Rand: Twins' cleanup mess, Wolves' Joerger mess and thoughts on Love

  • Article by: MICHAEL RAND , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 27, 2014 - 9:42 AM

Right fielder Oswaldo Arcia, tagged out trying to stretch a double into a triple on Monday, is the Twins’ sixth different cleanup hitter this year. The team’s cleanup hitters are hitting a combined .191, even worse than their No. 9 hitters.

Photo: JEFF WHEELER • jwheeler@startribune.com,

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A few thoughts after ducking out of the sun for a while during a gorgeous Memorial Day weekend:

• The cleanup hitter isn’t always a baseball team’s best hitter. That designation usually goes to the No. 3 hitter — a mix of power, bat control and batting average. But a cleanup hitter should at least be among a team’s better hitters. And so far in 2014, that hasn’t been the case for the Twins. In fact, one could argue their cleanup hitters have been the worst among their nine batting order spots.

Oswaldo Arcia became the sixth Twins batter to start a game as the team’s cleanup hitter on Monday, arriving fresh from the minors to the power spot in the order. He went 1-for-4 with a double. Twins cleanup hitters are now a combined 38-for-199 on the season. They entered play Monday with a combined .190 batting average and .564 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Those were the lowest marks of any spot in the Twins order. Yes, even their No. 9 hitters (.227 and .616, respectively) have been better.

• Most of us view as a colossal blunder the Timberwolves’ decision, under old boss David Kahn, to offer Kevin Love a four-year contract with an opt-out after three years instead of the five-year maximum deal Love coveted. While it’s true the Wolves would not be facing the proposition of trading Love or risking losing him for nothing after next season had Kahn acted differently, new research from Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com gives us a different angle.

He took a long look at the value of NBA contracts and concluded, “there isn’t much intrinsic value in a draft pick above and beyond what a player gives you while he’s still on the rookie salary scale. Your player will be worth signing to a max extension only 5 percent of the time.”

Maybe Love is a 5-percenter. Maybe it still was a huge blunder. Or maybe the Wolves, if they make the right deal for younger players and draft picks, will end up getting better value in the long run.

• The Dave Joerger coaching saga becomes even more bizarre upon reading an SI.com piece about how fractured the relationship was early on between the Memphis coach and the team’s mercurial owner, Robert Pera.

Per an unnamed source in the story, Pera reportedly blamed Joerger for scuttling a game of 1-on-1 between the owner and Grizzlies player Tony Allen. He also thought Mike Miller could be hired as a player-coach if Joerger was fired and wondered if Joerger would wear a headset on the sidelines to get instructions, a la NFL coaches.

That would make me want to coach a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in a decade and doesn’t know the fate of its star player, too.


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