It’s not that Capps is a bad pitcher. With a career FIP of 3.79, Capps is probably going to be a decent pitcher at the back of the bullpen. His GB rate is a frightening 37.8% given the Twins outfield defense, but he offers more strikeouts than Rauch, and fewer walks. But the Twins didn’t pay for a decent pitcher. They paid for a proven closer with a future starting catcher and with a young lefty reliever. And, frankly, Capps never would have been closing, and therefore would have never been an All Star if he were ever on a team with a halfway decent bullpen. Essentially, the culture of Major League Baseball, where “closer” is considered a position rather than a role, and where saves are a magic pixie dust that lets pitchers appear more beautiful, smart, funny, vivacious, and effective than they really are. The Twins buy this culture hook, line, and sinker, refusing to learn the lessons of Rick Aguilera, Mike Trombley, Eddie Guardado, Joe Nathan, and Jon Rauch: Damn near anyone can be made into a closer.
This trade does make the Twins marginally better this year. Jon Rauch slides back into a setup role, and Guerrier, Crain, and Mijares into the 6-7 inning spots. Everybody can get a little more rest, and everyone can be a little more effective. And Nick Blackburn can rebuild his value as a starter at AAA (presumably, it’s also conceivable that SlamaTime is over).
But all of this shuffling makes the Twins, maybe, a game better in 2010. And will allow the Twins to let Crain, Guerrier, and/or Rauch to walk after the season ends. Capps is going to get expensive, but the Twins will probably be willing to absorb that cost on the chance that Nathan’s effectiveness suffers, a la Francisco Liriano.
Is it all worth it? The Common Man is of the mind that Ramos was both too valuable to give up for a reliever (let alone Ramos + another player), but not valuable enough to acquire a starting pitcher on his own. The Twins would have been better served to hold onto Ramos until they could get a better return, or package him with others for a better player. To simply treat Ramos as though he were worse than Kevin Mulvey (whom the Twins traded straight up for Jon Rauch last year) is simply stupid by Twins GM Bill Smith.
Here are some other links that make The Common Man feel better about his day, and forget about this terrible trade:
Brand new dad Bill at The Daily Something is back with a reminder that the Twins aren’t the only team with an incompetent GM.
Lest you think everybody’s mad at Bill Smith, Jesse at Twinkie Town, Andrew Kneeland of Twins Target, and the always hilarious Fanatic Jack are big fans of the move. Though with most things, if you agree with Jack, it’s best to recheck your math.
Bryce Harper’s Facebook page has apparently been invaded by Scott Boras, who inexplicably stole Harper’s shirt and is typing ridiculous things like “Probably going back to CSN to try to win a National Championship!!! :)” Good try Scott, The Common Man is on to you. (h/t to Craig at Hardball Talk)
If you haven’t yet heard this week’s brilliant podcast, featuring The Common Man, Bill from The Daily Something, and Lar from Wezenball, here it is. No more excuses:
And finally, the Madison branch of TCM’s favorite non-baseball site, The AV Club has a new post up on 6 in game moments in need of a sponsor. They’re all good, but none can compare to:
The Vagi-Gard Medicated Disposable Douche [sponsors] Starting The Wave
There’s always some sh*tfaced a**clown in the stands who tries to start the wave that (we wish) would end all waves. More often than not, this takes place during the pivotal moments of a close game or, more often of late, when Milwaukee is trailing by eight runs and the impending defeat is just beginning to set in. In moments like these, doesn’t one medicated disposable douche deserve another?