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Thursday, December 07, 2006


Everyone has heard the closer names bantered around Chad Cordero, Brad Lidge, Mike Gonzalez, J.J. Putz, Derek Turnbow and the injury plagued free agents - Eric Gagne and Octavio Dotel. But Theo should go hard after J.N. - Joe Nathan.

Nathan is a dominate closer averaging 12 strikeouts to only two walks per nine innings. He could be the last piece to the puzzle. And Nathan should be available.

The Twins have depth in the pen with Juan Rincon, Jesse Crain, et al, and should deal their relief ace to fill their other holes around the diamond. Terry Ryan’s first priority is a starter, but the Twins can’t afford a starter in this market, give up MLB talent for one, nor would any club trade a reliever for a starter. They should focus on upgrading in leftfield and the hot corner.

The Sox should trade Mike Lowell, cash and Clay Buchholz or Mike Bowden for Joe Nathan. Lowell is expendable since Youk can move across the diamond and a signing of Craig Wilson would make a nice platoon with Eric Hinske. Wilson has hit 272/378/497 versus southpaws and 260/348/468 overall the last three seasons. Hinske went 267/341/434 versus RHP. They project to about a 270/350/450 line and about the same as Mike Lowell last season - 284/339/475.

Lowell would be a nice addition thereby pushing Punto back to a utility role. Buchholz or Bowden and others could become part of a package that brought Tim Hudson or Jason Jennings to the twin cities without sacrificing too much on the farm. Either starter would look great behind Johan Santana.

It is tough to advocate trading very good prospects like Buchholz and Bowden, but the Sox have made it clear that “it’s all in” over the next two seasons. Flags fly forever and Joe Nathan can help make that happen. Plus, he is under a reasonable contract at $5.25 million in 2007 and $6 million club option in 2008.

Nathan is the perfect fit on the field and the balance sheet for the Sox. Theo should make it happen even if it cost the Olde Towne Team a future ace.


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