I think the Twins helped themselves by trading for Matt Capps to be their closer. Like many of you, I'm wondering about the price they paid. But if you're of a mind that the Twins should be assembling a roster to compete for the World Series -- and not just for a spot in the playoffs -- this was a deal that needed to be made.
They weren't going to get Capps for Brendan Harris.
I'm assuming the Twins concluded that Capps' 2009 season with Pittsburgh -- 5.80 ERA, 1.66 WHIP -- is an outlier, in the same way that Matt Guerrier's 2008 season is seen as not representative of his true ability.
I'm also assuming the Twins will continue trying to swing a deal for a front-line starting pitcher. Ted Lilly of the Cubs seems like the most viable target right now.
Putting a value on your team's players in relation to other team's talent is a risky venture from the outside. Obviously, the Mariners weren't interested in Wilson Ramos as a major part of a deal for Cliff Lee, and i can't imagine that Houston or Arizona were all that excited about him either. Those are closely held secrets within an organization, which is why trades made rarely resemble the trades that we put assemble in speculation.
Back to Capps: Even though he's pitched well lately, I'm assuming that I wasn't the only one made uncomfortable by talk that Jesse Crain could step in and take over the closer's role if Jon Rauch faltered. Crain's career has been one of hot stretches and self-immolations, so thinking of him as the answer was relying too much on hope.
The Twins are on a pretty good streak of making moves that have helped the team. Bringing in Pavano, Rauch and Orlando Cabrera last season all proved to be positive additions. Ron Mahay helped a bit last season but has dropped off. Bringing in Orlando Hudson, J.J. Hardy and Jim Thome -- while only giving up Carlos Gomez (whose stats have slipped to 2009 levels for Milwaukee) -- were good moves.
Twins officials have done good things in the past 12 months -- and it's appropriate to expect them to do more.