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Thread: The Curse of the Big Papi?

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
    every team passed on Ortiz when he was cut, until Boston had injury issues. I just don't think it was clear cut Ortiz was a good player. I would have kept him, but it isn't the worst decision they ever made.*

    *assuming you judge decisions on information known at the time, not a decade later
    Ortiz was released in December 2002 and signed one month later in January 2003, long before Boston had any injury issues.

    And he actually signed with Boston for a raise over his 2002 Twins salary, even if it wasn't quite what he could have gotten in arbitration.

    Boston was coming off of a 93 win season in 2002 and their projected DH (Jeremy Giambi) was hardly a lock for the position. I doubt Boston was his only offer -- it was just the best situation for him.

  2. #22
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    What bugs me most about the Ortiz thing is that I understand it's not easy to get guys on your team, so it's hard for me to fault the Twins too much when they don't land a particular player in the draft, free agency, or by trade -- after all, 29 other teams are competing for the same players.

    But that makes it all the more glaring when you actually HAVE a guy and then you let him go. Particularly when you let him go after he showed significant MLB improvement in his age-26 season (what are the peak baseball ages again?) and was projected to make only $2 million or less... and then he immediately starts an epic 10 year run that makes him a Hall of Fame candidate (at least a guy like Johan took a few years in his new organization to develop)... I really don't see how you can spin that as anything but an epic screw-up, whether it's the GM and/or the coaching.

    Thanks for the opportunity to vent.

  3. #23
    Twins Moderator MVP USAFChief's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
    I just don't think it was clear cut Ortiz was a good player.
    he put up .900 OPS's in the minor leagues as a teen ager.
    He made his big league debut at 21. He had an OPS+ over 100 in 5 of his 6 Twins seasons, missing only in '99 when he got only 25 PAs.

    While I agree it's somewhat pointless to agonize over milk spilt a long time ago, it's also fair to say he was someone who had shown every sign of being a good hitter and was reasonably likely to get better. It's also fair to think an organization that makes a mistake of this magnitude would find value in examining how such a mistake was made in hopes of not repeating it.
    Every post is not every other post. - a wise man

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
    he put up .900 OPS's in the minor leagues as a teen ager.
    He made his big league debut at 21. He had an OPS+ over 100 in 5 of his 6 Twins seasons, missing only in '99 when he got only 25 PAs.

    While I agree it's somewhat pointless to agonize over milk spilt a long time ago, it's also fair to say he was someone who had shown every sign of being a good hitter and was reasonably likely to get better.

    It's also fair to think an organization that makes a mistake of this magnitude would find value in examining how such a mistake was made in hopes of not repeating it.
    It was mentined previously in this thread, but bears repeating. Ortiz himself related about being a good soldier and dutifully going against his natural talent, inclination and instincts in trying to hit "The Twins Way". Once freed from these imposed strictures to play under "player's managers", first Grady Little, and then Terry Francona, Ortiz documented how he evolved from being asked to "hit like a little bitch" to being asked to hit like, and in fact, becoming "The Man" (and eventualy all-time great) for the Red Sox.

    The evidence indicates that the Twins learned nothing from their "Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio"-type of talent-assessment gaffe. It will be interesting to see how a looming similar situation is handled in the cases of Sano and Rosario (early indications will manifest themselves in how Arcia and Pinto are swinging come next April).

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
    Ortiz was released in December 2002 and signed one month later in January 2003, long before Boston had any injury issues.

    And he actually signed with Boston for a raise over his 2002 Twins salary, even if it wasn't quite what he could have gotten in arbitration.

    Boston was coming off of a 93 win season in 2002 and their projected DH (Jeremy Giambi) was hardly a lock for the position. I doubt Boston was his only offer -- it was just the best situation for him.
    I think it's important to note, before Big Papi was signed, the Sox had finished 2nd in the AL East FIVE straight years. The evidently saw something in Ortiz they felt which could help provide impetus to the Sox in reaching the next level. History has proven they analyzed correctly, and not only has he been a great regular season producer, he has also proven to be a leader in post-season play (as Puckett was for the Twins, with an .898 postseason OPS). Ortiz has a career postseason OPS of .962. But Ortiz has been even more ridiculous as the stakes grew- in World Series play only, besides being a team leader as most recently indicated by his rousing speech to teammates before Game 5..... Ortiz has this astounding World Series batting line over 3 Series:

    .455 BA/.576 OBP/.795 SLG/.1372 OPS

    These numbers all rank among the highest World Series hitting numbers in the history of the game and are all #1 for any batter with more than 31 PAs.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/statsinfo/po...-series-career
    Last edited by jokin; 10-31-2013 at 11:29 PM.

  6. #26
    Senior Member All-Star Ultima Ratio's Avatar
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    Curse of the trees is just the latest curse then.
    Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.

  7. #27
    A lot of what what has been written about the Ortiz deal is urban myth by crowd that must protect the "Twins Way" at any cost.

    First, there were a whole lot of us more statistically oriented Twins fans at the time that were rather perturbed that he was non-tendered. It was a big deal then so it wasnt like no one cared. A lot of people did and said it was foolish.

    Second, he was non-tendered so he was a free agent. So while technically "every team" could have passed on him, no one besides Papi and his agent knows how many and what kind of offers were out there. His agent is Pedro Martinez's agent so many thought Boston was a natural. It is known that the 3 statistically inclined franchises had interest and likely made or would have made offers.

    Third, both his free agent and trade market were somewhat hurt by another round of "Ortiz is 29 or 30 not 26" rumors going around again at that time. Supposedly TR tried to trade him before non-tendering him but we have no idea what he was asking for and how hard he tried.

    Fourth, Boston very clearly knew what they had. Theo was particularly enamored with Ortiz John Henry and Bill James less so which is why the hedged contract. Theo tried hard all spring and the start of the season to move a 3rd baseman or a 1st baseman to clear up the log jam for Ortiz and force or persuade Grady to play Ortiz. It wasnt so much the injuries, although that didnt hurt, as much as the trading of Shea Hillenbrand that made Ortiz get more regular at bats.

    Fifth, he wasnt markedly improved or different player with the Red Sox. He was exactly the same type of hitter he was with the Twins with a couple of differences. He swung at fewer pitches, which made his walks and by extension K's increase and he swung harder. He was less concerned with contact and bat control then controlling the strike zone and hitting the ball hard.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by BHtwins View Post
    A lot of what what has been written about the Ortiz deal is urban myth by crowd that must protect the "Twins Way" at any cost.
    Sort of like when the people who complain that the Twins wanting Ortiz to be able to hit to left was a bad idea yet never looked at a hitting chart for Ortiz. Notice they don't shift for Ortiz.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
    he put up .900 OPS's in the minor leagues as a teen ager.
    He made his big league debut at 21. He had an OPS+ over 100 in 5 of his 6 Twins seasons, missing only in '99 when he got only 25 PAs.

    While I agree it's somewhat pointless to agonize over milk spilt a long time ago, it's also fair to say he was someone who had shown every sign of being a good hitter and was reasonably likely to get better. It's also fair to think an organization that makes a mistake of this magnitude would find value in examining how such a mistake was made in hopes of not repeating it.
    I think you're picking some stats that support your view and ignoring other relevant stats. As mentioned before, he was 27, had avg 115 games the previous 3 years (and missed a lot of time in 98 as well for injury), his defense was bad, some of his defenders are arguing that WAR for a 1B/DH isn't a good stat but he was still, by WAR, the 17th most valuable Twin in 2002. The team had huge financial issues - they had to increase payroll by over 15m from 02 to 03 and most fans were worried that the Twins couldn't keep Hunter (and Twins sites like ESPN had a bunch of big market fans posting how much they were looking forward to buying Hunter). Then Ortiz leaves, gets implicated in PEDs and the rest is history.

    As to your last sentence, in the past decade since Ortiz left, have the Twins made a similar mistake? (And, in fairness to the Twins, I suppose you should see if they have picked up rejects/DFA'd guys from other orgs and gotten value out of them).

  10. #30
    Senior Member All-Star Boom Boom's Avatar
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    We have evidence that Ortiz used PEDs while he was in Boston. What we don't know is when he started.

    I don't believe that Ortiz went to Boston and the Red Sox culture corrupted him into a PED user. Would you be surprised if evidence came to light that he used PEDs while he was a Twin? I wouldn't.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by BHtwins View Post
    Second, he was non-tendered so he was a free agent. So while technically "every team" could have passed on him, no one besides Papi and his agent knows how many and what kind of offers were out there.
    Actually, according to this AP report, Ortiz was released in December 2002 rather than simply non-tendered -- an effort to get him off the 40-man roster immediately, rather than wait for the arbitration deadline?

    KELOLAND.com | Twins Release Ortiz

    In any case, it says he had to pass through release waivers, which means any team could have claimed him and gone to arbitration with him.

    Also, he was released in mid-December and signed in mid-January, well before spring training, so he was only on the market about a month, which isn't anything unusual. Also, the AP article above notes that Ortiz was playing winter ball at the time of his release, which also possibly delayed him re-signing with another club.

    And if salary was the driving factor, the Twins could have re-signed him as a free agent then, correct? Not sure if the rules were different back then, but I know Oakland non-tendered Jack Cust a few years ago and re-signed him the same offseason.

    I wonder if Ortiz would have made $2 million in arbitration -- Jeremy Giambi was in the same boat (second year arbitration eligible), was better than Ortiz in 2001, made $115k more in 2002, was arguably better than Ortiz again in 2002, and received exactly $2 million for the 2003 season. Going by that, Ortiz could have slotted closer to $1.8 million. Over $2 million, as has been suggested by some observers, seems highly unlikely.

    Also, the comparable Jeremy Giambi was traded twice in 2002, including the day before Ortiz was released. He didn't fetch much either time, but it suggests there could have been something of a market for Ortiz. At the very least, for just under $2 million, the Twins could have held on to Ortiz as a trade chip. (Giambi broke down pretty quickly in 2003, and Boston would have almost certainly dealt for Ortiz then.) That shouldn't have been an excessive amount even by 2002 Twins standards. The Twins paid a comparable sum in 2002 for the "services" of Bob Wells. They also committed $1 million for each of 2002-2003 for the last legs of Denny Hocking.

    One thing that gets overlooked here is just how rare it is for MLB regulars to be non-tendered/released, particularly before their second arbitration award. That's almost the exclusive territory of marginal players (relievers/bench guys), or guys with immediate serious injury concerns (i.e. Pelfrey's surgery last year). Even Luis Rivas got two arbitration awards from the Twins. (Jack Cust only got one arb award from the A's, but he was 4 years older, a strikeout king, and coming off a 105 OPS+.)

    How many healthy 120 OPS+ regulars don't get offered arbitration a second time?

  12. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
    We have evidence that Ortiz used PEDs while he was in Boston. What we don't know is when he started.

    I don't believe that Ortiz went to Boston and the Red Sox culture corrupted him into a PED user. Would you be surprised if evidence came to light that he used PEDs while he was a Twin? I wouldn't.
    Perhaps. We did send him to winter ball several times. But the issue for me was always health, not pop. Maybe Ramirez got him onto his program instead of one he was on here. But who knows. I'm just not ready to rip the Twins for giving up on an injury prone DH who was later implicated in PEDs when his career got turned around. Esp when you consider the payroll situation.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    had avg 115 games the previous 3 years (and missed a lot of time in 98 as well for injury),
    It wasn't all due to injuries, the Twins never gave him the regular playing time he deserved. And yes, he wasn't a "slam dunk" but he was at the time certainly worth the 1.2-1.8 million dollar gamble. The Twins certainly had the money to do it. To paint this as anything other than a monumental screw up that may have well cost the Twins a title is just passing blame/not holding the front office responsible.

    Again, I am as big of a homer as they come and a HUGE Ryan fan, however, this move set the franchise back significantly.

  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    he was 27
    Just turned 27 that offseason, entering his "age-27" season, and despite some injuries, he had improved in both of his age-25 and age-26 seasons. I seem to remember hearing something about age-27 seasons from those cybermetric types...

    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    The team had huge financial issues - they had to increase payroll by over 15m from 02 to 03 and most fans were worried that the Twins couldn't keep Hunter (and Twins sites like ESPN had a bunch of big market fans posting how much they were looking forward to buying Hunter).
    Nobody is saying the Twins had to give Ortiz a long-term deal. It would have been one-year contract for just under $2 million.

    Torii Hunter was only a second-year arb player himself -- he didn't command all that much money in 2003, and wasn't set to hit free agency for another couple years. Locking him up longer-term was fine, but it didn't have much to do with Ortiz making $1.8 million on a one-year deal.

    And again, I don't know if this can be emphasized enough: upon leaving the Twins due to $1.8 million and/or a 40-man roster spot, Ortiz immediately began a 10 year run which has catapulted him to Hall of Fame candidate despite the short career and DH penalty. How can that not be a massive mistake, whether it's GM or coaching?

  15. #35
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    Also, post-ASB 2002, Ortiz's number are almost exactly equal to his 2003 Boston stats... and during that run he also passed the 1500 PA mark for his career. Wasn't that TK's rule, a player needed 1500 PA in MLB to judge him? If they're raking as they pass 1500, maybe give them 500 more?

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
    It wasn't all due to injuries, the Twins never gave him the regular playing time he deserved. And yes, he wasn't a "slam dunk" but he was at the time certainly worth the 1.2-1.8 million dollar gamble. The Twins certainly had the money to do it. To paint this as anything other than a monumental screw up that may have well cost the Twins a title is just passing blame/not holding the front office responsible.

    Again, I am as big of a homer as they come and a HUGE Ryan fan, however, this move set the franchise back significantly.
    I disagree. The 02 Twins were a 40m payroll team, the 03 Twins were 55.5m. They had to give raises to 10 players (Reed, Milton, Hunter, Mays, Koskie, Hawkins, Jones, Everyday Eddie, Dougie baseball and Guzman) that totaled more than 14.5m. They also signed Kenny Rogers for 2m for the rotation. At the time, Ortiz simply wasn't worth it. No one questioned his power but he couldn't stay healthy. To pay Ortiz, say 1.5m, you'd have to lose one or two of those players.

    Again, in retrospect, losing Ortiz wasn't good (I suppose it also matters if you think his success was PED related or not) but the move made sense at the time.

  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    I disagree. The 02 Twins were a 40m payroll team, the 03 Twins were 55.5m.
    Because if there is one thing we all know, it's that TR always spends his entire payroll budget!

    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    To pay Ortiz, say 1.5m, you'd have to lose one or two of those players.
    Even if the $55m cap was somehow inviolable, why would you have to lose two? Every one of the guys you listed made $1.75m or more in 2003. Reed, Hawkins, and Eddie were all on expiring contracts too, with Koskie, Guzman, Dougie, and Milton gone after 2004 too. There weren't too many long-term commitments on that club.

    And if the Joe Mays contract forced TR to release David Ortiz prematurely, I'm not sure why TR should get a pass for that.

  18. #38
    Senior Member All-Star SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
    but the move made sense at the time.
    Except it really didn't.

    The Twins easily could have found the 1.5 mil to give to Ortiz, it really was a no brainer to bring back a guy who had an amazing second half of his age 26 season (.950+ OPS), had previous success for the team, a proven minor league track record, and the most raw power of anyone on the team.

  19. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
    Except it really didn't.

    The Twins easily could have found the 1.5 mil to give to Ortiz, it really was a no brainer to bring back a guy who had an amazing second half of his age 26 season (.950+ OPS), had previous success for the team, a proven minor league track record, and the most raw power of anyone on the team.
    Except everything you say isn't really true. His amazing second half is fully dependent on July. His Aug/Sept OPS was below .800, just like his pre-July OPS was below .700. He was streaky. He never had much success as a Twin, they were replacing him with a guy who was a better ranked prospect and had been destroying AAA. Ortiz had pop.

    And, as I just posted, the Twins gave raises to 10 guys and signed Rogers. They increased payroll by 15m. So it isn't clear that they could "easily have found 1.5 mil" for Ortiz.

  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
    Because if there is one thing we all know, it's that TR always spends his entire payroll budget!



    Even if the $55m cap was somehow inviolable, why would you have to lose two? Every one of the guys you listed made $1.75m or more in 2003. Reed, Hawkins, and Eddie were all on expiring contracts too, with Koskie, Guzman, Dougie, and Milton gone after 2004 too. There weren't too many long-term commitments on that club.
    I probably didn't make it clear. The Twins gave 14m in raises to a bunch of guys, either through contracts or arbitration. Contracts have to be paid, even if they cut the guy so they couldn't cut, say Reed, and have that money for Ortiz. On the arb guys, you're right, they could have cut one guy to keep Ortiz (although they'd have to get someone else to replace, say, Koskie).

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