It’s only because I’m in a pissy mood that I’m letting myself do this. (Or: the old Manny, Ortiz, and PEDs debate)

August 19th, 2006 → 8:10 pm @ // 14 Comments

There’s a wingnut hanging out over here who is trying to bait me into an argument about why Manny and Ortiz are roiding up. I know this is wrong, but when I’m in a particularly bad mood, a good beatdown always of cheers me up. Comments by said baiter (screen name: pepsicorp) are in itals.

Ahh, the old Ortiz always had power claim. Of course, it’s pure BS. Lifted this from an ESPN post:
=======================================================
Theory 1: Always had power, just couldn’t hit as well. One poster says he had a season where he hit a HR every 16ab in MN (it was actually closer to 17). But in Boston he’s hitting HRs every 10ab. Heck of an improvement from 25 yrs old to 30. Another said he never made good contact in MN although he hit 270+ 4/5 seasons.

Ortiz has always had power. In fact, it’s one of the reasons the Sox wanted him — because their scout in the Dominican couldn’t get over what a superstar he was down there. In 2001, he hit .234 but had a secondary average of .400 — a sign of a player who could be on the verge of a breakout. If you’re interested, check it out.

Theory 2: MN coaches don’t know how to coach Ortiz. Nice theory b/c the Twins clearly sucked but they did have competant coaching. TK won 2 WS and manager of the year (you had Williams and Little). Ortiz is the only player from that horrid era of Twins play that left and became a better hitter. Others, like Knoblauch, McCarthy, Cordova and Meares clearly had their best hitting seasons in MN. Obviously, the Sox did have him look at his swing differently but a 40HR improvement based on coaching? Not a chance.

First off, get your facts straight: Ortiz didn’t play for Jimy Williams. Second, Ron Gardenhire was Ortiz’s coach in 2002. And if you’re going to tell me you think Ron Gardenhire is a brilliant manager I have some swampland in Florida to sell you. Maybe you missed the 2004 ALDS? The current Twins regime is notorious for relying on speed, pitching, and defense as opposed to power — to the point where they’d discourage people from going yard in favor of moving the runner along. In fact, this is exactly what they did to Ortiz, telling him to hit the ball to the opposite field as opposed to swinging for the fences; that’s why Ortiz said the Twins wanted him to “hit like a little bitch.” (From an article on why the Twins have’t had a player hit 30 home runs in 19 years: “Boston’s David Ortiz has become one of the game’s most feared sluggers after never reaching his full potential with the Twins, a point that Ortiz has made many times by criticizing the organization’s conservative approach to teaching young hitters. Minnesota’s philosophy: Go to the opposite field and form sound fundamentals before letting it rip. ‘It’s not that anybody is against hitting home runs,’ Gardenhire said. ‘It’s just that first the process comes with learning to hit and be a hitter.'”) Third, while Knoblauch may have had his best years by average in MN, he had consecutive seasons of 17 and 18 home runs in New York…after topping out at 13 in MN. Two of Cordova’s top 3 HR years came after he left Minnesota. Pat Meares was a lifetime .258 hitter — he sucked when he played for the Twins and he sucked when he left. And I have no idea who McCarthy is. (If you’re talking about Dave McCarty…well, then you’re talking about Dave McCarty.) Finally, Ortiz’s batting average — which you seem to equate with being a good hitter — didn’t spike up after leaving the Twins; his power did. In 2000 and 2002, the only two years in MN in which he had more than 400 ABs, he hit .282 and .272, which isn’t hugely off line with what he’s done in Boston: .288, .301, .300, .284. And over the past three years, Ortiz has hit .271 on the road…which would seem to indicate that the Sox were right when they thought he would be the type of hitter who could take advantage of Fenway.

Theory 3: PEDs. Why is this hard to grasp? In MN Ortiz was an extremely well liked player known for being aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic and being injury prone.

I’ve never met someone who was extremely well liked and known for being aloof, lazy, and with a poor work ethic; that’s just asinine. If he was aloof and lazy with a poor work ethic, he wouldn’t have been well liked. Another reason the Sox wanted him — besides the power he showed in the DR — was the fact that he was both well liked and known for his ability to keep a clubhouse loose. And he was injury prone because he was a big guy with balky knees who was stuck playing first base on artificial turf. Since coming to Boston, he hasn’t played in the field, and he hasn’t had to play on turf.

The Twins, a playoff team now, let him go for nothing and Boston was the only team that gave him a chance.

Terry Ryan has said exactly that…just as he’s said that letting Ortiz go was the biggest mistake of his career. What’s more, the Yankees also wanted him — but they had a logjam at first/DH, with Giambi and Nick Johnson both on the roster.

27 yrs old and he hadn’t even hit 60HRs in his career. Why wouldn’t he try some PED to improve his then failing career? I would’ve, you would’ve.

Look, just because you’re a cheater — or a wanna-be cheater — doesn’t mean everyone is. Plenty of players have seen spikes in their power from 25 to 30. In fact, plenty have seen spikes at age 27, the year Ortiz arrived in Boston. There’s Stan Musial, who’d never hit more than 19 home runs before age 27; in his next eight years, he topped 30 six times and 35 three times. There’s Dave Winfield, who never topped 30 home runs before age 27. There’s Dwight Evans, who didn’t top 20 homers until he was 26 and didn’t top 30 until he was 30. And, since I know you heart the Twins, there’s Gary Gaetti, who hit 5 home runs in a full season at age 25 (sandwiched between a 20 and a 21 hr season) before hitting 34 when he turned 27.

Theory 4: Twin fans secretly hate Ortiz for sucking for them and becoming good for another team so it must be sour grapes.

This is the best theory I’ve heard so far.

Well, I can’t prove this one if you don’t believe it. Red Sox fans became more hated than Yank fans over the years so you have some ammo here but I don’t really care.

That doesn’t even begin to make sense.

Since Seth is so high and mighty on the integrity of the game, I’d like to know his thoughts on PEDs on the Sox. You have a former pitcher who said it was everywhere. Manny came from Clev, a team that should clearly raise eyebrows.

My beef with Giambi wasn’t so much that he juiced, but that he juiced and now is moralizing about the reporters who uncovered it. Anyway, you’re talking about Paxton Crawford, right? The guy who played in Boston two years before Ortiz got there? I’m sure there are players on the Red Sox who have used PEDs. There might still be; I have no idea. The only people we know were juicing are those who’ve been implicated by their grand jury testimony or tested positive.

As for Manny, this is his 12th year in a row of remarkable consistency. During that time, he’s never hit more than 45 home runs and he’s never hit less than 26. Assuming he makes it to 37 this year, it’ll be the eighth year in a row (not counting his injury-shortened ’02 campaign) in which he’s hit between 37 and 45 homers. Compare that to the odd, late-career spikes for the folks we can reasonably guess used PEDs:

* Sammy Sosa hadn’t hit more than 36 home runs in a season before he put up 4 straight seasons of 66, 63, 50, 64.

* Mark McGwire had never hit more than 50 before hitting 52, 58, 70, 65 in consecutive years.

* In his first four years in the bigs, Jason Giambi hit between 20 and 33 home runs. Then, according to his grand jury testimony, he starts juicing. Voila! 43, 38, 41, 41.

* After hitting more than 30 hrs exactly once before he turned 30, Rafael Palmeiro had consecutive years in which he hit 39, 39, 38, 43, 47, 39, 47, 43, 38.

* And, of course, there’s Barry Bonds. In his first 14 seasons, he topped 45 home runs once (and 40 three times). Starting at age 35, he hit 49, 73, 45, and 45.

Let’s hear Seth’s version.

My version? My version is that in the current environment, it’s hard to say for sure anyone’s 100 percent clean (although Manny is as close to a model of non-juicing consistency as is possible and there’s a whole boatload of reasons why Ortiz has blossomed). My version is also that if you want people to take you seriously, you should come up with something – anything – to back up what you’re trying to say. If not, you just sound like a moron. Correction: an aloof and lazy moron with a poor work ethic.

Ahhh…I feel better already.

3 AM SUNDAY MORNING EDIT: Not surprisingly, pepsicorp answered with another inane comment. Only slightly surprising is the fact that I again took the time to answer. It’s below. This time, it’s my responses to his comments that are italed.

***

Hey, nice. You answered me posts. I’m actually impressed. Still, we have issues. The main issue I have with you is that you don’t know anything but apparently hung around the team for a year. That seems like you’re lazy/aloof or willfully blind. Either you know some players are cheating or you don’t – and odds are very good that that someone on the team uses. What % of players use? I’ve heard as high as 75% or as low as 10%.

However, I can’t imagine someone who has the access you do doesn’t know more than what you’re speaking of. I’m really hoping we’re not going to be reading an article from you in a few years telling us how you’re another victim and can’t believe players were hiding this from you. Enough columnists already wrote that article.

Lazy, aloof, willfully blind — or not physically in people’s homes when they would be using. I’ve written that I think the media was (and is) too credulous; it’s not my fault you haven’t bothered to look that up. I’ve also written that the clubs themselves have no idea who is or isn’t using — in an age when players change teams constantly, and an age when contracts are worth hundreds of millions of dollars, why, in god’s name, would players let team officials know they’re juicing? And finally, I’ve written that without a solid testing program — and the current one most definitely is not — we’ll never truly have any idea who is or isn’t clean, and because of that, everyone will be suspect. Try using a teensy, tiny amount of the time you spend writing comments on other people’s blogs actually doing some research.

Further, your defenses of Ortiz aren’t that sound. Ortiz was coached by Gardy one year, before that it was the TK era. And it was that era (94 or so to 2001) where the Twins clearly sucked. Still, no other Twin that left became a better power hitter. Knobby hit more a few more HR (best seasons in NY were 17 and 18, in MN it was 11 and 13) but only once did he even hit higher than his career slg avg. If the Twins organization was so bad you’d expect more hitters to leave MN and improve. Ortiz is the only player from that period that did. And he improved by a lot. And maybe the Sox were able to predict his future greatness but they took thier time to sign him – he was a free agent for 5 weeks. This sounds more like a defense after the fact.

In Knoblauch’s highest HR year in Minnesota, he hit about 72 percent of what he hit in NY (13 versus 18). During Ortiz’s last year in MN, he hit about 65 percent of what he hit the next year in Boston (20 versus 31) — and in Boston he was hitting in a park that rewarded his swing, with a team that encouraged power-hitting, and with protection from the best-hitting team in the history of the game.

Wait — let me guess: now you’re going to say that Ortiz went from 20 to 31 to 41 to 47. True. In 2002 (20 home runs) he had 412 ABs. In 2004 (41) he had 582 — meaning he had 1.4 about times as many chances to hit home runs. 582 ABs in MN in 2002 would have produced about 28 home runs…which means that, once you adjust for at bats, he hit about 68 percent as many home runs in 2002 as he did in 2004. By 2005, he was hitting in front of Manny Ramirez. And you can’t get better protection than that.

Finally — and I really do not know why you can’t get this through your thick head — the Twins have said they not only badly bungled that situation but that it was a defining mistake of that era.

Further, one of the reasons Ortiz hates TK was that TK thought he was soft and wouldn’t play hurt. Hence the rep.

You also state that the Twins didn’t let hitters hit HR. Not exactly true.

I’ve never in my life come close to saying the Twins didn’t let hitters hit home runs; I said they didn’t emphasize it, and they discouraged it when it came to Ortiz. The Twins have also said this. Repeatedly.

In 2000, Jones hit 19, Ortiz 10.

In 2000, 102 players hit more than 19 home runs.

In 2001, Koskie 26, Hunter 27, Ortiz 18.

In 2001, 46 players hit more than 27.

In 2002 (Gardy’s first year), Hunter 29, Jones 22, Ortiz 20. Sure, Ortiz blames MN for his failures as a hitter but remarkably NO OTHER hitter has. Amazing that Ortiz was singled out solely by the staff.

In 2002, 38 players hit more than 29. As I — and about every other media outlet in the country — have pointed out, the Twins had gone 19 years without a player hitting 30 home runs; 478 players had seasons of 30+ in that time, or about 27 players per season. The Twins haven’t had a player with an OPS of over .900 since 1996; last year, there were 27 players who had OPS’s of .900+. The Twins have been a crappy power team for years. That could be because the front office is stupid, or it could be because they’ve de-emphasized power in favor of small-ball, defense, and pitching.

You note that Winfield, Musial et al showed spikes at these ages. However, these players certainly had different career paths. There was no question about them at age 27 (Ortiz’ 1st year in Boston). They were complete players. Ortiz was a washout. A bit of a difference.

That he wasn’t able to stay healthy in his early 20s is blamed on turf? And now that he’s a DH on grass no more injuries. I suppose that makes some sense although that’s also very convinent. The big advantage, supposedly, for PEDs is much faster recovery time.

You suppose that makes sense? How is that very convenient? Perhaps you’ve heard of Occam’s razor. (Wait a minute: of course you haven’t.) It states that the simplest answer is usually the correct answer. What makes more sense: moving Ortiz off of artificial turf and not playing him in the field made him less prone to injury? Or Ortiz decided he was going to use steroids and therefore hatched a grand scheme to switch to grass and become a DH by pissing off a manager who’d left Minnesota a year earlier and then using his Jedi mind tricks to get the Twins to ask him to slap hit singles to the opposite field? Finally, if, as you say, Ortiz was “washed up,” why wouldn’t he have decided to start juicing before — say, in 2000 or 2001 or 2002. You know — the years that are now acknowledged to be the steroid era.

You mock me for making accusations with no fact. Well, since I’m not a reporter and have no access I don’t have much to go on.

Every single thing — everything — from my post and this response was based on “reporting” I did on the this new-fangled thing called the Interweb. Using high-tech, top-secret journalist tools like Google. You don’t have much to go on because a) you don’t have much to go on and b) you’re a moron.

However, we also know that the Twins organization and the Sox org have both been tied to steroids so I believe it is fair to suspect some players. If you don’t think so fine, but it does call into question your journalistic curiosity.

I’m not sure why you think you know anything about journalism, but let me give you a some quick lesson. It’s not “journalism” to go throwing around accusations in the total and complete absence of facts. That’s recklessly irresponsible. I don’t think it’s fair to call anyone into suspect in the absence of a single shred of evidence. What you’re citing isn’t evidence; it’s not even particularly suspicious, although I do realize you’d need a combination of a tiny amount of smarts and a teensy bit of curiosity to actually sit down, dig up some stats, and crunch some numbers.

But, for the record, there are lots of things I’m curious about. I’m curious about the inner workings of the Bush White House. I’m curious about Scientology. I’m curious about global warming and astronomy and the nature vs. nurture in human developement. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time or the resources to go out and write books about all of these subjects. I wasn’t writing a book about steroids, although if I’d somehow stumbled upon any evidence — say, a syringe sticking out of someone’s ass — I’d have done everything I could to figure out what was going on. Right now there’s an MLB-endorsed committee granted near-prosecutorial powers and run by the man who helped broker peace in Ireland, and thus far they haven’t come up with any bombshells. I don’t know why it’s surprising that I didn’t either…especially since that wasn’t what I was working on.

Wouldn’t you like to know if the best hitter since Ted Williams is cheating?

I actually know that — or am pretty sure I know that. Barry Bonds was cheating. David Ortiz doesn’t come close to being the best hitter since Ted Williams. He’s not close to the best hitter currently in baseball. He’s not even the best hitter currently on the Red Sox.

Manny has been remarkable consistant – so were Palmerio and Juan Gonzalez – the hitter he most closely resembles. Ortiz was a washed up player who couldn’t stay healthy – now he’s an MVP canidate.

The steroid cloud is going to stay over a lot of players until people know what happened. Part of that will be good reporting. You credit the Red Sox wining on money, smarts and nerve. Shouldn’t you also determine how much ‘roids played a part?

It’s fitting that your email handle is “brat” — you have that rare combo of zero intellectual sophistocation and a petulant belief that whatever dumb thought comes into your head is not only correct but deserves being shared. Most people move beyond that when they’re 12. I’m know I deserve part of the blame for indulging you. Don’t worry — it won’t happen again.


Post Categories: David Ortiz & Manny Ramirez & Paxton Crawford & Rampaging morons & Steroids

14 Comments → “It’s only because I’m in a pissy mood that I’m letting myself do this. (Or: the old Manny, Ortiz, and PEDs debate)”


  1. yerfatma

    11 years ago

    Wouldn’t an IP ban have felt even better?

    Reply

  2. pepsicorp

    11 years ago

    Hey, nice. You answered me posts. I’m actually impressed. Still, we have issues. The main issue I have with you is that you don’t know anything but apparently hung around the team for a year. That seems like you’re lazy/aloof or willfully blind. Either you know some players are cheating or you don’t – and odds are very good that that someone on the team uses. What % of players use? I’ve heard as high as 75% or as low as 10%.

    However, I can’t imagine someone who has the access you do doesn’t know more than what you’re speaking of. I’m really hoping we’re not going to be reading an article from you in a few years telling us how you’re another victim and can’t believe players were hiding this from you. Enough columnists already wrote that article.

    Further, your defenses of Ortiz aren’t that sound. Ortiz was coached by Gardy one year, before that it was the TK era. And it was that era (94 or so to 2001) where the Twins clearly sucked. Still, no other Twin that left became a better power hitter. Knobby hit more a few more HR (best seasons in NY were 17 and 18, in MN it was 11 and 13) but only once did he even hit higher than his career slg avg. If the Twins organization was so bad you’d expect more hitters to leave MN and improve. Ortiz is the only player from that period that did. And he improved by a lot. And maybe the Sox were able to predict his future greatness but they took thier time to sign him – he was a free agent for 5 weeks. This sounds more like a defense after the fact.

    Further, one of the reasons Ortiz hates TK was that TK thought he was soft and wouldn’t play hurt. Hence the rep.

    You also state that the Twins didn’t let hitters hit HR. Not exactly true. In 2000, Jones hit 19, Ortiz 10. In 2001, Koskie 26, Hunter 27, Ortiz 18. In 2002 (Gardy’s first year), Hunter 29, Jones 22, Ortiz 20. Sure, Ortiz blames MN for his failures as a hitter but remarkably NO OTHER hitter has. Amazing that Ortiz was singled out solely by the staff.

    You note that Winfield, Musial et al showed spikes at these ages. However, these players certainly had different career paths. There was no question about them at age 27 (Ortiz’ 1st year in Boston). They were complete players. Ortiz was a washout. A bit of a difference.

    That he wasn’t able to stay healthy in his early 20s is blamed on turf? And now that he’s a DH on grass no more injuries. I suppose that makes some sense although that’s also very convinent. The big advantage, supposedly, for PEDs is much faster recovery time.

    You mock me for making accusations with no fact. Well, since I’m not a reporter and have no access I don’t have much to go on. However, we also know that the Twins organization and the Sox org have both been tied to steroids so I believe it is fair to suspect some players. If you don’t think so fine, but it does call into question your journalistic curiosity. Wouldn’t you like to know if the best hitter since Ted Williams is cheating? Manny has been remarkable consistant – so were Palmerio and Juan Gonzalez – the hitter he most closely resembles. Ortiz was a washed up player who couldn’t stay healthy – now he’s an MVP canidate.

    The steroid cloud is going to stay over a lot of players until people know what happened. Part of that will be good reporting. You credit the Red Sox wining on money, smarts and nerve. Shouldn’t you also determine how much ‘roids played a part?

    Reply

  3. Mr. Furious

    11 years ago

    It’s probably fair (and realistic) to look at everybody in MLB with a bit of skepticism regarding PEDs. The testing policy is a joke, and it’s clear that some guys are still using even in this age of supposed scrutiny.

    As far as Manny and Papi go, yes, I am a fan, and I want them to be clean. I prefer to think of something Bill Simmons wrote a year or two ago…

    “Speaking of steroids, which team will be more affected by the steroids crackdown? Well, one team features the poster boy for the steroid crisis (Giambi), as well as someone who hung out with Barry Bonds and his trainer and “unknowingly” used a steroid cream (Sheffield). The other team has two goofy sluggers from the Dominican Republic who probably couldn’t figure out how to make a cup of Thera-Flu for one another, much less inject each other with hormones.”

    Reply

  4. Jack

    11 years ago

    Great sutff Seth. Although he was a relatively easy target you thoroughly dismantled him.

    Reply

  5. Ogie Oglethorpe

    11 years ago

    Pepsicorp obviously has some sort of ax to grind against Ortiz and Manny. Yanks fan maybe??? Funny since the Yanks have two of the highest profile players that have been connected with ‘riods (Sheff and Giambi). There seems to be no logic behind his accusations except Manny and Ortiz are two of the best power hitters in the game and that Ortiz’ power numbers increased suddenly (which there are a lot of factors to explain). The Manny accusation is unbelievable. Using that same criteria that you singled out Manny as a potential user, wouldn’t ARod also be under suspicion? For the record I don’t think ARod is using and it would be ridiculous to accuse him soley based on the fact that he is one of the ML’s top power hitters. Like Manny his numbers have been consistent from day one and his body didn’t go through any sudden transformations. The one thing that makes it obvious that this guy is a Yanks fan and is not being objective is the Sox player or former Sox player that he is not accusing. The player that is currently leading off and playing CF for the Yanks. The same player that suddenly got jacked after being traded to Oakland where he was good buddies and teammates with Giambi. Basically pepsi’s lack of legit proof and objectivity makes his accusations baseless and suspect.

    Reply

  6. pepsicorp

    11 years ago

    Well, I’d say you answered my posts but it seems we may be coming at this from different directions. First, my brat email handle – it’s my old college password. First 4 letters of the last name and 4 numbers. Hence brat0029. Just something easy to remember. I’m also 31 and a human rights lawyer. Let’s keep the personal attacks at a minimum. Thanks.

    Additionally, when I wrote if you were curious if the best hitter since Williams was using, I meant best Sox hitter. It was a question about Manny, not Bonds.

    As you can tell, I’m not much of a Sox fan – a Twins guy. I found your website through a ESPN messageboard link saying some guy was mad at Simmons – nice read. So I don’t know much about you. I think of you as a journalist but author/baseball junkie seems to be more accurate.

    Further you stated that the “Twins have said they not only badly bungled that situation but that it was a defining mistake of that era.” I’ve never heard that – I’ve heard Ryan say he couldn’t get anything for Ortiz and had to let him go. He’s also said that if he’d known what Ortiz would become he wouldn’t have done that. However, every article I’ve ever read about it points out why and generally defends the move. I can’t imagine it’s the ‘defining mistake’ of anything.

    But more to the point at hand. Ortiz’s last season with MN he hit a HR every 20.6ab. That number has shrunk every year (14.5, 14.1, 12.8, and now 10.5). His best season was TKs last year, one every 16.6ab. His slg avg has also shown the same leap. No other former twin has had that kind of improvement. Blaming the Twins org and leaving it at that doesn’t hack it. While the Twins have never emphasized power hitting, while Ortiz was with the Twins other Twins including Hunter, Jones, Koskie and even Lawton and Guzman outslugged Ortiz.

    You maintain that we can’t talk about steroids and certain players absent evidence. Evidence that, absent seeing some needle in a player’s butt, we aren’t likely to come by. That’s problematic. (Although i must point out that there is a lot of relevant evidence out there that you have disclaimed as speculation. We know that some player in Sox/Twins org have used (and still are – two twin minor leaguers got 50 game suspensions this year, I believ one Sox minor leaguer as well). We know that S. America and winter ball are the most common places to get these PEDs. We know that PEDs help atheletes recover from injury faster. We know at least some players believe PEDs can improve thier game. We know that PEDs can dramatically improve a players game. We know the names of a few trainers in and around baseball that have been pulled into the steroid issue. To bring these points up isn’t reckless – it’s relevant and important. A journalist shouldn’t ignore these facts and wait for visual proof before researching this matter.)

    Reply

  7. pepsicorp

    11 years ago

    One last thing. I sort of just realized I posted this stuff during the Yanks/Sox weekend that isn’t going so well for you. I mean, I knew the games were on but I didn’t realize it, if you catch my meaning. It probably would’ve been better if I brought up these points up after a few days instead of during this series.

    Reply

  8. giantglass

    11 years ago

    Hey pepsicorp, if Seth is done answering your inane posts, then I guess the least the rest of us can do is pick up the slack … and let your own team’s star player shoot your stupid f—ing argument about Ortiz to pieces.

    From a March 2006 article in the St. Paul (MN) Pioneer Press, the Globe equivalent for the Twins:

    Kelly’s intolerance of young players who didn’t take quickly to his program are just as famous as the free-swinging ways of some of those recent Twins hitters.

    “It was like you were in the army,” Ortiz said.

    [Tony] Oliva said that since he left as hitting coach, the team has stressed the “big part of the field” to the neglect of teaching hitters how to react to — and drive — inside pitches.

    [Torii] Hunter said he was watched in batting practice to make sure he was following the prescribed program.

    “If I didn’t go to right field in batting practice and I pulled a lot, it was, ‘Oh, he’s not ready today.’ That’s the word I would get,” Hunter said.

    Even Scott Ullger, Kelly’s hitting coach for three years and Gardenhire’s for four, admitted the emphasis at the major league level shifted to a more rigid discipline when the World Series core cycled out in the ’90s and younger, raw hitters began coming through — then shifted again when Gardenhire took over and told his hitters with power to air it out more often when ahead in the count.

    Hunter decided to ignore what he had been coached to do even before Gardenhire took over. After struggling with Kelly’s program and batting .207 with no homers seven weeks into what would have been his second full season in 2000, Hunter was demoted to Class AAA.

    “I stopped listening to everybody and just started swinging,” said Hunter, who batted .368 with 18 homers in 51 games at AAA before being called back up.

    He then hit .332 with five home runs in 93 at-bats the rest of the season and followed that with consecutive career highs of 27 homers in 2001 and 29 in 2002.

    Just for anecdotal evidence’s sake, here’s how the article begins:

    One day early in David Ortiz’s big-league career with the Twins, the hulking slugger put on a jaw-dropping power display during batting practice before a game against Detroit at the Metrodome.He sent pitch after pitch into the right-field upper deck, to the delight of several Twins and Tigers players.

    The show came to a sudden stop when manager Tom Kelly rose to the top of the dugout steps and yelled at him to knock it off.

    “That’s the way it was over there,” said Ortiz, now one of baseball’s premier sluggers with the Boston Red Sox. “They make you be a little (expletive) hitter. If you don’t be a little (expletive) hitter, you don’t play.”

    Reply

  9. pepsicorp

    11 years ago

    Yeah, there is no question that the Twins approach during the TK era was different and emphasized using the whole field. And much blame is being heaped retroactively on the twins coaching staff. However, this skirts the issue – Ortiz is the only player that left the Twins and became a significantly better power hitter. A 10ab hr increase is pretty incredible and can’t just be blamed on coaching.

    pepsicorp: you’re done. You’ve tried to make your point a whole slew of times. Now you’re just repeating yourself. I’m sick of banging my head against the wall; I’m sure other people here are too. If you have something new, original, or even mildly interesting you want to add to this or any other discussion, I’d welcome it. If not, go seek out Bring_Back_Pedro (aka 2004_champs). You two can sit in the corner and shout at each other until you get bored.

    — Seth

    Reply

  10. kpw

    11 years ago

    The biggest flaw in this dude’s logic is that you would have sold a hell of a lot more books with a title like “FEEDING THE MONSTERS: How Buttloads Of ‘Roids and HGH Took Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz To The Top.” It’s a testament to your journalistic integrity that you searched your soul and found some way to resist.

    But this is definitely one of those slippery-slope thingies. Now, every sensationalist seamhead who treats ballplayers like stat-producing robots (but at the same time, yammer about the “purity of the game”) will want a crack at you, thinking that they’ll get it. Playground rules apply: take a deep breath, don’t retaliate, and for gawd’s sakes say no to drugs.

    FWIW, as a lifelong Twins fan, I don’t hate Ortiz for “sucking for us.” I watched him every day for nearly three seasons and had enough sense about me to realize that he was a bad fit for TK’s system — he had fewer than five years of ML experience, he was better than good for simply moving runners over, and he rarely had the green light to swing away. But he hasn’t changed much as a player since the late 90’s: the ball still explodes off his bat, he still can’t field, and he still strikes out 20% of the time (and looks bad when doing it).

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  11. Ogie Oglethorpe

    11 years ago

    Just because I can’t stand seeing this repeated time and time again. Steroids help muscles heal or repair faster. When you exercise or lift weights your muscle fibers tear. When they heal or “repair” they get bigger. Hence the term “tear and repair”. One of the biggest benefits of steroids is the fact that the repair period is much faster. This allows you to workout more because the recovery period is shorter. This will do nothing to help your knee joints recover. In fact most athletes who use steroids blow out their ACL because their body’s muscle mass increases so rapidly that their tendons are unable to effectively support this increased stress created by the added mass. As far as HGH is concerned I have heard that it increases your muscle mass, bone density and in Bonds’ case sharpened his eye sight. This does nothing for your tendons or joints except possibly make them worse for the same reasons that steroids make them vulnerable. If Ortiz’ problem is his knee joints how does this help him? If something existed to fix these problems then why are people getting hip and knee replacements regularly?

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  12. mhaof5555

    11 years ago

    As it seems as if the only remaining arguement is that Ortiz is the only player to leave the Twins and hit for more power, why don’t you accuse Carlos Beltran under the same principle.

    He left the Royals and now is hitting for the best power of his career, save that brief stretch on the Astros. Other Royals haven’t left and become massive boppers. The reason is that the Royals suck and don’t have many good players because they are a small market team. Thus, when their players leave they still won’t be very good.

    The Twins during that period and in general don’t target young power hitters as it doesn’t fit there plan. They get young, fast, defensively sound players who if they eventually leave the twins will become old, average speed, defensively sound players.

    Ortiz has always physically been a monster. Who else has come through the Twins system that has the look of a masher.

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  13. dbvader

    11 years ago

    HR/AB is misleading because it doesn’t account for a batter’s increase in walks. A better statistic to track increase in HR hitting would be HR/PA. Ortiz has increased his walk % every year from 2004 through 2006, which means his HR/AB will increase at a greater rate than his HR/PA solely because he walked more.

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  14. […] This shows, more than anything that a) Curt would do well to do what I try to do when I get really upset: write down the first thing that pops into my head and then throw it away (I’m not always as successful as I might like) and b) he has very little understanding of the media. […]

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