Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Can't get no relief

Earlier this season, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen concluded one of his trademark rants by knocking over his chair and declaring as he walked out: "I don't have any closer."

His Minnesota counterpart, Ron Gardenhire, isn't as mercurial as Ozzie, but he could well go deeper in complaining about his bullpen. Considering how good his previous bullpens have been and how ably the Twins have twice before reshaped their relief corps during his tenure, that's a major surprise.

Aaron Gleeman made a salient point on Monday: Gardenhire has twice built effective bullpens, and they were both built around unproven talent, not established closers. This bullpen features a pair of closers who will be paid a combined $19 million this year; Joe Nathan and Matt Capps have a combined ERA of 6.10 -- and what's worse, the other options available to Gardenhire right now aren't any more appealing.

I may be overly stubborn, but I still will not criticize the Twins for letting Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes leave as free agents. Committing the kind of money and years to that crew that they got on the open market would have been a long-term mistake.

The Twins expected to reload around Capps and Nathan and Jose Mijares. It hasn't worked. Tampa Bay, in contrast, let an even more productive crew of bullpen arms go last winter (Rafael Soriano, Jocquin Benoit, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler and others) and rebuilt around an unlikely collection of castoffs headed by Kyle Farnsworth.

The Rays have made it work. The Twins have not.


  1. Mr. Thoma,

    Talking of Bert taking Slowey to the woodshed came around to a discussion elsewhere of Bert not being squeeky clean in his career. Walking out on the Pirates in a spat.


    that came eventually to a talk about the Twins haul for Bert in the Texas trade.

    ''Gideon was a terrific prospect. He'd gone 17-0, with a 1.60 ERA for the University of Texas and led them to the NCAA title in 1975 before signing with the Rangers as their first-round pick (17th overall) that summer, and pitching at two minor league stops before finishing the season with a big league start.

    But Gideon was just two years younger than Blyleven, and 99 wins behind him when the Rangers and Twins stood on the verge of a deal.

    Smalley and Cubbage had decent runs with the Twins. Singer went 9-9, with a 3.77 ERA for Minnesota in 1976 before finishing his career with the expansion Blue Jays in 1977. Gideon would never get back to the big leagues with Minnesota, or anyone else. The start he made for Texas at the end of his draft year would be the only Major League appearance of career. ''

    someone said:

    I think Gideon was the one that was in a terrible offseason car accident after the Twins got him. I think both of his legs were shattered. After the 1975 season there are no pitching stats for him anywhere until 1979 with the Orlando Twins. In 1980 he played A ball in the Reds organization and then showed up back in the Rangers system in 1982.

    i said:
    Could be. I would be interested to find out why the huge gap.

    I recall in 1977 the Twins had a couple pitchers in a car accident together. Don Carrithers and Mike Pazik maybe ? who got busted up badly.

    Do you have any recollection of Jim Gideon and what happened to his career?

  2. the trade:

    June 1, 1976: Texas trades shortstop Roy Smalley, third baseman Mike Cubbage, righthanders Bill Singer and Jim Gideon, and $250,000 to Minnesota for righthander Bert Blyleven and shortstop Danny Thompson.

  3. "...Gardenhire has twice built effective bullpens, and they were both built around unproven talent,..."

    That's just it, Ed. They've all been gambles. Gambles don't always work, in fact, they often don't. We've just been fortunate the Twins gambles have worked recently and given us some exciting baseball seasons. This was bound to happen sometime...