Friday, January 21, 2011
It seems like it has been awhile since I’ve thrown some Twins thoughts and opinions into a blog for readers to discuss. To say things have been a bit busy would be a major understatement. But hey, it’s supposed to be 30 degrees below zero tonight, so it’s not like I plan on going anywhere. I do appreciate your continued readership and support. Today, I am just going to talk a little bit about several Twins topics and as always welcome your thoughts and comments on any of the topics.
Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011
My intent is not to bombard you with sales pitches for my Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook – 2011. However, I will only be taking pre-orders through the weekend (changed from Friday as I will place the initial order on Monday). There have been a few pre-orders so far, and again, I won’t put it all here, but if you want to know all about what is in the book, scroll down on this page. To pre-order, you can send me money through Paypal. If you don’t have Paypal, send me an e-mail and we’ll come up with a plan to get you a book too.
$7.15 Million for Matt Capps?
It’s OK for people to change their opinions without being hypocritical, right? When the Twins acquired Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals in exchange for Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa, I did not like the move. Capps was terrible in 2009 and primarily he gave up a lot of hits. Sure, he was a closer but Wilson Ramos was a guy I thought could do a lot for the Twins. I laid out my plan many times here and on podcasts. I said that Joe Mauer could catcher 110 or so games a year, and DH another 40-45. Ramos could have caught those 52 games that Mauer didn’t, plus he could be the right-handed designated hitter and pinch hitter. Drew Butera could still be the backup catcher to either of the starting catchers on a given day, to take away the concern about playing both Ramos and Mauer. With the Twins need for a right-handed bat in its lineup, I really wish Ramos was part of the organization. But he’s not. He hasn’t been since July 31. That’s five-and-a-half months ago, so it can’t factor in to decision making any more.
Now let’s just take the Ramos Factor out of the equation… Matt Capps was terrible in 2009 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Despite 27 saves, he went 4-8 with a 5.80 ERA and a 1.66 WHIP. Terrible, and hence, the Pirates gave up on the then-25 year old and did not tender him a contract.
Now, let’s get over the Bad 2009 Factor… Look at the rest of his career. He was very good in 85 games as a 22 year old in his first full-season in 2006. He was even better in 2007 when he posted a 2.28 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP in 76 games. He became the closer during that season and in 2008, he posted a 3.02 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP. So again, we’re removing the 2009 factor so we jump to 2010. He was an All-Star with the Washington Nationals in 2010. Yes, every team needs to be represented, but the Nationals also had Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn and even Stephen Strasburg who were considered for a spot. Following the trade to the Twins, he was 2-0 with 16 saves in 27 games.
However… he isn’t a prototypical, Nathan-like closer. Sure, that is true, but frankly, he has put up very good numbers in four of his five full seasons. However, Capps only strikes out an average of seven batters per nine innings. He also has a career WHIP of 1.20 which is good, but it’s not dominant. I understand these concerns. But as the great Crash Davis once so eloquently stated, “Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.”
I 100% agree with Phil Mackey who said that, although he may be making $1-2 million more than we’d like, there is a $115 million payroll, so, who cares? Secondly, take a look at his track record and contract and compare it against Heath Bell or Brian Wilson, or even Bobby Jenks and others. He got market value.
I know a lot of people are saying that they could have brought back two relievers for the $7.15 million. Technically yes, but in reality no. I was willing to give Jesse Crain three years and $12 million. He got more than that, but there is a big difference between a one year deal and a three year deal, especially among relief pitchers. Matt Guerrier got three years. Jon Rauch? Well, he wasn’t going to come back anyway. Matt Capps’ only guarantee was one year. It’s a little high. But he’s 26, and he can get better. The reality is that as well as all of the Nathan reports have made it sound, he did have Tommy John surgery. Right now, Matt Capps is the one sure-thing in the Twins bullpen.
Carl Pavano Signs
As I mentioned yesterday, I was at the Twins Winter Caravan in Thief River Falls on Wednesday night when the news came out on Twitter that Pavano and the Twins had reached an agreement on a two year, $16.5 million. Early in the offseason, I often stated that I would rather have two draft picks than bring back Pavano, but that was when the assumption that he would either get three years or $10 million or more. The Twins ended up getting him for an average of $8.25 million for two years. He will be 35 years old and then 36 years old. He has thrown 200 innings the last two years, and although I do not believe he’ll have an ERA under 4.20 again, I think that he can eat innings and be league average or so. There is value in that. The Twins retain six starting pitchers instead of five. Depth is a very good thing.
I really don’t have a lot to say about the Pavano signing because it is very fair. It’s a positive and not very controversial at all.
In the last couple of days, a couple of Twins 40 man roster guys have been designated for assignment by other teams. To make room for Brian Fuentes, the Oakland A’s let go of Steve Tolleson (who I would say is much better than Matt Tolbert!). The Mets signed Chris Young, and to make room, OF Jason Pridie was designated.
Yorman Bazardo was signed as a minor league free agent last month. He’s young, but despite very good minor league numbers, it has not transferred to the big leagues yet. He is pitching for Aragua this winter. In 12 starts, he has gone 7-2 with a 2.38 ERA. In 72 innings, he has just 17 walks, and he has struck out 28. Twenty-eight. How has he struck out so few and still been so good?