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Twins "Bizarre Fascination" with Matt Capps

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 10:48 AM

Over at Baseball Nation, Grant Brisbee examined the Twins odd infatuation with Matt Capps which led to forgoing the free draft pick and, ultimately, his re-signing.

One thing that I've noticed when reading "outsider" opinions on the Capps signing is that they fail to recognize why the Twins are so attracted to Capps. Clearly, to those who spend time following the Twins more intimately, it's his ability to "pound the strike zone" (54.3% zone% from 09-11, 2nd highest in MLB) and "get ahead of hitters" (66.3% first-pitch strike% from 09-11, 6th highest).

I'm certainly not defending the merits of spending more to sign because of those attributes but to answer Brisbee's question, that is why the Twins have a bizarre fascination with Matt Capps.

#2 Nick Nelson

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 11:04 AM

That, and he's a really good guy. Gets after it. Takes the ball. Battles his tail off.

#3 Parker Hageman

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 11:14 AM

It's all about the Battling Tail Off.

#4 Seth Stohs

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 01:38 PM

If he pitches like he did in 2010, 2008, 2007 and 2006, then it's a fair contract. It's just putting it into context with the relievers that have come off the board since he signed. Literally, they could pick Capps, or have Lidge, Wheeler, Coffey, Gonzalez and a supplemental 1st round pick. Their hope has to be that 1.) he's young and 2.) he does throw hard, but 3.) he'd maybe develop a secondary pitch that isn't on the same plane or within a couple of mph. And he's a nice guy who takes the ball AND gets after it!

#5 John Bonnes

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Posted 01 February 2012 - 04:20 PM

The best part is that their infatuation seems to even puzzle Capps. At the luncheon he said he really didn't think he would be coming back to the Twins - right up until the point where the Twins called his agent and expressed interest. The he did everything he could do to make it happen. But the point is that even he assumed they wouldn't have any interest after that crappile he squeezed out last year.

#6 Ben Collin

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Posted 02 February 2012 - 12:00 AM

Testing......He doesn't complain and takes the ball. Gardy probably wishes he would go up there and spin it more.

#7 woolhouse

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:12 AM

I thought it was just that everyone enjoyed "Final Countdown" as his Bullpen Entrance song, and wanted to hear it again in 2012.

#8 StormJH1

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 09:56 AM

It isn't a mystery to me because it fits their pitching M.O., which is "don't walk guys". Of course, they don't make "pitch to contact" closers because the whole point of that designation is that if you only have 3 dudes to get out, you probably should miss some bats. So, out of the mid- to low-tier closer options available to the Twins, Capps has some of the best control.

But at a 4.7 K/9 rate over 69 games last year, we're looking at a disaster of "Ron Davis"-like proportions here (admitted, before my time). He really isn't a power arm even though he looks like he should be, and the scary thing is that there really isn't a great alternative available to them. Seriously, a health Joel Zumaya (which NEVER happens) may be their one chance.

The good news, so to speak, is that this is a complete non-issue unless the Twins have actual 3-run leads in the 9th to protect. Given that, I'd be happy if "closer issues" were at the top of our list of actual problems for this season.

#9 mikeee

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:06 AM

He was a lot cheaper than Nathan.

#10 Mr. Ed

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:19 AM

Twins infatuation with Capps is IMO a result of the trade. They're still trying to justify throwing Ramos away for this guy.

#11 John Bonnes

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:50 AM

Jesse's interview with Antony drove home the main problem. He's a good guy, he was hurt a little last year, but he didn't complain, he's not nearly this bad, yada, yada, yada. That's all true. But what fails to be recognized is the fundamental flaw both now, last year when they offered him arb and two years ago when they traded for him: HE'S JUST A SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE RELIEVER. That's really not debatable. It's been written about numerous times. And I think the organization mostly understands that. But somehow that gets lost in the analysis with this organization. Lord, but it's infuriating.

#12 StormJH1

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:25 PM

Jesse's interview with Antony drove home the main problem. He's a good guy, he was hurt a little last year, but he didn't complain, he's not nearly this bad, yada, yada, yada. That's all true. But what fails to be recognized is the fundamental flaw both now, last year when they offered him arb and two years ago when they traded for him: HE'S JUST A SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE RELIEVER.

That's really not debatable. It's been written about numerous times. And I think the organization mostly understands that. But somehow that gets lost in the analysis with this organization. Lord, but it's infuriating.

You left out the best part - "Slightly above average reliever...with closer's experience"

Haha, what a joke...ask 2004-09 Joe Nathan how bad his lack of prior closing experience hurt him.

#13 BeefMaster

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:06 PM

Jesse's interview with Antony drove home the main problem. He's a good guy, he was hurt a little last year, but he didn't complain, he's not nearly this bad, yada, yada, yada. That's all true. But what fails to be recognized is the fundamental flaw both now, last year when they offered him arb and two years ago when they traded for him: HE'S JUST A SLIGHTLY ABOVE AVERAGE RELIEVER.


On the plus side, we now know the going rate for two-year-old saves.

Really, this is a pretty impressive series of events set in motion by the Nationals not having anyone better to pitch in the 9th inning at the beginning of 2010. If Capps happens to sign with a team that already had a closer after the Pirates let him go, he doesn't accumulate any saves, the Twins trade for someone else (or let Rauch work through his struggles), the Twins only lose 90 games last year thanks to better catcher (Ramos) and closer (Not Matt Capps), Bill Smith keeps his job, George and Lorraine don't go to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance together...
"There are only two things that are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." - Albert Einstein

#14 twinscowboysbulls

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 12:59 PM

Part of me thinks he will bounce back and have a very nice season and then there is the other part of me... This may turn out to be the worst off-season move. I'm not sure which side to really go with, just hoping he is above average considering he is going to make 5 big ones.

#15 Thrylos

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 01:34 PM

I just think that a lot of Twins' fans are biased against Capps, because a. off the crazy trade and b. of his off season last year. I am not sure that the Twins got a great bargain when they signed him, but let's play devils' advocate and look at Capps' career numbers against some other former Twins:

Nathan: 3.48 FIP, 9.39 K/9, 3.40 K/BB, 1.11 WHIP/.251 BABIP
Guardado: 4.45 FIP, 7.60 K/9, 2.29 K/BB, 1.31 WHIP/.279 BABIP
Crain: 3.99 FIP, 6.72 K/9, 1.94 K/BB, 1.25 WHIP/.266 BABIP
Capps: 3.88 FIP, 6.60 K/9, 3.76 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP/.289 BABIP

and here is a bonus one:
Zumaya: 3.94 FIP, 9.01 K/9, 1.84 K/BB, 1.35 WHIP/.267 BABIP

Other than the K/9, these are Joe Nathan numbers and definitely better than Yesterday Eddie's numbers (and the difference in Nathan's and Capp's FIPs can be attributed to the difference in K/9s)

So Capps really is a better pitcher than he showed last season. Add a healthy Zumaya (to get those Ks) and Perkins and Duensing and the tail end of the pen might actually be better than the 2010 pen...
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#16 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 02:03 PM

I just think that a lot of Twins' fans are biased against Capps, because a. off the crazy trade and b. of his off season last year. I am not sure that the Twins got a great bargain when they signed him, but let's play devils' advocate and look at Capps' career numbers against some other former Twins:

Nathan: 3.48 FIP, 9.39 K/9, 3.40 K/BB, 1.11 WHIP/.251 BABIP
Guardado: 4.45 FIP, 7.60 K/9, 2.29 K/BB, 1.31 WHIP/.279 BABIP
Crain: 3.99 FIP, 6.72 K/9, 1.94 K/BB, 1.25 WHIP/.266 BABIP
Capps: 3.88 FIP, 6.60 K/9, 3.76 K/BB, 1.20 WHIP/.289 BABIP

and here is a bonus one:
Zumaya: 3.94 FIP, 9.01 K/9, 1.84 K/BB, 1.35 WHIP/.267 BABIP

Other than the K/9, these are Joe Nathan numbers and definitely better than Yesterday Eddie's numbers (and the difference in Nathan's and Capp's FIPs can be attributed to the difference in K/9s)

So Capps really is a better pitcher than he showed last season. Add a healthy Zumaya (to get those Ks) and Perkins and Duensing and the tail end of the pen might actually be better than the 2010 pen...


That k/9 is a pretty big deal though. That's one extra out every three innings where the batter doesn't touch the ball. That's a pretty big difference when you are only coming in one inning at a time.

#17 Thrylos

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 02:14 PM

That k/9 is a pretty big deal though. That's one extra out every three innings where the batter doesn't touch the ball. That's a pretty big difference when you are only coming in one inning at a time.


Actually not really:
Probability says that that non K will be a hit 3 out of then 10 times, so .7 will be another out. So we are looking at an extra batter every 9 innings, which is about an extra batter in 9-10 games for a closer... Cannot assume that the nonK will reach base.
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#18 UCLA_YANKEE_COLA

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:37 PM

It becomes a bigger deal when that rate dips to 4.7 K/9 like it did last year.

#19 Seth Stohs

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 03:43 PM

Wouldn't WHIP be the better way to determine how many hitters get on base and how many extra hitters a pitcher faces? The difference from 1.20 to 1.35 WHIP is pretty significant too.

#20 Thrylos

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:13 PM

Wouldn't WHIP be the better way to determine how many hitters get on base and how many extra hitters a pitcher faces? The difference from 1.20 to 1.35 WHIP is pretty significant too.


Absolutely. And Capps' career WHIP is not that much different than Nathan's (1.11 vs. 1.20) esp. when normalized for BABIP. The only other factor in addition to WHIP is GIDP induced, because those will erase runners. Don't have those numbers, but Capps' career GB/FB is 0.96 whereas Nathan's is 0.83. Add those, along with the BABIP in the equation and it gets much closer...

I am not saying that Capps is as a good closer as Nathan, careerwise, but Nathan's better days are behind him, while Capps' (just entering age 28 season) ahead of him. Definitely Capps in his prime is a better closer than Guardado. And as far as I am concerned, if these were the only choices, I'd rather have Capps than Nathan in 2012.
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#21 BK432

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:37 PM

No matter what you think of Capps, when you factor in forfeiting a compensation pick to sign him for more money than a number of other similar relief pitchers signed for this offseason, it feels like pure silliness. Nevertheless, I believe Capps can have a big bounceback season. Sure hope that's the case.

#22 Shane Wahl

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 09:21 PM

I would absolutely take Joe Nathan instead of Matt Capps. Hell, the money isn't even that much of a difference. It just seems like the Twins wanted some kind of stability, to keep a "good guy" and to not have to pay whoever they were going to pick with that compensation pick. They clearly could have waited and paid him about $2 million though.

#23 TwinsGuy55422

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 12:14 AM

I think Capps can bounce back and be a capable reliever. However, it just sucks that we pulled the trigger so early on signing him. It would have been nice to wait for the market to settle and get a better deal. If some other team had snuck in and made an offer during that time, it's not like we couldn't have replaced him.
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#24 drunksam

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 01:12 PM

It's all about the Battling Tail Off.



That's the phrase that launched BYTO.
Better looking with the lights out.