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.

After his heroics in the 2004 ALCS, Ortiz sat in the home dugout at Fenway Park on the day before the start of the World Series. Asked what the difference was in Boston by a couple of Minnesota sportswriters, Ortiz used a graphic description to say the Twins wanted him to hit like a weakling.

Maybe that was it. Maybe “Big Papi” would never have surfaced in Minnesota. But the fact the Twins didn’t give him a full shot, never found out if he was worth at least one multiyear contract in the middle of the last decade, remains an abomination every time we watch him in October.

 

Patrick Reusse can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on AM-1500.

preusse@startribune.com

  • 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

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 FINAL
San Francisco 8
Los Angeles 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox 1
San Diego 4 FINAL
Seattle 9
Cleveland 9 FINAL
Cincinnati 3
Milwaukee 2 FINAL
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 FINAL
Kansas City 5
Colorado 3 FINAL
Arizona 4
NY Mets 4 FINAL
Washington 5
Boston 8 FINAL
Minnesota 9
Toronto 0 FINAL
Baltimore 5
Oklahoma City 105 FINAL
Chicago 108
Dallas 75 FINAL
Portland 94
Calgary 4 FINAL(SO)
Boston 3
St. Louis 1 FINAL
Philadelphia 3
Minnesota 2 FINAL
Washington 1
Toronto 2 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Dallas 4 FINAL(SO)
Florida 3
NY Islanders 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Vancouver 2 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 3
Montreal 3 3rd Prd :02
Los Angeles 3
Morgan State 76 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 89
Niagara 54 FINAL
Siena 71
Holy Cross 83 FINAL
Bucknell 90
Western Ky 88 FINAL
Charlotte 84
Navy 62 FINAL
Colgate 72
Temple 70 FINAL
East Carolina 56
UAB 59 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 62
Boston Univ 64 FINAL
Lafayette 89
American Univ 68 FINAL
Lehigh 62
Wisconsin 76 FINAL
Minnesota 63
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Saint Peters 63
Arkansas 78 FINAL
South Carolina 74
Morehead State 76 FINAL
UT Martin 65
USC Upstate 63 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 62
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
North Florida 71
Southern Ill 55 FINAL
Missouri State 48
Texas State 64 FINAL
Appalachian St 67
SC State 62 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 72
Delaware State 104 FINAL
Coppin State 92
Middle Tennessee 54 FINAL
FIU 59
Texas-Arlington 64 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Norfolk State 80 FINAL
Hampton 69
NC A&T 58 FINAL
NC Central 69
Savannah State 57 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Southern Miss 61 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 72
Marshall 50 FINAL
Old Dominion 67
Rice 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 74
South Alabama 81 FINAL
Arkansas State 76
Alabama State 70 FINAL
Grambling St 46
Alabama A&M 54 FINAL
Jackson State 72
Sam Houston St 67 FINAL
Lamar 61
Georgia State 58 FINAL
ULM 50
Central Arkansas 70 FINAL
Nicholls 77
Portland State 51 FINAL
Northern Ariz 58
Southern U 77 FINAL
Prairie View 73
Alcorn State 73 FINAL
Texas Southern 94
Houston Baptist 72 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 85
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Louisiana 75
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
New Orleans 85
California 60 FINAL
Arizona 99
Memphis 54 FINAL
Connecticut 53
VA Commonwealth 55 FINAL
Davidson 82
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Sacramento St 65 FINAL
Southern Utah 69
Northwestern St 66 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 92
North Texas 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 83
Colorado 64 FINAL
Washington 47
Idaho 63 FINAL
Weber State 74
Abilene Christian 52 FINAL
Incarnate Word 64
Eastern Wash 85 FINAL
Idaho State 81
Marist 80 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Eastern Ill 64 FINAL
Belmont 97
Bradley 52 FINAL
Drake 50
Cal State Fullerton 62 FINAL
UC Irvine 68
CS-Northridge 58 FINAL
Long Beach State 69
UC Riverside 59 FINAL
UC Davis 61
Stanford 51 2nd Half 6:18
Arizona State 54
Utah 62 2nd Half 0:51
Washington St 57
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 66 FINAL
Tennessee St 81
George Mason 43 FINAL
Saint Josephs 71
Western Carolina 53 FINAL
East Tenn St 73
Arizona 62 FINAL
UCLA 80
FIU 30 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 79
Texas State 55 FINAL
Appalachian St 61
TX-Arlington 66 FINAL
Georgia Southern 41
SC State 57 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 56
Delaware State 51 FINAL
Coppin State 80
Portland 58 FINAL
Santa Clara 66
Norfolk State 49 FINAL
Hampton 64
Florida Atlantic 56 FINAL
UAB 59
NC A&T 67 FINAL
NC Central 46
Savannah State 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 51
Virginia Tech 51 FINAL
Pittsburgh 45
Central Arkansas 43 FINAL
Nicholls 53
Houston Baptist 48 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 73
Gardner-Webb 70 FINAL
Radford 56
Georgia 75 FINAL
Missouri 64
Old Dominion 67 FINAL
Marshall 55
Ark-Little Rock 68 FINAL
Louisiana 66
South Alabama 60 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Georgia State 66 FINAL
ULM 61
Sam Houston St 73 FINAL
Lamar 92
SE Louisiana 75 FINAL
New Orleans 84
Northwestern St 45 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 56
Alabama A&M 58 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Alabama State 68 FINAL
Grambling 62
Southern U 78 FINAL
Prairie View 50
Alcorn State 55 FINAL
Texas Southern 73
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 54 FINAL
Mercer 75
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Incarnate Word 62
La Salle 60 FINAL
Rhode Island 65
Illinois 71 FINAL
Nebraska 86
TX-San Antonio 60 FINAL
Rice 49
Valparaiso 55 FINAL
Oakland 70
Missouri State 65 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Georgia Tech 64 FINAL
(15) North Carolina 84
Charlotte 72 FINAL
Western Ky 80
Texas-El Paso 69 FINAL
North Texas 61
Wichita State 77 FINAL
Evansville 63
Loyola-Chicago 64 FINAL
Northern Iowa 69
Bradley 70 FINAL
Drake 86
Presbyterian 62 FINAL
High Point 75
Vanderbilt 61 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 67
Colorado 75 FINAL
USC 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Pacific 64
Idaho State 58 FINAL
Eastern Washington 62
Weber State 42 FINAL
Idaho 71
Purdue 78 FINAL
Minnesota 82
Cal-Irvine 54 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 66
Long Beach St 60 FINAL
CS-Northridge 77
UC Davis 56 FINAL
UC-Riverside 61
Northern Ariz 79 FINAL
Portland State 62
Southern Utah 73 FINAL
Sacramento St 107
Hawaii 60 2nd Half
UC Santa Barbara 36
Utah 40 2nd Half 13:13
Washington 43
BYU 46 2nd Half 11:30
St Marys-CA 44
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: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close