Taking his turn Monday night in playing the blame game, Oakland Athletics left-hander Brian Fuentes(notes) one-upped Reds pitcher Edinson Volquez(notes) and Mets owner Fred Wilpon by ripping his own skipper.
After his fourth loss in as many relief appearances, Fuentes criticized Bob Geren's communication skills and tactics, saying he has been handled "pretty poorly" by his manager and there's "zero" dialogue between the two.
Fuentes, who is in his first season with Oakland, added that Geren has done some "unpredictable" and "unorthodox managing" lately, and that "I don't think anybody really knows which direction he's headed."
Other than that, Mr. Fuentes, what do you think of the boss?
Fuentes' comments came after the Angels beat the A's 4-1 at Anaheim, thanks to a three-run eighth inning that began with him on the mound. Fuentes faced two batters, walking one and allowing a run after being taken out. As a result, he picked up his seventh loss, which ties him for the major league lead — pretty incredible for a relief pitcher in late May.
It was the fourth straight time Geren brought in Fuentes with the score tied, and there's the rub, in Fuentes' mind: That's not when a closer is supposed to pitch. Fuentes said he was shocked when the bullpen phone rang in the seventh and the guy on the other end of the line wanted him to warm up.
Jane Lee of MLB.com posted the entire conversation between Fuentes and reporters. It makes me wonder: Is Fuentes nudging A's GM Billy Beane to fire Geren?
Fuentes: "There's just no communication. Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so. And then, tonight, in the seventh inning, I get up. I haven't stretched, I haven't prepared myself. If there was some communication beforehand I would be ready to come into the game — which I was, when I came into the game, I was ready. Just lack of communication. I don't think anybody really knows which direction he's headed."
Later on, a reporter asked Fuentes if he and Geren needed a meeting to clear the air.
"Some people might think so. At this point I have nothing to say," [Fuentes said.]
Maybe nothing to Geren, but Fuentes wasn't done talking to everyone else:
"I think the games in San Francisco were some unorthodox managing. I thought it was maybe the National league thing, that maybe that had something to do with it, but tonight was pretty unbelievable."
As was pointed out on Twitter, Fuentes' stats in non-save situations are telling; he's got an 8.00 ERA in 12 such appearances. But Fuentes still has to get outs. It's not like he's doing mop-up duty; he's coming into games, some in extra-innings, with the score tied. And he's not getting the job done. Fuentes is deflecting some blame for his own poor performances.
But he also seems to be making a call to action. Maybe he wants to be traded; for what it's worth, Fuentes is signed through next season for $10.5 million overall, and the A's have a club option for 2013.
As for Geren, his contract runs out at the end of the season. In four-plus seasons at the A's helm, Geren is 329-366, including 81-81 in 2010.
Geren has been hinting that the closer's spot might be up for grabs. With Andrew Bailey(notes) on the verge of returning from a minor league rehab assignment, Fuentes could be trying to preserve his own value.
But if Fuentes wanted to fix the situation with Geren, he would have kept his complaining inside the A's clubhouse. The A's are 22-26 — underachieving, but not out of the AL West race by any means.
Fuentes sounds like a man calling for help.