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Matt Capps

By: Derek Wetmore, Minnesota Daily sports reporter. 


The Twins finalized a deal yesterday in which they acquired all-star closer Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals. They sent top catching prospect Wilson Ramos and lefty minor leaguer Joe Testa over to the nation's capital. The Twins also received $500,000 to help alleviate some of the financial cost of acquiring the pitcher. It struck me as an interesting deal when I first read about it late last night and there are mixed opinions about it. One side of people I spoke with said that it is a good move for the Twins because Ramos was entirely expendable, the Twins needed bullpen help, and Capps was the most valuable piece available. The other school of thought is that the Twins made only a minor upgrade to their bullpen by essentially acquiring another John Rauch, and in so doing, they hurt their overall stock because what they gave up a sure-thing major leaguer with star potential.


The Haul

The Twins are getting a closer who went to the all-star game in addition to half of a million dollars. The move is a semi-"win now" type of move because Ramos could have potentially been used later in a trade that could have netted them more, say, after he puts together a good season at triple-A. Ramos is struggling right now and perhaps the Twins sold low, but they might have also made a decision internally that Ramos was overrated in the national spectrum (and specifically, by Baseball America). Having made that decision would have made it easy for the organization that already has a top-tier catcher and two passable backups to pull the trigger on a Ramos deal.





Word is, Capps will close so the bullpen shakes out to look like this down the stretch drive (factoring in some suggested tweakings):

Capps CL
Rauch SU
Guerrier
Crain
Mijares L (they need him to be good again)
Slama/Waldrop
Perkins L (probably a lot more serviceable than Mahay at this point)

Where this leaves the Blackburn/Deunsing situation remains to be seen, but Ron Gardenhire said on the radio this morning that it is most likely that Blackburn will get set down because "he needs to pitch". I offered a while back that it might be nice for his long term arm strength to take an abbreviated break in the middle of the season, but the Twins brass disagrees with me and think he should be pitching in Triple-A. That's fine with me that they disagree, it was just an opinion.


The Price

As I mentioned, the Twins may have just decided this is the ideal time to deal Ramos even though it would appear they are selling low. It solved an immediate need and risked losing a future trade-able asset. Testa was a throw-in and has never been more than a JAG* type of guy. Including him is probably what allowed the Twins to gain some (minor) financial relief as part of the deal. While Ramos had six years left of team control, Capps only has one and, should he be retained, will cost more than five million dollars. Twin's GM Bill Smith said that the Twins "would not have had interest in him for just two months". Read into that how you will, it  means they plan on retaining him. John Rauch is a free agent this off season and will probably have a couple of teams calling because he is now "an established closer", so Capps allows the Twins some insurance should Joe Nathan struggle to return to dominance. I have my doubts about Nathan coming in and being a highly valuable reliever in his age-35 season just one year removed from Tommy John's surgery, but at least the bullpen won't be in shambles if Nathan isn't a stallion in 2011. Capps is not the ideal piece, and Ramos was a steep price, but there are more things that factor into this deal and one can at least say now, that the Twins have the best bullpen in the AL Central and the best team to boot.

*Just A Guy

Conclusion


I don't think that having two teams involved in a deal precludes that there will be a winner and a loser. With that said, I think the Nats won this deal. That is not to say that the Twins lost, however, but Washington turned a good but not great relief pitcher with only one more year of (expensive) team control into a catcher who could start either next year or the year after in the majors. With recent No. 1 draft choice Bryce Harper converting to outfield, the Nationals needed to find a catcher that could fill in once Pudge calls it quits. I believe they found that guy in Ramos, even though he is not a slam dunk major leaguer, my guess is that he will be serviceable on what is quietly becoming a very good team.


Derek Wetmore is a sports reporter with the Minnesota Daily. He has covered men's and women's track, women's hockey, wrestling, and men's and women's swimming. His work can be found at the Daily's website or his own personal blog, DWetSocks

9 comments:

  1. I disagree with a lot of things you wrote in this article. But I truly realized how little your opinion meant with your attempt to put Glen Perkins in your hypothetical bullpen. Do some research before you start throwing vets like Mayhay to the curb for a washed up/winey starter who's fastball rarely exceeds 88mph, an ERA of 6.28 in AAA ball and opposing batters hitting .317. Figure it out.

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  2. It's fine that you refute any of it but I disagree entirely if your primary concern with my post is that you consider Ron Mahay more worthwhile that Glen Perkins. Look at Perkins' splits and it becomes pretty obvious he was a horrible pitcher at the beginning of the year. But have you watched a Rochester game lately? Perkins is the second best arm out of the 'pen and would be a clear upgrade over Mahay for down the stretch. I'm sorry you don't see it that because you are focusing on his early season (albeit terrible) numbers.

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  3. And it's also interesting and worthy of note that just six days after commenter refuted my Perkins for Mahay switch, Gardenhire revealed that that has been their plan for a while and that Perkins will join the team Tuesday in Chicago.

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  4. Yeah, I watched his start on July 31st when he gave up 9 hits and 4 earned-runs in 5 innings. It's hard to be "the second best arm out of the 'pen" when you're still a starter. It should also be noted that Gardy is calling Perkins up for a spot start in place of Slowey, not to be an important part of his bull-pen for the remainder of the year/pennant race.

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  5. Two good points. Yes, I made a mistake in saying out of the bullpen when Perkins has been starting at Rochester. In my opinion, he would be valuable on this team though because he would be the second best LHP in the bullpen (assuming Mijares is straightened out). He is also capable of filling in the long relief role.

    Valid point that he is spot-starting for Slowey, but my guess is they find a way to keep him around even after his one start.

    What is your ideal bullpen? Since it has a chance to be a strength of this team, I don't think we're driving the point into the ground. But what are your thoughts?

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  6. (the only reason long relief is even worth mentioning in the previous comment is because Mahay currently is being used for one out at a time. While that sometimes has value [see: Dennys Reyes], Mahay is basically taking up a spot and being used to get LHH out in the 6th and 7th innings)

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  7. I'll keep it simple for you Wetmore. Put anyone but Perkins in the bullpen after that start.

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  8. I think injuries have forced their hand a little bit. But I also think once everyone is healthy Perkins remains with the club. That might not be until roster expansion so it would take the decision out of their hands anyway. I acknowledge Perkins' struggles this year and I acknowledge that they're primarily due to his difficulties with LHH, but I still think he provides more value than Ron Mahay ever will.

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  9. So you're going with a lefty reliever that can't get out lefties?

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