Saturday, October 10, 2009
What Would You Do?
Joe Nathan Edition
I honestly had already started the blog entry before the Friday night debacle because I do think that it is an interesting topic for discussion. I also think that it is important to step back from any one game in making these types of decision. Much as I donít think that the Twins front office should decide what to do with Orlando Cabrera based on what he did in the final couple of weeks. The Twins should certainly not make any decisions based on Joe Nathanís blown save in a must-win against the Yankees in the playoffs. So, here are some quick pros and cons:
∑ In his six years as Twins closer, he is 22-12 with a 1.87 ERA. His WHIP has been 0.93.
∑ 246 saves in six seasons.
∑ In 2009, he set a Twins record with 47 saves. He was 2-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.
∑ After his strikeout rate dropped to 9.7 and 9.8 in 2007 and 2008, it jumped back up to 11.7 in 2009.
∑ Has only pitched between 67.2 and 72.1 innings in any season with the Twins.
∑ Want a closer who dominates the AL Central. I would say that applies to Nathan:
o Career vs. White Sox - .151/.212/.277 (.489), 3-2, 24 Saves, 2.06 ERA, 0.77 WHIP
o Career vs. Tigers - .153/.248/.257 (504), 2-1, 30 Saves, 1.55 ERA, 0.96 WHIP
o Career vs. Royals - .144/.204/.230 (.434), 3-0, 35 Saves, 0.85 ERA, 0.72 WHIP
o Career vs. Indians - .201/.258/.360 (.618), 3-1, 26 Saves, 2.98 ERA, 1.02 WHIP
∑ Aside from the Yankees, the only team that Nathan has a career ERA of over 2.98 is the Texas Rangers (3.72).
∑ Called a leader in the clubhouse, and especially in the bullpen.
∑ Is quite active in the community.
∑ Will turn 35 years old in November. How many pitchers over the age of 34 continue to dominate the way Nathan has? I know, but Mariano Rivera is a freak!
∑ Will make $11.25 million in 2010, $11.25 million in 2011, and has a $13.0 million option for 2012 (with a $2 million buyout). The dollars arenít a concern, but coupled with his age, it has to be at least mentioned.
∑ Career vs. New York Yankees (Reg. Season Only) Ė
o .255/.333/.382 (.715), 0-3, 4 Saves, 4.20 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
I knew the Con list would be significantly shorter. Joe Nathan has been baseballís best closer over the past six years. There is nothing about Joe Nathan, other than his ability to pitch well against the Yankees, to complain about.
So, in my mind, the big questions become:
1. Who takes over as the Twins closer?
2. What type of package could the Twins get for Joe Nathan?
Letís start with the first. As you know, I think that any solid reliever who can dominate can be a quality closer. To expect anyone to be as good as Nathan has over the past six years is unrealistic. I do think that Jose Mijares has the stuff to get lefties and righties out (even though that wasnít the case this year). Jesse Crain, if he is what he was in August and September, can certainly do the job. Jon Rauch? How about Anthony Slama? Or, could they bring in some hard thrower who had previously struggled as a starter to get the job done?
The second question is obviously much harder to project. Which teams need a closer, preferably National League teams. But for a dominant closer with a major track record who keeps himself in tremendous shape, you could expect to get two very solid prospects and maybe another player or two.
One philosophy that I canít argue with is that it is better to trade a player too soon than too late. There is also a philosophy that says Joe Nathan is really, really good. Why would you trade him? Which side of the fence would you tend to lean toward? Obviously this is a no lose situation. If the Twins keep Joe Nathan, they continue to have one of baseballís best. If they trade him, it would be for a package of players that would hopefully contribute to the Twins as long as Nathan has. To leave your thoughts, particularly additional Pros and Cons, please click here.
This is another of many, many decisions that the Twins General Manager Bill Smith will have to make after the Twins playoff run is complete (hopefully with their third World Series championship!). And when the Twins 2009 season does come to an end, the TwinsCentric group will give you a ton of great information to help you understand all of the decisions the Twins GM and present you with the opportunity to decide what you would do. (More details to come)