Late in the evening on June 29, 2010, the Nationals traded their lone 2010 All-Star, closer Matt Capps, to the Minnesota Twins. The Nationals picked up Capps before the season from Pittsburgh after posting an inadequate 5.80 ERA in 2009 and earning only 27 saves. Capps earned 26 with Washington with more than 2 months left in the season. He also posted a fantastic 2.80 ERA.
In exchange for Capps, the Nats received top catching prospect Wilson Ramos and a left handed minor league reliever, Joe Testa. The move to trade Capps for a guy like Ramos indicates that Jesus Flores' recovery may have stalled indefinitely after 2 years of attempted recovery from injury and an acknowledgement that Pudge Rodriguez is 38 years old.
Early Friday morning, MLB.com's Bill Ladson reported that Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, and Sean Burnett would split the closers role. So I propose a new name for the trio: Clipp, Store, and Burn. Different than good old Clipp 'n Save, but it'll work.
The Nationals and their fans will miss Capps' mild demeanor off the field and his intro music ("The Final Countdown") combined with his electric personality on the field. Capps will will join former Nats reliever Jon Rauch in the bullpen in the Twin Cities. Rauch has filled in admirably for the Twins injured closer Joe Nathan, securing 21 saves in 25 attempts. With Rauch setting up and a nearly automatic Capps closing, the Twins hope to push ahead of the the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central. As of Thursday, the Twins are 1.5 games back at 56-46.
Matt Capps has never played for a team that ended the season with a winning record. He's played for Pittsburgh, who hasn't had a winning season in 17 years, and for Washington who is on pace to lose just under 300 games between 2008-2010. Like the rest of NatsTown, I wish Capps the best in the Upper Midwest.
On Friday, Roy Oswalt and his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies, come to DC to face Craig Stammen and the Nats, so it seems unlikely that new new closer(s) will get an opportunity for a save. But that bullpen all of a sudden feels a bit more empty without Matt Capps. Get ready for Clipp, Store, and Burn.