Tag: Matt Capps

Miami Marlins Interested in Free-Agent Reliever Matt Capps

The Miami Marlins are looking to boost their bullpen with a veteran presence. One pitcher they are looking into signing is former Minnesota Twins reliever Matt Capps, according to Barry Jackson of MiamiHerald.com.

The 29-year-old reliever is currently a free agent after the Twins bought out his $6 million option for 2013, as reported by Joe Christensen of StarTribune.com.

Capps pitched well when healthy in 2012 but missed several months due to shoulder inflammation.

The onetime Pittsburgh Pirates closer was the winning pitcher of the 2010 All-Star Game as a representative of the Washington Nationals. In that same season, he was dealt to the Minnesota Twins in a trade involving catcher Wilson Ramos. He pitched for the Twins in the 2010 Division Series against the New York Yankees.

The Marlins will go into the 2013 season with a revamped bullpen following the disastrous season with Heath Bell as closer.

Steve Cishek, Dan Jennings and Ryan Webb all showed promise and are 27 years old or younger. The addition of a veteran like Capps could be a steadying presence in their young bullpen.

And Capps would be a much more reasonable signing without a lost draft pick as they had with Bell a year ago.

Sometimes a more frugal move can be a smarter move both for the payroll and on the field. Capps could be the right fit in Miami.

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Minnesota Twins: Matt Capps Injury Comes at Terrible Time

On Tuesday, Minnesota Twins closer Matt Capps was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of irritation in his rotator cuff. Capps is back on the disabled list just four days after being reinstated.

This latest injury could not have come at a worse time for the Minnesota Twins.

Minnesota is 15 games under .500 (37-52) and 12 games back of the first place Chicago White Sox. The Twins plan to be sellers come the July 31 trade deadline.

Capps was a piece Minnesota hoped to dangle in front of teams looking for bullpen help as a way to replenish its pitching depth.

On the season Capps owns a 3.81 ERA, 1.06 WHIP with 18 strikeouts and 14 saves in 28 1/3 innings pitched.

Now, Capps isn’t the best relief pitcher on the market. He doesn’t strike out many batters and can be erratic at times. No team would want to acquire him to be its closer, but he can be a difference-maker for a contending team as a set-up man.

If the Twins had struck a deal for Capps prior to the trade deadline, the team wouldn’t have received top-tier prospects. It could expect to receive average prospects, but that’s not a problem. The team needs all the pitching help it can get.

Minnesota doesn’t need Capps to be its closer either. The team is at least another full season away from competing—more likely two or three years.

Additionally, Capps’ contract is up at the end of this season, and given the state of the Minnesota Twins, many do not expect him to be brought back.

Capps is eligible to come off the disabled list on Aug. 1.

Look for the Twins to orchestrate a trade of Capps over the waiver wire between Aug. 1 and Aug. 31.

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MLB All-Star Game 2012: Breaking Down the Minnesota Twins’ Representative

When your favorite team stinks, it leads to a heated discussion over who should be the “best of the worst” and be the representative for the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

The rule requiring that one player from every team must be in the event has lead to healthy debate and getting somebody like Ron Coomer to rub elbows with people who deserve to be there.

With the Minnesota Twins stuck at the bottom of the American League Central with a 24-35 record, the debate has opened as to whom should represent the team in Kansas City on July 10.

In my mind, there are three players that have the credentials to be put on the All-Star roster.

The first player, and most likely the front-runner, is Josh Willingham. “The Willinghammer” is currently second among American League outfielders in OPS (.969) behind Josh Hamilton. His .289 average is third on the team behind Ben Revere and Joe Mauer

Willingham has also provided several clutch hits for the Twins and has become the first Twin to solve the mystery of Target Field as he’s hit eight of his 12 bombs at the Twins’ home ballpark. For a team that has had it’s fair share of weird excuses, Willingham has been a pure power hitter.

The second candidate for the Twins could be their closer, Matt Capps. Capps is not a fan favorite in Minnesota, but he’s been having a solid season outside of a couple bad outings.

Capps is 14-for-15 in save opportunities this season and has boasted an opponent average of .233. Although Capps has made several games interesting late, he’s done his job well and could be rewarded with a trip to Kansas City.

Finally, there’s the pitcher that’s lead the Twins to a better stretch of play recently in Scott Diamond. The Twins acquired Diamond prior to the 2010 season and stashed him in Triple-A for a couple of seasons.

After making seven starts for the Twins last year (1-5, 5.08 ERA), Diamond made adjustments and is arguably their best pitcher with a record of 5-1 in seven starts.

No rookie pitcher has had a better start to their career than Diamond has, as his 1.61 ERA is a franchise-low for a rookie pitcher. Diamond has also cut down on the runners he’s let on base total including walking just four batters in 44.1 innings entering Tuesday.

While the Twins haven’t set the world on fire in the first half of the season, it’s safe to say that they’ll be sending somebody more qualified than Coomer was when he made his 1999 All-Star appearance. If it’s up to you, who would you choose to represent the Twins in the All-Star game?

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Minnesota Twins: 6 Bold Predictions for the Twins’ 2012 Season

2011 was a season which the Twins and their fans would like to forget sooner rather than later. The team is approaching the start of spring training with a lot of question marks throughout their 25-man roster. Most notably, will the bullpen be better? can Mauer and Morneau regain their MVP form? And most importantly, what are the playoff chances looking like?

The following are six bold predictions I have for the Twins in 2012 which will help to answer those questions and more.

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Minnesota Twins Changeup: Matts Capps Replaces Joe Nathan as Closer

One of the many questions entering the 2011 season for the Twins was “Will Joe Nathan be ready?”

Twins faithful got their answer and that answer is apparently no.

The ball club announced that last seasons trade deadline acquisition Matt Capps will take over the closer role while Nathan tries to fully regain his composure. Nathan had two blown save opportunities on Thursday and then again on Saturday which prompted the move.

“Until I start getting that back, and I know I will at some time, I don’t want to put this team at any risk and cost them ballgames right now,” Nathan said. “I just thought it was the right thing to do for the ballclub and myself. Give myself a chance to get out there and still pitch on a consistent basis. Obviously that’s what I need to do. Getting away from where every pitch could cost us a game.”

Capps picked up the save in a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday, his first save as the Twins’ official closer.

The Twins are dealing with a double-edged sword of sorts here. On the one hand, they will get consistent work out of Capps, whom they traded catching prospect Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for. But on the other hand, you want Nathan to be your man at the end as the Twins bullpen can’t take too much more weakening.

Prior to the switch, Capps was the Twins’ setup man and Nathan was the closer. Now Capps is the man and the Twins will cycle through setup men.

Nathan’s recent woes are not really much of a surprise. It was naive to think he would come back from Tommy John surgery and be 100 percent. Nathan missed all of the 2010 season due to the surgery and many doubted he would ever come back given his age and the severity of the surgery.

But Nathan passed all spring training tests and made his triumphant return during the Twins’ first series of the year in Toronto.

After that Nathan’s ERA would skyrocket to 8.44 in six games despite saving his previous three chances prior to Thursday. Even before the surgery, Nathan has shown signs of trouble in the ninth. He’s still one of the better closers in the league, but he still doesn’t provide a rock solid confidence when he enters the game.

Nathan will now have time to work on his stuff before he makes his second return. He spoke with manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson about possibly taking a hiatus from closing after he allowed two runs in a third of an inning Saturday.

Nathan is just one of many depleted Twins as stars Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are both struggling with illnesses. Mauer is on the 15-day DL and Morneau sat out Sunday’s win in Tampa. Nathan hopes he’ll be back sooner, and better than ever.

“We’re definitely close, it’s not like I’m miles away,” Nathan said. “I don’t think this is too far off.”

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Minnesota Twins: Top 5 Storylines To Watch In 2011

The Minnesota Twins are coming off a banner season.

They won their sixth American League Central title since 2002, opened Target Field, which ESPN named the “best fan experience in all of sports,” and set an attendance record of over three million fans.

So what will define 2011 for Minnesota Twins fans?

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Five Players Not Named Mauer That the Twins Need To Win the World Series

The Minnesota Twins clinched the American League Central earlier this week.  Every year, the Twins seem to make the playoffs even if they don’t have the best talent.

Joe Mauer is the best player and linchpin of this Twins team, but there are many other players you don’t know that are crucial to the success of this team.

Here are five players who need to have a big postseason for the Twins to have a shot at winning the World Series.

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Minnesota Twins Approach the Best Record in Baseball, but Does It Feel Right?

For Minnesota, the magic number for clinching the American League Central title (8) is smaller than the Twins’ lead in the division (9).

Since the All-Star break no one has been better than the Twins this year—and over the past 50 years there are only two teams that have been this good. 

At 88-58, they are but one half-game from the best record in all of baseball and home-field advantage through the American League Championship Series.

The Twins are near the top of the team leader boards for defense, offense and pitching. 

Their .278 batting average is tied with the Rangers for tops in the league.

They have the second-best fielding percentage of .988, behind the Yankees’ .989. 

Their team ERA is 3.77, second only to the Oakland A’s at 3.59. 

Include the inaugural season of Target Field, and all of this points to a potential third World Series championship for the Minnesota Nine.

Yet something just doesn’t feel right.

Here’s my look at five things that just “feel” wrong, and an attempt to change that—in my own mind, at least.

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Matt Capps: More of a Lucky Reliever Than a Great Closer

When the Minnesota Twins got Matt Capps in a trade with the Nationals, Twins fans cheered.

This ushered in the era of another fantastic arm in the bullpen, a fill-in or replacement for Joe Nathan if he can’t return to form, and an upgrade from Jon Rauch.

It was a sign from the front office that they are actively trying to win a World Series. All these and more were things you could hear around Minnesota as fans starting dreaming of a deep playoff run.

Upon hearing that the Twins traded for Matt Capps, I cringed.

I have seen him pitch, and I don’t argue that he is a good pitcher or an upgrade from Rauch or any other option the Twins had.

Some points made about him I cannot argue; however, there are many that I can. One point is that he is more lucky then dominant.

Consider this for a hypothetical situation: a pitcher that throws nothing but a 4-seam fastball and a 2-seam fastball.

Said pitcher does succeed at getting batters out in different ways.

His fastball ranges from 93 to 95 miles per hour. Sounds pretty good right?

Now imagine this pitcher doesn’t throw any other pitches, and he is your closer.

Seems a bit scary right? This is exactly what concerns me about Matt Capps.

According to fangraphs.com, Matt Capps throws a fastball 74.6 percent of pitches, his slider 20.6 percent of pitches, and a change-up 4.8 percent of pitches.

This has been a recurring trend since he entered the league in 2005. 

It is not just how often he throws his fastball that makes me cringe either, it is how often he gets hit and gives up runs.

In 46.0 innings with the Washington Nationals, Matt Capps gave up 51 hits and 20 runs. So far with the Twins, in 19 innings Capps has allowed 21 hits and 7 runs.

Those numbers for a closer scare me.

While watching last night’s game, I got nervous because Matt Capps came in to close it down and gave up two runs to put the Kansas City Royals within one run of tying the game.

The other thing I noticed is that the American League hitters are catching on to the propensity at which he throw fastballs.

This is not good, that is why I am predicting that if he doesn’t learn how to use his other pitches and mix it up a little, not only will he not be successful in the postseason, but he will also see a decline in his saves total and era for as long as he stays in the American League.

If he continues this trend, I think he will find himself out of a closing job in real hurry.


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Grading Francisco Liriano, Minnesota Twins’ Pitching Staff: Starters and Closer

The Minnesota Twins appear to be on their way to winning back-to-back division titles and for the first time in two years, not having to go to a game 163. With the Twins sitting comfortably in front of the Chicago White Sox they will have the opportunity to rest pitchers down the stretch and set their rotation however they would like for the postseason.

There’s a good chance Francisco Liriano will be thrown out in Game 1 against either the Tampa Bay Rays or New York Yankees. The other option would be Carl Pavano, who has been a godsend for the Twins’ rotation with the way he eats up innings.

The postseason is creeping up closer and closer, which means it’s time to grade the pitching staff up to this point.


Francisco Liriano—B+

It was a tough choice not to give Liriano an A especially seeing how well he’s pitched since the All-Star break. While he’s had a very good season, he hasn’t pitched like a staff ace consistently enough. Consistency is something the promising lefty is going to have to work on if he ever wants to be considered an elite pitcher.

Right now, Liriano is having a good stretch, but as many Twins fans know, he is just as capable to fall into a three- or four-start funk.


Carl Pavano—B

He always seems to give Minnesota seven or eight quality innings every start and more importantly, a chance to win. When Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, and Nick Blackburn were struggling, it was Liriano and Pavano who kept the Twins afloat.

Over June and July, Pavano compiled an 8-1 record, lowering his ERA to 3.21 at one point, which put him in the Cy Young conversation for a brief stint. Since then he has come back to Earth a bit, but without that remarkable stretch earlier in the season. the Twins wouldn’t be where they are today.

Scott Baker—D

“Moonshot Scott” is by far one of the more overvalued players in baseball.

For some reason Minnesota believes that Baker is an above-average pitcher, even though he hasn’t produced like it on the mound. Baker will sucker you in with a dazzling performance making you think that he’s turned a corner, only to break your heart with a subsequent poor outing. One complaint about Baker is his consistency.

That’s not the case this year as he has been consistently bad. 


Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn—C

Slowey gets a C because he simply is an average starting pitcher who is having an average season.

Blackburn is different. He was so bad at one point during the season that he was sent down to the Minors to try to rediscover his sinker ball. In May, he went 5-0 with a 2.65 ERA, which he followed up with two disastrous months leading to his demotion. Since being called back up, he has pitched very well and would most likely be the fourth starter in a seven game series. 


Brian Duensing—A

Since joining the rotation, Duensing has posted a 5-1 mark to go with a 3.06 ERA. Not to mention that he was a key member of the bullpen for the majority of the season before he was summoned to be a starter.

It’s clear that he has become the No. 3 guy behind Liriano and Pavano surpassing Baker, Slowey, and Blackburn. For the second-straight season, Duensing has stepped into the rotation in a pennant race and delivered. His stellar pitching helped the Twins surge past the White Sox into first place. 


Matt Capps—C-

Capps was acquired from the Washington Nationals in exchange for highly touted catching prospect, Wilson Ramos. While Capps‘s numbers with Minnesota may not look all that bad, they aren’t much better than the man he replaced, Jon Rauch. He’s blown two save opportunities in 11 chances, but has routinely given up base runners and made the game much more interesting.

That’s never a good thing if you are supposed to be a shut down closer. The complaint about Rauch was that he didn’t have overpowering stuff and gave up too many hits. Capps has come in and thrown the ball harder than Rauch, but not necessarily more effectively.

In 19 innings, the former National has given up 20 hits, while striking out 13 batters. The jury is still out on Capps as his so-so regular season performance with the Twins will definitely be erased if he is able to get the job done in October.

Something not even former All-Star Joe Nathan could do.

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