I frequently keep track of the latest scuttlebutt in baseball, especially around the deadline and with the Phillies fading fast, and I keep reading about Brian Fuentes. He's a closer for the Colorado Rockies and is eminently available- for the low, low price of "a top-of-the-line prospect and a secondary player".
Let's take a look at some of Fuentes' stats just to get an idea of just how good he is:
2008: 40.0 IP, 44 apps, 17 saves, 3.15 ERA, 1.13 WHIP.
Career highs: 75.3 IP (2005), 78 apps (2005), 31 saves (2005), 2.75 ERA (2003), 1.13 WHIP (2008 so far)
All in all, Fuentes is a solid closer, probably not top 5, but definitely top 10 in the game, and absolutely would be a good deadline pickup for a contender in need of bullpen help. Fine, whatever, this sort of trade happens every year. I don't have a heck of a memory for these things but when has a good-but-not-great closer gone for a top prospect and bench help?? Not to mention that Fuentes is 32 years old and his contract expires at the end of the year. Let me see, I'm going to trade a guy with the potential to be fantastic at the major-league level and a bench/platoon guy for about 40% of a season of a very good (but not dominant) closer? I'm all for closers getting the respect they deserve and whatnot and think a closer's Hall of Fame bid should only be in comparison with their peers, but this is goddamned ridiculous. Is it that hard to find a guy who can pitch ONE INNING with a lead without fucking it up? If the Rockies get any kind of bid resembling what they're looking for, then closers have jumped the shark for me.
This offseason the Phillies picked up Brad Lidge, former All Star and still pitching decently for the Astros, and token crappy utility guy/bench guy Eric Bruntlett for Geoff Geary (decent reliever), Michael Bourn (good basestealer but nothing special) and Mike Costanzo (no idea who that is). Costanzo might've been the best prospect in the Phils' system at the time, but somehow I doubt it. Even Lidge was overvalued. I know this kind of market is totally driven by demand since pitching is such a hot commodity but there's simply no reason to pay such a high price for a rental of a relief pitcher who will pitch one, (or maybe 1.1 or even 1.2!) innings every other game. It's simply not logical.
The reason I went on this anti-closer rant is because the Phillies have been linked with this guy. I know our bullpen blows and all, but closer is not an area of need. That Lidge guy is doing pretty solid, if I remember correctly. Thus we'd be paying top dollar (think Carlos Carrasco for "top-of-the-line prospect") for half a season of a 32-year-old who wouldn't even be a closer on our team. That's insane. How many teams have won a World Series title and said afterwards, "yeah, our pickup of (Reliever X) was really what put us over the top". Now, I'm not saying that teams in need of bullpen help shouldn't have to overpay a bit, but a reliever should never be the centerpiece of a deal that sends one of your best prospects in the other direction.