Published on November 24th, 2011 | by Thompson2
Joe Nathan Era Comes to an End
There’s been plenty of chatter about Joe Nathan’s new two-year, $14.8 million deal with the Texas Rangers (with an option for a third year). And sure, I’m unhappy about it. It seemed like a pretty reasonable deal for Terry Ryan and the Twins to match, but then I started thinking…maybe Joe just doesn’t think Minnesota can win it all.
Merely months after becoming the Twins all-time saves leader, Nathan jumped ship for the two-time defending AL champs. Nathan said it only took a few hours to make his decision. He’ll be closer to home, working for one of the best pitcher’s ever in Nolan Ryan, and even got a potential three-year deal out of the Rangers. It was a deal too good to pass up, and I don’t think Terry Ryan was changing Nathan’s mind. Even if Ryan offers $10 million a year I think Nathan walks.
It’s a bittersweet end to an era in which Nathan went from shortstop prospect to one of the best closers in the game. I’ve repeatedly said I’ve never been comfortable with Nathan on the mound. His heavy, horse-like breathing and profuse sweating always made me nervous. And I never have forgiven him for Game 2 of the 2009 ALDS, but there’s no denying he’s one of the best.
Terry Ryan is really in a hole now. With closers drawing big dollars on the free agent market, Ryan may look into a trade for Huston Street or Drew Storen. Street could be done; Storen probably won’t happen. What I am most concerned about is a report that Ryan would consider bringing back Matt Capps. I know I’m not the only person that doesn’t want Capps back, but if we got him at a bargain I would give him a shot…but certainly not to close. If you think Nathan makes me nervous on the mound, you should see me chain smoke cigarettes when Capps is out there.
In Joe Nathan’s era as Twins closer, I experienced some of the most exciting and energy-draining baseball of my young life. I must have aged at twice the normal rate, but I enjoyed most of it. Thanks for the memories, Joe. I certainly wish you the best, except when you’re playing the Twins.