Intro, shmintro. I’m tired, and now I feel sick. Let’s count the eight little balls of hate I’ll be counting as I try to fall asleep tonight.
8. I hate that the Twins apparently didn’t value Wilson Ramos.
And I say that as a guy who argued that most of us are overvaluing Ramos’ trade value just a couple of weeks ago. But he was worth a lot more than this.
I get it – Ramos is expendable because Joe Mauer is signed for $23 million for the next eight years. But that doesn’t make Ramos worthless, and it really doesn’t mean the Twins needed to trade him RIGHT NOW. Ramos doesn’t run out of options until 2012, and he’s just 22. He could spend the next year and a half improving on his .241 batting average, and still just be 24 years old when he needs to start playing in the bigs. And then he could start slowly there, being used as a backup catcher. Or, they could try something a little more creative….
7. I hate that the Twins traded Ramos away just when we figured out that Mauer might need some rest.
If there is one message that that Ron Gardenhire has driven home over the last month, both by his words and his actions, it is that everyone seems to understand that Mauer is much more effective when he isn’t catching every game. This month, he’s resting and he’s hitting. For instance, Mauer has hit three home runs this month and all of them happened the day after he rested or was the designated hitter.
And so Ramos could be viewed as the perfect compliment for Mauer – a catcher and right-handed power bat that can help the lineup even when Mauer is resting or playing designated hitter. And perhaps they could even keep Ramos’ big right-handed bat in the lineup when Mauer was catching. Plus, Ramos would be under the Twins control for almost the entirety of Mauer’s contract.
Or we could just watch Drew Butera and his .214 career minor league batting average. Read those last five words again. And softly weep.
6. I hate that the Twins traded for a position in which they have minor league options.
If there is ONE position that the Twins have plenty of internal options, it’s that of right-handed reliever. We’ve been waiting for Anthony Slama, Kyle Waldrop and Rob Delaney to show what they can or can’t do for months, but the excuse has been that they couldn’t be added to the 40-man roster.
And that excuse was B.S.
The Twins could’ve place Clay Condrey on the 60-day dl back at the beginning of June, but waited until mid-July. And there were a handful of other fringe prospects that the Twins could’ve removed, but they would’ve risked losing them. And they certainly could have made room on the 25-man roster, such as sending down Jose Mijares, if they weren’t so concerned about burning one of his options.
Instead they traded away one of their better prospects for pennies on the dollar. You tell me which is more valuable. The roster moves for the Twins have been pennywise and pound-foolish all season, and the pound came due today.
By now, the Twins should know whether they really needed to trade for another reliever. Instead, we’ve seen Slama up for about a week, making about two appearances. We have no idea how Waldrop or Delaney’s stuff plays.
(And let’s not forget that Pat Neshek is still trying to find his way back up here too.)
5. I hate Matt Capps contract status.
There is a reason that Capps was signed last year as a free agent by the Nationals, instead of being retained by the Pirates, even though he was two years short of free agency.
It’s because the Pirates couldn’t afford to offer him arbitration. That’s because offering arbitration to a closer, especially a mediocre closer with a lot of saves, is a dangerous proposition. Capps has 27 saves for the Pirates last year, and will likely end up with the high 30s this year. That’s 60+ saves over the last two years that he can carry into an arbitration hearing, along with five years of MLB experience under his belt.
I can’t crunch all those numbers, but if the Twins offer Capps arbitration next year, it’ll likely at least double his $3.5M salary this year. And the next year, when he’s a Type A free agent, offering him arbitration could results in a payout approaching eight figures, so there is no guarantee the Twins will want to take that chance. Which means they may not get back those two top draft picks for Capps if he walks.
4. I hate that we are trying to portray Capps as a valuable bullpen arm.
We all know that saves stats are worthless. And even little kids can tell you why ERA is a silly statistic for relievers, so let’s not get too caught up in Capps’ 2.80 mark.
If you want a really basic stat that is fairly useful for relievers, go with Walks plus Hits compared to Innings Pitched or WHIP. It’s often listed, easily figured out, and if you list the relievers for a team in the order of their WHIP, you get pretty close to who is the best and worst are. For instance, here are the Twins relievers (with at least 10 IP) and their WHIPs:
Brian Duensing 1.05
Jesse Crain 1.15
Matt Guerrier 1.17
Ron Mahay 1.19
Jose Mijares 1.27
Jon Rauch 1.36
Alex Burnett 1.51
That’s about right. Duensing has done the heavy lifting. Crain and Guerrier have both been a step below that, but still very good. I’m a little surprised to see Mahay that high, but when you only face one left-handed batter a game, I guess that helps. I’m a little surprised to see Rauch that low, though he’s been hit pretty hard lately. And Burnett’s number got bad enough that he’s back in AAA.
Capps, by the way, has a WHIP of 1.33, which means he’s about the same as Rauch, and not one of the top relievers on this staff.
You can use more advanced metrics, and you find the same thing. I talked a few months back about how valuable Joe Nathan was by introducing Adjusted Runs Prevented (http://twinsgeek.blogspot.com/2009/10/theres-stat-for-that-adjusted-runs.html). Those stats will tell you the same thing – and it’s something you already know: Matt Capps is a slightly above average reliever who happens to have fallen into a “closer” role.
But even if you want to argue that he’s better than Rauch, that doesn’t mean much. The Twins already have several guys who are better than Rauch. And that’s not particularly hard to find, provided you don’t get carried away with saves.
3. I hate that the Twins seem to really value the title of “closer.”
I have tried for years to defend the practice of giving guys in the bullpen certain roles. I can confidently state that about 75% of the criticism leveled towards that practice is unfair and knee-jerk. And I’ve consistently defended Ron Gardenhire and the Twins for that practice for several years, because it’s worked.
But there is no defending this. It appears that the ONLY reason the Twins made this trade was because Capps was a “closer.” And not even a closer that anyone can reasonably claim has felt any real urgency, given that he’s been working in the pressure cookers of PNC Park and Nationals Park.
2. I hate the $500,000.
Why? Why would the Twins ask for $500,000 back in this deal? They’re going to need to pay Capps about $1.2M for the rest of the year, so it doesn’t cover the whole salary. They supposedly had money from Nathan’s insurance to help cover additional salary. Why does this matter exactly? What is being paid for? Are the Twins really that cash strapped?
Of course, I’m not sure it matters, because….
1. I hate that this looks like THE move.
The Twins just traded their best trade chip to add the fifth best reliever to their bullpen. What’s more, two weeks ago it appeared that the Twins could’ve had Cliff Lee for Wilson Ramos and Aaron Hicks – and now the Twins have Matt Capps and Aaron Hicks. Plus, it appears our hope that the Twins have money to spend at the trade deadline might have been misplaced. And, of course, there are only 36 hours until the trade deadline.
There are only five words that give me any hope at all about this trade: Shannon Stewart and Bobby Kielty. I’ve been wrong plenty of times before about trades, and that’s the best example. Plus, I generally trust the Twins scouts, as they proved again last year with Carl Pavano.
You can try and talk me down in the comments below. Or, add your own reasons you hate it. I'll likely add to it throughout the day.