After my piece lamenting the loss of Joe Nathan for the season, (sic) wrote three excellent pieces reviewing the merits of Jon Rauch, Jose Mijares, and Matt Guerrier in terms of their ability to replace Nathan. So, based on the evidence, who's the best option? Is there a qualified free-agent out there that the Twins could sign? Can we rewind time 3 weeks?
2007: 73 games, 88.0 innings, 71 hits, 21 walks, 68 Ks, 2.35 ERA, 1.045 WHIP
2008: 76 games, 76.1 innings, 84 hits, 37 walks, 59 Ks, 5.19 ERA, 1.585 WHIP
2009: 76 games, 76.1 innings, 58 hits, 16 walks, 47 Ks, 2.36 ERA, 0.969 WHIP
Those are Matt Guerrier's numbers for the last three years and it is evident as to why a) he makes a good candidate to replace Nathan and b) why he makes me nervous at the same time. On the one hand, in 2007 and 2009, he did the type of thing you'd want a closer to do, namely, get people out. On the flip-side, that big of a difference between 3 seasons in which his work-load was essentially the same, is worrisome. Also, his K/9 rate has been declining and last year it was 5.5K/9, not near the level you'd like a closer to be at.
To me, Guerrier is the best option to replace Nathan because of his ability to get guys out. He edges out Rauch because of that fact, and edges out Mijares simply on the basis of experience. Mijares has a better K/9 rate than Guerrier, and probably more personality/moxie as well, but as far as being someone you can count on, Guerrier wins, and really, that's what you want in a closer.
As far as free-agents that are out there, let me summarize this briefly: there is no one out there unless you really want to gamble. Some examples?
- Jason Isringhausen - has closer experience, but he's 37 and washed up
- Joe Beimel - no closer experience, Twins would be better off with Rauch
There's no one else that even comes close. For now the Twins are going to have to hope someone can step up. I am glad for the Twins that this happened with most of Spring Training remaining. It will give them a chance to try a few guys out and see which one fits best. Just please don't do 'closer by committee.'