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Updated: July 31st, 2010 6:33pm
Bill Smith says Twins 'really never replaced Joe Nathan' until Capps trade

Bill Smith says Twins 'really never replaced Joe Nathan' until Capps trade

by Phil Mackey
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The non-waiver trade deadline passed on Saturday with the Twins opting not to make any other significant moves following Thursday's acquisition of closer Matt Capps.

Minnesota Twins general manager Bill Smith addressed the media prior to Saturday night's game against Seattle, saying, "We didn't really get that close" to a deal in the hours before the deadline.

"We talked to a number of different clubs, exchanged phone calls, emails, texts, whatever, but in the end there just wasn't a good fit."

The Twins are known to have been searching for starting pitching help over the past couple weeks, in addition to the bullpen help they acquired in Capps, and it's still possible they could make a trade prior to the August 31 waiver deadline.

Regarding the Capps acquisition, Smith said, "We really never replaced Joe Nathan when he went down. Jon Rauch stepped up and did a tremendous job for four months, but we never replaced (Nathan) with anybody from outside the organization. So we're confident Matt Capps is the right guy to step in here over the rest of the season."

Here some more highlights from Smith's session with reporters:

Are you happy with how the trade deadline played out for your team?

We're very pleased to add Matt Capps. We've had a lot of interest in him over the last few years, and he has certainly been very good for Washington this year, and we're counting on him to provide a huge boost to our bullpen.

On Capps' mental makeup:

His makeup is off the charts. He will fit in very well with this ball club. We've had a great run over the last few years of adding quality people... Bobby Cuellar, pitching coach in Rochester, was his bullpen coach in Pittsburgh for a few years. We've got several other people in the organization that know him well. Makeup is off the charts, and his pitching is going to help us down the stretch.

How much did your troubles adding a starter push you in direction of adding a reliever?

We looked at a lot of different areas to help this club, and it's a tough market right now. There are a lot of buyers, and a lot of the sellers were asking sky-high prices. We just didn't think that what was available was enough of an upgrade to give up what we were being asked for.

How did other teams view Wilson Ramos' upside?

Probably the same way we did. He's got a great upside. He's going to be a good major-league players. And he's got skills you always look for in any young player. He's got a very strong arm, he's got deep power. He's going to have a good career. In this case, to get a guy who's a legitimate closer, who we also control for next year is a critical piece for us.

Was that a big factor, controlling Capps through next season?

We would still have had a lot of interest, but it wouldn't have involved Wilson Ramos.

Do you get frustrated when the Yankees add Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood?

I don't know. They're going to be in roles that are different from what they're used to. We'll see how it plays out. We've never apologized for how we operate or who we are, and we've given opportunities to young players, and they've stepped up. We look forward to the next two months, and we'll see what happens.

On adding a player after August 1st:

We'll see if there's a fit out there. You have to be careful, because you don't want to get stuck with a player you don't want. So claiming a player just to block is fine if ultimately you're willing to accept that player. I'm sure we'll be aggressive with that, but last year the final question you ask before you make that waiver claim is, 'if we get him, are we going to be happy about it?' We claimed a lot of guys last year. Fortunately we got two of them that were a huge help to us down the stretch.

Is it easier in some ways to trade for players after July 31?

In the past weeks, any (team) you talk to, they can talk to 29 teams. There was a lot of back and forth. Once in a while a team may have something that they're comfortable with with one club, and they're OK to take that (deal), unless they get blown away by somebody else. So they kind of hold something as a safety, and then try and shoot for the moon. When you get into a waiver-claim situation, there isn't much time to fool around. If you claim a guy on Wednesday, you get awarded the claim. They have 48 hours. So it's a short cycle and they can only deal with one team. That is a plus.

Were you guys working on trades up until the deadline?

Yes, we were working up until about 15 minutes until it dried up.

Feel like anything was close?

We didn't really get that close. We talked to a number of different clubs, exchanged phone calls, emails, texts, whatever, but in the end there just wasn't a good fit.

Was pitching more of a priority for you than position players?

The two best additions we can make are Morneau and Hudson. If we can get them back off the DL, healthy and contributing, those are the two best additions that we can make. We'll continue, as I said, there are going to be a lot of players that pass through waivers. We'll see if there's a fit for somebody on the team that's going to help us.

In terms of the top prospects, Ramos was the one you felt better about losing?

We have the depth to cover that position. We didn't feel good about trading Wilson Ramos at all, but you've got to give something to get something. We got an All-Star closer, we got a guy who's been pitching very well, he's a great makeup guy, he's a power pitcher, a hard-thrower, and we don't have a lot of that. Jesse Crain is our hardest thrower out of the bullpen. This guy is a little bit different than some of the other guys that we have.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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