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Twins Management: Rocket Scientists

4 August 2008

That’s the title of a short piece I did for Minneapolis City Pages, helmed by my good buddy Jeff “I borrowed your Nippon Ham Fighters jersey two years ago and conveniently forgot to return it” Shaw.

This should drive you crazy even if you’re not a sports fan. Imagine if everyone in your company was due to get a huge bonus if you meet a certain sales goal by the end of the quarter. The company then decided to send your best salesman on an extended vacation for the first two months of the quarter, leaving just four scant weeks for him to work his magic when he returns.

Now imagine the company replaces Johnny Big Sales with Homer Simpson’s brother (but not the good Uncie Herb one).

He eats donuts all day.
He falls asleep on the job.
He sings crooner songs in Kurdish, for some reason.

This is exactly what the Minnesota Twins did in choosing Livan Hernandez–the pitcher who’s allowed more runs and hits than any other pitcher in the game this year–over phenom Francisco Liriano. We might never learn if the Twins made this choice because they wanted to hoard Liriano’s service time to keep his future salary down, or if they were seeking a trade partner for Hernandez, if they were being stubborn after Liriano’s agent threatened legal action, or if they actually thought Hernandez was better.

Here’s what we do know: In his first start back in the majors yesterday, Liriano threw six shutout innings, leading the Twins to a 6-2 and propelling them into first place–making their story nearly as unlikely as the Tampa Bay Rays’ climb into first place in the AL East. But if the Twins go on to miss the playoffs by a game or two, you can thank cheapskate owner Carl Pohlad, reluctant GM Bill Smith and stubborn manager Ron Gardenhire for screwing things up, by playing donut-eating, Kurdish ballad-singing Livan over Salesman of the Year Liriano.

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