(Please note: I am completely fine with the move, for many of the reasons Jesse states. Others are less enthused.)
No one would ever suggest that trading Ramos for a reliever who's slightly better than Rauch is a sound idea, yet by focusing on the save statistic the Twins have done just that and many fans will instinctively be on board with the move for an "established closer." Now, don't get me wrong: Capps is a quality reliever and represents a clear upgrade to the Twins' bullpen. What he's not is an elite reliever or enough of an upgrade to part with Ramos.
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.
We know that the Twins and Mariners did have a deal in the works for Cliff Lee that centered around Ramos. Some teams seem to think highly of Ramos. So, it makes it hard to believe that a future good defense/good offense catcher is only worth one of the worst closers in baseball. We are not talking about Joakim Soria here. Again, this is not a knock on Capps as much as just being incredibly surprised or disappointed that the Twins used their top trade chip and didn’t get more.
...Matt Capps makes the Twins a better team this year, and that’s basically the bottom line. Which is true. But if Minnesota doesn’t win this year, and Ramos goes on to be the above-average starting catcher he’s projected to become, this deal could look awfully bad for the Twins long-term.
In exchange for Ramos and his high-ceiling, the Twins fortified their bullpen with another version of Jon Rauch.Admittedly, Capps has much better raw stuff than Rauch. His fastball has three-to-four more miles per hour behind it and can actually miss bats. Whereas Rauch’s heater gets a below average 12% miss rate, Capps’s cheddar gets hitters to miss 20% of the time. Even with that arsenal, he’s still has posted similar results.
Ramos' offensive potential, defensive prowess and position made him a valuable trading chip; one that Twins fans were really banking on to bring back a hefty return. Before the season, Twins fans moaned and groaned over the thought of the Twins trading Ramos to San Diego for Heath Bell. That's not to take away from Bell's or even Capps' ability, it's just that trading a top prospect for a reliever is a half-baked idea.
If we're talking about Joakim Soria, Jonathan Papelbon, Jonathan Broxton or Andrew Bailey, sure. But we're not. We're talking about a guy that posted a 5.80 ERA and was then cut by the second-to-worst-place-team Pittsburgh Pirates last winter. And the same guy who is will command a hefty price in arbitration this off-season.
In a way, I'm with the howling portion of the public on this one. The trade of Ramos doesn't bother me as an inspection of Capps' track record.
He gives up a lot of hits. He strikes out a few more batters than Rauch, but not as many as you would like to see from a closer. He throws 80 percent fastballs and, even at 94 mph, that results in too-frequent home runs.
Perhaps the most damning criticism of the move was made last night on MLB Network, when Mitch Williams said he liked the trade. That's a tough one to get past.
As always, your opinions are welcome in the comments section.