• Matt Capps and his looming option year

    In last night's loss to the New York Yankees, Matt Capps made his return to the field after missing almost the entire second half of the season. It was the first action for Capps after not appearing in a game since the middle of July. The season has been injury plagued for the 29-year old relief pitcher and his time with the Twins has been full of plenty of ups-and-downs. Fans seem to hold a grudge against Capps for his poor play in the last couple of years but some of this hatred might be better aimed at the front office for the Twins. The past decisions with Capps have left fans scratching their heads and it's tough to know what the next move will be from the front office.
    Back in 2010 when the Twins traded catching prospect Wilson Ramos for relief pitcher Matt Capps, there was plenty of uproar across Twins Territory. It was tough to see the Twins giving up on one of their best positional prospects for what looked like a mediocre relief pitcher. Capps would be under team control through 2011 so the team wasn't giving up a prospect for a couple months of a relief pitcher. The deal was still tough to swallow and it doesn't help that Ramos has looked good for the Nationals even though he suffered a season-ending injury earlier this year. It could go down as one of the worst trades in team history and it is one of the many things fans hold against former general manager Bill Smith.

    During last offseason, the Twins had the opportunity to part ways with Mr. Capps because the veteran relief pitcher was heading to free agency for the first time in his career. If the Twins had let Capps sign with another team, the organization would have been given a draft pick as compensation for him leaving the team. Instead, the Twins thought it was more important to sign him to a contract for 2012 and the scariest thing is the fact the team has an option for next season. The option is for $6 million with a low buyout of $250,000 so it seems tough to think the Twins won't buy him out but the team has made some surprise decisions with Capps in the past.

    Would the Twins ever consider bring back Capps on a one-year deal for $6 million?

    Some fans might shiver at the thought of Capps being back in a Twins uniform next year especially with how good the bullpen has looked in 2012. Glen Perkins is set-up to be the closer for the next handful of years and the Twins signed him to a cheap deal during last offseason. Jared Burton has burst onto the scene as another very good arm out of the bullpen and he has shown the ability to get some big outs in late-inning situations. Looking to the offseason, the bullpen seems to be the least of the worries for the Twins and the $6 million option for Capps could be better spent on starting pitching or help in the middle infield.

    It's hard to imagine what role Capps would serve if he was brought back for another season in Minnesota. Perkins and Burton seem to have the last couple innings of games under control so this would shift Capps to a set-up role in the 7th inning or earlier. The Twins have gotten a look at plenty of other options to fill-up the bullpen for next season and players like Alex Burnett, Anthony Swarzak, and Casey Fien will all come with a smaller price tag than Capps. There doesn't seem to be a place for him on the 2013 Twins but that doesn't mean he won't be back in Minnesota.

    The front office has made some surprising decisions surrounding Capps in the past such as trading for him in the first place and resigning him when they had a free draft pick sitting in front of them. So even though it seems unlikely, there is always a chance the front office surprises fans again and brings Capps back for next year. When the team signed him last offseason, there were a lot of comments about his attitude and make-up being one of the reasons the team wanted him back in a Twins uniform. After back-to-back poor seasons, his attitude might not be enough to get another multi-million dollar deal in Minnesota.

    Then again, I have been surprised with their decisions surrounding Capps in the past...
    This article was originally published in blog: Matt Capps and his looming option year started by Cody Christie
    Comments 37 Comments
    1. zenser's Avatar
      zenser -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      Capps is a good pitcher. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to taking the option. For me, the salary isn't a big issue unless it prohibits signing a free agent starting pitcher.
      If Capps is a good pitcher, Butera is a good catcher and Valencia was a good 3B and Nishioka is a good middle infielder. The Twins could have saved some money and signed one of the other half a dozen guys that got one year deals and would have had about the same pitcher.

      Some other team can sign him for the 2-3 million range and he can be there problem. I just hope he stays in the AL so he can pitch BP to us at the end of the game.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      1)i see you blame bill smith ,even though it is known that terry ryan was his advisior and made all of the transactions during smith tenoras g.m.
      This is patently untrue. Stop saying it.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      I am not a Capps hater but I did not like the trade either.
      He was not a mediocre pitcher when they acquired him, as he was a legit All Star that season with Nationals, who had 3 that summer.
      I was not the biggest Ramos fan, who I see as a middle of road prospect still. TRyan rectified that deal by signing Ryan Doumit.....a better option.
      I agree that we should of taken the draft pick tho as closers can be overrated and the way Gardy uses em is proof of that.
      However, if they sign Capps to a total incentive laden deal to pitch the 7th/8th in Alex Burnett's spot, I wouldnt hate it....but ONLY an incentive games pitched deal to offset his arm problems.
    1. twinswon1991's Avatar
      twinswon1991 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      1)i see you blame bill smith ,even though it is known that terry ryan was his advisior and made all of the transactions during smith tenoras g.m.
      This is patently untrue. Stop saying it.
      During the Smith years TR did provide all player eval imput to BS as BS has no player eval skillsn. BS is to blame for the bad contracts but Ryan and his scouts are to blame for the utter lack of talent in the organization.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinswon1991 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      1)i see you blame bill smith ,even though it is known that terry ryan was his advisior and made all of the transactions during smith tenoras g.m.
      This is patently untrue. Stop saying it.
      During the Smith years TR did provide all player eval imput to BS as BS has no player eval skillsn. BS is to blame for the bad contracts but Ryan and his scouts are to blame for the utter lack of talent in the organization.
      Did JR advise BS on players? No doubt. Did Smith listen? I have no idea and neither does anyone else on this forum. In the end, Smith was the decision maker. He gets the blame for bad decisions made during his tenure. Given what JR has done since that point (plus signings in Doumit/Willingham/Burton, a marginal signing in Carroll, and bad signings in Marquis/Capps), I think he's done a decent job with the franchise. The last draft certainly went gangbusters with Buxton and Berrios.

      Like I've been saying all along, rebuilding is not a five minute process. JR is entering his second offseason. If he doesn't come through this winter, then it's time to start complaining.
    1. tmerrickkeller's Avatar
      tmerrickkeller -
      Rosterman hit the nail on the head - spend Baker/Pavano money on one pitcher, spend Casilla/Capps/Marquis money on another. Now, it isn't fair to think about the option year dollars that we'd have to spend if we retained them ('cuz we aren't, under this scenario) and it IS fair to consider those players who are due raises.

      Where does that put us? How much do we have to spend, assuming $90 million as payroll? And then (I'd argue) assume it is worth it to spend $5-$10 million more to improve the team and send a positive PR message and try to fill the seats again (and that RP move HAS to be 2 decent starting pitchers). If we take those dollars and compare them to the bumper crop of FA SPs this year, who could we get? (and please don't tell me we'd get Baker and Pavano back, maybe sign FA Francisco Liriano and "load up" with the same old same old). Who could we really get?

      I've got to think about something positive, winter is coming.
    1. nick5253's Avatar
      nick5253 -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by nick5253 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Capps would have been a Type B free agent. That would have netted them the 58th pick. In the middle of the winter they would have expected a Pavano, Liriano and Baker combo to healthy and have 15-16 wins each the next year, being optimistic, and Blackburn to be .500. You do need a closer if the three pitchers returned healthy and in in 2009-2010 form. If you think your squad has a chance, then you need a closer, not a pen of questions. The end result was players stepped forward.
      Your logic "If you think your squad has a chance, then you need a closer, not a pen of questions" is solid, but the choice of Capps was obviously incorrect. The Twins could have had a similar bullpen arm AND the pick.

      Here are the 'closers' signed in 2012, their salaries (mil), and finally their 2012 WAR (FG):

      1 YR Deals:
      Matt Capps, 6, -0.1
      Jonathan Broxton, 4, 1.3
      Ryan Madson, 6, 0
      Francisco Cordero, 4.5, -0.8
      Octavio Dotel, 3, 1.5
      Brad Lidge, 1, -0.2
      Jon Rauch, 3.5, 0.4
      Fernando Rodney, 1.75, 2.2
      Francisco Rodriguez, 8, 0.3

      Multi-YR Deals:
      Heath Bell, 6, 0.4
      Frank Francisco, 5.5, 0.1
      Joe Nathan, 7, 1.7
      Jonathan Papelbon, 11, 1.4

      The Twins weren't eveer going to go multi-year on a 'closer', so looking only at that first group, the Twins could have had better production from nearly all of that group AND received a draft pick AND paid less is nearly every case.

      This is why their logical was flawed for signing Capps.
      Those that signed a one year deal, what was their WAR the previous season? You would be basing your decision on what they have done and anticipate continuation. When used as a closer, what was Capps WAR when healthy? He wasn't this year.
      Player, '12 Salary, '12 WAR, '11 WAR

      1 YR Deals:
      Matt Capps, 6, -0.1, -0.4
      Jonathan Broxton, 4, 1.3, -0.3
      Ryan Madson, 6, 0, 1.7
      Francisco Cordero, 4.5, -0.8, 0.1
      Octavio Dotel, 3, 1.5, 0.9
      Brad Lidge, 1, -0.2, 0.3
      Jon Rauch, 3.5, 0.4, -0.6
      Fernando Rodney, 1.75, 2.2, -0.2
      Francisco Rodriguez, 8, 0.3, 1.4

      So, in order of 2011 WAR, the Twins chose the 2nd worst player and paid him the 2nd most money AND sacrificed a draft pick.

      Capps cumulative WAR for the Twins over the 2+ years, is 0.1 (0.6,-0.4,-0.1) for which he has 'earned' around 13 mil. Capps value was clear to nearly everyone (except BS & apparently old nurse) when the Twins acquired him: a good setup man as long as he's cost controlled that was labeled a 'closer' by virtue of being the best bullpen arm on a couple bad teams.

      You can spin the trade by saying you undervalue Ramos considerably, but there is no way you can spin last year's signing and forfeiture of the 'free' draft pick.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      I am sure that the Twins will look again in the heap pile and find another couple pitchers better than Capps next season (like they did with Burton and Fien this season) I just find it irritating that they are playing him in expense of a prospect or two...
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by nick5253 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by nick5253 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Capps would have been a Type B free agent. That would have netted them the 58th pick. In the middle of the winter they would have expected a Pavano, Liriano and Baker combo to healthy and have 15-16 wins each the next year, being optimistic, and Blackburn to be .500. You do need a closer if the three pitchers returned healthy and in in 2009-2010 form. If you think your squad has a chance, then you need a closer, not a pen of questions. The end result was players stepped forward.
      Your logic "If you think your squad has a chance, then you need a closer, not a pen of questions" is solid, but the choice of Capps was obviously incorrect. The Twins could have had a similar bullpen arm AND the pick.

      Here are the 'closers' signed in 2012, their salaries (mil), and finally their 2012 WAR (FG):

      1 YR Deals:
      Matt Capps, 6, -0.1
      Jonathan Broxton, 4, 1.3
      Ryan Madson, 6, 0
      Francisco Cordero, 4.5, -0.8
      Octavio Dotel, 3, 1.5
      Brad Lidge, 1, -0.2
      Jon Rauch, 3.5, 0.4
      Fernando Rodney, 1.75, 2.2
      Francisco Rodriguez, 8, 0.3

      Multi-YR Deals:
      Heath Bell, 6, 0.4
      Frank Francisco, 5.5, 0.1
      Joe Nathan, 7, 1.7
      Jonathan Papelbon, 11, 1.4

      The Twins weren't eveer going to go multi-year on a 'closer', so looking only at that first group, the Twins could have had better production from nearly all of that group AND received a draft pick AND paid less is nearly every case.

      This is why their logical was flawed for signing Capps.
      Those that signed a one year deal, what was their WAR the previous season? You would be basing your decision on what they have done and anticipate continuation. When used as a closer, what was Capps WAR when healthy? He wasn't this year.
      Player, '12 Salary, '12 WAR, '11 WAR

      1 YR Deals:
      Matt Capps, 6, -0.1, -0.4
      Jonathan Broxton, 4, 1.3, -0.3
      Ryan Madson, 6, 0, 1.7
      Francisco Cordero, 4.5, -0.8, 0.1
      Octavio Dotel, 3, 1.5, 0.9
      Brad Lidge, 1, -0.2, 0.3
      Jon Rauch, 3.5, 0.4, -0.6
      Fernando Rodney, 1.75, 2.2, -0.2
      Francisco Rodriguez, 8, 0.3, 1.4

      So, in order of 2011 WAR, the Twins chose the 2nd worst player and paid him the 2nd most money AND sacrificed a draft pick.

      Capps cumulative WAR for the Twins over the 2+ years, is 0.1 (0.6,-0.4,-0.1) for which he has 'earned' around 13 mil. Capps value was clear to nearly everyone (except BS & apparently old nurse) when the Twins acquired him: a good setup man as long as he's cost controlled that was labeled a 'closer' by virtue of being the best bullpen arm on a couple bad teams.

      You can spin the trade by saying you undervalue Ramos considerably, but there is no way you can spin last year's signing and forfeiture of the 'free' draft pick.
      WTF did I ever say that was spin? You are the one using a single stastic. First off, can you even tell what the p value of the rating is so one could tell if .4 difference betweens players really means diddly. The second fatal flaw is your assumption that the Twins did not contact any of the other pitchers.
      Like it or not Capps is what they could get for a reliever in 2010. The cost was a potentially good catcher. Clearly Rauch was not the answer. With Nathan making it clear he wasn't going to come back you have to make your best guess. Capps WAR as listed in 2011 when he was used as a closer was 1.2. 1.2 looks good by your list. Who or what would sign with the Twins and could perform well in their park.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      Capps is a good pitcher. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to taking the option. For me, the salary isn't a big issue unless it prohibits signing a free agent starting pitcher.
      Even a healthy Capps is not worth the $6.25m difference between the option and the buyout. Pass.

      Scott Baker won't get that much in 2013. Who would you rather see paid that money?
      Obviously he's not worth it, but he's an above average righty when healthy and a familiar option. Capps performance is not a gamble if he stays with the team. I see the Pohlad's saving money this year and think it wouldn't harm the Twins financially if they decided to pick it up. I don't mind 1 year deals for larger amounts of money. It doesn't hamper the following year with a hefty salary and for the year 2013, money won't be an issue.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Quote Originally Posted by zenser View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      Capps is a good pitcher. I certainly wouldn't be opposed to taking the option. For me, the salary isn't a big issue unless it prohibits signing a free agent starting pitcher.
      If Capps is a good pitcher, Butera is a good catcher and Valencia was a good 3B and Nishioka is a good middle infielder. The Twins could have saved some money and signed one of the other half a dozen guys that got one year deals and would have had about the same pitcher.

      Some other team can sign him for the 2-3 million range and he can be there problem. I just hope he stays in the AL so he can pitch BP to us at the end of the game.
      No logic in this response at all. A 3.61 ERA (since joining the Twins) is pretty good as a reliever. He keeps runners off the bases and an excellent WHIP of 1.172 shows that. He's not elite, but really? Don't compare him to scrubs who couldn't cut it in the majors.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post

      No logic in this response at all. A 3.61 ERA (since joining the Twins) is pretty good as a reliever. He keeps runners off the bases and an excellent WHIP of 1.172 shows that. He's not elite, but really? Don't compare him to scrubs who couldn't cut it in the majors.
      No he's not Nishi or Butera. But, just so we're clear, 3.61 ERA would place him in the bottom half of all relievers since 2010. He's not elite, no, and he's really not even been that good, and certainly not worth the money.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      He would be a fine reliever to have around for a million or two, as the fourth or fifth option out of the pen.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      He would be a fine reliever to have around for a million or two, as the fourth or fifth option out of the pen.
      I'd go as far to say that he'd be an excellent third option, maybe even second if he can get healthy and repeat 2010.

      But not at $6.5m. Never.
    1. Docsilly's Avatar
      Docsilly -
      Pay him his buyout of 250K and then try to sign him to an incentive laden deal. 2 years/4 million with bonuses that could reach 1-1.5 million/year. I really like the possibility of Capps in the 7th, Burton 8th, and Perkins being the closer. Now mix in the younger guys and that looks pretty good! Bullpen set for next year and not a lot of $$$$$$. Now go get a starter or two.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I'd go as far to say that he'd be an excellent third option, maybe even second if he can get healthy and repeat 2010..
      If he's healthy, and if he could work his way back to a mid-7's strikeout rate.
    1. Montecore's Avatar
      Montecore -
      Good riddance to bad rubbish.
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