It all started with this article by Patrick Reusse. And then a whole bunch of really smart bloggers offered their rebuttals and ..., um, whatever the antonym of rebuttals is. I figured I might as well join the fray, even though the fray has calmed down a little.
First of all, it's important to remember that Reusse is, and always has been, a Grump. I'm pretty certain that he is a charter member of the Grump Arcade, which is just like Dave & Buster's only moodier -- you earn your prize tickets by losing at video games or publishing grumpiness-inducing newspaper columns. I'm sure he's got enough prize tickets to get a cheap t-shirt by now.
Shortly after his column, the really smart bloggers chimed in with their analyses. These folks did their homework, crunched the numbers, thought things through, and inspected the facts. Yeah...I'm not going to do that.
Put simply, the Twins should keep Joe Nathan for one very important reason:
I'm fond of him and would be really pissed off if he were traded.
Indeed, it's all about me. This is my blog; of course it's all about me. This is the only place on the planet where I can get away with saying that.
But I do have a couple other reasons too.
- He's very good. Yes, he had 5 blown saves; one of them really, really heartbreaking; but he also had 47 good ones. Only Brian Fuentes had more converted saves (48) -- but he also had more blown ones (7). And he's not the only closer who blew a save in the playoffs. In fact, Mariano Rivera is the only one who hasn't. Chalk that up to really good hitting.
- I'm not a fan of the trade-a-guy-the-minute-he-becomes-top-notch model. It never seems to work out for a team when they trade away an elite player for prospects. Remember Johan? Yeah...as much as I like Go-Go, he ain't no Johan. And repeatedly making moves like this makes your team into the Pirates or Indians.
- If not Joe, then who? I believe it's necessary to have an excellent closer, and I believe that it takes a unique pitcher to be one. You can't just plug any old body into that position. I suppose the next best option is Mijares, but he's young and has shown an inability to control his emotions. I'm not comfortable with him in pressure situations. Maybe Neshek could do it, but I'd want to give him another year to recover from his surgery before putting him in close-and-late situations.
- I like him. Twins fans have taken a fancy to his on-mound routine. And he's a terrific leader for this band of young pitchers. But his popularity reaches beyond the diamond. He's a great interview, does player appearances, and is down right adorable. See?
(I took this picture in 2004. Notice the goatee isn't quite as gray as it is now?)