What did you think of the situation you were placed in tonight?In theory, your closer should be your team's best reliever. So Fuentes shouldn't be surprised when his manager calls on him in high leverage situations like being tied in late or extra innings. Or maybe he should since the "closer" role is almost exclusive to save situations now, which Fuentes hasn't exactly been Mariano Rivera with anyway.
Fuentes: It’s surprising yet not surprising all at the same time.
How do you feel with the way the manager has handled you as a reliever?
Fuentes: Pretty poorly.
How much communication do you have with him?
Why is it pretty poorly?
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.
Geren brought Fuentes in Monday night against the Angels with the score tied 1-1 in the 8th. Fuentes walked Erick Aybar who was erased at second on a Bobby Abreu fielder's choice grounder to third. That was the end of Fuentes night. Abreu stole second and then scored the eventual game winner on a Torii Hunter double off of Michael Wuertz. But Abreu's run belonged to Fuentes and so did the loss.
Fuentes has to be frustrated that he's on pace to lose over 20 games but to blame his pitching woes on a lack of communication seems like scapegoating to me. You are a relief pitcher. After being used in tie-game situations recently, perhaps it should cross your mind that you might be called upon during a 1-1 game instead of just mentally preparing yourself to pitch with a 3-run lead in the 9th.
Of course, I'm in favor of managers using their best relievers in the highest leverage situations during games. I also don't believe Fuentes is a great reliever (I am, after all, an Angels fan) but Geren doesn't have many better options. Fuentes' 3.16 FIP suggests he isn't as bad as his 5.06 ERA. But his 4.81 xFIP doesn't think that 3.16 FIP isn't going to be staying that low either. Fuentes is one of five Oakland relievers with a positive WAR but at 0.1, he is still basically at the replacement level.
I guess my suggestion to all of these players (looking at you too Posada) is shut up and go out and do your job in whatever role your manager sees fit. Sometimes you get pulled off the grill to work the fry station. Deal with it.