Jim Souhan analyzes the local sports scene and advises you to never take his betting advice. He likes old guitars and old music, never eats press box hot dogs, and can be heard on 1500ESPN at 2:05 p.m. weekdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon.
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Maybe, as Sid says, I am the kiss of death. I show up in Fort Myers, the weather turns balmy, I start scouring the clubhouse for good interviews...and then Ron Gardenhire calls us all into his office so Joe Nathan can tell us he has a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
Nathan keeps saying he wants to strengthen his elbow and try to throw within two weeks, try to pitch this season, but all signs (and everyone I've talked to privately) say he's just trying to be brave. He's most likely gone for the season, maybe done for good, and he might be one of the two or three most valuable Twins, considering how difficult he will be to replace.
If the Twins stay in-house, I'd go with either a bullpen by committee or give the job to Jon Rauch. Not because I think Rauch would be a good closer for a contender, but because if Rauch failed in the role I think you could shift him back to middle relief without damaging him, where if you try Francisco Liriano as your closer and he fails, you might ruin him.
I'd rather see the Twins go out and get someone who has done the job before. I'm just not sure who would be willing to trade a quality closer during spring training. You and I know the Royals don't need Soria, but the Royals don't want to admit that to their fan base.
This is devastating news for a team that had so much going for it. Nathan is very popular with his teammates and is as much of a leader as a closer can be. The Twins have had great luck turning unlikely pitchers into closers (Rick Aguilera, Mike Trombley, Eddie Guardado, Nathan) but I don't see any great candidates in the organization.
The Twins' best relievers - like Jose Mijares and Matt Guerrier - are probably best left in their current roles.
I expected this Twins team to win about 95 games this year. Now, unless they can find a creative way to replace Nathan, I wonder if they can crack 90. I believe the White Sox just became division favorites.
-Danny Valencia hit a game-winning home run against St. Louis on Tuesday, and said afterward that Terry Ryan gave him advice at TwinsFest, to keep his mouth shut at spring training and let his play do the talking. Valencia even called him ``The Great Terry Ryan.'' Although Terry isn't very visible to fans and the media anymore, he's still a vital part of the organization. Too bad he can't trade A.J. Pierzynski for a closer again.
-It's beautiful now in Fort Myers. I'm in the press box at Hammond Stadium with La Velle and Joe. I'll be back here at 6:30 Central time to talk with Joe Anderson on am-1500. I'm on every morning at 7:45 on am-1500, and on at 7:14 on WJON in St. Cloud.
-Delmon Young looked remarkably fast while legging out a triple today. He's much leaner than he was the last two years, and his teammates are raving about his attitude. This is coming from someone - me - who has not been a Delmon Young fan.
-Justin Morneau might be the best understated interview I've ever encountered. He doesn't look for attention, doesn't ever raise his voice, just answers bluntly, with a wry sense of humor. I think scaling back his workload should enable him to have a full productive season. I could see him winning another MVP this year.
-You can second-guess the Twins' signing of Nathan to a four-year deal that now could hamstring them. I say we can't have it both ways. We can't urge the Twins to spend more money on players and then rip them when one of those players gets hurt. Without Nathan the Twins wouldn't have gotten to Game 163 in '98 or to the playoffs in '99. His body of work justifies his contract.
-You can follow me on Twitter at Souhanstrib.
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