A’s reliever Brian Fuentes rips manager, but two reconcile

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Geren talks to the media during MLB spring training camp in Phoenix February 20, 2011. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Brian Fuentes ripped A’s manager Bob Geren after the club’s loss to the Angels on Monday stating, “There’s just no communication.”

“Two games, on the road, bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so,” said Fuentes. “I don’t think anybody really knows which direction he’s headed.”

Since the comments, Fuentes and Geren have apparently cleared the air and while the interim closer didn’t retract his comments, he did suggest he should have expressed his displeasure in a different manner.

Andrew Bailey, the A’s real closer, should be coming off the disabled list within a week so Fuentes can go back to his regular reliever duties. And that’s probably a good thing because clearly Fuentes can’t handle the responsibility of being the club’s closer.

There’s no doubt that Geren has made a couple of questionable moves this past week, including the decision to pinch hit for Trevor Cahill in the top of the seventh last Friday when the A’s were playing the Giants. The game was tied 1-1 at that point and Cahill had allowed just one run on one hit. It was a little early for Geren to go to his bullpen and if there has been a lack of communication between him and his pitchers, then maybe Fuentes’ comments were just.

That said, Fuentes is 1-7 this year with a 5.06 ERA and has just 15 strikeouts compared to 10 walks. He’s not doing his job and if he needs his manager to tell him to get ready to come into a game, then the A’s have a bigger problem on their hands than Fuentes’ numbers. Fuentes has experience as a closer: he should know that he needs to be ready at all times, regardless of the score and regardless of the situation. There’s just no excuse for a closer (interim or not) to be saying things like, “bring the closer in a tied game, with no previous discussions of doing so.”

Hopefully the A’s can get past their issues and start winning some games. Like the 2010 Giants, if they get enough offense on a nightly basis then they could do some real damage with their pitching staff. It’s outstanding save for Fuentes’ issues in the later innings, of course.

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Mikey’s MLB power rankings

Wow, things are getting wild. The Rays and Yanks are now tied for first in the AL East, and the Red Sox are not going away. The Padres have a commanding 6-game lead. The Braves have lost four straight, but the Phils could not capitalize. The Reds are hot and the Cards are not. The Twins and Rangers have not been hurt by recent mediocre play. So there you have it, and here you have your power rankings….

1. New York Yankees (78-50)—It was only a matter of time before the Rays caught up, but until Tampa goes ahead in the standings, the Bombers are still the team to beat.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (78-50)—Joe Maddon’s team sure doesn’t mess around, do they?

3. San Diego Padres (76-51)—If you keep waiting for the Padres to come back down to earth, you’re going to be waiting until possibly November.

4. Minnesota Twins (74-55)—Watch out for this team in the postseason. All of a sudden, with Brian Fuentes and Matt Capps, they have a pretty sick bullpen. Joe Nathan who?

5. Texas Rangers (73-55)—Josh Hamilton has an excellent shot at the triple crown, and this lineup has to send shivers through the collective spine of the Yankees’ pitching staff.

6. Cincinnati Red (74-54)—Speaking of triple crown, how about Joey Freaking Votto?

7. Atlanta Braves (73-55)—They can’t sustain losing streaks at this point in the season, but are still hanging tough.

8. Boston Red Sox (74-55)—In what other division can you be 19 games over .500 and in THIRD place?

9. Philadelphia Phillies (71-57)—They had their chance to close the gap this past week, and blew it.

10. San Francisco Giants (71-58)—Lots of talent, but can they put it all together? P.S. What is wrong with Tim Lincecum?

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

Wow, there are just two weeks left in the regular season, and the races have mostly been decided. The Twins might catch the Tigers, and the Giants or Marlins might catch the Rockies…and if you want to get a laugh, consider that the Nationals might catch the Mets. That’s a long shot, but it’s mathematically possible, which proves what a horrid season the Mets have had. Here are the power rankings for this week:

1. New York Yankees (94-54)—There should be no question who the first team to 100 wins will be. CC goes for win #18 today, and at this point there is probably no doubt who the best free agent signing was this season.

2. Los Angeles Angels (88-59)—Still coasting, and though the Angels moved up to #2 this week, they can’t feel good with Brian Fuentes struggling this time of year.

3. Los Angeles Dodgers (88-60)—Who is the better team in L.A.? Ask me again in a month.

4. Boston Red Sox (87-59)—Still only six games back of the Yanks, but a playoff berth is all but guaranteed with a 7-game wild card lead. A first round match up with the Angels looms, something Red Sox nation does not and should not fear.

5. St. Louis Cardinals (86-62)—It’s okay to get a few losses out of the way now, what with a ridiculous 10-game lead over the Cubs. But along with the Angels and Phillies, this team has a big question mark at the back end of the bullpen.

6. Philadelphia Phillies (86-60)—Playing good ball again, and Cliff Lee has returned to form at the right time. Magic number is 8, and with a close record to the Cards, it’s unclear which team will face the wild card winner.

7. Colorado Rockies (83-65)—This is not the time to play mediocre ball, but the Rocks were so hot that cooling off was inevitable. Still have a 2.5-game lead in the wild card standings.

8. Texas Rangers (80-66)—Fading fast.

9. San Francisco Giants (80-67)—Still hanging on, but the clock is ticking. Big win over Dodgers last night.

10. Detroit Tigers (78-69)—Not only are the Marlins threatening to take their spot in the power rankings, but the Twins are now just 3 games back after shutting the Tigers out last night.

American League All-Star voting–who is leading and who should be

It’s always funny how the voting for the Major League Baseball All-Star game shakes out, and it’s generally more of a popularity contest than anything. That, or the more familiar names like Derek Jeter, David Wright and Manny Ramirez always generate lots of attention. Well, since we’re about 75 games in, and the mid-summer classic is two and a half weeks away, I decided to look at the current vote leaders and make my own picks of who I think should be in there. First the American League — and next week, the National. Here we go….

First base
Leader: Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees
Mike’s pick: Justin Morneau, Minnesota Twins. It’s kind of hard to argue with Teixeira’s numbers, short porch in right or not. He’s got 20 homers, 57 RBI, 20 doubles, and a .280 average (and in the field, zero errors). You can make a case for Carlos Pena (22 homers), but he’s batting .236. Morneau is batting .315, and has 16 homers (let’s say he’d have 20 if he played in Yankee Stadium), and more RBI than Teixeira (58). And he’s only made one error.

Second base
Leader: Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers
Mike’s pick: Aaron Hill, Toronto Blue Jays. I love a good comeback story, and this is it. Hill doesn’t have as many homers as Kinsler (17 to Kinsler’s 18), but he is hitting for a higher average (.306 to .268) with more RBI (52 to 49). Sure, Kinsler has 16 steals to 2 for Hill, but I’m sticking with my comeback story.

Leader: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Mike’s pick: Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays. Jeter’s having a good season, but Bartlett is leading the American League in batting with a sick .363 average. Even after spending some time on the DL, Bartlett still has 7 homers, 35 RBI, 13 doubles, 3 triples and 15 steals…..pretty awesome numbers for a shortstop.

Third base
Leader: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
Mike’s pick: Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays. With a nod to Chone Figgins and his .325 average with 23 stolen bases, Longoria has delivered at a power position with 16 home runs, 62 RBI, 24 doubles and a .312 batting average.

Leader: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins
Mike’s pick: Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins. Hey, these voters aren’t doing a bad job after all! This is an easy one, though. Mauer is batting almost .400 (.396) with 14 homers and 43 RBI, and a staggering .695 slugging percentage that leads the American League.

Leaders: Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle Mariners
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

Mike’s picks: Jason Bay, Boston Red Sox—It’s hard to argue with 19 homers, 69 driven in (leads the AL) and a respectable .278 average, especially when Big Papi has struggled. Manny who?
Torii Hunter, Los Angeles Angels—He’s currently fourth in the voting, but he should be higher. 17 dingers, 56 RBI, and he’s batting .309 with 12 stolen bases.
Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays—The Rays are running on everyone, and this guy leads them and the world with 38 stolen bases. He’s also batting .314 with 6 homers and 35 RBI.

Starting pitcher
As you all know, pitchers are chosen by the managers and announced shortly before the all-star break.
Mike’s pick: Zach Greinke, Kansas City Royals. The guy got off to a blistering start, when the Royals stunned everyone by spending more than a few days in first place. He’s cooled off, but Greinke is still 9-3 on a team that’s 31-41, he has a stellar 1.90 ERA, and he’s second in the AL with 111 strikeouts to just 18 walks in 109 innings.

Relief pitcher
Mike’s pick: Jonathan Papelbon, Boston Red Sox. Okay, so he’s not leading the league in saves (he has 17 and the Angels’ Brian Fuentes has 20). But Papelbon sports a 1.97 ERA and 33 K’s in 32 innings. And he just has that sick “you can’t hit me” demeanor.

Source: Baseball Reference

2009 MLB Preview: #5 Los Angeles Angels

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Offseason Movement: The Halos added outfielder Bobby Abreu for cheap and also signed former Colorado reliever Brian Fuentes to replace long-time closer Francisco Rodriguez. Along with K-Rod, the club also lost Garret Anderson, Jon Garland and Mark Teixeria via free agency.

Top Prospect: Nick Adenhart, RHP
Some feel as though Jordan Walden is the Halos’ best prospect, but Adenhart is the one that will have the opportunity to make the big league roster this year as a fourth or fifth starter. With Ervin Santana, Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey all sidelined due to various injuries, Adenhart will likely start the season in the starting rotation. He could be sent down as soon as the rest of the starters get healthy, but if he does well he’ll no doubt earn a future spot in the rotation. Thus far in spring training, Adenhart has displayed good command and struggled just once in five outings.

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