Many blog readers refer to me as The Positive Twins blogger. That will be tested because I can’t find a single positive spin to the Twins decision to re-sign relief pitcher Matt Capps for one year, plus an option (pending physical, of course).  That is the report out of Dallas tonight, where the Winter Meetings are being held. There are so many reasons to dis-like this move, and we haven’t even heard what the dollars are yet. (UPDATE - the deal will reportedly pay Capps $4.5 million in 2012 with a $6 million option for 2013 with a $250,000 buyout. Note to self... try to remain positive!!)
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement gave the Twins a free first-round draft pick. There is no way that the Twins would have offered Capps arbitration. It would have ensure that he make between $6-8 million in 2012. However, the new CBA set for an agreement where Type A free agent relievers (like Capps) did not need to be offered arbitration and the team losing him would still receive a compensation pick while the team signing him would no longer have to give up a pick. In essence, the Twins were the team that gave up a supplemental first round draft pick by bringing back Capps.
To summarize, as I tweeted tonight when I first heard the news, “So the #Twins gave up Wilson Ramos and a 1st Rd draft pick for Matt Capps AND will endure watching him pitch for 2 1/2 years. Just WOW!
Now, I fully subscribe to Terry Ryan’s comments about it not being unusual for relief pitchers to have bad years and bounce back. I expect he’ll be better in 2012 than he was in 2011. I asked a month ago if the Twins should consider bringing back Matt Capps. At the time, I said, that he’s a solid pitcher, who is still young, and if he could be signed for around $2 million, I’d do it. That was before the CBA decision gave the Twins a draft pick. Listen, Capps is a solid big league relief pitcher, just in the right role.
We don’t yet know what the Twins will pay Capps in 2012, or what the option is, but I have to assume that it will be in the same neighborhood has pitchers who are better, like Octavio Dotel or former Twins RHP LaTroy Hawkins. And those types would not have required a lost draft pick. As many have written before, the Twins have a history of giving pitchers without closers experience a shot and them stepping up. Joe Nathan had one career save before the Twins gave him the role in 2004. Eddie Guardado was a failed starter. Rick Aguilera was a sub-par starter who the Twins put into the role. I don’t understand this value of a ‘proven closer.’
Not only does Matt Capps give up a ton of hits, and big hits, he lost any ability to miss bats at all in 2011. His strikeout rate was never high, but in 2011, it was alarmingly low. Couple that with the discussion of him pitching hurt and forearm pain. Forearm pain is a precursor to elbow pain which is never good. Obviously none of us know the severity of Capps pain, but it is scary.
It is a gutsy move for both Terry Ryan and for Matt Capps. It might make sense after a tough 2011 season to go another direction for both the Twins and for Matt Capps. With the way that many Twins fans cascaded boos in Capps’s direction in 2011 (and frequently rightfully so), he could have gone elsewhere for a fresh start. Likewise, the Twins could have just gone another direction. If nothing else, this is a gutsy move from both parties. Let’s be honest, if Bill Smith had still been GM and brought back Matt Capps, there would be an uproar. With Terry Ryan in charge, we can all say that at least he knows what he’s doing and give him the benefit of the doubt.
Like I said earlier, these is a good chance the Capps comes back in 2012 and pitches very well. It’s equally possible that the Twins would draft someone with the draft pick they would have received for losing Capps (likely somewhere between 45-55 overall) who wouldn’t be a huge impact player. We don’t know. It’s possible that Capps could miss half of the 2012 with injury and possible that he becomes an All-Star. We don’t know.
Pending the physical, the contract will be signed and the money will be spent. All we can do is hope that he pitches as he did from 2005 through 2008, or even in 2010, and hope like crazy he doesn’t pitch like he did in 2009 and 2011!
Capps will be one of several topics we’ll cover on tonight’s Twins Winter Meeting Podcast live at 9. We’ll also be joined by Twins 2B/OF Brian Dinkelman and Over The Baggy and TwinsCentric’s Parker Hageman.
In other news, the Twins claimed shortstop Pedro Florimon from the Baltimore Orioles. Florimon will turn 25 years old next week and made his big league debut in 2011 with a September call-up. He went 1-8 with a walk and six strike0uts. He spent the entire season in AA Bowie. In 133 games, he hit .267/.344/.396 with 27 doubles, four triples and eight home runs. I would not be surprised to see Florimon start the season as Rochester’s shortstop with Brian Dozier returning to New Britain for a six weeks or so.
Feel free to comment or send questions in for us to discuss on tonight’s show. There are plenty of Twins rumors out there for us to discuss!