Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Lucky Ones

Tonight, the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks embark on a best-of-seven series to determine which team will represent the National League in the World Series. The Rockies and D-Backs, both of whom have a payroll below $55 million, are both easy teams for Twins fans to cheer for. Both are built on young talent that was developed primarily from within their own systems. There are few giant egos on either roster, and both teams seem to play with a lot of heart.

What is interesting is that both teams have a player on their roster who was with the Twins as late as August. I speak, of course, of Rockies reliever Ramon Ortiz and D-Backs bench player Jeff Cirillo. Arizona claimed Cirillo after the Twins waived the oft-unavailable third baseman in early August, and a couple weeks later the Twins dealt Ortiz and his 5.14 ERA to Colorado for minor leaguer Matt Macri.

Neither Cirillo nor Ortiz plays a prominent role on his respective team, and the change of scenery hasn't positively affected the play of either one -- Ortiz posted a 7.62 ERA over 13 innings with the Rockies down the stretch while Cirillo hit .200/.273/.300 in 40 regular-season at-bats with the Diamondbacks. Yet, both are fortunate enough to experience an exhilarating postseason run, and one of them will get to participate in the World Series. Meanwhile, their former teammates are at home watching the games on TV after completing a disappointing season.

Of course, not every Twin that left the team during the season got so lucky. Let's not forget about Luis Castillo, who was traded to the Mets in time to take part in perhaps the biggest regular-season collapse in major-league history. Sorry, Luis!