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Joe Nathan Addition by Subtraction

Joe Nathan will miss the rest of the regular season, but are the Tigers better off for it?

It’s really a terrible situation to be happy when someone’s career is sidelined, maybe over, because of an injury. It really is. But in the case of Joe Nathan and the Detroit Tigers, well, let’s just put it this way: Joakim Soria is doing a great job.

He hasn’t allowed a run in his last seven outings, he is consistent, and to be honest, he is painting the corners like Picasso.

Joe Nathan’s possible career-ending UCL tear in a minor league rehab outing last week was a blessing in disguise for the Tigers, who’ve had late-inning problems since they played at old Tigers Stadium on the corner of Trumbull and Michigan. Todd Jones wasn’t always on the mound.

Actually, it wasn’t a blessing in disguise. What turned out to be a season-ending injury (Tommy John surgery imminent), is actually a good thing for the Tigers. Still, it doesn’t feel right to say that.

And on second thought, it doesn’t feel that bad. Nathan wasn’t particularly liked in Detroit after his press gaffes and chin-flicks. After a career of being, well, pretty damn good, he just didn’t deal with his 2014 failures in stride. He let it get the best of him, and he took it out on the fans.

I speak for the Detroit baseball fans who kept their mouths shut at the news of Nathan’s injury. We also kept our mouths shut when we quickly realized Joakim Soria would be the everyday closer. No closer by committee for Brad Ausmus.

One guy (who is not Joe Nathan).

Let’s face it: no one wanted Nathan to repeat his struggles from 2014. The bullpen issues in Detroit don’t end with closers. It’s bigger than that. Nathan’s injury opens the door for the Detroit Tigers organization to do something other than continue their decades-long tactic of “sticking with the vets.”

The list of Detroit Tigers players who should have been let go sooner than they were is too long to list, but here’s a few recents: Dontrelle Willis, Todd Jones, Jose Valverde, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Guillen, Brandon Inge, Ryan Raburn.

I wish Nathan all the best in his new career opportunities and a super-speedy recovery, but I’m glad he’s gone.

If you’re a Tigers fan, you’re probably glad he’s gone too, even though some of you won’t admit it.

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