Saturday, September 10, 2011

The first moves

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.
The Twins began what may well be a wide-ranging shakeup of their player development operations Friday with news that Tom Nieto and Floyd Rayford, the manager and hitting coach respectively at Triple A Rochester, will not be back in 2012. (Bobby Cuellar, the pitching coach there, is apparently safe.)

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.

1 comment:

  1. How can Bill Smith continue at his job?

    It is hard to find one thing BS has been correct on since he started.

    The decisions that did not work out well keep growing:

    Santana, 1 season from FA was traded as if we had to because the Mgr. didn't want the season long distraction the Torii Hunter walk year brought previously.

    The Santana trade 'bounty' flopped.

    Mike Lamb, two yr contact had to be eaten less than 1 yr in.

    Mis read the market and overpaid Punto immensely.

    Garza/Bartlett trade.

    Extended Blackburn early on when it was not necessary.

    The Hardy salary dump.

    The Nishioka debacle.

    Gave Pavano 2 yrs / 16M. The contract is an anchor.

    Ramos/Capps trade is not looking good.

    Watched over a training staff that appears to need an overhaul and has done nothing about it.

    Minor leagues are barren at upper levels.

    Seemingly lets his major league manager dictate to him.

    No valid back-up catcher for two seasons running.