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Twins to use closer-by-committee with Nathan out

Mar 29, 2010, 12:50 PM EDT

Ron Gardenhire announced yesterday that the Twins will begin the season using a “closer-by-committee” approach with Joe Nathan out for the year following Tommy John elbow surgery:

We are a committee. Our closer role is a committee. We’re going to try just about anything. I’ve never had to do it. It’s going to be an experience trying to mix and match as best we can. But I’ve got some capable arms that we’re going to rely on.

I’ve seen committees work. It’s not always the easiest thing in the world, but you just have to ad lib. When you lose your closer, it’s a little different. That’s how we’re going to start, and we’ll go from there.

Aside from steroids there’s nothing the mainstream baseball media seems to freak out about more than a team without a so-called established closer, so expect plenty of hyperbolic, logic-be-damned reactions if the Twins blow a couple leads early in the season. In fact, expect some of those reactions right now.
However, the odds of Minnesota sticking with a committee approach all year are very slim. Gardenhire has made it clear that he wants to find one man for the job, so mixing and matching Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, and Jesse Crain early on will likely just be a way for him to determine the best fit for the role.
I’d be surprised if the committee approach lasts longer than six weeks and, assuming the Twins don’t trade for a veteran closer, would bet on Rauch leading the team in saves. In the meantime we’re bound to hear all about how monumentally insane the Twins supposedly are for treating the ninth inning just like the seventh and eighth inning, which says a lot about how wrapped up everyone is in a role built around the save statistic.

  1. JasonC23 - Mar 29, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    All those sportswriters basing their entire opinions on a statistic should get their noses out of their spreadsheets and go watch a game once in a while.

  2. BC - Mar 29, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    Why the heck is Pat Neshek not be considered for closer? If healthy (I think he’s been alright this spring) he’s the best of the bunch.

  3. Dempsey's army - Mar 29, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    Most sports writers seem to love how it was in the good old days, (4-man rotations, no pitch counting, complete games) but somehow this doesn’t apply to closers. Before the late ’70’s/early ’80’s most bullpens were “closer by committee”, even if they had a #1 fireman. It was rare for 2 or 3 other guys to not chip in with 3-6 saves a piece. Sounds like a committee to me.

  4. cowdisciple - Mar 29, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Oddly enough, I would expect the committee to be almost exactly as good as the pitchers making up the committee.

  5. D-Luxxx - Mar 29, 2010 at 6:02 PM

    Neshek is comming off of missing a whole season with TJ surgery. They haven’t even decided if he’ll make the opening day roster or not. I’m sure he’ll start in Rochester, and if he performs well enough (especially in back-to-back game situations) then they’ll bring him up and give him a chance in the role along with everyone else.
    Personally, I’d like to see Rauch (has the look of a closer) or Anthony Slamma (as in Slamma the door!) come in and take the position over. That’s based more on personal feeling than any belief that will happen (at least with Slamma anyway, Rauch has closed before).

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