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Wednesday (Matt Capps and the Twins bullpen) edition: Wha' happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Professional baseball, Twins fans Updated: January 19, 2011 - 10:13 AM

We have a very early contender for The Thing Twins Fans Will Complain About All Season: the bullpen. And in some cases, we can't argue.

After signing Matt Capps, the Twins have committed more than $18 million to two relief pitches, both of whom have closed plenty of ballgames and both of whom are making more than $7 million a year. We defy you to find a team on opening day 2010 that was paying two different relievers $7 million-plus. (We looked at the top 10 teams and couldn't find one). That's a lot of money and overlap at a spot that is paradoxically valuable and yet tends to be overvalued.

On the other hand, the hue and cry from a good chunk of Twins fans over losing some of the mid-priced veteran arms -- specifically Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain -- is pure comedy. These are two players who inspired very unflattering nicknames (The Crain Wreck and Guerrierhea, the latter as in he can't stop the runs) and earned them during some very important ballgames. Were they functional relievers? Yes. Was Crain very good for the better part of last season? Yes. Are they irreplaceable? Absolutely not.

While it could be pointed out that Crain and Guerrier (or Crain and Jon Rauch ... or Guerrier and Jon Rauch) signed for roughly the same amount of money in 2011 as just Capps, it's not that simple. It sounds as though the Twins were convinced Rauch and Guerrier were goners, no matter what. Even if two of the three could have been retained, are Crain and, say, Rauch any better than Capps and a hard-throwing young reliever making close to the minimum, whereby the salaries for both pairs are pretty much equal? We say no.

But these early signs ... the complaint about losing pitchers that fans loved to hate ... the simultaneous declaration that the Twins are both cheap and overspending ... yes it's only January, but bullpen is certainly the early contender for the 2011 Nick Punto Fan Award.

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