Who Let Dusty Baker Near Joe Nathan?

I would be going through the whole “Joe Nathan may miss all of 2010, here are the candidates,” thing, except every other member of Twins Blogitory has already taken care of that. Therefore, I’m going to skip straight to who I think the Twins will put in the closer role, and who I feel should be the new closer, and I’ll throw in some goodies here and there as well.*

* By the way, if I seem a little, umm…for lack of a better term, “playful” in this post, it’s merely because I’m going through a mourning period with the loss of Nathan. Craig Ferguson would likely call me “perky” right now.

First off, there is barely any doubt in my mind that the Twins (well, Gardy) will let Jon Rauch have first dibs on closing. He has the most experience (barely), and certainly provides an intimidating presence on the mound with being nearly 7 feet tall. A mid-3 ERA is acceptable from a closer, but considering we’ve been spoiled with Joe Nathan for the past few years, anything above a 3.00 is likely going to be viewed as being just barely acceptable by most Twins fans. Plus, if he (or whoever becomes the closer) starts struggling, even if it’s just a couple games, you can expect many people to be very disgruntled. Francisco Liriano is another name being tossed around, but as Aaron Gleeman said, if he looks good in spring training, the Twins will much rather have him in the starting rotation than the bullpen. I agree with this, considering I expect Brian Duensing to be hit by a rather large regression this season, so I’d much rather have Liriano as the #5 starter rather than Dunce Cap.

A possibility being thrown around (albeit unlikely to happen) is for the Twins to sign John Smoltz to be the new closer. He would definitely be a guy that I would consider to have experience closing (easily topping Rauch’s measly 26 saves with his 154), but I’d view him as being too expensive for the Twins. He might only cost $4 million or so, but I have to think that the Twins are stretching their payroll to its limits already and it appears that Smoltz would prefer to stay in the National League and sign midseason anyway. There’s also been some rumblings of trading for someone like Heath Bell or Kerry Wood, but I think that their teams would demand far too much in return for the Twins to realistically acquire them. They already tried to get Bell last year, and even without Nathan I doubt that they’d suddenly be willing to give up some young talent. Besides, I don’t want to see Anthony Slama or Rob Delaney leave without them ever pitching for the Twins…

Finally, who do I want to be the temporary closer? Well none other than my favorite current Twin.

Oops, let me get a tougher picture of him in here.

Getting warmer….sort of. One last try.

That will do.

Why do I want Neshek to take over for Nathan?

  1. Career ERA of 2.91, FIP of 3.43
  2. A 0.96 WHIP in his career
  3. Career K/9 over 10.50
  4. The windup. You can’t deny that you like it. (You follow that double negative?)
  5. The potential for speed metal music when he enters the game. Hey, I won’t like it either, but he’ll be the first guy to not pick Metallica (excluding Joe Nathan, of course).

Yeah sure, he’s got a platoon split. However, I’ll argue that it’s only a matter of increased home runs and walks. Oh, I do admit that those are very important, but I’d be very concerned if he gave up a ton of hits as well. Truth is, his opponents batting average against lefties is still an impressive .210, the walks can be fixed, and the home runs….well, I’m not a pitching coach nor an expert.

I’d also like to see either Anthony Slama or Rob Delaney take over, but I think the only way that will happen is if everyone else that Gardy throws into the role fails so much and one or both of these guys are pitching so well at Rochester that eventually, the team can not ignore them any longer. Unfortunately, it may not be until the middle of the season that they are finally called up, so my wish may never come true.

I’m really worried about the possibility of winning the AL Central now. The race figures to be close again this year, and a player of Nathan’s caliber certainly could determine who wins it all. Hopefully whoever replaces him pitches adequately enough that we don’t complain about losing Twitchy too much.

Twitch. Strike. Twitch. Strike. Twitch. Ow, my elbow!


3 Responses to “Who Let Dusty Baker Near Joe Nathan?”

  1. Doctor_Teh Says:

    Tis a sad day for Twins fans, but on the bright side I hope to use this as evidence to my friends that closers are a tad overrated. When whoever ends up being the closer still notches 30 saves they will see that closers are *somewhat* replaceable and that they will probably only gain or lose 2-3 games.

  2. Recap: Twins vs. Cardinals Game 1 « Off The Mark Says:

    […] the most closing experience would get first crack of being the new closer. In fact, I said that here: First off, there is barely any doubt in my mind that the Twins (well, Gardy) will let Jon Rauch […]

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