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Andy Behrens

Minnesota bullpen stuck in committee

Andy Behrens
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Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire finally named his closer on Sunday. Then he named another. And another. And another.

Here are the non-details, via the Pioneer Press:

"I haven't named a closer yet, so we're committee right now. If we decide to go with one guy as we go along, we'll go with one guy," Gardenhire said. "But we're going to start out, and we're going to look at a lot of different people and see what happens. We've got about three or four guys that I think could do it."

Jon Rauch(notes), Matt Guerrier(notes), Jesse Crain(notes) and lefty Jose Mijares(notes) all remain candidates for saves. Gardenhire will presumably make his ninth inning decisions based on match-ups and availability. Or he's corrupt and looking for kickbacks. Not sure.

Per his usual, Gardenhire refused to put an end to the Francisco Liriano(notes) closer speculation:

Asked if that means Liriano is, once and for all, out of consideration for the closer role, Gardenhire said, "Liriano is a starter. He's a starter." Then he paused and, as he has done each time the subject is broached, added, "Unless we talk to him."

The Twins are thought to be active in the trade market, so this unwillingness to name a closer makes perfect sense. If they were to acquire, say, Heath Bell(notes), then it could be viewed as a vote of no-confidence in whichever pitcher had been initially awarded closing duties. (This way, it will simply be interpreted as a vote of no-confidence in the entire 'pen). In the near term, Rauch and Guerrier remain the best bets for saves. Rauch has closing experience; Guerrier was the eighth-inning guy in '09. In drafts and auctions, you'll generally find that Rauch gets the most attention, and Guerrier is the stealth play. He hasn't allowed an earned run this spring and he was fantastic last season (2.36 ERA, 0.97 WHIP).

Still, there's a decent possibility that the 2010 Twins will be led in saves by a player who isn't yet on the roster. Please stay tuned. For now, try to think of the Minnesota bullpen as a sampler platter.

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