Results tagged ‘ Joe Nathan ’

Making the Team: Week 2

In the second week of Making the Team, a twist has altered some of the chances of cracking the Opening Day roster for several players. With Joe Nathan potentially out for the season, there are now seemingly two bullpen spots available rather than just one.

The extra spot could eventually help one of the two starting pitchers who fail to make the rotation, and Pat Neshek may have a better chance now too. Then again, the Twins could always fill the closer role externally, and it’ll be back down to one opening. 
This week no players have been removed, but there is one addition. Two scoreless innings, three strikeouts and an extra bullpen spot have at least made relief pitcher Anthony Slama worth watching.

Player Chance Notes
Wilson Ramos (C) Ramos is doing an extraordinary job at the plate this spring going 3-for-8 thus far with four walks in three games. His defense has seemingly been alright too. The big question is how much of a chance the staff is giving Ramos with his competitor Drew Butera having more experience.  
Drew Butera (C) Experience at Triple-A may give Butera the upper hand, but if the Twins are looking for offense in their backup catcher, Butera doesn’t seem to be the guy. Everybody knows he’s much more geared toward defense, and his early .167 average (with three strikeouts in six at-bats) continues to confirm that.
Danny Valencia (3B) It seems likely that Danny Valencia will make his major league debut at some point during the 2010 season. Nonetheless, it continues to be an uphill battle for the 25-year old to crack the Opening Day roster. He’s 3-for-7 thus far with a homerun, but he’ll need to really stick out in the next three weeks to grab a spot.
Alexi Casilla (IF) Alexi Casilla is just 2-for-10 thus far in four games, but equally poor plate production by his competitor is keeping Casilla in the battle. With no more options it’s either make the team or move to a new organization, so Casilla may currently have the upper hand.
Matt Tolbert (IF) While Casilla is batting just .200 after four games, Matt Tolbert has yet to collect a hit in eight at-bats. It’ll be interesting to see how the Twins handle the situation.
Jacque Jones (OF) Jacque Jones’ chances of making the team seem to be decent, especially with the poor production from both Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert. He hasn’t played in the majors since 2008 however, so he still has a lot of impressing to do to make his return to Minneapolis a reality.   

Francisco Liriano (SP) In his first outing of the spring, Liriano pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three hitters. It’ll take more than two innings to convince the organization and fans that the winter reports are accurate, but it seems like the final spot in the rotation may be his to lose.  
Brian Duensing (SP) Duensing struggled in his first trip to the mound, but his chances to make the bullpen may have gone up anyways. If the Twins go with an in-house candidate to take Nathan’s spot, there are now two spots open in the bullpen, and only one lefty is currently a lock. 
Glen Perkins (SP) Glen Perkins’ first spring outing didn’t go quite as planned, and his second was only decent. Out of options, Perkins could eventually be traded if he can’t earn a spot in the rotation or bullpen. He very well could be pitching to show off for other teams. 
Pat Neshek (RP) Two solid outings to begin camp, combined with the Joe Nathan injury, have heightened Neshek’s chances of making the team out of camp. Coming off Tommy John Surgery, Neshek could still begin in extended spring training, but there is another bullpen spot seemingly available if his good performances continue through March. 
Mike Maroth (RP) So far this spring, Mike Maroth has had one less-than-stellar outing, and one scoreless outing. His chance to make the team is very slim, and the veteran lefty is almost certainly headed for Triple-A Rochester where good performances could make him an option if injuries arise. 
Anthony
Slama (RP)
With closer Joe Nathan most likely out for the season, another bullpen spot is now open. With a solid spring, in which Slama would need to blow the coaching staff away, the young righty may have an opportunity to crack a spot in the bullpen.

The Nathan Aftershock

It hasn’t even been a full day since the organization and fans learned that their All-Star closer might possibly miss the entire 2010 season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament. It’s been a day full of updates and hope, and we’re now entering the time of aftershock.

Everybody knows the implications: If Nathan’s two weeks of rest don’t pan out, which some believe would be a miracle at this point, he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery and the organization will be left looking at other options to fill the ninth inning void and help keep the team on track for a run at the postseason as they open Target Field. 
Assistant general manager Rob Antony took a few moments to answer some questions regarding the difficult news and the immediate future. Per team policy, he wasn’t able to confirm or deny whether the team holds an insurance policy on Nathan, but he did shed some light on other matters.
Regarding internal candidates…

If Joe is unable to come back from this in 2010 we do have several internal candidates and we will begin looking at them as we move forward. As Gardy said, “Until we hear differently, Joe Nathan is our closer.” That said, it would be irresponsible for us not to begin evaluating our other options in the event that he needs surgery.

In the event that Nathan needs surgery, would they expect him back in 2011…

We hope so. It is so early in the process to speculate on 2011. We want to first see how it feels in a week or two.

In closing…

We will explore all options and make decisions when opportunities or candidates present themselves. I don’t believe we would make any decisions before it is necessary and will be open to internal candidates and potentially other avenues.

The hope remains that one of the best closers in all of baseball will be on the mound in 2010. It’ll take some things falling in place and some pain tolerance by Nathan, but that’s why it’s called hope.

If Nathan can’t go this season it’ll be very unfortunate not just for the team, but for Nathan and his great career. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean the team can’t fight on and remain in contention for a berth in the playoffs this fall.

Not Nathan!

He was supposed to close out games in the inaugural season at Target Field. He was supposed to be the guy to close out games in an extended playoff run. He was supposed to take over the crown as the closer with the most saves in franchise history.

Sadly, it’s been learned today that none of those things will probably happen in 2010.
The word “probably” is used because closer Joe Nathan and fans are still holding out hope. Hope that two weeks of rehab and a high pain tolerance might help keep one of the best closers in professional baseball on the mound rather than on the operating table.
In the six seasons since joining the Minnesota Twins in the famous San Francisco Giants trade, Nathan has saved more games than any other closer in baseball. Yes, his 246 saves in that timeframe are more than future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, who closed out 243 in that same span.
Nathan is not replaceable. No pitcher within the organization can step in and fill his shoes, and you’d be hard pressed to find any other options that could either. Nathan has arguably been the best closer in baseball since his arrival in Minneapolis, and only a small number of closers, maybe limited to one or two others, could come close to matching his production.
While Nathan is irreplaceable, the Twins do still have alternatives. The relievers that first come to mind include Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier and Pat Neshek. 
Back in 2008, Rauch closed out 18 games, and he has the most career saves out of any other pitcher on the staff. Meanwhile, Guerrier has been a solid setup man who can miss some bats (he has the highest miss percentage next to Nathan), and before his own Tommy John Surgery, Neshek was a near All-Star who many viewed as the next closer. 
As spring training began, the questions all centered around the finishing touches for the Opening Day roster. Who would finish out the rotation? Who would round out the bench? Now the Twins are faced with a much bigger question. Who can come closest to matching the production of arguably the best closer in baseball?

Random Notes: Bonuses and Former Players

Things are moving slowly in Twins Territory as the date nears mid-January. The Minnesota Twins have uncertainty remaining at both second and third base, and options are falling off the table with each passing day.

Despite the slow move through the winter, there are some interesting notes to pass along.
Award Bonuses
It is common for players to receive award bonuses in contracts, and if calculations are correct, the Twins paid out $200,000 worth of bonuses last season. How did it all stack up?

Justin Morneau received $25,000 for his All-Star selection.

Joe Nathan received $25,000 for his All-Star selection.

Joe Mauer received $25,000 for his All-Star selection, $25,000 for his Gold Glove award, and $100,000 for his Most Valuable Player award.

Paying Lamb
Next season, Mike Lamb will be nowhere in sight. Nonetheless, the Minnesota Twins will be paying him for one more year. For the 2010 season, the Twins will pay the former Twin $100,000.
The Twins signed Lamb to a two-year contract prior to the 2007 season, and designated him for assignment before he completed even one season. Lamb was paid by the Twins last season, and the money he’ll receive this upcoming season will be for an option year that was included in the deal.
Hocking an Oriole
Denny Hocking played for the Minnesota Twins for 11 seasons before moving around at the end of his career. Hocking has been in the radio business since, but now is moving back to baseball.
After sending messages to three teams, Hocking has joined the Baltimore Orioles and will be a minor league coach next season:

“Once I decided to get into pro coaching I sent out e-mails to the Twins, Angels and Orioles. The Orioles’ David Stockstill called me back within three hours and it didn’t take me too long to join the organization.”

Hat tip: Cot’s Contracts

All-Decade Team: Pitchers

All-Decade.pngThe infielders and outfielders are wrapped up, and now is the final group, the pitchers. Over the past ten years there have been many pitchers who have gone through the bullpen and rotation, but there were definitely a few who stuck out as potential pitchers of the decade for the Minnesota Twins.
In this final section of the All-Decade Team, the best three starters, the best bullpen arm, and the best closer of the last ten years is unveiled. 
Starters
Who pitched: Brad Radke, Joe Mays, Mark Redman, Eric Milton, Sean Bergman, Kyle Lohse, Rick Reed, Johan Santana, Kenny Rogers, Carlos Silva, Francisco Liriano, Boof Bonser, Scott Baker, Matt Garza, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, Glen Perkins, Ramon Ortiz, Livan Hernandez, Carl Pavano
Seth
Stohs
John
Bonnes
Nick
Nelson
Michael
Rand
Alex
Starter
#1
Johan
Santana
Johan
Santana
Johan
Santana
Johan
Santana
Johan
Santana

Johan Santana is an obvious unanimous selection as one of the three best starters of the decade. Santana pitched for the Twins in eight seasons during the decade, and started at least 14 games in six of them.

In his time with the Twins, Santana posted a record of 93-44 to go along with a 3.22 ERA and a total of 1,381 strikeouts. Santana appeared on five Cy Young ballots in his tenure with the Twins, winning the award in 2004 and 2006. The lefty made three All-Star Games, won the pitcher’s Triple Crown in 2006, won the Warren Spahn award twice, and won the Gold Glove award in 2007.

Seth
Stohs
John
Bonnes
Nick
Nelson
Michael
Rand
Alex
Starter
#2
Brad
Radke
Brad
Radke
Brad
Radke
Brad
Radke
Brad
Radke

Brad Radke was also a unanimous selection after pitching for the Minnesota Twins for his entire career. Radke began with the team in Minneapolis in 1995, and played for the Twins through 2006.
In his tenure with the Twins, Radke went 148-139 with a 4.22 ERA and 1,467 strikeouts. Radke pitched for the team for seven seasons during the decade, and pitched in the postseason during four of those years. The decade ended on a strong note for the retiree as the team inducted him into their Hall of Fame during the 2009 season.

Seth
Stohs
John
Bonnes
Nick
Nelson
Michael
Rand
Alex
Starter
#3
Scott
Baker
Scott
Baker
Francisco
Liriano
Scott
Baker
Scott
Baker

Scott Baker began his career with the Minnesota Twins during the 2005 season, and pitched for five seasons during the decade.
In the past five seasons, Baker has posted a 43-33 record to go along with a 4.27 ERA and 499 strikeouts. His greatest feat of the decade was his near no-hitter against the Kansas City Royals in 2007 when he came two outs from completing the feat.
BullpenWho pitched: Juan Rincon, Eddie Guardado, LaTroy Hawkins, Pat Neshek, Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, J.C. Romero, Grant Balfour, Jose Mijares, Jon Rauch, Tony Fiore, J.D. Durbin, Willie Eyre, Dennys Reyes, Craig Breslow, Boof Bonser

Seth
Stohs
John
Bonnes
Nick
Nelson
Michael
Rand
Alex
Reliever
Jesse
Crain
LaTroy
Hawkins
LaTroy
Hawkins
Juan
Rincon
Jesse
Crain

No clear winner emerged from the reliever section as both Jesse Crain and LaTroy Hawkins received two votes apiece. Hawkins pitched for the Twins for nine seasons, and four of them came during the decade. Meanwhile, Crain has pitched for the Twins for six seasons, all coming in the past 10 years. 
Hawkins’ best seasons were during the decade as he posted ERAs of 3.39, 5.96, 2.13, and 1.86. Hawkins hadn’t had an ERA below 5.25 in the previous five seasons with the team. In his final seasons with the organization, Hawkins saved a total of 44 games before leaving for Chicago. 
Crain began his career in 2004, and has a combined ERA of 3.50 with the Twins. In his first two seasons, Crain posted ERAs of 2.00 and 2.71. Those were followed by ERAs of 3.52, 5.51 and 4.70. Crain has pitched in 314 innings for the Twins and has two total saves. 

Seth
Stohs
John
Bonnes
Nick
Nelson
Michael
Rand
Alex
Closer
Joe
Nathan
Joe
Nathan
Joe
Nathan
Joe
Nathan
Joe
Nathan

Joe Nathan was the obvious selection for the closer of the decade. After coming to Minnesota from the San Francisco Giants in 2004, Nathan was converted to a closer and his career officially took off. He has spent six seasons with the Twins, and has become a perennial All-Star closer. 
In six seasons with the Twins, Nathan has posted a 1.82 ERA in 412 appearances. The closer has 246 saves, just eight shy of the team record. In addition, Nathan has struck out 518 hitters in his tenure with the organization. Nathan has been selected to the All-Star Game four times, and holds the Minnesota Twins single season saves record with 47.

Supporting Joe Nathan

With a two-run lead the Minnesota Twins were three outs away from leaving New York tied up at one game apiece. A single off closer Joe Nathan and a two-run homerun later, and the game was all tied. The Twins would go on to lose, and instead of having a great chance heading home, they’ll instead be looking to avoid a sweep when they take the field at the Metrodome for their first home game.

Now is not the time to turn on Joe Nathan. It’s not the time to say he doesn’t deserve what he makes. It’s not the time to say he shouldn’t be put right back in the game if the situation faces the team again. And it’s not the time to trash his ability.
Joe Nathan is one of the best closers in all of baseball, many would argue that he and Mariano Rivera are right up there at the top. This season, Joe Nathan helped the team cap off 47 games, and without his incredible performance in game 163, he might not have been on the mound in that situation in the first place.
Next season, barring an injury or major setback, Joe Nathan will become the team’s all-time saves leader. He already set the single-season saves record this season, and next year he’ll more than likely become the best in franchise history.
No he was not the best this season against the New York Yankees, and no he couldn’t send the Twins home with a game two victory. But Joe Nathan is one of the best closers in all of baseball, he is the closer for the team you support, and one poor game shouldn’t make fans turn their back.
There isn’t a much worse thing a fan can do than turn on a player, and Nathan doesn’t deserve it. Sure it’s the playoffs, and sure it was a huge game, but Nathan has been instrumental in the success of the team since his arrival in 2004. He has been a leader, a winner, and an All-Star, and one game shouldn’t change that.

Chasing 254

254.jpg
When the Minnesota Twins acquired Joe Nathan prior to the 2004 season, he was simply one of the three guys that the team received in exchange for A.J. Pierzynski. Six seasons later, Nathan is now the guy that is well on track to break the team’s all-time saves record. 
Thus far in 2009, Nathan has taken the mound and closed out 42 games for the Twins. The total places him second in all of baseball behind only Brian Fuentes (43) and in front of future Hall of Fame closer, Mariano Rivera. 
Since Nathan joined the club in 2004, he has collected at least 36 saves each year, and saved a career high 44 games in his first season with the club. With 13 games remaining, Nathan had collected 42 saves over the course of the 2009 season, his third best season of his career.
With six solid seasons under his belt, Nathan has quickly moved up the franchise’s all-time saves board and currently stands in second place behind only Rick Aguilera with 241 saves as a Minnesota Twin.
With a 4-year, $47 million deal signed last March, Nathan is under the team’s control through the 2012 season, three more years. The team’s all-time saves leader, Aguilera, ended his Twins career with 254 saves in 11 seasons. While he played for the team for 11 seasons, Aguilera was the full time closer for only 8 of those years. 
Nathan is now only 13 saves away from tying the record, and he should tie and then pass the mark early next season. If the All-Star closer averages 36 saves over his next three seasons with Minnesota, his lowest total to date in Minneapolis, he’ll be right near 350 saves when his extension runs out.
Not many knew what the Twins were receiving when they traded their starting catcher six season ago, but now they have one of the best closers in baseball, one who has made three All-Star Game appearances, and one who should soon be the best closer in team history.

All-Star Representation

AL Team.jpg

With one minor league prospect in Sunday’s All-Star Futures Game, and three major leaguers on the American League roster, the Minnesota Twins had a good group of players on hand in St. Louis to show off to the nation.
Each of the four players played a role in the many events and represented the organization in good fashion.
Tosoni MVP.jpg
As the lone representative in the All-Star Futures Game, Rene Tosoni couldn’t have represented the organization any better.
An outfielder for the team’s double-A affiliate, the New Britain Rock Cats, Tosoni in the first half of the season put up great numbers. Tosoni hit.278 with 10 homeruns and 51 RBI to go along with a .480 slugging percentage.
Tosoni didn’t start, but he did enter the game in the seventh inning and delivered a go-ahead double. The World would remain ahead and go on to win the game by a final of 7-5.
Tosoni’s hit was the deciding factor, and along with a shaving cream pie to the face, the 22-year old prospect was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
Past recipients of the award include Alfonso Soriano, Toby Hall, Jose Reyes, Grady Sizemore, Aaron Hill, and Billy Butler.
Mauer.jpg
Joe Mauer has received a lot of attention since his May return. The two-time batting champion has hit near .400 for much of the season, and his 15 homeruns got him an invitation to the Homerun Derby to compete against stars such as Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, and Albert Pujols.
As Mauer attempted to become the second Twin in as many seasons to win the Derby, he found himself in a swing-off with Carlos Pena and Pujols after hitting five homeruns in the first round.
Mauer wouldn’t make the second round, but he had a good showing overall, and his yellow Livestrong cleats helped with a good cause.
The big day for Mauer came in the actual game. As the American League starter behind the plate, Mauer had the opportunity to catch the likes of Roy Halladay and Zack Greinke among others. Mauer’s RBI double in the fifth inning tied the game at three and played a big part in the American League’s 4-3 victory.
Morneau.jpg
Justin Morneau opted not to take part in the Homerun Derby a year after winning it, so for the most part he remained out of the spotlight. Morneau was there to root on his teammate, and throughout the events he was seen talking with stars such as Derek Jeter and Josh Hamilton.
Morneau didn’t start in the main event, but entered the game at first base in the middle innings. While he went 0-2, Morneau made a few good catches at first base and gave the ball a ride in his second plate appearance only to be robbed by Jayson Werth.
Nathan.jpg
The final All-Star for the Twins, closer Joe Nathan, quite possibly made the most memorable pitches of the night. Entering after the American League took a 4-3 lead in the top half of the inning, Nathan found himself working through the eighth as a setup man for Mariano Rivera.
The first two outs came easily for Nathan, but a two-out walk and single put runners on the corners with two outs. After Hudson moved up to second base, Nathan found himself facing St. Louis native Ryan Howard in a game-changing situation.
Nathan worked ahead of Howard, and got to a 2-2 count before the lefty fouled a few pitches away. A slider in the dirt ended the inning, and a relieved Nathan pumped his first as he walked toward the dugout.
From Tosoni to the three big names for the Twins, the 2009 All-Star festivities had All-Star representation for the organization.
All photo from the Associated Press; for more, visit Yahoo! Sports.

On Pace: Pitchers

Several Minnesota hitters find themselves on pace for career highs, and the culmination of some good offense early on has the team on pace to hit the most homeruns as a club in quite some time.

The projections carry over to the pitchers side where some starters are having career years and where the suddenly sharp bullpen is putting up some solid numbers.
** Francisco Liriano is on pace for a record of just 8-16. He has recently begun to turn things around, so the obvious hope is that the loss total doesn’t reach that point. Liriano is projected to strike out 160 hitters in a total of 178 innings pitched.
** Scott Baker missed some time due to injury, and got off to a slow start which has altered his projections. He hopes to continue his recent string of strong outings, but is currently on pace for a 12-12 recordwith a total of 148 strikeouts in a career high 184 innings pitched.
** Nick Blackburn is on pace for a solid 3.10 ERA, but due to low run support midway through the season is projected for only a 12-8 record. The second-year pro is however on pace to pitch 4 complete games in an astounding 214 innings.
** Glen Perkins missed nearly a month, but with the exception of a few starts has been solid. The lefty is on pace to go 8-8 with a 4.38 ERA in only 148 innings of work.
** Kevin Slowey is on pace for an amazing 20-6 record in 180 innings of work. Due to two consecutive poor outings, Slowey is on pace for a 4.86 ERA. A few other numbers that stick out are his projections for strikeouts and walks. Slowey is on pace to sit down 150 hitters and walk just 30.
** Anthony Swarzak has only pitched in a few games, but has been recalled and is on pace to go 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA in a total of 54 innings. Time in the bullpen however could alter his projections.
** Joe Nathan is on pace for 42 saves and a solid 1.39 ERA. Considered on of the league’s best, Nathan is also on pace to strike out 82 hitters in only 64 innings of work.
** Matt Guerrier is on pace to rebound from a poor ’08 season with a 2.65 ERA. Guerrier is also projected to to appear in nearly half of the team’s games with 80 appearances. In one of the major stats for relievers, holds, Guerrier is on pace to finish near the top with 32.
** Jose Mijares, a year after posting a sub-1.00 ERA, is on pace for a very solid 2.16 ERA in 58 appearances. The lefty is also on pace to pitch a total of 50 innings and collect 22 holds.
** R.A. Dickey is on pace to post a 2.96 ERA in a total of 50 appearances and 96 innings. The long reliever is also projected to strike out 66 hitters.
No longer with the organization, Luis Ayala was excluded from the list. Phillip Humber, Jesse Crain, and Sean Henn were not included due to their demotions. Meanwhile major leaguers Brian Duensing and Bobby Keppel did not havesufficientstats for accurate projections.
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