Monday, December 14, 2009

Matt Capps to Baltimore? It's Not A Crazy Idea

Roch Kubatko has confirmed that the Orioles are interested in recently non-tendered free agent closer Matt Capps.

At first blush, the addition of Matt Capps as the Oriole closer would be cringe-inducing. Digest these numbers, if you will. A 4-8 record with a 5.80 ERA and 5 blown saves (vs. 27 saves). Those are not encouraging numbers. So why would the Orioles be interested?

1. A .370 BABIP - That is a crazy high number. Either the guy's completely done as a ballplayer or that number is coming way down. His career high before this season was .272. He looks to have been incredibly unlucky in 2009.

2. A 2.71 K/BB ratio - Even with a uptick in walks last season (2.82 BB/9), that's just 17 walks in 54.1 innings and 57 appearances. That's passable, especially against 46 Ks. There's still a good ability to miss bats.

3. He Gave Up Some Cheap Home Runs - Capps gave up a whopping 10 homers in 2009, good for a 13.5% HR/F ratio. That is bad but is unusually high. Looking at the data on HitTrackerOnline.com, 5 of the homers Capps surrendered were categorized as "Just Enoughs" and 1 was "Lucky". Capps is probably more likely to give up 5 or 6 over 55 innings, not 10.
Of the 35 earned runs that Capps gave up last year, 17 were given up on home runs. The odds are good that that rate comes way down.

Matt Capps is better than his recent record indicates. He looks to be due for a rebound and if he has that rebound for the Orioles, all the better. Closers are overrated but if Baltimore looks to be out of it in July, Capps can be flipped to a contender for the right price. (see George Sherrill)

The great caveat here is that Capps has had shoulder problems...he could have been hurt last season. But this is where you have to trust the Oriole scouting and medical staff to do their due diligence on the guy.

Since the Orioles are interested, you have to assume they feel that he's healthy.

And this is a waaaay better option than Fernando Rodney or Kevin Gregg.

1 comment:

Crawdaddy said...

Capps is probably a better option than Rodney or Gregg, but is he really a much better option. Seems to me (maybe outside of Gregg), the expectation for any of these folks is to blow about 5-8 saves a year. Maybe the best choice is the cheapest.

The Orioles do have a carrot in having one of the few open closer slots available, so it might be a good fit for someone.