January 21, 2003
On December 17, 2002, LaVelle E. Neal wrote about David Ortiz’ departure from the Minnesota Twins:
The Twins were unable to find a team to deal David Ortiz to, so they created their own swap.
The club released last season’s regular designated hitter on Monday and used the space on their 40-man roster to select minor league shortstop Jose Morban in the Rule V draft.
The release ended the Twins’ six-year relationship with the lefthanded-hitting Ortiz, whom they had hoped would develop into a bona fide power hitter. Ortiz, 27, batted .272 last season with 20 homers and 75 RBI. But he hit only .203 against lefthanded pitchers and .240 with runners in scoring position. He also landed on the disabled list for the second consecutive season.
“This is not exactly an easy thing to do,” Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said on the last day of baseball’s winter meetings. “I like David personally. I liked some of the things he does with the bat. And everyone likes him.”
Ortiz, however, is a subpar defensive first baseman, which virtually limited him to the DH role. His clubhouse presence and humor made him popular with teammates, but the Twins needed to improve their DH production and .252 team average against lefthanded pitchers.
Manager Ron Gardenhire had mixed feelings about the deal, quoted in the Pioneer Press (12/17/2002):
“I’m going to miss David,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s a fantastic kid. I really liked him.
“But this is about winning baseball games more than anything else. We have a very good clubhouse, and David was a very big part of that. But you have to balance that against some of the things we were trying to do with the lineup and the roster.”
On January 21, Ortiz signed with the Boston Red Sox.
In the March 14, 2003 edition of the Star Tribune, Jim Souhan compared the Red Sox organization with the Twins organization. The entire article is worth a read, and Souhan basically made the argument that the Twins were a better run organization that the Red Sox should be jealous of. One of his arguments:
The Twins choose to employ first and second basemen (Doug Mientkiewicz and Luis Rivas) who could win Gold Gloves, but won’t make many Rotisserie teams.
The Red Sox choose to employ first and second basemen (David Ortiz and Todd Walker) the Twins jettisoned because of their fielding inadequacies. They are proof the Red Sox are a Rotisserie team.
Other “strikes” against the Red Sox according to Souhan: the Hector Carrasco for Lew Ford trade (Souhan refers to Ford as a “top prospect”), the fact that Bill James had lineup and personnel input while Ron Gardenhire routinely discards statistics, and the fact that Boston’s fifth starter was John Burkett, while the Twins had Kyle Lohse who won 13 games in 2002. Souhan’s conclusion:
The Twins went to the ALCS last year. Their Opening Day payroll was $40 million. The Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs. Their Opening Day payroll was $108 million.
So which team is in better shape?
Put it this way: In this comparison, the Green Monster shouldn’t be the nickname of Fenway Park’s left field wall. It should describe the Red Sox’s envy.
I’m sure the Red Sox would love to switch places with the Twins right now.