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Twins Blogosphere


Trading Graterol Revealed That We Are Still Haunted by the Ghost of Matt Capps

Trades have the ability to catapult or scar fan bases. The Minnesota Twins latest acquisition of Kenta Maeda seemed to reveal that Twins fans are likely still scarred from the 2010 trade deadline deal for Matt Capps.
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
As the saga of Kenta Maeda making his way to Minnesota unfolded one name got discussed and analyzed a lot. To the point where if Brusdar Graterol was a fine cut of steak he would have looked like a lump of hamburger in the end. One thought came to my mind as I read tweets, comments, and the like surrounding the trade...are we still haunted by Matt Capps?

If you remember back to the summer of 2010 the Twins felt the need to trade for then “proven closer” Matt Capps and did so by sending off one of their top prospects of the time, catcher Wilson Ramos. Ramos was ultimately blocked by Joe Mauer but what still seems to be the critique of that trade is not necessarily that he was traded. It is that he was traded for a relief pitcher.

Capps did finish 23 games for the Twins in 2010 with a 2.00 ERA and earned 16 saves over 27.0 innings pitched. Capps did help lead the Twins into the playoffs. No matter how good Capps performed, short of a World Series ring there was a high likelihood that fans would wonder if Ramos could have been packaged to bring Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, or another top name to position the Twins even better for the playoffs and beyond.

Is it this trade that has created a group that has become lovingly been referred to as the “Prospect Protectors?" The old regime of the front office had some clunkers of trades and it seems those of us who were around for those days may have become a bit gun shy of seeing trades made because of what could be with our prospects. The hard thing is there have been several missed trades that are quickly available in our memories more than ones that have been successful.

Denard Span for Alex Meyer didn’t end up working out. We finally in 2019 saw the first true fruits of Ben Revere for Trevor May and Vance Worley. The Twins were left standing with nothing after trading away Johan Santana and botched trying to turn Carlos Gomez into J.J. Hardy and eventually Jim Hoey. All of that and Capps for Ramos still likely tops the list for memorability.

As painful as the memory of that trade is, we must remember that was the previous front office regime. There were still some good trades when it comes to the Terry Ryan-influenced front office so we don’t want to let the bad ones completely scar our memory of that regime. Where we can try and exorcise the ghost of the Matt Capps trade is acknowledging that the team is under the leadership of a different regime. And this front office is already proving to have a bit of a knack for pulling together some smart moves.

We have seen success already from the Jake Odorizzi trade. The sell-off of veterans like Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar has helped build up the farm system into a strength that can be dealt from. Specifically without Jhoan Duran, trading Graterol may have been a full no-go.

Hopefully acquiring Maeda by trading Graterol will help us become more comfortable with Falvey and Levine’s ability to make this sort of move. I say hopefully because there is a good chance more trades will need to come due to the volume of prospects the Twins will need to make decisions on soon.

Hopefully we are no longer haunted by the ghosts of Matt Capps. Do we dare start trying to work on the ghost of David Ortiz’s release yet?

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26 Comments

I think you're right that the main problem with the Capps trade was opportunity cost. We didn't have a lot of strong prospects at the time, and Ramos was blocked by Mauer, so he made the most sense to trade. Capps had an excellent 2010 but had been nontendered the year before, so he was in no way a sure thing. He would have been a fine pitcher to acquire, but not one to use a big trade piece on, much less our only real trade piece. 

Best thing about Capps is his full name: Matthew Dicus Capps. Awesome name, forgot about it until I looked up his stats.

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twinsfanstreif
Feb 18 2020 04:15 AM
Context matters though. The Span and Revere trades were ones that had to happen, we were going no where, they were soon to be FAs, and we were rebuilding. Unfortunately we only really came away with May from those. Same with the Santana trade although a lot of people were pissed about the return for that one, should've gone with Boston's offer, it was the better package at the time but we went with the "upside" haul so Santana wasn't in the AL and it backfired bigtime. The Capps trade was the one that was terrible at the time and everyone (except the Twins apparently) knew it, it was short sighted and reactionary. We needed a closer and Capps wasn't even a particularly good one, we traded our only heir to Joe Mauer's throne knowing he would get moved off catcher fairly soon (even if concussions pushed him off earlier than expected). I don't remember a whole lot of people defending that trade at the time, Capps only really had save numbers but pretty much everything else suggested he would be terrible. The Capps trade did traumatize fans but when you look at that vs other trades in context it sticks out as just a horrible move altogether when other trades are more of calculated risks, I think the Graterol trade fits in this category

Context matters though. The Span and Revere trades were ones that had to happen, we were going no where, they were soon to be FAs, and we were rebuilding. Unfortunately we only really came away with May from those. Same with the Santana trade although a lot of people were pissed about the return for that one, should've gone with Boston's offer, it was the better package at the time but we went with the "upside" haul so Santana wasn't in the AL and it backfired bigtime. The Capps trade was the one that was terrible at the time and everyone (except the Twins apparently) knew it, it was short sighted and reactionary. We needed a closer and Capps wasn't even a particularly good one, we traded our only heir to Joe Mauer's throne knowing he would get moved off catcher fairly soon (even if concussions pushed him off earlier than expected). I don't remember a whole lot of people defending that trade at the time, Capps only really had save numbers but pretty much everything else suggested he would be terrible. The Capps trade did traumatize fans but when you look at that vs other trades in context it sticks out as just a horrible move altogether when other trades are more of calculated risks, I think the Graterol trade fits in this category


Ben Revere still had 4 years of team control remaining when we traded him.
I'm fine with the trade, but he wasn't soon to be a free agent.
    • h2oface, JoshDungan1, NDTimIrish and 1 other like this
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Doctor Gast
Feb 18 2020 06:37 AM

Re open old wounds are tough. We are are all human & make mistakes. There are philosophies & insecurity that each FO have & are locked into. Unfortunatelythey blind their eyes & do trades that later they & fans regret. W/ Ortiz it was batting style, w/ Ramos it was a Closer mind set. The Revere trade wasn`t too bad becausewe got May out of it but the Span trade was regrettable not only the talent we lost & what we got in return. MN had a tradition of the CF starting w/ Puckett to personally mentor the in coming replacement, was invaluable to Hunter, Span & Twins. Trading both Span & Revere because they saw the potential of up coming Hicks & I think Buxton was in the picture too; That quick trade stopped that tradition & left a big void for Hicks & Buxton.

 You are right about a fear of trading our prospects. Hording prospects is unhealthy, especially redundant ones. Our philosophy of drafting not according to need but towards talent has the idea of trading them for an area of need not to horde them. I`m all for obtaining Maeda but I didn`t like them trading Graterol & the way it was done. I consider pitching as an immediate & future need, Graterol was part of that solution. Because of the upside of his talent, composure, availability of mentorship of Berrios, our need & the down side of them obliging him to the BP, Graterol should have never been available in a trade. If LA would have been open for a trade out our strength instead of weakness then fine if not walk away & look else where.

Being a passionate Twins fan, I`m wide open for wounding but in life we need to learn from our mistakes,suck it up & move on

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In My La-Z-boy
Feb 18 2020 07:55 AM

Disagree with the above take. Graterol for Maeda will prove to be a solid trade. Timing is everything and now was the time - analysis on Graterol's upside and risk is debatable - I trust our guys, and finally we sell high on someone. This trade was a smart use of assets to acquire a more desperate need, given the make up of this years team, and this years opportunity. Ramos for Capps was short-sighted - barely helping us now - very much hurting us long term. Graterol for Maeda will be neither IMO - he will be very helpful now - and helpful for many years. Graterol? He may become Chargois/Burdi who knows?

    • Twins33, flatlanddad and Aerodeliria like this
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twinsfanstreif
Feb 18 2020 08:07 AM

Ben Revere still had 4 years of team control remaining when we traded him.
I'm fine with the trade, but he wasn't soon to be a free agent.


Ah, Didn't look that one up, we were still tanking though and wanted to maximize the return on Revere who was an average CF, it wasn't like we were trading a superstar or anything

Ah, Didn't look that one up, we were still tanking though and wanted to maximize the return on Revere who was an average CF, it wasn't like we were trading a superstar or anything

Isn't Revere's OPS+ 83 for his career? And Span is like 103?

There are many OFers that come up all of the time that put up those numbers. Those 2 OFers can't drive in many runs.
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Aerodeliria
Feb 18 2020 08:39 AM

Disagree with the above take. Graterol for Maeda will prove to be a solid trade. Timing is everything and now was the time - analysis on Graterol's upside and risk is debatable - I trust our guys, and finally we sell high on someone. This trade was a smart use of assets to acquire a more desperate need, given the make up of this years team, and this years opportunity. Ramos for Capps was short-sighted - barely helping us now - very much hurting us long term. Graterol for Maeda will be neither IMO - he will be very helpful now - and helpful for many years. Graterol? He may become Chargois/Burdi who knows?


This is also my opinion. I think Graterol will be a very good pitcher; however, we have a chance to win now, but not without some starting pitching. I know many think we can weather the storm until we get Pineda up and running, but we could be 5 or 6 games adrift by that point.
    • David HK and In My La-Z-boy like this
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howieramone2
Feb 18 2020 09:03 AM
We were not going to shove our excess down LA's throat. Nor were we going to walk away from exactly what we wanted and needed.
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woolywoolhouse
Feb 18 2020 09:24 AM

I'll take a Graterol for Maeda, Ramos for Capps, Revere for May and Worley, or any of the above trades any time of the season over the trade that still haunts us Twins fans 35+: Brunansky for Tommy Herr. Trade one of the heart and soul members of your still-fresh World Series champions for someone from the team you just beat who does not want to come here just because the team is beginning the season with a losing record. 

 

That ghost is still haunting the land the Metrodome once stood on to this day (probably confused since they don't play baseball at US Bank stadium aside from the random odd Gophers game here or there.)

    • Craig Arko, Dave The Dastardly, IAMNFan and 1 other like this

"One of their top"? He was their only prospect!

    • IAMNFan likes this
Other than the fact they’re both prospect for veteran deals, I see no meaningful similarities between the Ramos and Graterol trades.
    • howieramone2 and IAMNFan like this

The Capps trade, or any other trade, honestly never crossed my mind with the Maeda deal.

 

I wasn't - and still am not - sold on Maeda being a proper acquisition for what could prove to be an elite arm. It felt like a knee jerk reaction to not getting a top-of-the-rotation arm through free agency.

 

Hopefully I'm wrong, but I don't see a #3 or #4 starter as the piece to get them to the next level.

 

That, however, has nothing to do with Capps/Ramos or any other trade.

    • Possumlad likes this

My day told me when I was a little boy (i'm turning 60 in May), never draft or trade for a "short armed pitcher". Not knowing really who Capps was at the time, when I saw him I said to myself, oh no, a short armed pitcher. Although he had a decent season after the trade, he quickly flamed out.

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twinsfanstreif
Feb 18 2020 11:46 AM

 

Isn't Revere's OPS+ 83 for his career? And Span is like 103?

There are many OFers that come up all of the time that put up those numbers. Those 2 OFers can't drive in many runs.

Let's put it this way, Revere has a career 6.7 bWAR or roughly the same as Mookie Betts' 2019 season or about half of Jacque Jones' for his career. The fact that we now have May for Revere makes that trade worth it

    • Twins33, Danchat, Nine of twelve and 1 other like this

I’m sorry Nate, but your article didn’t “reveal” anything.  The article felt more like you came to an independent conclusion and filled in a story to justify the position.

 

There seems to be a trend in TD articles over the last few months that either poke fun at the reactions of the community, with a “TD readers are weird” title, or seek to analyse the reactions of that community, with a “TD readers overreact” title.  This, along with the recent “don’t call Buxton ‘injury-prone’” article would be an example of the latter.

 

I know that healthy communities can self-analyse and poke fun at itself, but when there seems to be more and more of these articles, it starts taking on an elitist feel where the people writing the articles are making fun of the poor slobs who read and comment on the articles.

 

Just my opinion.

    • jud6312 likes this
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Nate Palmer
Feb 18 2020 02:09 PM

 

I’m sorry Nate, but your article didn’t “reveal” anything.  The article felt more like you came to an independent conclusion and filled in a story to justify the position.

 

There seems to be a trend in TD articles over the last few months that either poke fun at the reactions of the community, with a “TD readers are weird” title, or seek to analyse the reactions of that community, with a “TD readers overreact” title.  This, along with the recent “don’t call Buxton ‘injury-prone’” article would be an example of the latter.

 

I know that healthy communities can self-analyse and poke fun at itself, but when there seems to be more and more of these articles, it starts taking on an elitist feel where the people writing the articles are making fun of the poor slobs who read and comment on the articles.

 

Just my opinion.

 

I am sorry if that is how the post came across. Not my intentions. 

 

My hope instead of simply writing why we should be OK with a trade of a top prospect is to look further down the line and ask why may we as fans struggle with trading top prospects. As I asked that question this post outlines what I see as potential explanations to why we react the way we do. We fear the repeat of the "ones who got away."

 

I don't intend to in anyway try and put myself on some other tier than everyone else. The reality is I am a dude in Wisconsin with a keyboard who chooses to spend some of his free time digging through and writing about baseball. And I do that to further conversation with other baseball and specifically Twins fans. Especially since I live in Wisconsin and all anyone wants to talk about is the Packers. 

 

So I am sorry if I came off in anyway as an elitist. I am simply a nerdy guy looking for answers to questions and writing about them. I pinch myself to make sure this is real that I am allowed to post thoughts and ideas on a platform like TD. 

    • gagu, etwink and Doctor Gast like this

 

"One of their top"? He was their only prospect!

Which as stated in several articles, is one of the best things this FO is doing well: building the farm system.

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Doctor Gast
Feb 18 2020 03:03 PM

 

I am sorry if that is how the post came across. Not my intentions. 

 

My hope instead of simply writing why we should be OK with a trade of a top prospect is to look further down the line and ask why may we as fans struggle with trading top prospects. As I asked that question this post outlines what I see as potential explanations to why we react the way we do. We fear the repeat of the "ones who got away."

 

I don't intend to in anyway try and put myself on some other tier than everyone else. The reality is I am a dude in Wisconsin with a keyboard who chooses to spend some of his free time digging through and writing about baseball. And I do that to further conversation with other baseball and specifically Twins fans. Especially since I live in Wisconsin and all anyone wants to talk about is the Packers. 

 

So I am sorry if I came off in anyway as an elitist. I am simply a nerdy guy looking for answers to questions and writing about them. I pinch myself to make sure this is real that I am allowed to post thoughts and ideas on a platform like TD. 

 I just want to thank you very much for your article. To me you never came across as an elitist. I appreciate your courage to try to find some answers to some questions (hopefully we can open our eyes & learn from our mistakes) & the fact you`re a Twins fan in Packers country. 

 Please don`t be discouraged & stop expressing your ideas, they are important!!!!! Also I appreciate the medium to be able freely express my opinions. To agree to disagree w/o being disagreeable or idiotic

    • Nate Palmer and gagu like this

 

Disagree with the above take. Graterol for Maeda will prove to be a solid trade. Timing is everything and now was the time - analysis on Graterol's upside and risk is debatable - I trust our guys, and finally we sell high on someone. This trade was a smart use of assets to acquire a more desperate need, given the make up of this years team, and this years opportunity. Ramos for Capps was short-sighted - barely helping us now - very much hurting us long term. Graterol for Maeda will be neither IMO - he will be very helpful now - and helpful for many years. Graterol? He may become Chargois/Burdi who knows?

 

I think this is the big kicker here, and probably the biggest reason that I like this trade. I feel like every year, I see comments about how the Twins failed to sell high on a prospect. Just in the last year alone, I can think of Gonsalves, Romero, and Gordon (each of whom could have gotten a pretty decent return if they had been traded 2-3 years ago).

If Graterol had stayed with the team, what would have happened to his value if he had gotten injured or if it became obvious to the Twins and the rest of the league that his long-term home was in the bullpen? His value would have plummeted.

 

Is it possible that we will regret trading him and his value will actually continue to increase? Absolutely. However, I would rather trade him now, when his prospect value is still relatively high, than regret waiting too long.

    • DocBauer, Aerodeliria and In My La-Z-boy like this
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sweetmusicviola16
Feb 18 2020 04:46 PM

 

Ah, Didn't look that one up, we were still tanking though and wanted to maximize the return on Revere who was an average CF, it wasn't like we were trading a superstar or anything

Also Denard had 3 years remaining on a longterm contract he had signed. His deal was a very team friendly one too.

    • Danchat likes this
The Ramos for Capps deal is like the Sorrento for Munoz & Leskanic trade in March, 1992. Sorrento was blocked by Hrbek, Ramos by Mauer. In both cases the Twins thought they were dealing from strength, but when Hrbek went on the DL early in ‘92 they could have used Sorrento, and when Mauer got hurt the season they traded away Ramos, same problem. The Twins didn’t have anybody better than or even near as good as the guy they traded away.

In this case the Twins are trading from their bullpen, a quantitative strength. To the extent that a comparison can be made, this trade is diametrically opposed to the Ramos trade. Solid 10-year catchers like Ramos are rare, and quality starting pitchers at a reasonable salary under multiple years of team control are like gold. In this trade the Twins are on the receiving end of the more precious commodity.

In short, you couldn’t be more wrong.
The goal is always to compete, win, reach the post season, and try to win the WS, of course. But each year, only one team succeeds in the ultimate goal. I have always believed that what you can control is putting the best, most competitive team you can. That being said, sometimes you have to trade a prospect or two to augment your roster. The Twins did that with Maeda. With 30-32 starts, based on his career, if he gets us 170ish IP, wins 12-16 and pretty much does what he always does, he is a very nice addition and helps the Twins do that. It will be a "win" for the Twins and you just can't reflect back 3 years from now on what Graterol might do and lament a "loss".

A FO has to make decisions on what they know and believe to be true NOW. Think back to the AJ trade to the Giants all those years ago. Did the Twins make out like bandits? Yes they did. But AJ was a very good player and a need for the Giants. Nobody knew how good Nathan would turn out, or Liriano, or how solid Bonser would be for a couple seasons.

Now, retrospect offers IP it's own perspective in the Capps deal. But sometimes a deal can look questionable at the time, not just in the rearview mirror. Capps was solid, he helped, but as I recall the trade from memory, there was a lot of head scratching at the time. Personally, I don't feel that way about the Maeda deal because i feel people, me included, were in love with the IDEA of what Graterol might be. The FO didn't agree, or felt sure enough about their projections to move forward.

I don't argue the Capps trade stung, and still stings. But IMO, the love of prospects has more to do with the Metrodome days, the tighter budgets, etc, and the hope in a mid market team self sustaining itself via the milb pipeline. Especially in regard to SP as that has long been an Achilles heel of the system. Ergo, despite a new FO and an almost entirely new way of doing things, there still exists a "want" for prospects to reach success. In reality, other then SP, we have seen that kind of reward with our current Twins.

I have no clue how other fan bases for different teams, especially the big markets, regard their farm system and prospects. They may feel the same, or, they may see those prospects as a commodity who may or may not be kept, but more as a means to an end.

As someone who has followed the Twins farm system since the early 80's, I have seen a plethora of "can't miss" pitching prospects do exactly that. I'm very excited about some of the guys on their way up. I have a personal list of 5 "no trade" guys I have high hopes for. But the Capps deal doesn't haunt me, personally. It is more about how thing used to be, and just wanting our "own" players to make it big.
    • In My La-Z-boy likes this
Talk about gun shy... I'm still upset we traded a good prospect in Graig Nettles for Luis Tiant/Stan Williams...ugh🤪
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Old Twins Cap
Feb 18 2020 08:32 PM

Yeah, no. 

 

Twins made a bad deal in trading Ramos, but, to reach back to that point in time and connect it to the current moment is what is called a reach. An over reach.

 

Not buying this. AT ALL.

 

Twins need starting pitching quality, not prospects. The window is open. They got a pitcher who can start, relieve and has high K numbers. And playoff experience.

 

That's what this is. Okay?

 

Terry Ryan is gone. Gardy is gone. Orlando Hudson is gone. Joe Mauer is gone. Morneau, gone. The list is long on why there is no connection.

 

How did you even come up with this? The stories in your head must be terrifying.

 

Once upon a time the Twins made a bad move, and you won't ever overcome that?

 

Grow a pair, my friend. The World Series is at the door. Stop finding ways to make us fear the coming season.