The Twins inactivity over the last few weeks has turned this from a Twins blog to a former Twins blog. I discussed the Delmon Young and Kevin Slowey signings last week, and now I get to write about Matt Capps. Capps signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians today. He will get a chance to show that he has some life left in his 29-year-old shoulder. I'll be honest, I think it was a good signing and I would not have been upset if the Twins had brought him back in 2013.
*ducks pointy, flaming pitchforks; dons Capps jersey; waves on all comers; is defeated by first comer; returns to laptop; weeps*
Matt Capps and I have had a complicated relationship. I first knew of Matt Capps as a cheap saves option in fantasy baseball. He replaced Solomon Torres as the Pirates' closer in June of 2007 and you better believe I rushed out and picked him up. Here is a re-enactment. He spent the rest of that 2007 season as closer and picked up 18 saves while posting a 2.28 ERA and 1.01 WHIP. Not bad at all. I owned Capps in '08 and '09 as well. 2009 was the year we first broke up, as he imploded more often than not and eventually earned my ire for posting a 5.80 ERA due to increased walks and a borderline unfair .360 BABIP.
In 2010, Capps returned to form a bit, while pitching for the Washington Nationals. He pitched well enough as their closer to net the Nationals promising catching prospect Wilson Ramos from the Twins in a mid-season trade. The Twins likely regret that deal now, but Capps was great for the rest of 2010, posting a 2.00 ERA and earning 16 saves, while helping to lead the Twins to an American League Central championship. I was back on the Capps bandwagon, pumping my fist and cheering like a madman all along the way.
2011 was a different story. Capps simultaneously became a save-blowing device and a fan-repelling device. He saved 15 of 24 chances, but held down the closer role while Joe Nathan acclimated himself after having Tommy John surgery. The Twins tanked alongside Capps, finishing last in the division and losing 99 games in the process. One of the few bright spots of the 2011 season was Glen Perkins' emergence as a dominant reliever. Many felt that Perkins would become the closer as Capps' contract expired. They were wrong. We were all wrong. So very wrong. Capps was re-signed and placed back in the closer role, much to the dismay of the many fans who grew to loathe him. Put it this way, Matt Capps was the Kevin Correia of the 2011 off-season. Yeah, that bad.
Twins fans probably felt lucky that Capps only threw 29 innings in 2012. He spent most of the season dealing with shoulder problems and wasn't very effective when he did pitch. However, he is still only 29-years-old. He has never been a strikeout machine, but prior to 2011, he got enough to be effective. He doesn't walk many, but can be a bit home run prone. Pitchf/x data shows that he has lost about a mile off his fastball and sinker, but still works around 93 mph. He was starting to get his velocity back in June, but his injuries really derailed his season.
He really hasn't been good since 2010, but this is such a low risk signing that it really doesn't matter. If his shoulder is strong, he could be an effective late inning option, as crazy as that may seem to Twins' fans. Also, he is apparently a legendarily nice person, so that is pretty cool. I Googled "Matt Capps is really nice" but got nothing. So, yeah, Matt Capps is an Indian. Good stuff. I'll be back in a few days when I figure out which Target Matt Tolbert is working at. That's not nice. I'm sorry. Let me just delet