|Tom Nieto's 1987 card shows|
him with Montreal, his team in
1986 — but he opened the '87
season with the Twins. He
ultimately lost the backup
catcher's job to Sal Butera —
the father of current Twins
backup Drew Butera.
Nieto had two seasons at the helm of the Red Wings, and they weren't good ones on the won-loss ledger; Rochester lost more than 90 games in both seasons. That certainly didn't help his cause.
But his fate (and that of Rayford) was probably sealed when Justin Morneau returned to the Twins from a rehab assignment in Rochester talking about the lack of extra work there. Nor did it help their cause that so many of the players called up from Rochester this season — and there was a virtual conveyor belt at times — appeared ill-trained in such things as cut-off plays and rundowns.
Managing a Triple A team may be the most difficult job in a system. So many players on the roster are fringe players, whose major league destiny, if any, will be as a bench guy. The real prospects, the guys destined to be major league regulars, will spend a full season at Double A and probably just a few weeks at Triple A — but the core of the Triple A team will be minor league veterans who've been cut too many times to be optimistic about their futures.
It's easy for attitudes to turn sour on a Triple A team. In fact, that's one reason some organizations prefer to have their top prospects come to the majors direct from Double A, to keep them from being infected by the disgruntled Triple A lifers.
Pat Reusse apparently believes the Twins will assign one of their current major league coaches, either Scott Ullger or Steve Liddle, to straighten out their top minor league affiliate. If so, that would open a slot on the major league coaching staff, which perhaps would benefit from a bit of turnover.
I'd be surprised if such a shift happened, but I don't rule it out — especially if the organization thinks a Triple A manager known to be close to the big league manager will carry more credibility with the players.