On Friday, manager Ron Gardenhire anointed Jon Rauch (left) as his ninth-inning go-to-guy.
How long the tattooed one will keep the position is anybody's guess. Mine is "not long." I predict the Twins will trade for relief help before April is out.
On a somewhat related note, a relative novice to the world of Twins blogging, one Adam Beck, recently dropped me an e-mail. He is wise enough to speak respectfully of my work and foolish enough to seek my advice about his blog. (Be careful of what you wish for, young man!)
He also stuck a comment onto my previous post, on the "minor" stories of spring training, about the wisdom of trading prime catching prospect Wilson Ramos for a closer:
My question to you, and to everybody else out there is, 'would you/should you trade Ramos, one of the organization's best positional prospects, for a closer? Anthony Slama is waiting in the minors with a lot of closer experience under his belt, and most baseball experts view a closer as created, not born.' Thoughts?
1) Minor league closers are seldom prospects, much less prospective closers. In general, good relief pitchers were starters in the minors. Slama has a chance to be an exception to that rule, but with a walk rate last year of more than 4 per nine innings, he's NOT going to be a closer in the bigs.
If there's a minor leaguer in the Twins system who projects as a closer, it's Carlos Gutierrez, who is currently being used as a starter. As a starter, he gets more innings, thus gets more experience. There's a big difference in the learning curve for a pitcher getting 120 innings as compared to one getting 40 innings.
2) Would I trade Ramos for somebody to fill the closer role? Depends on who that closer is. I wouldn't move him for the likes of Kerry Wood or Trevor Hoffmann or anybody else on their way out. If the Royals would do Joakim Sora for him, absolutely, but I don't expect that to be on anybody's agenda.
In truth, I'd probably be less inclined to trade Ramos for an "established" closer than for somebody who hasn't had the job but has the talent to take it. Daniel Bard of the Red Sox, for example. And even there, the Twins might want more than a one-for-one swap.
A more likely prospect to trade away for somebody along the lines of the Padres' Heath Bell is Ben Revere. If Revere turns into the player the Twins think he will become, he'll be Denard Span. The Twins have one of him already — and a bunch more outfielders in the pipeline.