the A’s should be (old kelly green versus the new darker one) – it is unprecented. It gives Beane cover because he needs to save his own hide and it will look awful if Fuentes is DFA’d or traded, etc then is used properly and shines. His splits against LHB’s are good as is to be expected out of a pitcher who is a LOOGY.

    • clydeserra - May 24, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      he did kinda do the right thing last night, in a vacuum. But there were other factors like Fuentes having been used 7 of the last 10 days.

  4. Patrick - May 24, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    What is so odd about his bullpen usage? Is it because he doesn’t have a standard pecking order for the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings? Many baseball fans have been craving for a manager to eschew traditional bullpen usage for a more effective allocation or arms. I don’t follow the A’s close enough to know if Geren was trying to maximize run prevention, or just pull a Billy Martin and draw names out of a hat. If Geren is smart about this, he could turn that bullpen into quite a weapon. Moreover, Geren has a good relationship with Beane so he should be worried about bumps along the road with his bullpen management. Could somebody clarify if Geren was indeed using his bullpen in an optimal way (and no, results don’t indicate optimal usage)?

    • paperlions - May 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM

      Exactly, if Fuentes was his best reliever, then Fuentes should be used in the highest leverage situations. WTF is so hard about coming in a “non-save” situation? It isn’t like he’s being asked to be a long reliever or a starter. He is still being asked to be a high leverage, get-a-few-outs reliever. Is it supposed to be Geren’s fault that he has walked 10 guys in 21 innings of work and has a 5.06 ERA?

      He’s been given the pitcher-loss in each of the last 4 games…but how it is any one’s fault but his that he’s allowed 9 base runners while getting only 6 outs in his last 4 appearances?

    • dwishinsky - May 24, 2011 at 11:27 AM

      Geren uses LOOGYs against 3-4-5 hitters that are right-handed. For example, he had Grant Balfour (RHP) pitch the eighth in a 1-0 game. The first hitter of the ninth was Miguel Cabrera, arguably the best RHB in the AL, he puts in Fuentes (who is a LHP and also has terrible career stats against Cabrera), promptly gives up a game-tying HR. Leaves him in to pitch the 10th, allows a bizillion more runs, A’s lose.

      He intentionally walks Aubrey Huff (LHB with a RHP) to face Buster Posey – that lunacy panned out, but then later does the same thing walking Freddy Sanchez (RHB with a RHP) to face Aubrey Huff who it turns out has reverse splits, singles to win the game.

      He uses Brian Fuentes practically every other night, when he is clearly gassed. He warms pitchers for innings at a time then never calls them into games. Makes double switches, then removes the pitcher the next inning anyway. Pinch-hits for his #1 pitcher after just six innings then burns Hideki Matsui to get a L/R matchup. It goes on and on and on…

      I’d love for the problem to be as simple as you laid it out, but it isn’t anywhere near that. Watch the A’s more, watch the lunacy.

      • Patrick - May 24, 2011 at 11:50 AM

        Thanks for the clarification. Does Geren ven view Fuentes as a LOOGY?

      • dwishinsky - May 24, 2011 at 11:55 AM

        It would not appear so. That being said, he has excelled in the closer role. His splits from save to non-save situation are dramatic. Ideally he is a late inning specialist though. He has gotten worse over the years with the split though…

    • clydeserra - May 24, 2011 at 1:57 PM

      this is not the game he muffed the relievers, it was over the weekend with the giants and all year. Using high leverage guys in low leverage situations “to get work in.” Using a guy in a high lev situation because he was used the day before and “has to be able to go two days in a row”

      Yesterday was good BP usage. That being sdaid. Fuentes was caught off guard by the call to the pen and hadn’t started his warm up routine.

  5. APBA Guy - May 24, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    My goodness, all this A’s discussion, my head is spinning. Let’s not lose sight of a couple of points:

    – Andrew Bailey will hopefully be back within a week. All this becomes moot then, for the brief period that Bailey is healthy, that is.
    – As Shinsky notes, at this point in his career, Fuentes is a LOOGY.
    – In the Geren/Beane universe, April/May is the time period when players and the team are analyzed. Using a pitcher out of role on the A’s in this time frame is not unusual.
    – The back end of the A’s bullpen has been getting lit up lately, with Wuertz and Balfour both having rough appearances their last times out.
    – Of course, it isn’t good when the bullpen is having a rough streak, but they’ve been good overall so far this year. The A’s team ERA is 2.90. The pitching is so good that in 48 games played, the A’s have scored 1 more run than their opponents.
    – The offense, however, is a real problem, with an OPS of .647, which means that the A’s have been unable to take advantage of their excellent pitching.
    – And the defense has been below standard, 37 errors so far, compared to 24 for the Angels, for instance.

    All this is to say that Fuentes is no doubt frustrated, as are the A’s. He’s a professional and his job is to get outs. He hasn’t been doing that lately. On most teams his role would be defined by now, but on the A’s, his role is still being defined. Further definition will come when Bailey returns.

    So a separate question is: Is Geren an idiot as AN claims? No, but he is the point guy for the whole Beane philosophy, and when that philosophy is slow to yield results, whether by inherent flaws or by ownership limitations that we can’t see, or by a series of moves that saw the A’s give up Ethier, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Gonzalez and Alexi Ogando, while gaining the White Rabbit, Mr. Anderson, and Gio, then it’s hard to be too critical of Geren overall. On specific issues, sure, he’s no baseball genius. But this A’s team isn’t much capable of going beyond .500 without getting very lucky. And that kind of luck is hard to come by and fleeting when it comes.

    • spudchukar - May 24, 2011 at 3:24 PM

      All valid points, but so is the fact that your team is in dead last looking up at the Mariners for God’s Sake. Perhaps the end of May might be a little tardy in the evaluation business.

  6. schrutebeetfarms - May 24, 2011 at 12:57 PM

    His role is to come into the game, throw strikes and get people out.
    Just like any pitcher.

    • ILoveBaseball - May 24, 2011 at 3:49 PM

      Bingo!
      If he comes in and it’s not a save situation are the outs less precious? Fuentes knows better and should shut up. I hate agreeing with Eckersley.

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