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You can't blame Terry Ryan...

Posted at 12:13 PM on September 21, 2005 by David Zingler (5 Comments)

"I really would have liked to deal David, but I couldn't find a taker."
-Twins GM Terry Ryan after releasing David Ortiz

Although we had no idea at the time, December 16, 2002 was a pivotal day in Twins history. And it’s not because they selected Jose Morban in the Rule V draft. That, of course, was the day that Terry Ryan made what is regarded as his biggest blunder as Twins general manager – he released David Ortiz.

"This frees up some of the at-bats for Lecroy, Kielty, Mohr and Cuddyer," Ryan said at the time. "We'll get them a little bit more (time in the lineup). Those guys are ready. They've had their share of at-bats at the minor-league level. If they don't get consistent at bats at the Major League level, it's tough to get into a pattern.”

Since 2003, Matthew Lecroy, Bobby Kielty, Dustan Mohr and Micheal Cuddyer have hit a combined 131 major league homeruns. Ortiz, by himself, has hit 118.

Before we drag Ryan out into the street for a public flogging, we should remember that in 455 games over six injury plagued seasons with the Twins, Ortiz totaled just 58 long balls. We should also remember that, other than some whining by Twins players about losing Ortiz’s clubhouse humor, there was no public outrage over the move. The big Dominican’s time with the Twins was a brittle, enigmatic disappointment.

When the Red Sox signed Ortiz a month later, it was barely noticed in Boston. The following April, he hit .212/.311/.346 with 1 homerun. Twins fans looked at Boston box scores and snickered. Good riddance!

Of course, Ortiz would soon catch fire and become the best thing to hit Boston since Larry Bird. It didn’t hurt that the voice of Tom Kelly telling him slap singles to leftfield is a lot harder to hear in New England. Now, he was just one cog of the league’s most potent lineup instead of the only power presence in one of its’ most anemic.

With his booming bat, knack for the big hit and easy-going demeanor, Ortiz had more to do with the Red Sox finally winning a World Series than any other single player. Only Curt Schilling comes close. In Minnesota he was just David Ortiz – a moderately productive DH. In Boston he is Papi – the antidote to the Bambino’s curse. It was his destiny; the Twins were a mere pit stop on the road.


Comments (5)

Ortiz sucked on the Twins. Nonetheless, it was not his fault, even if he was good, no one would pitch to him with all the bad hitters around him. Give him a free pass and the next guy will bat into a double play....that's how the Twins do it. The Twins will never be able to keep power hitter with this lineup.

Posted by michael | September 21, 2005 2:27 PM


fire ullger

Posted by KEN | September 21, 2005 9:00 PM


Typical of the Twins to throw up their arms and say "what do you do?" after watching their employee -- Tom Kelly -- try to turn Ortiz into a singles hitter.

By the time they released him, it was too late. But that doesn't absolve them.

As far as firing Ullger, fine, go ahead. There's nobody out there that can turn Jason Tyner and Nick Punto and Abernathy et al., into good major league hitters.

But go ahead and try if you want. I wouldn't expect much.

Posted by Bob Collins | September 22, 2005 12:34 PM


Ullger is not a goot hitting coach. When the approach at the plate is this bad by every player and none of them can hit that well it is partly on the coach. Not all of them are that bad they were brought up because they can hit. And you look foolish putting Tyner in that group. Have you been watching the games? He is batting .304!

Posted by Nora | September 23, 2005 3:35 PM


TWINS SHOULD MOVE TO VEGAS OR PORTLAND NONE OF YOU TWINS FANS SHOW UP TO SUPPORT YOUR DAMN TEAM SO YOU DONT DESERVE THEM GIVE THE NEW STADIUM BACK CUZ YOU WONT NEED IT

Posted by INGY BINGLEBOP | May 25, 2006 1:06 PM


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