Patrick Reusse has been covering sports in the Twin Cities since 1968. He has been a Star Tribune sports columnist since 1988. His sportswriting credo is twofold: 1. God will provide an angle; 2. The smaller the ball, the better the writing.

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Motive was same in trades for Pominville, Capps

Posted by: Patrick Reusse Updated: May 7, 2013 - 10:25 PM

There was a suggestion on one of my controversial Twitter accounts that if the Wild failed to get out of the first round of the playoffs, it would be legitimate to make this connection: Johan Larsson for Jason Pominville = Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps.

Followers of the Wild are extremely supportive of team management on most matters, and several of those folks took umbrage at my Wild/Pominville and Twins/Capps comparison. A few protests said that Pominville's absence from the lineup due to a presumed concussion could not be blamed on him.

Obviously, the 140-character limit of Twitter failed to get across the point. This wasn't intended as a comment on Pominville's situation, but on the big picture that existed when the trade was made April 3.

Brian Hall, writing for the FSN website, put the Wild's attitude about the trade in perspective with this lead:

"The Minnesota Wild have missed the playoffs for four straight years. Firmly in the playoff pack this year, they have designs on much more than just a postseason appearance.

"Minnesota wants to take its shot now and is willing to pay the price to do so.

"The Wild dealt for Buffalo Sabres captain Jason Pominville before Wednesday's trade deadline, adding another important piece to a team that is tied with the Vancouver Canucks for first place in the Northwest Division with 44 points but is third in the Western Conference based on tiebreakers.''

That's what I was getting at in those 140 characters: The Pominville trade wasn't made with the motive to get the Wild in the playoffs (although that did turn out to be a chore). It was made to help trigger a significant playoff run.

With or without Pominville in the lineup, if the Wild's win on Sunday isn't followed by three more over the Chicago Blackhawks, then the trade goes down as a first-season failure ... as did the deal the Twins made for Capps on July 29, 2010.

There were only four playoff spots (as compared to eight for the Wild) available to the Twins in 2010. They were in a tighter circumstance when yielding Ramos, a top catching prospect, for Capps, than was the Wild when it traded for Pominville.

The Twins were in second place in the AL Central on July 29, one game behind the White Sox and three games ahead of Detroit. Still, it wasn't a trade driven strictly by the desire to have a reliable closer in order to win the division.

Jon Rauch had been acceptable in the closer's role. The Twins knew there was a solid chance to beat out the White Sox and the Tigers, even if they had stuck with Rauch. The Twins had designs on much more than just a postseason appearance.

The Twins felt this first season in Target Field was a time to take a shot at reversing the trend of quick departures from the postseason. And the feeling was they needed a real closer to make that happen.

Capps turned 27 on Sept. 3 of that year. He had been in the big leagues since 2006, with one poor season in Pittsburgh in 2009 that got him released. He landed with Washington the next season and had 26 saves in four months. He was named to the National League All-Star team.

Yet, Capps was on a last-place team, so it was easy trade for the Nats to make: a closer with nowhere to take his team for a 22-year-old catcher who was ready to play in the big leagues.

Capps did his job for the Twins. He was 16 of 18 in save opportunities. He also was 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA. The Twins won the Central by six games.

And then they were swept in three games by the Yankees. Capps pitched once and didn't have a save opportunity.

Forget making the postseason. Not getting out of the first round made the first season of the Capps trade a flop.

It got worse in 2011, when Capps returned on a $7.25 million salary and pitched poorly. He was around again in 2012, missing a share of the season with a sore arm.

Pominville, 30, has another season remaining on his five-year, $26.5 million. He has a track record as a goal scorer, and the odds are strong he will make Season 2 of the trade look much better than did Capps.

Of course, the Wild also gave much more to get him than the Twins did for Capps. The Wild surrendered a top prospect in centerman Larsson, plus goalie Matt Hackett, a first-round pick in this year's draft and a second-rounder in 2014. The Wild gets a fourth-rounder in 2014 along with Pominville.

It might work out. Larsson might go off the tracks as a prospect and Buffalo might screw up the high draft choices. Pominville might get 25-30 goals in Season 2. But for now, if the Wild doesn't upset Chicago and advance in the playoffs, the first season of the Wild's big trade will look like this:

Johan Larsson for Jason Pominville = Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps.





Minnesota 17 3rd Qtr
Miami 7
Baltimore 0 2nd Qtr 1:08
Houston 16
Detroit 7 3rd Qtr
Chicago 7
Cleveland 3 3rd Qtr
Carolina 10
Atlanta 13 3rd Qtr
New Orleans 7
Green Bay 10 3rd Qtr
Tampa Bay 3
Kansas City 6 3rd Qtr
Pittsburgh 10
New England 7 3rd Qtr 15:00
NY Jets 10
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Seattle 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 2:30 PM
Memphis 3:30 PM
Boston 5:00 PM
Detroit 5:00 PM
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Indiana 6:00 PM
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Dallas 5:00 PM
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Harvard 27 FINAL
Virginia 76
Maine 42 2nd Half 10:27
Army 43
Ferris State 61 2nd Half 10:31
Bowling Green 52
San Francisco 51 2nd Half 7:39
Cleveland State 52
Oregon State 48 2nd Half 3:25
Quinnipiac 53
Coastal Carolina 28 2nd Half 16:18
Central Arkansas 32
Holy Cross 11 1st Half 6:45
Canisius 17
Southern Miss 18 1st Half 5:46
Georgia State 32
Western Carolina 12 1st Half 7:56
UNC-Asheville 23
Creighton 12 1st Half 5:25
North Texas 22
Maryland 17 1st Half 6:48
Oklahoma State 18
Cornell 25 1st Half 7:30
Radford 24
Vermont 13 1st Half 7:20
Saint Louis 14
Loyola-Maryland 17 1st Half 6:12
Stony Brook 14
Reinhardt 17 1st Half 7:48
Winthrop 24
Ark-Little Rock 25 1st Half 4:29
Green Bay 27
TX-Pan American 28 1st Half 6:00
Nebraska Omaha 25
Alabama State 21 1st Half 6:45
Evansville 32
FIU 8 1st Half 15:23
Hartford 13
Goshen 1:35 PM
Bryant 2:00 PM
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
ULM 2:00 PM
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Troy 3:30 PM
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 55 FINAL
Denver 63
St Marys-CA 52 FINAL
George Washington 70
TX-San Antonio 49 FINAL
Nicholls 57
Portland State 71 FINAL
Columbia 66
Tenn Tech 62 FINAL
Morgan State 56
Auburn 56
Quinnipiac 70 FINAL
Hartford 58
Hofstra 75 FINAL
Boston College 61
Eastern Washington 55 FINAL
Georgia Southern 42
Liberty 38 2nd Half 6:05
(1) South Carolina 76
Fairleigh Dickinson 49 2nd Half 7:20
Brown 55
Buffalo 58 2nd Half 8:05
Long Island 57
Bucknell 52 2nd Half 7:48
Mount St Marys 38
Stony Brook 59 2nd Half 6:32
Wagner 65
FIU 62 2nd Half 7:36
Wofford 56
Duquesne 29 2nd Half 11:21
Providence 38
Maine 45 2nd Half 4:05
William & Mary 45
Alabama State 32 2nd Half 8:53
Samford 41
TX-Pan American 35 2nd Half 7:21
VA Commonwealth 53
South Dakota St 57 2nd Half 5:41
Marist 68
Saint Josephs 50 2nd Half 0:28
(5) Notre Dame 64
Radford 41 2nd Half 9:13
Virginia Tech 51
(3) Texas 31 2nd Half
(4) Texas A&M 32
Rhode Island 36 2nd Half 16:47
Bryant 31
South Florida 12 1st Half 11:44
Penn State 10
Sam Houston St 18 1st Half 6:15
TCU 30
Evansville 9 1st Half 8:12
(14) Maryland 35 1st Half 7:32
Coppin State 14
Mercer 22 1st Half 6:24
Coll of Charleston 23
NC A&T 6 1st Half 12:40
Chattanooga 10
Princeton 29 1st Half 7:50
Monmouth 9
Eastern Illinois 30 1st Half 2:40
Lehigh 35
Rider 21 1st Half 5:27
Binghamton 22
SC State 8 1st Half 6:29
Clemson 18
Fairfield 20 1st Half 6:54
Iowa State 26
Richmond 39 1st Half 3:50
Eastern Kentucky 20
Cleveland State 33 1st Half 3:57
Morehead St 32
Kent State 18 1st Half 5:02
Colgate 23
South Alabama 5 1st Half 4:09
UAB 38
Saint Peters 10 1st Half 6:13
Navy 22
Youngstown St 21 1st Half 3:28
Pittsburgh 36
NJIT 14 1st Half 7:42
Lafayette 14
Davidson 6 1st Half 8:39
Charlotte 24
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Wright State 0 1st Half 20:00
Purdue 0
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Dayton 2:00 PM
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Idaho State 3:00 PM
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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