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November 7, 2007 at 12:33 am ET
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Coffee is for Closers: A B&C Interview with Joe Nathan

Joe Nathan: Coffee is for Closers

In the defining trade of former general manager Terry Ryan’s career, Joe Nathan was acquired from the San Francisco Giants following a 12-win season as set-up man for the G-men in 2003. Since that time Nathan has collected 160 saves, placing him behind only Rick Aguilera for top spot on the Twins career list. The two-time All-Star recently waxed 2008 with B&C about Minnesota’s rotation, the desire to play the rest of his professional days in the Cities, how far the Twins have to go to be a championship club, and reminds us all once again that “coffee…is for closers.”

How does it feel to be back in the fold for ’08?

It was expected, no surprises here. I am excited to come back and put forth a better effort team-wise in 2008 than we did in 2007.

If Johan is back and Liriano is healthy, how good do you feel the Twins rotation will be next season?

I think it will be as good as the young guys allow it to be in the third, fourth, and fifth spots. You know what to expect from Johan and if Liriano is healthy, so I think it could be one of the best in the league.

Should Torii sign elsewhere, how will that effect the team on the field and in the clubhouse?

He will be missed on and off the field if he signs with someone else. It will be a hole that the team will have to fill. As far as off the field, someone else will have to step up and be the guy that he was off the field.

Over the past four years you have just as many saves and a better ERA than Mariano Rivera. That said, who is the best closer in the American League?

According to last year it’sĀ J. J. Putz. It is hard to answer that question because all closers are put into different situations based on where their team is each season.

Would you like to sign a long-term deal with Minnesota or are you planning to test the free-agent waters next winter?

I would love to finish my career in Minnesota. Obviously, the game presents players with opportunities to look elsewhere but I hope it doesn’t come to that.

Hypothetically, let’s say Hunter and Santana both return: How far are the Twins from being a championship caliber club?

We would just need to fill one or two holes. If we can get one good player or two decent players we would be good to go.

Dennys Reyes struggled, Pat Neshek slowed down the stretch, and Juan Rincon had an ERA over 5 last season, are you concerned or do you feel the pen is still one of the best in the league?

I still feel like we are one of the best in the league. Reyes was battling injuries and Neshek will suffer bumps in the road. He is not going to be Superman every time he takes the mound. Once he finds a comfort zone with his body and arm he will be just fine.

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