also available at www.SethSpeaks.net –
Before we get started, I want to let people in the Twin Cities know that I will be on Fox 9’s Primetime show tonight at about 10:15 for a few minutes to discuss the Twins and the trade deadline. If you have a chance to watch it, please let me know what you think. If anyone can send it to me, or youtube it, cool!
Wilson Ramos is packing and moving today. So is Joe Testa. Matt Capps is moving, and I am moving. The two Twins minor leaguers were traded late on Thursday night for the Nationals All Star closer. Me? After three years of living in the Twin Cities, I am packing up and moving back up to Warroad today and throughout this weekend. (in other words, I don’t know if I will be able to post any updates here, but I will be on Twitter a lot, so as I hear anything, I’ll post some quick thoughts there. So, follow me at www.Twitter.com/SethTweets.
But to the important stuff, the Twins acquired a bullpen arm, but at what cost? I have to be honest, my thoughts on the deal have kind of gone back and forth in the last couple of hours since the deal was made official. When I first read the reports that Wilson Ramos had been pulled from the Rochester Red Wings lineup and there was speculation that the Twins were close on Capps, I didn’t think that the Twins would give up that much.
When I heard that the deal was official, and complete, I was in awe, shocked that the Twins would give up their most expendable trade prospect for a reliever that, frankly, isn’t any better than current closer Jon Rauch.
I know I’m not a good blogger in that I tend to look at everything from various angles, players, front office, fans and more. So, as I was driving home, my mind was all over the place on why this trade might make sense from the Twins perspective. Over the last few hours, I have had several conversations with people who have asked, “why does this move make sense for the Twins?” I have had to come up with answers, but in the end, my general opinion of the trade does not change.
So, why is this trade good for the Twins?
To get an established All-Star reliever for a minor leaguer makes the 2010 Twins bullpen and roster stronger. Specifically, he will be replacing Jon Rauch as the team’s closer and has been a little bit better than Rauch in 2010. So, the 2010 roster is better. Many Twins fans, and even players such as Torii Hunter and Johan Santana frequently complained and wondered aloud when this “future” would come, when would the future be now/ From that perspective, the Twins did make themselves a better team in 2010 by this move. This is that kind of move where they are giving up part of the future to help win now.
Secondly, he is just 26 years old. Most of these prospect-for-veteran deals involve someone in his 30s, or even on his last wind. Capps is Young and theoretically has room for improvement.
Following the 2010 season, Rauch, Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain will become free agents. Capps still has one more year of arbitration remaining, so he will be around in 2011 as well. This provides some additional insurance for the Twins bullpen next year, specifically if Joe Nathan is unable to pitch right away.
Finally, there are a lot of similarities between Jon Rauch and Matt Capps. Rauch is a solid bullpen arm, so adding another solid bullpen arm is a good thing. Capps is slightly better than Rauch, but that’s not a ringing endorsement.
So, why is this trade questionable for the Twins?
For this, I will start with the same answer I gave for my final reason this is a good trade; there are a lot of similarities between Capps and Rauch.
Most of these numbers and rates are very similar with a slight edge going to Capps. So Capps is an improvement over Rauch, but how much?
Yes, he will be under Twins control for 2011, but after making $3.5 million in 2010, he could make upwards of $6-7 million in 2011. That is one thing if Capps is the Twins closer, but if Joe Nathan does come back, do we really want a Rauch-esque 8th inning guy making that kind of money? This likely means that the Twins will not keep at least two (and possibly three) of the current bullpen of Guerrier/Rauch/Crain.
As decent as Capps has been in 2010, he was non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates after a 2009 season in which he had an ERA of 5.80 and a WHIP of 1.66. With 45 innings pitched this year, he is less than ten innings from exceeding his number of innings pitched each of the last two years. That is probably not a concern, but it is worth noting.
Capps is quite hittable, but he has struck out more than Rauch does. It allows Rauch to move back to the 8th inning and Crain and Guerrier and Mijares and the rest of the bullpen to fill in starting earlier in the game. But Capps will keep ninth innings as nerve-racking as Rauch did. Rauch will make us equally nervous in the 8th inning. Guerrier has been having us nervous for awhile. So, the bullpen has more decent options, but I don’t know that I will have a lot more confidence in it.
But trading Ramos?
Listen, I fully understand that Ramos was expendable. With Joe Mauer signed for most of the next decade, Ramos was not necessary, even if I have illustrated a way that they could co-exist on the same time. Despite his struggles in Rochester (hitting about .240), he remains a Top 5 prospect. He is a good defensive catcher with a strong arm. We believe that he can hit for average and that he has tremendous power potential. In spring training, Gardy and nearly all of the Twins players wanted Ramos to be on the team’s Opening Day roster. Ramos was hitting some of the longest, most impressive home runs. And yet, Ramos has never posted an OPS of .800 in the minor leagues. Of course, I believe that is due to development of that power and that the still-just-22 year old will develop a lot of power. He doesn’t walk and have particularly good plate discipline, something that could make reaching that potential less likely.
But he is a very good prospect, to be sure. We know that the Twins and Mariners did have a deal in the works for Cliff Lee that centered around Ramos. Some teams seem to think highly of Ramos. So, it makes it hard to believe that a future good defense/good offense catcher is only worth one of the worst closers in baseball. We are not talking about Joakim Soria here. Again, this is not a knock on Capps as much as just being incredibly surprised or disappointed that the Twins used their top trade chip and didn’t get more.
As I’ve alluded to a couple of times, the difference between Matt Capps and Jon Rauch is not very large. Last August, the Twins acquired Rauch for Kevin Mulvey, a pitcher who began the season last year as a bottom-of-the-Top-10 Twins prospect. By the time that he was dealt in August, he was probably not even a Top 20 prospect of the team. Two months ago, a Twins fan could have made an argument that Ramos was the Twins #1 prospect (I wouldn’t have, but it could have been made). Even with his struggles, he was still easily a Twins Top 5 prospect. It is just my opinion that the Twins could have received much more for such a prospect.
The Nationals also receive left-handed reliever Joe Testa in the deal. It has been a tough year for Testa. After dominating at Beloit and Ft. Myers in 2009, he began 2010 in AA New Britain. He struggled with control and eventually was sent back to Ft. Myers. This is a great opportunity for him, and he is excited about the opportunity.
Matt Capps makes the 2010 Minnesota Twins a little bit better. How much better? I don’t think he is a difference-maker, by any means. I think Wilson Ramos is a very good prospect and that he was expendable for the Twins. I just think they could have received something more for him. But maybe they really couldn’t and this was the best they could actually get for him. If that is true, I personally think they should have kept him. The Nationals signed Capps to a one year deal after he was non-tendered by the Pirates in the offseason and were able to turn him into a great young catching prospect who could be a key contributor to their club for the next decade.
If you have any thoughts on the trade and its affect on the Twins, feel free to leave them here. If there are other deals around baseball over the weekend, please feel free to discuss them here as well. I will likely not have internet access until Monday up north.
Here is a quick glance at what happened on Thursday in the Twins minor league system:
Red Wings Report
Jacque Jones had two hits including his 20th double and drove in four runs, but it wasn’t enough in the Red Wings 13-6 loss to Gwinnett. David Bromberg started and gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in five innings. Brad Hennessey then gave up three runs and got just one out. Tim Lahey got the final two outs of the 6th inning but not before he gave up two more runs. Jose Lugo got one out, but he gave up five more runs. Pat Neshek got the last two outs of the seventh inning. Then Rob Delaney pitched a scoreless inning during which he struck out two (which means that he has struck out eight of the last nine batters that he has faced).
New Britain Notes
A three run lead going into the ninth inning was not enough and New Britain lost 8-7 to Bowie. Bobby Lanigan started and gave up four runs on eight hits in five innings. Cole DeVries then got four outs without allowing a run. Carlos Gutierrez went the next 1.2 innings without giving up a run. But he started the ninth inning and gave up four runs in the ninth. He left the game with the based loaded, and Chris Province came in and gave up two hits and a walk to blow the save and give Gutierrez the loss. Chris Parmelee remains white hot. He was 3-4 with his 17th double. Joe Benson had two hits including his 16th AA home run (and his 20th overall). Steve Singleton was 2-4 with his third triple and three RBI. Ben Revere was 2-5. Erik Lis was 2-4 with his seventh AA homer and three RBI.
Bruce Pugh is back! The righty recorded his fifth win of the year (in the Miracle’s 3-2 win) with nine innings of two-run ball. He gave up just two hits, walked none and struck out eight. He left after nine innings in a 2-2 game. But Chris Hermann drove in a run on a single in the 10th, and Dakota Watts pitched a scoreless bottom of the 10th for the save. Brian Dozier and Nick Romero each went 3-5. Romero added his 13th double. Angel Morales hit his second triple.
Beloit had a nice, easy 13-1 win over Burlington. Danny Rams was 3-5 with his 19th double and his 11th home run. Derek McCallum was 2-5 with his 11th double. Lance Ray was 2-4. Edgar Ibarra picks up the win. He gave up just one run on four hits in seven innings. The lefty walked one and struck out six. Nelvin Fuentes struck out five in two scoreless innings.
Elizabethton beat Johnson City 12-2. Oswaldo Arcia went 2-5 with his 11th home run, one of three home runs for the E-Twins. Daniel Santana hit his 6th double and second home run in five at bats. Brian Burke was 3-5 with his seventh double, first triple and fourth home run. Nate Roberts was 4-5 with his third double and first triple. Jamaal Hawkins and Andy Leer were each 2-4. Martire Garcia improved to 5-0 with 5.1 strong innings. He gave up a run on five hits and two walks. He struck out ten. Michael Tonkin came in and gave up a run on two hits in 2.2 innings. He did not allow a walk and struck out six. Logan Darnell pitched a scoreless ninth.
GCL Twins Topics
The GCL Twins won 7-2 over the Rays. Justin Parker gave up one run on six hits and a walk in five innings. Steve Hirschfeld struck out two in a perfect inning in his second rehab game. Matt Schuld gave up a run on three hits in two innings. Nick Alloway struck out two in a one-hit inning. Matt Parker was 2-3 with a walk and a double. JaDamion Williams went 2-4 with his second double. Rory Rhodes went 2-5.
Any thoughts on the trade, the Twins or the minor league system? Feel free to leave your questions and comments here.