Reusse: While Twins saved money, Ortiz keeps saving Red Sox

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 16, 2013 - 2:48 PM
hide

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz comes out of the dugout and tips his cap to the fans after hitting his second home run in the game for his 2001th career hit in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers at Fenway Park in Boston, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.

Photo: Elise Amendola, Associated Press - Ap

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Twins reached the American League Championship Series in 2002 for the first time since 1991.

They went to the winter meetings in Nashville and made one transaction: On Dec. 16, the Twins released designated hitter David Ortiz, clearing roster space in order to select infielder Jose Morban from Texas for $50,000 in the Rule 5 draft.

Eleven seasons later, Ortiz has hit 373 home runs, driven in 1,191 runs and slugged .572 for the Boston Red Sox.

That’s just in the regular season. The true legend of “Big Papi” has been built in the postseason.

His most recent heroics came on Sunday night, when his line-drive grand slam took the Red Sox from a 5-1 deficit to a 5-5 tie, and set up an ALCS-tying victory in Game 2.

Ortiz had played 64 games with 238 at-bats in the postseason for Boston, with 15 home runs and 50 RBI. Basically, he has hit with the same production in the playoffs and World Series as he has against the lesser menu of pitching in the regular season, making him a true Mr. October.

Morban? Eh, that didn’t work out quite so well for the Twins. He was put on waivers in spring training and claimed by Baltimore. Eventually, he had 71 at-bats for the Orioles in 2003, batting .141 with two home runs and five RBI, and never again played in the big leagues.

On that Monday in Nashville, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said: “This is not exactly an easy thing to do. I like David personally. I liked some of the things he does with the bat.”

And then came the justifications: Ortiz was subpar in the field as a first baseman, limiting him to the DH role. He hit only .205 against lefthanded pitching and .240 with runners in scoring position. He also went on the disabled list for a second consecutive season.

Mostly, there was the money. Ortiz made $950,000 in 2002 and, being arbitration eligible, his salary would grow to $2 million or more in 2003. The Twins’ payroll was headed past $50 million, and that was a bit rich for the confines of the Metrodome.

“Hey, we tried to trade David and there was no market,” the Twins said in the spring of 2003, and can say today.

“Shucks, it took David most of the offseason to get a $1.25 million, one-year deal with the Red Sox,” the Twins said then, and can say a decade later.

The justifications do not change these facts: A) It is the fundamental task of any professional sports operation to be correct in its critical personnel decisions; and B) flinching at $2 million for Ortiz, a 26-year-old, lefthanded power hitter in December 2002, stands as the second-worst manpower decision in the 53 years the Twin Cities have been a major league sports market.

No. 1: The Herschel Walker trade, of course.

In truth, the Twins conduct toward Ortiz was strange, even before the decision to not offer him a contract.

Ortiz made the Twins as a 22-year-old rookie in 1998. He missed a couple of months after wrist surgery, but still hit nine home runs with 46 RBI in 278 at-bats. Double that for a full season and that’s reasonable power for a team without much of it.

Yet when Ortiz failed to hit in spring training of 1999, the Twins sent him to Class AAA Salt Lake City. Ron Coomer led the Twins with 16 home runs and Marty Cordova with 70 RBI. In Salt Lake, Ortiz batted .315 with 30 home runs and 110 RBI, and didn’t get called up until mid-September.

Manager Tom Kelly was consistent in criticizing Ortiz’s fielding. He also wanted Ortiz to be able to hit the pitch away to left field (which he has done to considerable effect in Fenway Park), rather than trying to yank every pitch.

  • related content

  • David Ortiz career statistics

    Tuesday October 15, 2013

  • 'Nick Punto, WHAT A BLUNDER!' (Yes, he did it again)

    Wednesday October 16, 2013

    Nick Punto made a terrible base running mistake in the playoffs Tuesday night. So what else is new, Twins fans?

  • Chart: David Ortiz, the Boston years

    Wednesday October 16, 2013

    Big seasons for ‘Big Papi’Some of David Ortiz’ regular-season statistics since his arrival in Boston in 2003:373 home runs1,191 RBI.572...

  • David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox celebrates his solo home run off David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays in the first inning in Game 2 of the American League Division Series at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts, on Saturday, October 5, 2013.

  • David Ortiz, with the Twins.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions
Final123456789RHE
Minnesota0000101002100
Baltimore «00010110X381
@Ballpark Replay
Preview | Matchup | Lineup | Log | Wrap | Box
W:A.Miller(5-5) L:J.Burton(2-3) S:Z.Britton (30)
HR: MIN- None BAL- J.Paredes (1)

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Yankees - LP: M. Pineda 0 FINAL
Toronto - WP: D. Hutchison 2
Detroit - LP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Sale 6
Chicago Cubs - WP: F. Doubront 5 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: J. Masterson 1
Cincinnati - LP: A. Simon 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 3
Minnesota - LP: J. Burton 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: A. Miller 3
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 7 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: B. Colon 2
Miami - WP: J. Cosart 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Boston - LP: A. Webster 0 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Odorizzi 7
Cleveland - WP: J. Tomlin 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: S. Downs 2
Detroit - WP: K. Ryan 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: C. Bassitt 4
Texas - LP: P. Klein 0 FINAL
Houston - WP: S. Feldman 2
Colorado - WP: T. Matzek 2 FINAL
Arizona - LP: V. Nuno 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wada 2 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 13
Los Angeles - LP: J. Wright 1 FINAL
San Diego - WP: T. Stauffer 2
Milwaukee - LP: M. Fiers 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: J. Peavy 3
Oakland - LP: J. Samardzija 0 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: Y. Herrera 2
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 3 FINAL
Seattle - LP: R. Elias 1
Green Bay 9/4/14 7:30 PM
Seattle
BYU 35 FINAL
Connecticut 10
(6) Jacksonville St 7 FINAL
(8) Michigan State 45
Bowling Green 31 FINAL
Western Ky 59
TX-San Antonio 27 FINAL
Houston 7
Colorado State 31 FINAL
Colorado 17
UNLV 13 FINAL
Arizona 58
Penn State 26 FINAL
UCF 24
Troy 10 FINAL
UAB 48
(7) UCLA 28 FINAL
Virginia 20
Western Mich 34 FINAL
Purdue 43
(5) Ohio State 34 FINAL
Navy 17
Appalachian St 14 FINAL
Michigan 52
Ga Southern 23 FINAL
NC State 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Massachusetts 7
West Virginia 23 FINAL
(2) Alabama 33
Rice 17 FINAL
(17) Notre Dame 48
(10) South Dakota St 18 FINAL
(24) Missouri 38
Fla Atlantic 7 FINAL
(22) Nebraska 55
California 31 FINAL
Northwestern 24
Marshall 42 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 27
UC Davis 0 FINAL
(11) Stanford 45
Arkansas 21 FINAL
(6) Auburn 45
(16) Clemson 21 FINAL
(12) Georgia 45
Liberty 29 FINAL
(23) North Carolina 56
Ohio U 17 FINAL
Kent State 14
Louisiana Tech 16 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 48
Stephen F Austin 16 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 55
Fresno State 13 FINAL
(15) USC 52
Southern Miss 0 FINAL
Miss State 49
Texas-El Paso 31 FINAL
New Mexico 24
North Texas 7 FINAL
Texas 38
(1) Florida State 37 FINAL
Oklahoma State 31
(14) Wisconsin 24 4th Qtr 1:19
(13) LSU 28
Idaho 0 Postponed
Florida 0
South Dakota 13 3rd Qtr
(3) Oregon 41
(25) Washington 17 3rd Qtr 10:30
Hawaii 10
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Pittsburgh 9/5/14 6:00 PM
Boston College
Washington St 9/5/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
SMU 9/6/14 11:00 AM
North Texas
Fla Atlantic 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(2) Alabama
Buffalo 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Army
(24) Missouri 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Toledo
Arkansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
(8) McNeese State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(22) Nebraska
Central Mich 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Akron 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Western Ill 9/6/14 11:00 AM
(14) Wisconsin
(20) Kansas State 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
(4) Oklahoma 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Tulsa
Western Ky 9/6/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
SC State 9/6/14 11:30 AM
(16) Clemson
Navy 9/6/14 12:00 PM
Temple
UAB 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Miss State
South Alabama 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Kent State
New Mexico St 9/6/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Colorado 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Fresno State 9/6/14 2:00 PM
Utah
(1) Eastern Wash 9/6/14 2:00 PM
(25) Washington
(15) USC 9/6/14 2:30 PM
(11) Stanford
Ohio U 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Middle Tennessee 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Northern Ill 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Missouri State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Ball State 9/6/14 2:30 PM
Iowa
Maryland 9/6/14 2:30 PM
So Florida
Eastern Mich 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Florida
Georgia Tech 9/6/14 3:00 PM
Tulane
(18) Ole Miss 9/6/14 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt
Old Dominion 9/6/14 5:00 PM
NC State
(8) Michigan State 9/6/14 5:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(19) Arizona State 9/6/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico
Louisiana Tech 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
San Jose St 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(6) Auburn
East Carolina 9/6/14 6:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Duke 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Troy
Idaho 9/6/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(17) Sam Houston St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(13) LSU
Michigan 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
Lamar 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(21) Texas A&M
Northwestern St 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
BYU 9/6/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Citadel 9/6/14 6:30 PM
(1) Florida State
San Diego St 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Virginia Tech 9/6/14 7:00 PM
(5) Ohio State
Memphis 9/6/14 9:00 PM
(7) UCLA
Colorado State 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Air Force 9/6/14 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9/6/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Texas Tech 9/6/14 10:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 0 FINAL
Seattle 1
New England 3 FINAL
Toronto FC 0
Columbus 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
FC Dallas 0 FINAL
Chicago 1
Real Salt Lake 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Portland 3 FINAL
Vancouver FC 0
Ottawa 10 FINAL
Montreal 20
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Chicago 70 FINAL
Indiana 77
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How sure are you that the Twins are on the road to improving?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close