Tag Archives: Rocco Baldelli

2003 Rewind: Game Twenty-five

MINNESOTA 5, TAMPA BAY 3 IN MINNESOTA

Batting stars:  Jacque Jones was 2-for-4.  Cristian Guzman was 2-for-4.  Corey Koskie was 1-for-3 with a home run (his third), a walk, and three RBIs.  Torii Hunter was 1-for-4 with a home run, his second.

Pitching stars:  Kenny Rogers pitched seven innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on eight hits and no walks and striking out four.  Eddie Guardado pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hit and striking out one.

Opposition stars:  Aubrey Huff was 3-for-4 with a home run, his fourth.  Chris Truby was 2-for-3.

The game:  Jones and Guzman started the bottom of the first with singles, and an infield out produced a run.  Huff homered opening the second to tie it 1-1.  The Twins had men on first and second with none out in the second, but three fly balls ended the inning.

The Twins took the lead in the third.  Guzman again singled, but this time Koskie followed with a two-run homer.  Hunter homered later in the inning to give the Twins a 4-1 lead.

The Devil Rays didn't give up.  In the seventh Damion Easley reached on an error with one out.  Singles by Truby and Toby Hall loaded the bases, and a ground out cut the lead to 4-2.  In the eighth, Terry Shumpert doubled and Travis Lee singled to make it 4-3.  Huff singled to put the go-ahead run on with one out, but LaTroy Hawkins came on to retire the next two batters and preserve the lead.

The Twins got an insurance run in the ninth.  Todd Sears led off with a double, an error put men on first and third, and a ground out made it 5-3.  Rey Ordonez hit a one-out double in the ninth, but that was all Tampa Bay could do.

WP:  Rogers (3-1).  LP:  Jorge Sosa (1-3).  S:  Guardado (7).

Notes:  Bobby Kielty was in right field.  Sears was the DH.

Dustan Mohr pinch-ran for Sears in the ninth.

Kielty was 1-for-3 with a walk and was batting .338.  Jones raised his average to .311.

Luis Rivas was 0-for-3 and was batting .194.

Hawkins' ERA remained at zero.  Guardado's ERA was 0.93.

This was the first game of the season for Sears.  He had appeared in seven games in 2002 as a September call-up.

The Devil Rays' center fielder was some guy named Rocco Baldelli.  I wonder what ever happened to him.

Huff was a better player than I remembered.  He played in thirteen seasons and batted .278/.342/.464.  He hit 242 career home runs.  2003 was his career high in homers, with 34.  He batted .311 in 2003, second only to his .313 average in 2002.  His OBP was .367, second only to his .385 mark in 2010.  His slugging average of .555 was his career high, as was his .922 OPS.  He never made an all-star team, but he received MVP votes three times (seventh was his highest finish, in 2010) and won a Silver Slugger award in 2008.  A very respectable career.

This was only the Twins' second win in their last ten games.

Record:  The Twins were 11-14, in third place in the American League Central, seven games behind Kansas City.

Game 56: Twins at Tampa Bay

Well, that wasn't a lot of fun yesterday. The Twins are in the midst of a tough stretch - 2 against the Brewers, 4 at Tampa Bay, and 3 at Cleveland. I'd circled these games on my calendar a month ago, figuring that these would be the games that would really tell us what we had on our hands. I'm enjoying the heck out of beating up on middling (or worse) teams. But it'd be great to hang with the best. That Brewers series suggested we could - especially with a bullpen upgrade - but after last night's game, a bounce back in Tampa Bay would be huge.

For some reason I have it in my head that trips to Tampa Bay are kind of like playing against NY or Toronto for the Twins. Teams that just seem to play them tough. It's my hope that Baldelli knows exactly how to shift gears for this team when they need it. There's a part of me that would give him an awful lot of credit if the Twins can end up with a winning record in the stretch I mentioned above.

Hopefully it also help to have Berrios on the mound - he's due for a dominant performance. Ideally the offense will show up, and then some, with an answer game. Tampa Bay is using an opener tonight, and I feel like that's the kind of thing that never quite works out like its supposed to, so hopefully that's the case again.

Rocco’s Modern Baseball

The news finally emerged early this morning: Rocco Baldelli will be the 14th manager since the Twins franchise moved to Minnesota. For the first time since Ray Miller in 1985, the Twins have hired a manager from outside the organization.  Baldelli will be just the 4th manager employed by the Twins in the last three decades.

By bringing in Baldelli, the Twins have finally jumped into the modern era. With Derek Falvey (35), Thad Levine (45), & Baldelli (37), management of the club is the youngest it’s been since Andy MacPhail (then 33) & Tom Kelly (then 36) started running the team together in 1986. Twins fans don’t need to be reminded of the accomplishments of that tandem of baseball minds.

At the same time, youth alone is not a guarantee of success. Youth can serve as a proxy for fresh thinking, which the Twins certainly needed when Falvey & Levine were brought in to run the organization’s baseball operations. The early results have been uneven. In some ways, the team is still recovering from Bill Smith’s disastrous tenure as GM, which was compounded by Terry Ryan’s return to the helm and refusal to consider other possibilities.

Falvey & Levine inherited Paul Molitor, an incumbent manager with strong ties to the club going back to his playing days, and by every indication, Molitor embraced a new approach to the game he knows in his marrow. To some, Molitor might seem fated to have been a transitional manager. His coaching career did not include lengthy service in the minor leagues or coaching apprenticeships under managers with a track record of developing future managers. He served under one of the last old-school GMs, and one of the youngest new-school Chief Baseball Officers. Molitor was something of the insider’s outsider, a Hall of Fame player & hometown guy without a long track record for the gig he held. He was open to new ideas, but they weren’t ideas that were organic to his understanding of the game.

Baldelli will be notable for his youth — he is now the youngest manager in the major leagues. What is more important, however, is what Baldelli brings with him. Baldelli was the sixth overall pick in the draft class immediately preceding Joe Mauer’s, the one in which the Twins drafted Adam Johnson second overall. He was a dynamic young outfielder whose career was derailed by injuries, ultimately forced into retirement by mitochondrial channelopathy. Along the way, Baldelli received the Tony Conigliaro Award and played for two organizations — the Rays and Red Sox — known for fresh thinking. His ability to translate his experience into effective support struggling players  will be vital to the futures of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sanó. Baldelli’s coaching work in Tampa Bay, particularly his last two years as field coordinator, will give data-driven baseball decisions an organic voice in the clubhouse. Should Derek Shelton remain on Baldelli’s coaching staff, the Twins will double-down on Rays coaching alumni, while Shelton can help his former colleague get familiar with the terrain of the clubhouse.

After years of ossified thinking, which produced mediocre results that were excruciating to watch, the Twins are completing a turn into the future. Welcome, Rocco’s Modern Baseball.