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

Chicago 17 4th Qtr 14:57
Detroit 31
Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 7:00 PM
Nashville
ULM 54 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 2nd Half 1:59
Butler 46
Austin Peay 44 2nd Half 15:34
Brown 44
Princeton 24 2nd Half 17:09
Texas-El Paso 26
Coastal Carolina 17 1st Half 8:09
Chattanooga 24
Kansas 25 1st Half 8:40
Rhode Island 10
Wisconsin 2:30 PM
Georgetown
FIU 2:30 PM
USC Upstate
Long Island 3:00 PM
Stony Brook
San Diego 3:30 PM
Xavier
Illinois 4:00 PM
Indiana State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Cal State Fullerton 5:00 PM
Wright State
Michigan State 5:30 PM
Rider
UCLA 6:00 PM
North Carolina
Marquette 7:30 PM
Georgia Tech
Long Beach State 7:30 PM
Western Mich
Stephen F Austin 8:00 PM
Prairie View
UAB 8:30 PM
Florida
Rice 8:30 PM
Mercer
San Jose St 10:00 PM
Washington
Washington St 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Baylor 10:59 PM
Memphis
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 74 2nd Half 2:19
Ohio State 80
Idaho State 32 2nd Half
San Diego State 30
East Carolina 27 2nd Half
(22) Syracuse 47
Santa Clara 2:30 PM
Texas-El Paso
Florida State 2:30 PM
Washington
Wichita State 2:30 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Wisconsin 3:15 PM
(1) South Carolina
BYU 5:00 PM
BYU-Hawaii
Kansas State 5:00 PM
LSU
Charlotte 5:00 PM
Montana
Illinois 5:00 PM
(9) Kentucky
Central Michigan 7:00 PM
Richmond
Oklahoma 7:15 PM
South Florida
Princeton 7:30 PM
Wake Forest
(19) Oregon State 8:00 PM
Butler
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: What do you think of the new Twins home uniforms?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close