Matt Capps Makes Argument to Stay with Pittsburgh Pirates

Brian HagbergContributor IJuly 12, 2009

ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 2:  Relief pitcher Matt Capps (55) of the Pittsburgh Pirates throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on September 2, 2006 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Pirates beat the Cardnals 1-0. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Following Saturday night's meltdown in Philadelphia, in which the Phillies scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Pirates 8-7, Matt Capps took full responsibility for costing Pittsburgh a much needed win.

“There’s no excuses. It’s all me,” Capps said. “I stunk. That was embarrassing.”

With one more game remaining before the All-Star break, Capps' numbers on the year are 1-5, 19 saves, 6.21 ERA, 20:13 K:BB, 1.69 WHIP and two blown saves. This is a far cry from the Capps who was 4-7 with 18 saves and a 2.28 ERA in 2007.

So what happened to that guy from 2007?  The answer may be a strange desire to remain a Pirate.

Looking at Capps' season so far, it would be easy to think that he's just allowing too many baserunners, but on closer inspection an interesting pattern emerges.

Through April 23 Capps had not allowed an earned run, had given up only three hits, and issued just two walks.  From April 24 to May 15, Capps gave up 10 earned runs, 16 hits, and issued five walks.  It was during this time that the trade rumors started popping up about Capps, Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche and Nate McClouth.

The Pirates admitted that they are always listening to offers, but that nothing was close to happening at that time.  Suddenly, the Capps of old started to emerge again as from May 16 up to Saturday night, Capps had given up only five earned runs, 11 hits, and issued five walks.

Earlier this week, trade rumors started to spring up once again. This time it sounded like the Twins were making a big push for a trade that would involve Capps, Sanchez, and John Grabow.  Suddenly Capps has a ninth-inning collapse that pushed his ERA up 1.50 points.

Coincidence? Maybe, maybe not.

Capps has been in Pittsburgh long enough to know that if a player is successful and has any chance of earning big money, the Pirates will look to trade him.  Maybe the best way to remain a Pirate is to play well enough to keep a spot in the rotation, but also have enough poor outings that other teams would be hesitant to pull the trigger on a trade.

Perhaps there is something in Capps' psyche that fills him with a desire to remain in Pittsburgh.  If that is the case, then at least one more major meltdown should be expected before the trade deadline.

It might not be as bad as Saturday in Philadelphia, but just bad enough to keep any potential suitors at bay.