By Andy Behrens
July 2, 2007
It isn't often that you can find two notes like this on someone's Yahoo! player page, one right above the other:
"Jul 1 Colorado Rockies RP Brian Fuentes has been named a member of the National League All-Star team."
"Jul 1 Fuentes was pulled from the closer's role after blowing four consecutive save opportunities this week, including walk-off homers in two straight games in Houston."
As that second note suggests, it's not like the change isn't deserved. After sweeping the Yankees in a three-game series at home in Colorado, the Rockies have lost nine of 10 – and Fuentes took the loss in four of those games. Here's his line since getting a save against New York on June 21: 0-4, 3.1 IP, 13 H, 10 ER, 2 HR, 3 BB, 4 K.
Fantasy owners have reacted to news of Fuentes' demotion by mass-dropping him (3777 times on Sunday) and mass-adding Manny Corpas (3,454). While Corpas (2.70 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) is certainly the leading candidate for saves, he really hasn't been overwhelming hitters lately. Corpas got off to a terrific start in April, posting a 0.73 WHIP, but since May 1 his WHIP is 1.52. Opposing hitters are batting .286 against him in June.
Failed closers LaTroy Hawkins and Jorge Julio have pitched at least as well as Corpas in recent weeks. In fact, Julio has been inexplicably good since joining Colorado: 15.1 IP, 12 K, 7 BB, 1.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, .208 BAA. While Corpas is the right add for fantasy owners trolling for saves, it wouldn't be that shocking if other pitchers received opportunities, too.
What about Fuentes' long-term usefulness? In his first post-demotion appearance, he gave up two hits, two walks, and two earned runs to the Astros. Not the best way to earn back a job. Still, Hurdle has told the Rockies' website, "We'd prefer (the demotion) be temporary. That's what everybody's wish is." Hurdle compared the move to routine batting order tweaking: "It's like making a lineup adjustment, taking a guy out of the three-hole and putting him in five."
If you're in a deep-benched league, stash Fuentes. Dropping him for Corpas is a particularly aggressive move. Fuentes has been an elite closer since taking over the ninth-inning gig for Colorado in early 2005. In fact, the only time he's really struggled for any protracted period was at the All-Star break last season. In four consecutive July appearances in 2006, Fuentes put up this line: 0-2, 3.0 IP, 11 H, 10 ER, 2 HR, 1 BB, 4 K.
Those stats are pretty similar to what he's done over the past two weeks. Last year Fuentes rebounded nicely. Don't be surprised if he bounces back again.
More closer news: Orioles' interim manager Dave Trembley told the Washington Post, "I think it would be in everybody's best interest if, at times, we could get (Chris) Ray out of being the closer exclusively on this club." According to the Post story, "Trembley told Ray before the game Saturday he would receive the night off, and Ray was thankful." I don't know exactly what a closing mentality is, but I'm pretty sure that's not it. On Saturday, Paul Shuey picked up his first save since August 2002. Danys Baez should return from the DL after the break. He's a strong candidate to poach saves, but, unless you're an AL-only owner, it's best to avoid this situation.
Even more closer news: Brad Lidge will probably be back this week, but not as a closer … not immediately, anyway. Phil Garner told the Houston Chronicle, "I'd want to get him a couple of outings where he had a little bit of room so he wouldn't be too tentative."
One more bit of quasi-closer news: Carlos Marmol is worth owning right now, whether he gets a chance to save games or not. Anyone who can do this …
2-0, 24.0 IP, 34 K, 8 BB, 1.13 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
… can help your fantasy team. As we've discussed before, a dominant middle reliever has more value than a bad starter. Really. Marmol qualifies at both SP and RP, so you can really slot him anywhere and let him pile up the Neshek-ish pitching lines.
As mentioned last week, I'm vacationing in England right now. The day we arrived, a scene from "National Treasure 2" was being filmed outside our hotel.
* SPOILER ALERT *
There's going to be a car chase in "National Treasure 2." It's true.
I won't usually blend football and baseball here, but the second installment of the Offensive Juggernaut Index generated a few questions about Kellen Winslow. He's not the only tight end I chose to ignore, but he's the only one readers asked about. Fair enough. Winslow is currently going fifth among all TEs in Yahoo! drafts. His average draft position is 68.1.
To me, this seems absurd. He had micro-fracture surgery on his right knee at the end of January. If he's ready for camp at all, he'll be limited. He didn't score a touchdown after Week 8 last year. He played all 16 games and finished the season with 99 fantasy points. You want him in the seventh round? Fine. But I'll wait.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Monday, Jul 2, 2007 1:03 pm, EDT
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