Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

End of the Season Wrap-Up: Vinny Rottino

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As IF/OF/C Vinny Rottino’s season has come to an end, it’s time for an end of the season wrap up.  Rottino batted .167 in his September call-up with the Florida Marlins, getting two hits in twelve plate appearances.  Rottino walked twice (both last Sunday against the Brewers) and struck out four times; he played adequate defense and showed an above-average arm.

But as I’ve said before in all of my blogs about Rottino, this really isn’t the whole story.   And after re-watching last Sunday’s game (as my Mom taped it for me on her DVR), I have some more thoughts regarding Rottino and major league baseball.

First off, Brewers announcers Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder were quite complimentary to Rottino.  They called him a “very good guy” and mentioned his outstanding AAA season, giving many of the details I’ve related in previous blogs.   (Not that it’s hard to do as stats are printed in many places.)  And when Rottino overran the ball hit by P Chris Narveson in the second inning, while Anderson and Schroeder pointed out it was a misplay, they also pointed out that Rottino had been playing shallow in the outfield because Narveson had shown bunt (meaning Narveson looked like he was about to bunt before pulling the bat back and slapping the ball at the third base bag; the ball actually hit the bag before rolling to Rottino, and as that’s an odd play all the way around, it wasn’t that Rottino was out of position or doing anything wrong — it just was an odd play and Rottino tried too hard as I said in my earlier blog post to pick the ball up).  Throughout the game, Anderson and Schroeder had nothing but good words to say about Rottino and how hard he’s worked in the minor leagues to get another major league opportunity; they also pointed out how classy it was of Marlins manager Jack McKeon to start Rottino in front of his family, friends, and the organization that signed Rottino in the first place, the Milwaukee Brewers.

While looking up stats and trying to compare what Rottino did to other rookies, I found this from Fangraphs, which was written in 2009.  They ranked Rottino 35th on their list of trade deadline prospects, and said this:

  • 35. Vinny Rottino, IF/C
    Milwaukee to Los Angeles NL A 29-year-old rookie, Rottino is your basic triple-A vet and emergency MLB fill-in. The right-handed hitter has some value because he has gap power and can serve as a third-string catcher.

What this says to me is that Rottino does have major league ability to be the 24th or 25th man on a major league roster if he’d only be in the right place at the right time.  For example, in 2010, Jonathan Lucroy started the year in AA at Huntsville, but was the best-available catcher the Brewers had in their minor league system.  Lucroy was brought up (by this time, he’d been in AAA for a while) and mentored by manager Ken Macha and the other catchers on the roster such as George Kottaras (not to mention Brewers bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel).  Lucroy blossomed, and has become a very steady defensive and offensive catcher.

While Lucroy was specifically a catcher and Rottino has always been a utility player, imagine if the Brewers had still had Rottino at that point.  He would’ve been in AAA ball because the Brewers had a crying need for catching as Geoff Zaun had been lost for the season and their best catching prospects (aside from Lucroy) were either injured or unavailable.  It would’ve been Rottino called up at that point, had he still been with the Brewers; Rottino caught every day in 2007 for Nashville and was an All-Star for them.  He also caught every day in 2008 for Nashville, and again was an All-Star.  So it’s likely that had Rottino not been traded in 2009 by the Brewers, he again would’ve been at Nashville and he, not Lucroy, would’ve been brought up as Rottino was by far closer to “major league ready” than Lucroy.

That doesn’t take anything away from Lucroy, mind you; Lucroy is a very good player and his “upside” is probably a great deal more than Rottino’s upside.  But you can see how sometimes it’s just luck — being in the right place at the right time — that gets you a true major league shot, and nothing else.  Rottino has not yet had that luck.  And as he’ll be 32 to start next season, time is running out for him to get that lucky break.

But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t stay prepared.  After all, look what he did this year; he had a fabulous season at AAA in New Orleans, where he led the Zephyrs in RBI, in hits, in stolen bases, in walks . . . Rottino had a great season, and was once again an All-Star at the AAA level.

So Rottino deserved to be called up, and I’m glad he got the call.

As for anything else, since the last time I was able to see Rottino play in the major leagues, it’s obvious that Rottino has gained weight in the upper body, possibly to add to his power potential.  (Rottino isn’t a home run hitter, but he hits quite a few doubles and some triples.)  Rottino looks fit, healthy, in shape, and if I had seen him in a health club somewhere, I’d have expected him to be the “resident pro” or personal trainer as he definitely exudes workmanlike competence.**

All that being said, I think it’s great that Rottino continues to work hard, stay in shape, and do whatever he can to be prepared if the right opportunity finally presents itself.  I think his persistence is his best quality, something many other people in and out of sports could learn from, while his stalwart refusal to give up on himself is his second-best quality and is also something many people in all walks of life could stand to learn as well.


** — Granted, I don’t know what he’d do with someone like me — someone with physical limitations, who’s out of shape and often in physical pain to the point that it greatly affects any exercising I might be able to do.  But my best guess is that Rottino would be an excellent guide and motivator, considering how he’s been able to motivate himself all these years.

Written by Barb Caffrey

September 29, 2011 at 10:43 pm

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  1. […] First, as the title says, Vinny Rottino has been signed by the Miami Marlins to a minor league deal. This means he’ll have a job in baseball as a player during 2015, which is definitely worth celebrating. Rottino made the AAA All-Star team for the Marlins franchise back in 2011, and got a call-up from them in September as his reward. (I wrote about that here.) […]

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