The Twins on Thursday night traded Wilson Ramos and a minor league pitcher of little obvious importance to Washington for relief pitcher Matt Capps, who is to supplant Jon Rauch as the ninth-inning saves specialist.
For a Washington-centric view of the trade, click here.
Either Ramos has been badly overhyped in these parts (possible) or his performance this year, and in particular his inability to deal with breaking balls, has lowered his value (also possible). I was envisioning Ramos as the centerpiece of a trade for a higher caliber of pitcher — a Cliff Lee or Joakim Soria — and in that light, this deal is a disappointment. Ramos, I suspect, isn't viewed by other organizations as that good a prospect.
Capps made the National League All-Star team this year, but that's more a reflection of the "All-Star for every team" rule than of his talent. I like Capps, but if the Twins valued him because he's a "proven closer," that's a mistake. In terms of his talent and ability, he's more like Matt Guerrier or Rauch than a healthy Joe Nathan.
That said, I have been increasingly uncomfortable with Rauch in the ninth-inning job. Aaron Gleeman (who does not like this trade) has suggested repeatedly that by limiting Rauch to the ninth inning the Twins have dissipated one of his strengths — his durability.
Capps will still be under team control next season — arbitration eligible — and with Rauch, Guerrier and Jesse Crain all in the final years of their contracts, that was apparently an attraction for the Twins as well, especially with the uncertainty about Nathan's return. But if Capps winds up with 40 saves, he's likely to be an expensive piece of Nathan insurance.
I think Capps will be a slight improvement in the ninth inning on Rauch — and Rauch will be more valuable in the sixth, seventh or eighth innings than, let us say, Anthony Slama. So it's a deeper bullpen, at least for the remains of this year. Whether that's sufficient reason to surrender Ramos ... I'm skeptical, but but it may work out that way.