• The Tumultuous Twins Tenure Of Matt Capps

    Wednesday marked the end of a Matt Capps is likely departing the Twins in a relationship that was bad for everyone involved.sad love affair between the Twins and relief pitcher Matt Capps. The team turned down his multi-million dollar option for next season and instead decided to pay him a $250,000 buyout of his deal. Capps will become a free agent at age 29 and his time with the Twins looks to be over.

    It was an up-and-down ride for Capps during his stint in Minnesota but it seemed like plenty of more ups than downs. He came to the Twins in the middle of one of the team's best regular seasons on record and he stayed with the organization through two of their worst seasons ever. Throughout his career with the Twins, he has cost the team one of their top prospects, $13 million in salary, and a compensation round draft pick. This is a stiff price to pay for a man that accumulated mediocre statistics during his time on the mound.

    When the Twins acquired Capps back in 2010 at the trade deadline, there was a small uproar from fans that were upset about the deal. Bill Smith and the other members of the front office thought it was a good idea to trade away Wilson Ramos, the best catching prospect in the organization since Joe Mauer, for the closer from the Nationals.

    Joe Nathan's elbow injury had left the team with a hole at the back-end of the bullpen so the team had tried to fill that void with other arms including Jon Rauch. The first half of the season hadn't been terrible for Rauch and it didn't seem like Capps would be much of an improvement. This caused turmoil between Capps and the fans before he had even stepped on the field for the Twins.

    Capps would only throw 27.0 inning for the Twins in 2010 but he was very good in those appearances. He had a low 2.00 ERA and he only had a couple of blown saves down the stretch as the Twins made their way to the postseason. During the playoffs, he would make one appearance as the dreaded Yankees swept the Twins and he gave up one run on a couple hits in the frame.

    Fans of the Twins had seen the best of Capps in 2010 and the rest of his time with the club would not play out very well for the right-handed hurler. If Capps had been one of the integral pieces to lead the Twins to the World Series in 2010, fans would have forgotten about the deal to bring him to Minnesota. Instead fans had to deal with another playoff sweep by the Yankees and the loss of one of the team's best young players.

    With question marks surrounding the return of Joe Nathan from major elbow surgery, the Twins felt it was in their best interest to offer arbitration to Capps. He would end up making $7.15 million through the arbitration process and the Twins would have a ton of money tied up between the two men at the back end of their bullpen.

    It was a rough year for Capps as he fought through some injuries and other aches and pains to stay on the mound for the Twins. Nathan was ineffective at the beginning of the year so the team turned the closing duties over to Capps for the first part of the season. His ERA bubbled to over 4.00 and he gave up a whopping 10 home runs in his 65.2 innings pitched. Fans took out their frustration on him at the end of the season as the boo birds came out in full force when he would take the mound at Target Field. There were high expectations for the Twins after 2010 so the ineffectiveness of Capps became a point of anger for the fan base.

    At the end of 2011, it seemed like the Twins might be able to get away from Capps after his rough year with the club. He would be a free agent and the Twins would be compensated if he left the club and signed with another team. With some changes to the collective bargaining agreement, the Twins didn't even have to offer arbitration to Capps for the club to get the extra-draft pick. As long as Capps signed with another team, the Twins would get an extra pick in the round between the first and second round. It seemed like a no-brainer at the time for the Twins to let Capps pack his bags and to turn over the closing duties to Glen Perkins after a fantastic season from the left-handed pitcher.

    The Twins didn't see it this way and they brought back Capps on a deal that would pay him $4.5 million plus the $250,000 buyout for this year. It was a head-scratching move at the time and it is only more confusing after the injury-plagued season Capps put together.

    It seems like Capps was a very nice man and the coaches and front office for the Twins enjoyed having him be part of the team over the last few seasons. Looking back at the total cost of Capps to the Twins, it can be frustrating to think about how little the team got for their money. There was one lousy season, an injury plagued season, and a portion of a good season when he first joined the club. His final numbers: 3.61 ERA over 122 innings with 45 saves and 12 blown saves.

    And here is the final bill:
    • Salary and buyout: $13 million
    • Wilson Ramos (25-year old catcher): 2.1 WAR since being traded
    • 2012 Compensation Round Draft Pick: Value unknown
    • Total Bill: ?????
    This article was originally published in blog: The Tumultuous Twins Tenure of Matt Capps started by Cody Christie
    Comments 15 Comments
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Not a hater of Capps personally.....therefore I am happy to see him go as I wanted the draft pick last summer badly.
      However, I also am not a big believer of Wilson Ramose so I dont hate the deal.
      I though it was a bad trade at the time....very contradictory I know...but it was MN goin for it for the first time & I was cool with that aspect of it. Matt was an all star that summer, so he was legit & Ramos struggled in ROC that whole yr, but it was too high of a prospect to give up.
      My explanation seems confusing but Ive never been a hater of Capps. There is something to getting rid of Billy Smith's era & getting a fresh start tho.
    1. 70charger's Avatar
      70charger -
      It was an up-and-down ride for Capps during his stint in Minnesota but it seemed like plenty of more ups than downs. He came to the Twins in the middle of one of the team's best regular seasons on record and he stayed with the organization through two of their worst seasons ever. Throughout his career with the Twins, he has cost the team one of their top prospects, $13 million in salary, and a compensation round draft pick. This is a stiff price to pay for a man that accumulated mediocre statistics during his time on the mound.
      I'm going to assume this is a mistake.
    1. sorney's Avatar
      sorney -
      Honestly, this is all on management....can't fault the guy for taking a salary the Twins stupidly paid.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Of course, in hindsight, Ramos was the catcher for the future. He could've been a partial in 2011, regular at AAA in 2012, another partial season in 2013, and Mauer halftime replacement in 2014, with the Twins keeping him under control thru all of Mauer's years. Is there anyone in the system that will be better. Doubtful. You hate to see Ramos leaving if Mauer is only catching halftime from here-on out. Signing Capps for 2012 and not getting a draft pick was a big mistake. You don't need a closer if you aren't contending. You try and find or build a closer. Too bad he wasn't a trade chip when the Twins needed it most. In that way, Capps and Pavano both let the Twins down.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Most in the Twins organization believe a the team must have a defined closer, 8th inning guy, 7th inning guy, LOOGY, long guy, then they think about flexibility. This set-up is fine for teams with lots of money and believes it is in serious contention for the Series. But it is wasteful for those not in that position. Bullpen by committee has worked before and can work again.
    1. ericchri's Avatar
      ericchri -
      Capps isn't a bad pitcher, he just cost the Twins too much. I actually respect that he tried his best pitching through injuries, and trying desperately to get back from one. I wouldn't even mind if they brought him back, since they won't lose a draft choice this time, but it would have to be for far less money and not as the "closer." Another fairly reliable guy in the bullpen would be nice. I suspect they can get someone else to do about the same job he would, though, so I would assume the general bad will towards him from most fans means he's pitched his last game for the Twins.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      I wouldn't mind if they signed him to be honest. I don't really dislike him, but missing out on the draft pick and overpaying was a big mistake. It was even more apparent when he sat out for the majority of the season.
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ericchri View Post
      Capps isn't a bad pitcher, he just cost the Twins too much. I actually respect that he tried his best pitching through injuries, and trying desperately to get back from one. I wouldn't even mind if they brought him back, since they won't lose a draft choice this time, but it would have to be for far less money and not as the "closer." Another fairly reliable guy in the bullpen would be nice. I suspect they can get someone else to do about the same job he would, though, so I would assume the general bad will towards him from most fans means he's pitched his last game for the Twins.
      I would not be mad if they brought him back for 1.5-2M. He wasn't so bad this year before his injury.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      It is not hindsight....you do not trade from a position of scarcity for relief pitchers.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      Ramos for Capps was the worst trade of Bill Smith's tenure - which is saying something. Horrible deal and everyone knew it at the time - top prospect for a guy that wasn't much better than what we had, who would also be eligible for arb. the next year.

      However, none of that was Matt Capps' fault. He seems like a standup guy who just doesn't have enough stuff to be a dominant pitcher. That doesn't mean he can't contribute to a solid bullpen, it just has to be at the right price and not as a closer.
    1. Linus's Avatar
      Linus -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Ramos for Capps was the worst trade of Bill Smith's tenure - which is saying something. Horrible deal and everyone knew it at the time - top prospect for a guy that wasn't much better than what we had, who would also be eligible for arb. the next year.

      However, none of that was Matt Capps' fault. He seems like a standup guy who just doesn't have enough stuff to be a dominant pitcher. That doesn't mean he can't contribute to a solid bullpen, it just has to be at the right price and not as a closer.

      I changed my mind. Garza and Barlett for Delmon was worse.

      Wait, I changed my mind again. Johan for nothing was worse..........

      I guess we shouldn't be shocked that we ended up losing 90+ games two years in a row.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post

      I changed my mind. Garza and Barlett for Delmon was worse.

      Wait, I changed my mind again. Johan for nothing was worse..........

      I guess we shouldn't be shocked that we ended up losing 90+ games two years in a row.
      Hardy for Jimmy Hoho.

      Before that trade, Smith just had the appearance of garden variety incompetence. But after it, I started to suspect outright, deliberate sabotage. Which proved correct in light of the man Smith chose to replace Hardy at short. That was the one that finally blew his cover.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      This is really a 3-head beast:

      - someone(s) wanted a "proven closer"
      - someone(s) thought that Butera was ok as a Ramos alternative
      - someone(s) valued Capps' performance in 2011 to bring him back in 2012 for at least twice street value of what is worth and forfeit a pick...

      so... blame them.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Linus View Post
      Ramos for Capps was the worst trade of Bill Smith's tenure - which is saying something. Horrible deal and everyone knew it at the time - top prospect for a guy that wasn't much better than what we had, who would also be eligible for arb. the next year.

      However, none of that was Matt Capps' fault. He seems like a standup guy who just doesn't have enough stuff to be a dominant pitcher. That doesn't mean he can't contribute to a solid bullpen, it just has to be at the right price and not as a closer.

      I changed my mind. Garza and Barlett for Delmon was worse.

      Wait, I changed my mind again. Johan for nothing was worse..........

      I guess we shouldn't be shocked that we ended up losing 90+ games two years in a row.
      always remember and never forget ryan was incharge, but bill had the title of g-m- ryan made all the decisions
      ryan has been calling the shots since 1994...
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      While I thought the Twins sold low on Ramos, I didn't think Capps was all that bad and I would be happy if he signed a 1 - 2 year deal to be a middle reliever in the 2-3 million range per season.

      And losing Ramos stings even less with the success and minimum investment we have in Doumit.
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