Left-hander Aaron Fultz, 33, has found a new home with Cleveland after signing a $1.5 million deal with an option for 2008. It was made possible following two good seasons with the Phillies.
For every criticism of the Phillies bullpen, Aaron Fultz is one example of a pitcher who flourished under Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee, and was used appropriately. In 2005, he finished 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 72 2-3 innings, over two runs lower than his previous career-best. Never truly a left-handed specialist, nor a big-inning pitcher, Manuel limited his use to low-to-mid-pressure spots, and he responded well. The stout left-hander was at his best in B-list action, along with pitchers like Geoff Geary and Rheal Cormier, while Ryan Madson, Ugueth Urbina and Billy Wagner carried the load in save situations.
After '05, Fultz accepted the Phillies arbitration offer and returned for another season. He performed closer to his career line, finishing 3-1 with a 4.54 ERA during a tumultuous season for the bullpen. Due to the shortage, he was forced into key spots, with less than spectacular results. He also missed time with a dead arm late in the season.
The Type-A free agent now lands in Cleveland after the Phillies declined arbitration, but his two-year stay was nothing short of a success. The Phils originally claimed Fultz off waivers from the Twins two weeks after the 2004 season. Now, they go in search of another scrap-heap jewel like Fultz, and hope they aren't too late.