Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Life after Joe Nathan

Sorting out a few thoughts about the Twins bullpen after this morning's sour news:

*Nobody available to the Twins — in house or via trade — is capable of doing what Nathan did as well as he did it.

*Financially, the Twins are at or even a little above their self-imposed payroll maximum. Nathan's $11.5 million is guaranteed. I don't know to what extent he's insured; the general rule these days is that a body part that has already had surgery is uninsurable. Nathan had shoulder surgery while with the Giants; I don't know if he's ever had his elbow cut on. If he's insured, the Twins may have some payroll flexibility.

*While it is conventional wisdom among armchair analysts (such as me) that the current closer role is overrated, that is not the case among the people who populate dugouts. To them, a guy who slams the door in the ninth is vital. In short, the job is more important to the team psychologically than statistically. (I will do a separate post on the subject in the next day or so.)

* Aaron Gleeman did a bang-up job of summing up the in-house options here. About the only thing I'd add to it is that Jose Mijares right now is the only lefty, and Ron Gardenhire loves his LOOGYs. (Man, do I miss Craig Breslow; what a chain reaction blunder that turned into.)

* I do not expect Gardenhire to go with a committee and use Jon Rauch to close one game, Mijares the next and Pat Neshek the one after that. Gardy will pick a guy and go with him until deciding that he can't handle it; then Gardy'll try somebody else.

Which somebody? My first choice would be Neshek, but that assumes he's fully recovered from his own bout of ligament replacement surgery.

1 comment:

  1. I think I have to agree with Gleeman that Rauch is probably the most likely candidate at this point. But I have to agree with you as well, Ed. From the first time I saw Neshek I thought he might be closer material. But is he healed enough? Can he still confound batters?