Twins have "extra" catcher, Wilson Ramos. Twins have closer, Jon Rauch, who's given up 43 hits in 38 innings. Twins trade Ramos for Nationals closer, Matt Capps, who's having a fine season. Aaron Gleeman's head explodes:
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 bullpen. What he's not is an elite reliever or enough of an upgrade to part with Ramos.
Capps makes the Twins better for the final two months of this season and all of next year, but the improvement isn't nearly as large as the "All-Star closer" label would have you believe and the cost involved is significant in terms of both players and money. Next season the Twins will pay a premium for a quality setup man they perceive as something more because of a reliance on a flawed statistic and they gave up a good catching prospect for the right do that.
Two Questions for Bill Smith:
1. If you didn't have Joe Mauer, would you trade Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps?
2. If Matt Capps had posted his exact statistics this season -- 2.74 ERA in 46 innings -- but as a setup man rather than closer, would you have traded Wilson Ramos for him?
I'm pretty sure the answers are "No way." and "Of course not, you pointy-headed nerd."
The Twins do a lot of things well. Carl Pavano, to name just one thing. But Gleeman's right. This apparent obsession with saves hasn't served them well this week, and there's an excellent chance they're going to regret this trade for the next five or six years.