ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 25: Reliever Bian Fuentes #57 of the Oakland Athletics jokingly covers his face to the photographer during batting practice before the start of the baseball game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on May 25, 2011 in Anaheim, California. Reliever Brian Fuentes and Geren had a closed-door meeting after Wednesday night's game. Fuentes made comments about Geren’s lack of communication with him after Monday night’s loss to the Angels. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The Cardinals have confirmed signing left-handed reliever and former Oakland Athletics closer Brian Fuentes to a minor league deal. Fuentes will report to the Cardinals Gulf Coast League facility in Jupiter and is expected to join the major league bullpen before the end of the month.
In other roster news, Lance Berkman has been recalled from the disabled list after recovering from knee surgery earlier this season. Berkman's return and the option of center fielder Shane Robinson to Memphis leaves the Cardinals with a wealth of offensive performers at the corners of the fields, but a little threadbare in centerfield, where Carlos Beltran will presumably become the primary "backup" centerfielder, despite having spent most of the last several seasons on hiatus from center field duties.
The Fuentes deal is more palatable as a minor league deal. Fuentes is almost 37 years old. He has not posted a K/BB rate better than 2.35 since 2008, nor an xFIP better than 4.33.
At this point, the story "MLB club acquires formerly talented LH reliever in his late 30s, hoping he'll recapture his old magic" should be familiar enough to Cardinals fans that we know how most of these stories end, too. I don't have strong hopes that Fuentes will put together an above replacement value performance. For all that the collective inclination to have short patience with most members of our bullpen has been poorly thought out, Fuentes is a reliever with whom the club actually should have a quick hook.
The fact that Fuentes projects to join the MLB club late in the month allows the club to get any deadline deals done before shifting the 40-man to accommodate Fuentes. If more members of the 40-man are dealt than received in any trades, Fuentes can take advantage of any spots. If not, the club may have to move a piece or two.