Climb in off the ledge, Twins fans
Everybody relax. Take a deep breath and exhale.
Yes, potentially losing All-Star closer Joe Nathan for the season is a buzzkill, no question. But the club is still in Spring Training, which means there is ample time to find someone on the current roster to supplant Nathan in 2010. Early speculation is that Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch or Jose Mijares would be strong candidates to emerge as the ninth inning specialist. I guess we'll have to see how things play out. Lest we forget, the Twins were intending on re-signing closer Eddie Guardado for the 2004 season when he opted to sign with the Seattle Mariners. As a result, Nathan, who was brought in that season via trade to be the Twins eighth inning specialist, was given the closer role despite having only one career save in 121 major league appearances. Six seasons and 246 saves later, Nathan is considered by many to be the second best closer in baseball, trailing only the legendary Mariano Rivera.
I would be surprised if the Twins sprung a trade for an established closer given that their payroll is already hovering around $100 million. But if the 2010 stopper morphs into the second coming of Ron Davis within the first month of the season, a trade is still a possibility. It was rumored last July/August that the Twins were looking at San Diego Padres righty Heath Bell in an effort to bolster their bullpen down the stretch. In his first season as Padres stopper in 2009, Bell registered 42 saves.
Bottom line is I wouldn't expect the Twins to enter the regular season in a funk even if their All-Star stopper is unable to contribute. Besides, the club's recent history suggests that they thrive in adverse situations. Last September 12, with 20 games remaining, All-Star slugger Justin Morneau would play his final game of the year. A back injury forced Morneau to the bench with his club 5-1/2 games out of first place. The Twins weathered the storm by finishing the regular season 17-4 (including the thrilling tiebreaker in game 163) and capturing the American League Central division.
I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm not going to request a refund on my 2010 season tickets.