Rottino: 'No hard feelings'

Longtime Brewers farmhand Vinny Rottino got a fresh start on Friday when he was traded to the Dodgers for pitcher Claudio Vargas.

Rottino, 29, was exceedingly popular among Brewers fans because he grew up just south of Milwaukee in Racine, Wis. and rose from an undrafted free agent to legitimate prospect status in 2004, when he broke Prince Fielder’s organizational record with 124 RBIs at Class A Beloit. Two years later, Rottino batted .314 at Triple-A Nashville and earned the first of three late-season promotions to the big leagues.

In all, Rottino appeared in 18 games for the Brewers and batted .208 (5-for-24). His biggest hit came in the penultimate game of the 2007 season, when Rottino grounded an 11th-inning single that capped a come-from-behind win over the Padres and guaranteed Milwaukee’s first winning season in 15 years.

But Rottino was subsequently passed by other Brewers prospects. He was removed from the 40-man roster this spring and opted for an assignment to Double-A Huntsville so he could get regular playing time away from Triple-A catching prospect Angel Salome and third base prospect Mat Gamel. In 98 games this season, Rottino batted .249 with four home runs and 48 RBIs.

“I’m excited,” said Rottino, who received a “really nice” call from Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash informing him of the trade. “I certainly didn’t expect to be traded, but it’s an opportunity for me to get back to the big leagues, for sure.

“I feel like I’m a guy who can play multiple positions, especially catcher, and that’s always going to mean an opportunity. It’s going to be a matter of me being in the right place at the right time, playing well and then getting the opportunity. I’m never going to have the attitude, as long as I have a uniform in this game, that making it to the big leagues is not a possibility. Now that’s going to be with the Dodgers.”

He didn’t know much about the Dodgers, but said, “They obviously want me, because they traded away a guy who pitched in the big leagues for them.”

Any hard feelings toward the Brewers?

“I will always have an allegiance to the Brewers,” Rottino said. “After my 10-year big league career is over, I’d love to stay in the game with the Brewers. No hard feelings, whatsoever.” 

Rottino will report to the Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga, Tenn.

I know there are a lot of Brewers fans out there who think Rottino should have been given a better shot in Milwaukee. Are you happy for him today?



I’m very happy for Vinny, who never should’ve been sent to AA ball at all — I’ve been saying that all year (granted, his positive attitude makes a huge difference, and he never seemed to feel it a demotion, just business). He had a twenty-game hitting streak last year at Nashville, which shows the man shouldn’t have been demoted on the basis of ability — and hitting records at AA can be a bit misleading because the people around you generally aren’t as good and you’re getting two sorts of players there — those on the way up, and those on the way down. IMO, Rottino didn’t really fit into either of those categories.

At any rate, I hope the Dodgers will appreciate him because of his excellent defensive skills at every position (save 2B, which AFAIK he doesn’t play); I appreciate that the Dodgers see him as someone who can help them (according to an article in the Racine Journal-Times this morning, D. Melvin said that Rottino had been on the Dodgers’ radar since ’07), and he may well be able to do some good for them. Rottino is an excellent clutch hitter who hits lefties very well; there are at least 50 major leaguers without Rottino’s talent and heart sitting in MLB on someone’s bench at the major league level right now (probably closer to 100), so I really hope that Vinny’s positive attitude and excellent skill set will carry over. I believe he will hit once he’s around other players who are on his level — even the great HOF 3B Mike Schmidt once said that he hadn’t done well at AA, and was fortunate that he was considered a prospect by the Phillies, who sent him to AAA anyway, where he hit a ton. So sometimes, just being at too low a level hurts your batting skills — even for a HOF, which Vinny (for all my admiration for him) isn’t going to be.

I think Vinny Rottino can be a very good utility player and backup catcher in the majors, and can perhaps stick for several years — he also is a good pinch hitter and for the most part has shown an OBP above 350 in the minors. And he steals bases — 7 SB to 1 CS this year — also a plus. So he’s not a flashy guy, but he makes plays all over the field, and he’s an “energy” player when he’s on.

After a day to reflect — yesterday I was *very* angry — I am happy for Vinny and hope the Dodgers will appreciate him, give him a chance, and that he’ll do very, very well for them.

More than happy for Vinny. I had the opportunity to play with him just prior to being drafted and can say that he’s not only a heck of a ballplayer, but a great guy. It will be good for him to see a new organization with greater opportunity for advancement.

That said, LA may not be the best location, as they not only have Russ Martin locking down the #1 catching spot, but also A.J. Ellis in Triple A holding his own.

Whatever happens, I hope he gets another shot at the Show… he’s certainly deserving of it.

Have a wonderful Christmas break. These cards are teifrric. I posted a similar DIY snow globe ornament card to my blog last week. I’m all for finding ways to help people recycle all those holiday cards!

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