Joe Nathan undergoes Tommy John surgery

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Joe Nathan headshot.jpgUPDATE: General manager Bill Smith says that Nathan’s reported “significant” UCL tear ended up being a complete tear, reports Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

7:31 pm: The Twins have announced that Joe Nathan’s Tommy John surgery was a success, reports Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Mets (gasp!) team physician Dr. David Altcheck performed the surgery in New York on Friday.

Altcheck removed a tendon from Nathan’s left wrist and inserted it into his right
elbow, repairing his torn ulnar collateral ligament. The 35-year-old right-hander is expected to miss the entirety of the 2010 season, but should be ready to rock for the early part of the 2011 season.

Jon Rauch has the most closing experience among Nathan’s potential in-house replacements, though the club has yet to make a decision on that front. Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and even Francisco Liriano have been discussed as alternatives, while Jason Frasor of the Blue Jays and Heath Bell of the Padres are reportedly available via trade.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics