The Minnesota Twins seem to have sold low on Wilson Ramos while overvaluing the "SV" column on Matt Capps, a capable reliever who'll help their pen but is neither what they really needed nor so good that he'll be worth more than an extra win the rest of the year.
Capps, who was non-tendered by the Pittsburgh Pirates this winter and quickly signed by Washington -- raising the question of whether Pittsburgh could have had Ramos now had they kept Capps another eight months -- has an above-average fastball with plus-plus control, walking just 38 unintentionally in 317.2 major league innings. He pitches heavily with the fastball, as neither his slider nor change is plus. The Twins value control in pitchers more than most clubs, and I think he becomes their best reliever, regardless of whether they close with him or use him to set up.
But the value of a reliever even over a year and a third -- which is how long Capps has until he's a free agent -- isn't that high because it covers maybe only 80 innings, and Capps will be expensive as he hits arbitration this offseason with what should be more than 100 saves on his resume. Giving up a potential everyday catcher with six years of control left, even if the Twins don't have room for him, is a high price to pay given what Capps will give them and will cost through the end of 2011.
Ramos' stock has slipped since the offseason -- it's fair to say the Twins should have moved him the moment they signed Joe Mauer to an extension, after which Ramos' value began to drop -- and his lack of secondary skills has become more problematic as, for the first time in his career, he hasn't hit.
It's surprising, as he has strong hands and excellent hand-eye coordination, but if you don't walk and don't have above-average power, you must generate value through contact and batting average. Behind the plate, he has a strong and accurate arm and has nailed 45 percent of opposing basestealers in the minors, while his receiving is adequate and game-calling needs work. He's also had a lot of trouble staying healthy (he suffered a broken finger and partially torn hamstring in 2009) and is big enough that he may not be able to catch long term. With all those flaws, however, he's at least a catching solution in the short term for Washington while earning the minimum salary, and it's possible the dip in his average this year is just a half-season aberration.
Left-hander Joe Testa is an organizational arm who might have value as a lefty specialist, as he's limited them to a .167 average with just five extra-base hits in 218 PA across his career. It's a great return for the Nationals on a guy they picked up off the scrap heap this winter, and Ramos gives them an insurance policy if neither Derek Norris (who broke his hamate bone last October) nor Jesus Flores (who injured his shoulder last May and still hasn't returned) develops as expected.