Brewers Stupidly Decide Not To Trade Starting Shortstop To Bucs For Reliever With 5.80 ERA

The Milwaukee Brewers traded 27-year-old shortshop J.J. Hardy to the Twins this week for outfielder Carlos Gomez, but not before the Pirates apparently offered closer Matt Capps to the Brewers for Hardy and were turned down.

Hardy hit 50 home runs in 2007 and 2008 combined, and despite a down 2009 (hit .229 / .302 / .357, 11 HR in 115 GP) would almost certainly represent an offensive and defensive upgrade over Ronny Cedeno. Hardy made just $4.6 million last season, too, so he’s an intriguing buy-low candidate coming off one mediocre season following two healthy, productive seasons.

It’s still no surprise the Brewers turned down the Capps offer, as:

1) Milwaukee ended up re-signing closer Trevor Hoffman, who was terrific for Milwaukee at age 41 (1.83 ERA, 48 SO, 14 BB, 35 H in 54 IP) and…

2) Matt Capps was…something less than terrific for the Pirates this past season.

While I wouldn’t have minded Hardy in a Bucs uniform — GM Doug Melvin’s non-incompetence be damned — I’m also in no rush to see Matt Capps dealt…

Honestly, Capps already has three excellent seasons under his belt and he just turned 26, and given relievers’ propensity to fluctuate year to year based on their relatively small number of innings pitched, it’s extremely possible that Capps’ disastrous ’09 (5.80 ERA, 46 SO, 17 BB, 73 H in 54.1 IP for a WHIP of roughly 45,000) was just one bad year. I’d actually bet that a return to competence / effectiveness for Capps in 2010 is pretty likely based on his career numbers, so I’m not really in favor of the Pirates shopping him now while his value is at its theoretical lowest (barring another collapse next year), unless they’re totally blown away by an offer, which seems unlikely given the circumstances.

Plus, as much as I’d like to argue that the Pirates’ short-term positional needs should never take precedent over just acquiring talent whenever possible, a 2010 Pirates bullpen without Jesse Chavez or Matt Capps (unless they get seriously lucky on some reclamation projects) would have the potential to be disastrous. Actually, last season was disastrous. Let’s say “doubleplusdisastrous”.

So I guess my point is, the Pirates should hang on to Matt Capps this offseason. If I lived in the Big Brother house, you could now show a filmed montage of me yelling “Oh dear lord, do NOT bring in Capps… no… nooo… NOOOOOOO” about fifty times last season and prove this entire post wrong, but because you can’t, I’m sticking to this argument.

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