Remember a year ago when one of the biggest gripes certain Twins fans could come up with was calling Jesse Crain "Crainwreck"? Remember a year ago when certain Twins fans were so fed up with Matt Guerrier they couldn't be bothered with pronouncing his name correctly?
Yeah...I wonder what those certain fans think about those guys now?
I miss them too.
I have to admit that the old cliche of you don't know what you've got until it's gone applies to me regarding the Twins bullpen of yesteryear. And as much I would love to have either one or both of those guys back, it's too late to rue the decisions of the past.
Too bad the present isn't much fun.
The current bullpen owns the worst cumulative ERA in all of baseball (4.53). The front office can't expect to win very many games when they can't trust the men at the back end of the game to preserve leads or, at the very least, keep the team close. Unfortunately, however, the front office has shown over the last few years that it doesn't worry too much about the state of the bullpen. Fans have been fed lines that everything will be ok with the guys we have for a while now.
We can't have Crain or Guerrier back (well, I suppose we could, but I doubt it). But that doesn't mean we have to be stuck with what we have.
Here's the plan I wish for:
Bring Nathan back. The Twins have a $12 million option to keep him one more year. That's pretty spendy; I don't see Bill Smith willing to pony up that kind of money. And frankly, that's too much for a relief pitcher. However, I would like the Twins to let him test the free agent market and then actively pursue him for less money. He turns 37 this off-season; his next multi-year contract will likely be his last. I can see him taking the security of more years and still make it affordable for the Twins.
Tender Glen Perkins another contract. I used to kind of hate him as a starter. I really like him as a set up man.
Find a new home for Kevin Slowey. His, um, philosophical differences with the team are simply too chaotic to overcome. He'll probably succeed elsewhere; he just doesn't fit with the Twins.
Put Anthony Swarzak and Brian Duensing back to the bullpen and keep them as middle-inning and long relievers.
Say good-bye to Phil Dumatrait, Jose Mijares, and Matt Capps. They simply don't pitch well enough and have proven that they can't be trusted. Maybe send Alex Burnett on his way as well.
Then, find good, reliable replacements. I like the promise that Lester Oliveros has shown, though I'm not sure he's really ready for the big leagues yet. He's only 23; let him earn a spot in spring training. Otherwise, make some trades and sign some new guys.
And maybe just make a quick phone call to Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier.
Since I mentioned Matt Capps, here's his paper doll:
Anyway, he's the last one of the guys who were on the Opening Day roster.