2 years, $5.5 million. It's hard to overstate what a colossal bargain this is. Brian Fuentes is 30 with an injury history and has one of the weirdest left-handed deliveries in the game, but in his two healthy seasons with Colorado (2003 and '05) he's been terrific. Really terrific. He was second in the majors last year in Relievers Expected Wins Added. He was fourth in the bigs in K/9 (minimum 70 innings pitched). (By the way, the Cubs' Michael Wuertz was fifth in this category. Who knew?) Fuentes didn't have a particularly low batting average on balls in play last year so he could potentially be even better in 2006 with a little luck and a little defense. A lot of his value next year will be contingent on whether Clint Hurdle continues to be willing to send Fuentes out in multi-inning and non-save situations. If King and Mesa are pitching in the eighth in one-run games with runners on, the Rockies are not getting the maximum return for their talent.
Colorado would also do well to throw a few low-leverage, righty-heavy save opportunities the way of Mesa and Chin-Hui Tsao. Fuentes is no slouch against righthanders, but he allowed three extra-base hits to lefties (and no homers) all last year. It might annoy the fantasy wonks out there (for whom Fuentes is pretty much the only desirable arm on the Rockies' staff), but the team would be better served having Brian complete fewer saves and throw more innings overall.