Twins Waste Nearly $5 Million on Matt Capps


It took a month, but Terry Ryan has finally made a move that I absolutely hate. Ryan and the Twins re-signed erratic closer Matt Capps one year deal that pays $4.75 million in 2012. In case the Twins decide that they haven’t wasted enough of Jim Pohlad’s money, there is also a team option to pay Capps $6 million in 2013.

Bad move, Terry. I really can’t think of any way to justify this.

This is a classic example of throwing good money after bad. Now, I slept through my Finance classes, but I am pretty sure I heard somewhere that you shouldn’t do that. The Twins traded Wilson Ramos and Joe Testa for Capps in 2010. Then they picked up an option to pay him more than $7 million in 2011 – enough money to have paid for both Matt Guerrier and Jesse Crain (not that I’m bitter or anything). After being burned severely by Capps last year, the Twins have responded by giving him another one year deal above his market value.

Just two days ago, I explained why closers are a waste of money. My conclusion was that the Twins should not spend more than about $3.5 million for a closer (or really any relief pitcher). But not only did they significantly exceed that amount, they did so for a closer who isn’t even very good! Capps has a total WAR of 0.4 for the past three seasons. In two of those seasons (2009 and 2011), his WAR was negative, which means that it would have been better to put a random AAA player out on the mound. Don’t like the sabermetrics? No problem. Just look at the most basic relief pitcher stats of all, ERA and saves. Capps had an ERA of 4.25 last year, and he blew 9 of 24 save chances, a dismal conversion rate of 62.5%.

True, a lot of Capps’ struggles last year were due to an injury, and he should be commended for playing through the troubles instead of making excuses. In fact, I wrote last week that it wouldn’t be incredibly horrible to bring Capps back (though not exactly a good thing either), as long as he signed for about $2.5 million or less. But even in 2010, according to the dollar value calculations on his Fangraphs page, Capps only provided $4.9 million worth of value. Since 2010 is basically a best-case scenario, it makes no sense at all to pay him as if he would perform at that level.

But Capps doesn’t just cost money. Re-signing him also causes the Twins to forfeit the supplemental round draft pick they would have received if he’d signed elsewhere. For an organization that has always prided itself on developing through the draft rather than throwing money at free agents, this is a completely out of character decision. And let’s not even get into the fact that the Twins’ weak farm system needs as many new talented players as it can get.

It’s almost as if someone is trying to turn Capps into a slow-motion version of Herschel Walker. When the Vikings acquired Walker, he immediately cost them more than a dozen draft picks and players. Capps isn’t at that level yet, but he’s racking up a pretty big body count and an even larger financial tab for the Twins.

If anyone of you reading this thinks I’m overreacting or wrong about this, I beg you to explain why in the comments field below. I really need someone to cheer me up after this move!