Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Vinny Rottino to Play in S. Korea in 2014 (Plus Brewers Search for First Baseman)

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Folks, after Racine native Vinny Rottino’s injury-plagued 2013 campaign in Japan, I was concerned.  Then when I deduced that he was given his outright release by the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese Professional Baseball League, I really started to worry about where Rottino was going to play in 2014 — or if he was even going to find a team to play for at all.

Mind, I say “deduced” because most of the Japanese baseball sites have to be translated to be useable.  The translations can be dicey — for example, I’ve seen a walk called a “dead ball” in Japanese translation, and some of the other stats can be just as interesting to figure out.

What wasn’t hard to figure out, though, were Rottino’s 2013 stats: 37 games played, 111 plate appearances, a .206 batting average . . . the four homers, the eight RBI, and the single stolen base notwithstanding, this obviously was not the year Rottino was hoping to have in Japan.

Despite Rottino’s talent, he’s now 33 years old; yes, he plays the infield, the outfield, and catches — which is a very rare skill set.  He’s good at all of them, too, and had a stellar Triple-A career, being named to the Triple-A All-Star team several times (most recently in 2011 while in the Florida Marlins organization).

But the timing was never right for Rottino; while with the Milwaukee Brewers organization, Rottino never got a chance to play regularly —  despite being the Brewers minor league player of the year in 2004.

And Rottino seems to need to play regularly to be successful, as has been shown over and over in his minor league career.  (Not that this is any real surprise, of course; most baseball players are like anyone else.  You do much better at something if you are able to do it every day rather than once in a great while.)

Watching Rottino continue his baseball career is both inspirational and frustrating — inspirational because he has refused to give up (for which I applaud him), but frustrating because he obviously has the talent to succeed . . . but time is no longer on his side.

At the age of 33, it gets harder and harder for any baseball player to find teams willing to pay him to play.  And in Rottino’s case, the major leagues are now out of reach.  Japan didn’t work for him, partly due to an ill-timed injury (then again, when are injuries ever convenient?).  So I didn’t know what would be next for Rottino — would he end up as a coach, as the Milwaukee Brewers, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers, and several other teams have expressed interest in hiring him as such once his playing career is over?

Would he end up in the Mexican League?

Would he end up taking a year off from baseball, as health-wise it might be desirable — remember, I don’t have hard information to work with, as Rottino was just too far away for me to keep a good eye on, but I do know that when you get above age thirty, injuries can be tougher to rehab.  (Witness former Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Corey Hart’s struggles last year as a case in point.)

At any rate, I asked a friend if she’d heard anything about Vinny Rottino, as I was concerned.  Fortunately, she’d seen a wire story, which is here, about Rottino signing to play with the Nexen Heroes over in South Korea on December 10, 2013.

Rottino is in good company, as former big leaguers Luke Scott and Felix Pie, among others, have recently signed to play over in Korea.  And Korean baseball has been growing in prestige lately, partly because of Shin-Soo Choo’s success in MLB.

I’m very pleased to see that Rottino will continue his baseball career in 2014.  I hope he has a great season in Korea and enjoys himself immensely.

Now, as for my plea to the Milwaukee Brewers regarding their first base situation — there is one and only one obvious solution to this mess: Sign Manny Ramirez already.

Ramirez is a free agent.  Yes, he’s been tainted twice with performance-enhancing drug allegations.  But he can still play ball, is a power hitter, and I’m betting he can play first base with the best of them.

The Brewers must think outside the box, because every player they’d normally think about has been taken.  The players I’ve heard as current possibilities for the Brewers include Tyler Colvin, who hit .241 during his 2013 campaign; Ike Davis, who’s bounced back and forth between Triple-A and the majors and had a low batting average of .205; and Carlos Pena, who hit all of .207 during 2013.

None of these players will make any difference to the Milwaukee Brewers — not one.

Whereas Ramirez is a career .312 hitter with 555 HRs, 1831 RBIs and a .411 on-base percentage.  Yes, he’s now 41.  Yes, he only hit .259 last year with Texas’ Triple-A team in limited playing time.  But the man can still hit — witness how he tore up the Taiwanese league last year, prompting his signing to first Oakland’s Triple-A team, then Texas’s.  He truly seems remorseful for his past actions.  And I’m certain he could do a better job than Colvin, Davis, Pena, or maybe all three of them put together.

Yes, the Brewers should be cautious and go over his medical records.  They should make sure Ramirez is clean, healthy, sober, whatever else they need to do — but they should make a serious push toward seeing if Ramirez has anything left.

Because it’s either sign Ramirez, or coax Geoff Jenkins out of retirement at this point — and while I loved Jenkins as a player, he retired five full years ago.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

December 21, 2013 at 8:42 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] it’s time for a quick report on what Racine native Vinny Rottino is doing these days. As I discussed a few months ago, Rottino is currently playing in South Korea with the Nexen Heroes, and he’s actually made […]

  2. … [Trackback]

    […] Informations on that Topic: elfyverse.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/vinny-rottino-to-play-in-s-korea-in-2014-plus-brewers-search-for-first-baseman/ […]

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    August 21, 2014 at 7:19 pm


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