One campaign season may be behind us, but another one has begun; the campaign for the next Mets closer. Much like our most recent presidential election, while there may technically be other candidates on the ballot, when it really gets down to it, we’re left with two choices; Francisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez and Brian Fuentes. Everybody in the Mets blogosphere has been quick to endorse one candidate or another; we here at BlueAndOrange.net have been slow to give our endorsement. Well, it is time to be wishy-washy no longer. And while our endorsement may not carry the same weight as, say, a Colin Powell, we’re at least on par with the Christopher Buckleys of the world, no?
So it is our pleasure to announce that BlueAndOrange.net has decided to endorse Brian Fuentes to be the next closer for the New York Mets.
Brian brings with him an impressive resume. Over the course of his eight-year baseball career, Brian has more strikeouts (480) than innings pitched (422), good for an impressive 10.2 K/9 rate. Unlike other closers on this market, Brian’s strikeout rate also improved from 2007, striking out a ridiculous 11.8 batters per nine innings. Brian may not have a fancy nickname that involves the letter K, but that doesn’t mean he is a stranger to the statistic.
In addition, Brian has shown excellent control over the course of his career, walking a mere 3.8 batters per nine innings. Brian is almost 3 times more likely to throw a strikeout than walk a batter over the course of his career, an excellent strikeout-to-walk ratio. This rate has improved over the course of his career; last year, Brian’s K/BB ratio was 82-22, making him almost four times more likely to throw a strikeout than a walk. This improvement would make him a valuable asset in any bullpen.
Then there is Brian’s success in keeping balls in the yard. Despite playing most of his career in Colorado, in the most home run-prone ballpark in the majors, Brian has allowed less than one home run per nine innings, a rate of 0.87 per nine. Brian’s success in high altitudes would make him a safe bet to continue that success closer to sea level, in a ballpark that figures to favor pitchers more than hitters.
What about Brian’s success against righties? Well, despite being a lefty, Brian hasn’t had problems getting righties out. Right handed hitters have managed a mere .690 OPS against Brian for his career, including a mere .320 OBP-against. To put this in perspective, last year Damion Easley had a .692 OPS, including a .322 OBP. Brian Fuentes essentially turns right handed hitters into Damion Easley, while turning left-handed hitters into Luis Castillo. Any pitcher who makes opposing hitters look like the Mets’ failed second base platoon of 2008 has to be pretty good, right?
Brian Fuentes also does not come with an injury risk. Despite having turned 33 years old this season, Fuentes last pitched fewer than 60 IP in 2004, his second full year in the majors. Since that time, he has been a safe bet to reach 60 or more innings pitched, without any noticable drop in velocity. Fuentes’ age is also a benefit; because he is a little older, he is less likely to be in a position to demand a high number of years on this contract, making him easier to insure in case he does suffer an injury.
There is no question, there are some fine closers on the market this year. However, Brian Fuentes is the finest. He brings an electrifying blend of power and control to a team that desperately requires it. There are other closers on the market with marquee names, but Fuentes brings the same quality, perhaps more, at a more reasonable price. That is why BlueAndOrange.net is proud to endorse Brian Fuentes to become the Mets’ next closer. We only hope Omar Minaya and the Mets staff feel the same way when they go to the polls this fall.