Capps Comes Back

5 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

Many blog readers refer to me as The Positive Twins blogger. That will be tested because I can’t find a single positive spin to the Twins decision to re-sign relief pitcher Matt Capps for one year, plus an option (pending physical, of course).  That is the report out of Dallas tonight, where the Winter Meetings are being held. There are so many reasons to dis-like this move, and we haven’t even heard what the dollars are yet. (UPDATE – the deal will reportedly pay Capps $4.5 million in 2012 with a $6 million option for 2013 with a $250,000 buyout. Note to self… try to remain positive!!)

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement gave the Twins a free first-round draft pick. There is no way that the Twins would have offered Capps arbitration. It would have ensure that he make between $6-8 million in 2012. However, the new CBA set for an agreement where Type A free agent relievers (like Capps) did not need to be offered arbitration and the team losing him would still receive a compensation pick while the team signing him would no longer have to give up a pick. In essence, the Twins were the team that gave up a supplemental first round draft pick by bringing back Capps.

To summarize, as I tweeted tonight when I first heard the news, “So the #Twins gave up Wilson Ramos and a 1st Rd draft pick for Matt Capps AND will endure watching him pitch for 2 1/2 years. Just WOW!”

Now, I fully subscribe to Terry Ryan’s comments about it not being unusual for relief pitchers to have bad years and bounce back. I expect he’ll be better in 2012 than he was in 2011. I asked a month ago if the Twins should consider bringing back Matt Capps. At the time, I said, that he’s a solid pitcher, who is still young, and if he could be signed for around $2 million, I’d do it. That was before the CBA decision gave the Twins a draft pick. Listen, Capps is a solid big league relief pitcher, just in the right role.

We don’t yet know what the Twins will pay Capps in 2012, or what the option is, but I have to assume that it will be in the same neighborhood has pitchers who are better, like Octavio Dotel or former Twins RHP LaTroy Hawkins. And those types would not have required a lost draft pick. As many have written before, the Twins have a history of giving pitchers without closers experience a shot and them stepping up. Joe Nathan had one career save before the Twins gave him the role in 2004. Eddie Guardado was a failed starter. Rick Aguilera was a sub-par starter who the Twins put into the role. I don’t understand this value of a ‘proven closer.’

Not only does Matt Capps give up a ton of hits, and big hits, he lost any ability to miss bats at all in 2011. His strikeout rate was never high, but in 2011, it was alarmingly low. Couple that with the discussion of him pitching hurt and forearm pain. Forearm pain is a precursor to elbow pain which is never good. Obviously none of us know the severity of Capps pain, but it is scary.

It is a gutsy move for both Terry Ryan and for Matt Capps. It might make sense after a tough 2011 season to go another direction for both the Twins and for Matt Capps. With the way that many Twins fans cascaded boos in Capps’s direction in 2011 (and frequently rightfully so), he could have gone elsewhere for a fresh start. Likewise, the Twins could have just gone another direction. If nothing else, this is a gutsy move from both parties. Let’s be honest, if Bill Smith had still been GM and brought back Matt Capps, there would be an uproar. With Terry Ryan in charge, we can all say that at least he knows what he’s doing and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Like I said earlier, these is a good chance the Capps comes back in 2012 and pitches very well. It’s equally possible that the Twins would draft someone with the draft pick they would have received for losing Capps (likely somewhere between 45-55 overall) who wouldn’t be a huge impact player. We don’t know. It’s possible that Capps could miss half of the 2012 with injury and possible that he becomes an All-Star. We don’t know.

Pending the physical, the contract will be signed and the money will be spent. All we can do is hope that he pitches as he did from 2005 through 2008, or even in 2010, and hope like crazy he doesn’t pitch like he did in 2009 and 2011!

Capps will be one of several topics we’ll cover on tonight’s Twins Winter Meeting Podcast live at 9. We’ll also be joined by Twins 2B/OF Brian Dinkelman and Over The Baggy and TwinsCentric’s Parker Hageman.

In other news, the Twins claimed shortstop Pedro Florimon from the Baltimore Orioles. Florimon will turn 25 years old next week and made his big league debut in 2011 with a September call-up. He went 1-8 with a walk and six strike0uts. He spent the entire season in AA Bowie. In 133 games, he hit .267/.344/.396 with 27 doubles, four triples and eight home runs. I would not be surprised to see Florimon start the season as Rochester’s shortstop with Brian Dozier returning to New Britain for a six weeks or so.

Feel free to comment or send questions in for us to discuss on tonight’s show. There are plenty of Twins rumors out there for us to discuss!

13 Responses to “Capps Comes Back”

  1. Paul December 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

    Saw on Hardball Talk that Giants are in running for Jimmy Rollins.

    What does it mean for Twins? An opportunity to pursue the next Nick Punto on the correct side of the career curve. Brandon Crawford would be a huge defensive upgrade over anyone they can play at SS. Can they get him in a Kevin Slowey package? This is all contingent on the Giants signing Rollins.

  2. Jack Steal December 5, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Seth,

    The Twins paid about a $1.5 million more than they should have for Capps. I would of offered him a one-year $3 million deal loaded with incetives based on saves and appearances. I have a feeling he will have a nice bounceback year. Relax the genius knows what he is doing.

  3. Joel December 5, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    I can totally live Capps as a closer. Either him or Jon Rauch, again. The Twins weren’t gonna pony up for a Madison or even one of the other Latinos out there throwing hard. If they could shop Span to the Nats for their closer, than maybe. Did they overpay for Capps. I think not. He does have that worth and could be a trading chip during the season if nothing else if halfway decent because of that second year option.

    The question is, can the Twins find a starter. Would we be hapopy with Chen, Capano, or Harang. Seems many would even love Francis, all low-end guys. But looks like he Twins are losing out on the also rans, too.

    Yes, would love to see them overpay for Buehrle. They won’t.

    The question is now how much IS Cuddyer worth. Was he the $10-12 million man he thought he was, or will the Twins get him for $16 mill over two years as super-sub for now……I think they might…..

  4. Shane Wahl December 5, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    This signing is mind-blowingly stupid. There is ZERO reason to sign him given that they would get a pick.

  5. TT December 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    ” Twins have a history of giving pitchers without closers experience a shot and them stepping up.”

    Its equally true the “Twins have a history of giving pitchers without closers experience a shot” and having them meltdown. Stevens, Trombley and Hawkins being examples of the latter.

    “Joe Nathan had one career save before the Twins gave him the role in 2004. Eddie Guardado was a failed starter. Rick Aguilera was a sub-par starter who the Twins put into the role. ”

    Lets be clear, the Twins traded an allstar pitcher named Frank Viola for Aguilera with plans to make him a closer. They traded and allstar catcher in Pierzynksi for Nathan with plans to make him a closer. And Guardado got the job out of desperation after Hawkins melted down.

    Here is a list of the players the Twins have drafted with supplemental draft choices in the last decade:

    2004:
    Matt Fox(35),
    Jay Rainville(39)
    2005:
    Hank Sanchez (39)
    2008:
    Shooter Hunt (31)
    2009:
    Matt Bashore (46)
    2011:
    Travis Harrison(50),
    Hudson Boyd(55)

    In short, the most likely value of that draft choice is nothing at all. The larger question is that this means they won’t take anyone in the rule 5 draft or they will have to pass another player through waivers. Either one is likely to be a better player than that draft choice would produce.

    Wilson Ramos is completely irrelevant to this decision. Thankfully Terry Ryan understands that.

  6. Bill in Sarasota December 5, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    TT,

    I totally disagree with you.

    Just because the Twins didn’t draft well in a few years doesn’t discount the value of the 1-2 supplement picks.

    Majority of stars are picked in the first two rounds or int’l signings.

    Having extra picks in those rounds, gives the Twins more margin for error.

    This is another example of closed minded methodology. There’s a reason the Rays let many players go at the end of last year to get the bushel number of picks. They got a 2nd pick for Balfour and signed Farnsworth for nothing.

    This is the last year to get “free picks”. The Twins got a gift with the new CBA and now Ryan gave it back. In addition, the picks cost less with the new CBA.

    Even the Yankees and Red Sox have learned that even they need to draft well to go along with their high payroll.

    Nathan was not going to be the closer when Spring Training started when he arrived in the AJ trade. His role was supposed to be the set up guy. However, the intended closer (I forget the name) either got hurt in Spring Training or did terrible.

  7. Brad Beneke December 6, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Seth, you truly are Mr. Positive, Gleeman is more cynical than you are. I am nowhere near your level on the blogasphere, but I am safely going to say I am your opposite. I am more cynical than Aaron, not as condicending, but more cynical. My response was a colorful version of your initial response.

    In an off season of positivity, good vibes, solid to great moves this one is about as counter productive as any move Terry Ryan has made since retiring with the Hunter and Santana situations on the table for a rookie GM that wasn’t then nor ever could be man enough for those situations. God only knows if Terry Ryan, or any other GM could have “won” in that situation. This one however was made worse by that thrown away draft pick.

    Ryan’s strength has always been the draft and minor leagues. That fact makes this even more puzzling to me. There were 6 closers and 7 other relievers out there I would have rather seen than Capps. All-be-it that part of it will always be the bad taste of losing Ramos, but looking at Capps’ advanced stats in his “allstar” season and in his other “good” years he is a below average closer. Almost guaranteed to blow 10 saves a season, and at 28 he’s not going to show much improvement from his previous bests if at all.

    This move makes me more able to appreciate what trading away Luis Castillo must have done to the actual players because it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t feel right or good.

    I envy your ability to bounce back quickly and play Papa Smurf to Terry Ryan’s Brainy smurf move. Now I don’t know what to expect from him.

    Finally with the 2nd pick in the Rule 5 draft and all 40 spots basically locked up. Who is the most likely casualty? I know my first choice would be Hoey, but you are far better than I am with this part of the guessing game as you live and die with the kids where I focus more on the immediate MLB side.

    I respect the heck out of you, and love your posts. Thank you for your passion.

  8. Mike December 6, 2011 at 8:28 am #

    The problem, IMHO, is that many of you value the unknown over reality. It is very easy to criticize what is for your favorite hypothetical alternative. What makes baseball so interesting is that there many ways to build a team and certainly through the draft is one of them. But last year at this time, many of the Twins faithful were bemoaning the fact that Smith let the bull pen walk away. The value of continuity and the recommendation of Gardy and the brain trust makes the move legitimate. We have no idea what other moves Ryan can and is able to make and/or what has been rebuffed (FA, potential trades), etc.

    • Brad Beneke December 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm #

      Mike, last year a lot of Twins fans were under the impression that they were contenders, and not a 99 loss team. Now a year later, Liriano’s “10 cent head” along with the exposure that the YANKEES gave MLB on Duensing in the playoffs from 2010 took out 2/5ths of our pitching staff. Baker can’t stay healthy or consistant, Blackburn has about 8-12 really good starts, and 5-10 starts that make you wonder how he ever made it to the majors, and Pavano is not getting younger soon. Mauer’s a year removed from magical, mystical, and made up illnesses, Span and Morneau have concussion issues, Revere doesn’t know how to take a walk, Nishioka looks like a terrible mistake. So much so that we signed a 38 year old to replace him. Kubel and Cuddyer are both free agents, and one of them is almost assured to be gone, and if we are really lucky both will be gone. So while looking at a 28 year old as an ok signing on the surface, but look at his advanced stats even in his best seasons, and you will see he is below average even at his best. So Other than that Mrs. Lincoln how was the play?

  9. mini_tb December 6, 2011 at 9:03 am #

    I’m not too upset about the Capps signing. If this is the good version of Matt Capps that the Twins signed, then they have a good quality late inning arm that they slightly overpaid for while avoiding a multi-year commitment. That’s very useful.

    Here’s my line of thinking as far as giving up the draft pick goes. We know the Twins have the #2 pick in the draft next year, and that’s going to cost them a lot of money – more than their typical first round pick. They should also pick up at least 1 more high pick plus perhaps more depending on how the Cuddyer/Kubel situation pans out. Simply put, they may have X amount of dollars set aside for the draft, and there may not have been room in the budget for another draft pick.

    Some will probably say they’d rather spend the money on the pick and a cheaper reliever than Capps, and I can’t really argue against that line of thinking too much. However, we are all making the assumption that the “lesser” relievers (Dotel, Hawkins, Coffey, etc.) are interested in pitching for the Twins instead of a bona fide contender at a $3 million salary. And those names aren’t necessarily safe bets either.

    The Twins certainly need to put a quality product out on Target Field. We saw what happened last year with the bullpen when they assumed there were enough good quality options that something would work. Unfortunately, Capps was part of that problem early on, and then he went on to quietly pitch pretty well. So now we’re left hoping upper management knows which version Capps they just signed.

    It could be worse. With the volatility of relievers (as we’ve seen firsthand with Capps), would you rather have Capps for 1 year and $5 million, or would you rather have Ryan Madson for 4 years and somewhere around $40 million?

  10. gobbledy December 6, 2011 at 10:06 am #

    listing all the bad twins draft picks is more an indictment of the front offices ability to judge talent than a reason to resign capps, imo.

  11. dave December 6, 2011 at 11:06 am #

    To paraphrase LBJ about Walter Cronkite, if the Twins lose Seth, they’ve lost Twindom. This signing is so wrong on so many different levels…. but it reminds us that many were not so wild about Ryan 1.0 near the end.

  12. Gary December 6, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    BAD MOVE for multiple reasons. (1) Too much money for what is clearly a non-contending team to pay for ANY closer. Foolish expenditure at this point in time, money should be spent elsewhere. (2) Capps is not the right guy for the closer’s role. Although injured, it seems like the American League caught up with him after having seen him the year before. Remember, Pittsburgh GAVE HIM AWAY by non-tendering him, Washington got him for nothing and was able to bamboozle Bill Smith out of a starting caliber catching prospect in return. If Capps was any good, do you think these two teams would have let him slip away? (3) Got to cut the ties with this guy so the fans will get over the fact that Ramos was traded for him. The first thing any fan thinks when Capps name is mentioned or the camera hits him is how badly the Twins got the short end of that trade. The fans can’t move on while Capps is still here. (4) Blew the opportunity to get a high supplemental draft choice by letting someone else sign him.

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