No, this is not a knee-jerk reaction to Matt Capps’ performance in Monday’s game. This post has nothing to do with that game. However, for the good of this franchise, Neal Huntington should make Capps available as the trade deadline approaches.
Teams were asking about Capps this past offseason, with his name coming up along with Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell as the most valuable Pirates in trade talks. There are many issues with trading Snell or Gorzelanny. Most importantly, the only chance for the Pirates to contend in the near future is for their young staff to somehow develop into a dominant starting rotation. If the Pirates were to deal Snell or Gorzelanny, the team would effectively be giving up on winning with any players on the current roster.
That brings us to Capps. Capps is 24, and had a fantastic 2007 season. He put up a 2.28 ERA, 0.57 HR/9, 1.82 BB/9, 7.29 K/9 and a 1.01 WHIP. 2009 will be his first arbitration season, and he is under the Pirates’ control through 2011. He is also a closer on a team that won only 68 games a year ago. He went through extended periods without a save opportunity last season. Despite his impressive performance, he is not that valuable to this team. However, he would be very valuable to a contender in need of a dependable closer or setup man. These are the opportunities that Huntington should be looking for.
Losing Capps would hurt the Pirates, probably costing them a couple of wins. The bullpen would likely frustrate us the entire season. But it is much easier to find a steady reliever than to find a young position player with offensive potential. In addition, the performance of relievers has been known to fluctuate dramatically from season to season. Keep in mind that Capps basically throws a decent straight fastball, and has a developing slider. Yes, his control is unrivaled. But what if he starts missing his spots by an inch or two? Suddenly those fastballs become very hittable if he is not painting the black. Would it surprise anyone if he suddenly went from dominant to mediocre?
Let me clearly state that I believe Capps will have a great season in 2008. But if the Pirates can somehow flip him for a promising prospect or two, that is something that needs to be done.