Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Could the Dodgers replace Todd Coffey with Brian Fuentes?

When the Dodgers signed Todd Coffey this offseason, I was puzzled. The bullpen had (seemingly) been set and the Dodgers brought him in. The Dodgers quickly rectified the clutter by releasing Mike MacDougal in April.

But just when Coffey had gotten things going, his season (and likely Dodger career) as a Dodger is over after suffering a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. The 31-year-old will need Tommy John Surgery.

Coffey had a 4.66 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 7.9 H/9, 4.2 BB/9, 8.4 K/9 and a 3.59 FIP. He had a rough start to the season, spent some time on the DL, came back and pitched well. Before Monday, he had been lights out in his previous 16 outings: 15 1/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 6 BB, 12 K, .120 batting average against. He was one of the Dodgers' most effective relievers for more than a month.

Shawn Tolleson was recalled (after literally just being sent back to Triple-A) to take his place. But I wonder with the Dodgers' lack of left-handed relievers (just Scott Elbert) if the recently designated Brian Fuentes is a possibility?

Fuentes was designated for assignment by the A's on Tuesday because he's pitched poorly this season. However, he still has value as he throws 90 MPH and is left-handed. I'm not especially keen on the Dodgers picking up pitchers who have a 6.84 ERA and a negative fWAR (-0.4), but Fuentes can give Don Mattingly some flexibility out of the 'pen.

Fuentes isn't fairing well against anyone this season, but he does have a career .220 BAA vs. left-handed batters and has given up just 13 of his career 63 home runs against lefties. This, mind you, after pitching in Colorado for the majority of his career.

The Dodgers could probably snag him for the minimum, though, I'm sure there are other teams interested in his services. If they have to offer a little more than the minimum, I'd be OK with that.

This would free Elbert up to throw more meaningful innings, i.e. against right-handed hitters. Elbert is actually much better this season vs. RHH than he is LHH:
  • vs. RHH: .179/.267/.282 in 45 plate appearances
  • vs. LHH: .296/.361/.444 in 61 plate appearances
So, acquiring a LOOGY (and this is the way to go about it, Ned; not by trading prospects) might help the Dodgers' bullpen in the long run. It's said the Dodgers are looking for one and there is one available for cheap. Seems like just a matter of time.

Photo credit: SD Dirk, Flickr

1 comment:

  1. I believe that the Dodgers already have the right (left-hander) for the job in Scott Rice and would cost far less than Fuentes. In addition to doing very well at Triple-A, Rice had a great spring training, with numbers almost identical to those of Scott Elbert. But because Elbert was already on the 40-man roster, he got the call (and rightfully so).

    In all honesty, I do not see a spot for another pitcher on the Dodgers roster. I believe that Javy Guerra will take Dee Gordon's roster spot short term and when Kemp and Ethier return on July 13, I see Scott Van Slyke and Shawn Tolleson being sent back down.

    As much as I would like to see the hot hitting Josh Fields brought up from Albuquerque to replace Juan Uribe (who may have already played his last game as a Dodger), I don’t think it will happen (until September 1) as I see Herrera, Kennedy and Hairston platooning at 3B (barring a trade deadline acquisition). I expect that Cruz will be the everyday SS until Gordon returns, which could be as long as 6-8 weeks.

    Of course this is all speculation and like the game of baseball itself, anything can happen.