I'm just spitballing here, but I'm pretty sure the reaction to this trade won't be a positive one. Maybe I'm wrong. In any case, I'm taking what I think will be the contrarian's view by supporting this trade. We'll do it point-by-point...
Matt Capps immediately becomes Minnesota's best relief pitcher
This is not just because he's the new closer. He has a higher strikeout rate than anybody in the bullpen not named Jesse Crain, has a lower walk rate than anybody in the bullpen not named Ron Mahay. He gets a good number of swinging strikes, his FIP and xFIP both insist he's a good bet to continue to be productive going forward, his mid-90s fastball is at least a little bit tricky, he's efficient, works ahead often and is good at finished off hitters in four pitches or less. Those are all positives, and you can't say all of those things about anybody else in the Minnesota bullpen.
Forget that he was an All-Star and forget that he collects something called a "save", he's a good arm.
Matt Capps makes the back end of the bullpen better
Even if Jon Rauch did okay as The Closer, we all know he made us a little nervous. It's hard to argue that he's a better set-up or middle reliever than The Closer, but this much is certain: moving him back moves everyone else back. Having four quality arms like Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Jesse Crain and Rauch available before you get to The Closer makes this team that much deeper, that much harder to come back on and it gives Gardy that many more options depending on what day it is.
The end result is one of these things: Nick Blackburn is sent to Rochester, Ron Mahay is designated for assignment or Anthony Slama is sent back to Rochester. Whichever of these occurs, the bullpen is better.
Wilson Ramos was never going to be a piece of the future for the Twins
He just wasn't. He's too highly regarded to be relegated to backup duties, which meant he'd have to be dealt somewhere. And if you're dealing for help this year, to get the best reliever available, you have to give up something. Considering the Blue Jays want a "top prospect" for Scott Downs, perhaps Ramos' .241/.280/.345 triple slash just wasn't inspiring enough for them and a guy like Aaron Hicks wasn't considered expendible.
Even if the Twins did overpay, it wasn't by much. Ramos is an extra piece, a 23-year old catcher whose bat only plays decently as a catcher, and it's not like he's a sure thing--we probably over-valued him a little bit. He's not Jesus Montero.
Matt Capps helps solidify the bullpen for 2011
In a season where Joe Nathan was lost to injury and three pitchers (Guerrier, Rauch and Crain) are set to become free agents (none of which are a sure bet to be re-signed considering payroll), adding the arbitration-eligible Capps into the equation doesn't just give the Twins a backup closer option in case Nathan isn't ready to go on Opening Day 2011, but if he IS ready then Capps is a quality set-up man to pair with Jose Mijares. And if the option next season is paying Capps in arbitration or re-signing Guerrier to a two-year deal, I'm taking Capps in a heartbeat.
The Twins are a better team with Matt Capps
They are. Ramos wasn't going to play a role on this club in the future, and he didn't have a role in 2010 either. His departure and Capps arrival makes the relief corps better, and as a result the Twins are a better team. They're better equipped to close out games down the stretch with a handful of quality arms, and they're better equipped to hold leads against teams like New York, Texas, Boston or Tampa Bay in October.
This is a move for THIS year. We've been waiting for the Twins to make a move for THIS year, and they have. I'm happy with that. I'm still convinced that 2010 is a special year for the Twins, and that this is a season where we could knock off the Yankees and take home the World Series. Capps can help us do that.