Commentary

Spring training position battles

A daily rundown of the MLB competitions for playing time in March and April

Updated: March 29, 2010, 3:08 PM ET
By Jason Catania, Charles Curtis and Doug Mittler | ESPN Insider

Minnesota Twins: Closer

Sharing the wealth: We've been wondering for weeks who the Twins' new closer will be now that Joe Nathan has undergone Tommy John surgery. The answer is Jon Rauch … and Matt Guerrier … and Jose Mijares … and Jesse Crain. All four could get a chance to close, depending on the matchups. While the Twins may have considered Francisco Liriano at one point, the left-hander will likely be the fifth starter.

Minnesota has aspirations of making the playoffs in its first season at Target Field, but can a contending team play deep into October with a committee approach? Since dedicated closers became a significant part of the game, rarely has a contending team gone without one. Anthony DiComo of MLB.com writes that the 2003 Red Sox tried to get by with several closers, but gave up and signed Keith Foulke after the season.

Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reported over the weekend that the Blue Jays might be willing to deal Scott Downs or Kevin Gregg to the Twins now that the Jays have decided on Jason Frasor as their closer.

Eric Karabell

Committee won't help fantasy owners much

"This weekend Gardenhire announced a closer-by-committee system, which frankly rarely works. What ends up happening is someone pitches well enough to usurp the role from the problematic grasp of the other members … My guess is Rauch gets the first chance to close if an opportunity presents itself next week. Then again, if the ninth inning features left-handed hitters, it would be Mijares. Gardenhire alluded to the possibility of someone from outside the organization being brought in, but it would be shocking if the San Diego Padres dealt Heath Bell this early in the season. Wait until July. I'll say Rauch leads the Twins in saves, with around 20 or so."



To see more position battles -- including who'll be closing for the Twins, playing short for the Nationals, starting for the D-backs and more -- you must be an ESPN Insider.

Doug Mittler

Rumor Central