Joe Nathan out for the year!

9 Mar

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I said I wasn’t going to worry about Joe Nathan until someone told me that I should worry about Joe Nathan. Well, this morning, we were told that he has a torn UCL, is out for the year and will decide soon if he will have Tommy John surgery. OK, now, I am worried. The Twins have plenty of closing options, but any time you lose a guy who has been arguably the top closer in baseball over the last five or six years, it’s not a good thing. First and foremost, we wish him well. But it certainly creates questions!

What are your thoughts? Who is next in line to close? (My guess would be Matt Guerrier. He’s been around and he’s been able to get the job done. Not a classic closer, but a very good pitcher.) Jesse Crain, Jon Rauch, Jose Mijares, maybe even Pat Neshek are options as well. Remember when we said the bullpen depth this year was great? Well, now that becomes hugely important!


  • First, I should point out that it has not yet been determined that Nathan will miss the entire year. He will rest it for a couple of weeks and then throw again. However, this is a similar injury to what Pat Neshek had. It is also the same injury that Loek Van Mil had, and he is still not 100%
  • I’m hearing Francisco Liriano’s name bantered about as a possible closer option. For me, that just doesn’t work. I am fully of the belief that any very good pitcher can be a closer IF (and that is intentionally a Big IF) he has the mental strength to handle it. No one questions Liriano’s stuff, but I don’t think anyone would consider him real strong emotionally.
  • The Twins like to give guys opportunities that deserve it. That is why I think that Matt Guerrier would be Option #1. He’s earned it. Would he keep it? We shall see. He doesn’t profile as a typical closer like guys like Jesse Crain and Jose Mijares might, but he could be solid. I’m not as high on Jon Rauch as many, but he’s certainly another option.  
  • Bullpen by committee has never really worked, but until someone steps forward, that may be the best way to start.
  • Pat Neshek is the best option in terms of stuff and mental strength for the job, but rushing him back into that type of role might not be best. But he certainly could be that option later in the season.
  • Minor league guys could get a more extended look. Guys like Anthony Slama and Rob Delaney and to a lesser extent Alex Burnett could stick around big league camp longer and factor into the bullpen. None of them should be immediately slotted into the closer’s role, but they could be seen sooner now. Carlos Gutierrez is another option, but the Twins do want to see what he can be as a start. He has, in my mind, the best ‘closer’ stuff in the minor leagues.
  • Names like Heath Bell and George Sherrill are already being mentioned. Bell makes some sense, for sure, but the Padress always seem to ask for the world for their players. Would Perkins and Casilla get the deal done?
  • I will be on The Fan (am710) at 11:00 this morning to talk about Joe Nathan and the Twins. It is a Bismarck, ND, station, so tune in if you’re there, or Listen Live if you’re anywhere else.  

What are your thoughts? What will happen? If you would like, you can e-mail me, or feel free to leave your comments here.


18 Responses to “Joe Nathan out for the year!”

  1. Funkytown March 9, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Ruh Roh…Shaggy as the man?

    I go w/Rauch.

  2. Rick March 9, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    This is a huge loss for the Twins. Neshek would be the guy if his arm wasn’t also suspect. I guess the job goes to Rauch by default. Maybe by the middle of May, Neshek would be ready if all is going well for him while re-habbing in Fort Myers. Crain is an option if he could throw like he did late last season. But, no question this is going to hurt the chances of the Twins winning the division, let alone going further in the playoffs.

  3. Funkytown March 9, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    Condrey suddenly became a whole lot more important.

  4. Funkytown March 9, 2010 at 9:27 am #

    Crain has to be more consistent, and Gardy cannot be afraid to get Slama up to the bigs if others don’t contribute.

  5. TT March 9, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    My guess is the Twins try to deal for an established closer.

    Nathan may or may not pitch in the big leagues again. My bet would be not successfully. The surgery is less an issue than his age.

    I don’t think Slama, or anyone else who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues, is going to be closing for the Twins.

  6. Stratty March 9, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    Heath Bell could be had from the Padres, maybe for Revere and Perkins?

    • Kunza March 9, 2010 at 11:13 am #

      No way! No way! No way!

      That wouldn’t happen in a million years!

  7. Pete March 9, 2010 at 9:59 am #

    I think any good relief pitcher can go into the closer role successfully and I think we have the guys on our staff that can do that. My concern then is the depth of a bullpen that has struggled the last two years. If you move you best reliever to closer who takes that guys spot. The chaing reaction down the line makes me nervous. Anthony Slama anyone?

  8. luckylager March 9, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    I hope they will give Slama a real good look in the closer role in ST. He’s not getting any younger and (from what I’ve read) seems to have a closer mind-set.

  9. mike wants wins March 9, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    Bullpen by committee has worked, and worked well. But, it is not the current belief system in the league, and people say it doesn’t work, so they think it doesn’t. The times when bullpen by commmittee has been tried with talented relievers, it has worked.

    Why put Liriano in relief, if he is pitching well? 200 innings from a starter is worth about 100x more than what they’d get out of a closer. It’s not even close.

    There is no need to get a closer, unless they think everyone in the pen is weak minded. They have plenty of arms, the question is, do they have people with the mental strength to be the last guy to pitch?

  10. Greg March 9, 2010 at 10:53 am #

    Tough Tough loss..John Smoltz…

  11. roger March 9, 2010 at 10:56 am #

    Good reason to not pay a closer $12mm per year on a long term contract. I think Nathan has been great for the Twins and seems like a super young man. But that is too many dollars for 50-60 innings per year. I like the option of giving the job to one of the best players we have on the staff. Going out and getting a top reliever will add too many dollars and cost to much in regards to talent. Plus, we just may get Neshek back and he could be as good as Joe.

  12. dave March 9, 2010 at 11:16 am #

    Saw Sherrill pitch locally in Baltimore. Not your guy. Certainly not better than what we have in house. Obviously, besides stuff, #1 ingredient is mental toughness. I’m all for giving the kids a look, especially Burnett, before trading a starter and a player with a high upside even for Bell. Off topic: What if Joe/Shapiro want close to $25 million per year for, say, six years? As great as Mauer is, can we afford that? If not, isn’t the next month the time to pull the trigger?

  13. 8th inning guy March 9, 2010 at 5:10 pm #

    I think the twins need to find somebody else outside the orginization for this one. Crain has the stuff to be a closer but he walks too many and he struggles commanding the fastball. Maybe Guerrier and based of stats he probably deserves a shot but seriously I doubt matt scares too many ball clubs. Why not make a serious run at soria from k.c. The royals aren’t good but he’s great. It may take a ramos or even more. Casilla? Perkins? Ramos and revere? Maybe the royals wont trade him anyway. A bad situation for the twins. Clearly the hardest position on the roster to replace.

  14. Joe March 9, 2010 at 8:05 pm #

    I’m not as worried as others, though his contract really struggles me…. I don’t like Liriano in the closer role, not even the mental make up as much as I don’t think he can pitch everyday and be effective. If Neshek can be healthy I like him, he has good stuff, pitches to contact, but I’m beginning to wonder how healthy he is…. Slama would be alright but I’m not as high on him as others are…. I’d put Van Mil on the list but his arm is scaring me…. If Mijares could improve against righties he’d be a good option but Perkins would probably have to be in the bullpen as a lefty option…. don’t know if Guerrier can do it…

  15. Juanie March 9, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    I don’t comment very often, but I feel strongly about this situation. I think this points to an obvious in-house candidate they have to give the first shot: Mijares. He has the most mental toughness of anyone in the bullpen, and he has proven he can get both lefties and righties out. He may not be the most well liked after the DY incident, but closing the door on ballgames and stabilizing the pen can change that. Neshek might be tough on righties, but I would not like to see Neshek facing lefties with the game on the line.

  16. Zack March 10, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    Anyone else want to see Daniel Bard in a Twins uniform? Wilson Ramos+ maybe?

  17. scot March 12, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

    Guess it was good that Twins hung on to Perkins and Crain for now. Neshek has my vote but think it will be mid season before he is ready to take on closer duty. Guerrier does not have closer stuff plus he is to good at set up. Between Rauch, Crain, or Mijares one of them should step up or trade for Heath??
    Natham is done and might as well get the surgery.

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