That sound you heard on Monday? That was the collective groan from Twins fans everywhere around the time Joe Christensen posted a blog entry stating that the club has expressed interest in retaining embattled reliever Matt Capps.
The information comes from Capps' agent, Paul Kinzer, and his job is to create a market for his client so it wouldn't be surprising if he is overstating Terry Ryan's interest. Nevertheless, as Seth pointed out yesterday, the Twins wouldn't be crazy to bring Capps back -- in a reduced role and at a palatable price.
Kinzer told Christensen that he expects Capps to get a job closing somewhere, but given the number of established closers in free agency and the number of teams that actually need a ninth-inning guy, this seems like wishful thinking. More likely, Capps will have to settle for a setup job at about half the $7.15 million salary he earned this year. Therefore, I'm not irked by the notion that Ryan would consider reaching out.
I am, however, irked by another tidbit I came across. In pointing out the right-hander's struggles, Christensen mentions that "the Twins appreciated the way Capps kept taking the ball, even when he was dealing with some right wrist tendinitis."
Looking at Capps' 2011 season, it's not difficult to pinpoint the time frame where this ailment may have been affecting him. He's never been a huge strikeout artist, but from June 28th to August 18th he managed only three strikeouts while facing 84 batters. That's a 4 percent K-rate, which makes Nick Blackburn look like Nolan Ryan. During that span, opponents hit .320/.381/.480 against Capps, saddling him with a 5.79 ERA and three blown saves.
Outside of that mid-summer window, though, Capps struck out 16 percent of the batters he faced in 2011, which is right in line with his 18 percent career rate. In combination with his always excellent control, that kind of moderate strikeout proficiency can make Capps a successful late-inning reliever, and certainly has before.
Depending on the terms, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world if the Twins were to bring back Capps for another season. But they'll be a lot better off in 2012 if he and the rest of his teammates swallow their pride and sit out when they're dealing with inhibiting injuries.