Sid Hartman: Twins making great moves on, off field

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 27, 2008 - 12:16 AM

Not only did the team sign Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer to long-term deals, but it agreed to cover the cost overruns of the new stadium.

In a conversation with Twins owner Carl Pohlad some time ago I was asking some question about the signing of several players.

His answer was: "I do what I am told these days."

Well, I'm sure nothing major is done without Carl knowing what is going on, but it's obvious Jim Pohlad is calling the shots these days.

The headlines in Saturday's papers all raved about the signings of Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau to long- term contracts, and the Twins management should be complimented for those moves.

But I thought the bigger news was that the ballpark was coming in more than $20 million over budget and that the Pohlad family had agreed to come up with the money.

The Pohlad family had already agreed to contribute $15 million for the land purchase, something that wasn't in the original plans.

Twins executives Jerry Bell, Dave St. Peter and Bill Smith all report to Jim Pohlad. And even though Jim might not be the biggest baseball fan in the world, he and his brothers Bobby and Bill and his dad Carl should be heroes to local baseball fans.

And furthermore, if Smith came to Jim with a reasonable plan to keep Johan Santana, there would be a chance of retaining the Cy Young winner.

But after spending all that money on Cuddyer, Morneau and Joe Mauer, the chances are good Santana will be traded to the Mets for a bunch of prospects before long.

Celtics steal victory

The Wolves have played four consecutive great games even though they won only twice.

Things are looking much better for Randy Wittman's team.

The headline in the Saturday Boston Globe read "Celtics steal a win, Timberwolves lose handle on upset bid."

The Wolves led the great Celtics and Kevin Garnett 86-85 with 23 seconds to play and all Corey Brewer had to do was to inbound the ball, but he couldn't get the ball in during the required five seconds. The Celtics got the ball and went down to score and won the game 87-86. With 4:33 to play Sebastian Telfair had hit a jumper, giving the Wolves an 82-76 lead, and it looked good for them to score their most impressive victory of the season.

Garnett was on the bench because of a stomach problem with 6:19 left, but he re-entered the game and stole the ball from Telfair with 1.3 second left to secure the victory.

"I wasn't going to put him in," coach Doc Rivers told the Globe. "He begged and said: 'I'm going in if you don't put me in. Please put me in.' "

This game set the stage for a good encore when the Celtics and Garnett invade Target Center on Feb. 8.

Finish in the red

For the 2006-07 fiscal year, the University of Minnesota athletic department finished in the red to the tune of $6.04 million because of payments to fired coaches Dan Monson and Glen Mason and other payments connected with the coaching changes. The only sports to make money were football ($9.09 million), men's basketball ($6.21 million) and men's hockey ($4.86 million).

Those sports finishing in the red were: baseball ($780,717); women's basketball ($860,118); men's ($332,486) and women's golf ($284,640); men's (407,421) and women's ($627,767) gymnastics; women's hockey ($779,439); rowing ($846,563); women's soccer ($618,531); softball ($629,926); men's ($670,714) and women's swimming ($558,816); men's ($307,438) and women's tennis ($400,585); men's ($787,254) and women's track and field ($855,531); volleyball ($799,986) and wrestling ($624,702).

Jottings

Jimmy Williams' case against the University of Minnesota might be settled by arbitration rather than a trial. The former Gophers assistant basketball coach claimed he quit his assistant's job at Oklahoma State because he was hired by Tubby Smith for a similar job with the Gophers. ... Former Gophers coach Clem Haskins has made the final payment on the $300,000 he agreed to pay the school after he was fired following a number of NCAA violations.

The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are asking the Legislature for $60 million each to improve Target Center in Minneapolis and Xcel Center in St. Paul.

The Vikings will have an extra third-round draft choice this year, one that was acquired from Denver.

Xzavian Brandon, the Duluth, Ga., wide receiver who has committed to Minnesota, is a teammate of Gophers basketball recruit Ralph Sampson III, who continues to impress this season. The other night Sampson led his team to victory over Alpharetta high school with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 11 blocked shots. ... Earlier this year outstanding tight end Eric Lair of Houston (Texas) Lamar high school committed to Minnesota. He was joined this week by defensive lineman Tracy Robertson. Robertson had offers from Houston, Baylor and TCU.

The University of Minnesota football team had 24 players named to the Big Ten All-Academic team. It had three players named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District V team. The team's overall cumulative GPA is just below 3.0.

Six of the 13 members of the Gophers men's basketball team had over a 3.0 GPA for the fall 2007 semester. Men's hockey had a 2.9 average during the fall semester.

Former Gopher and Wild farmhand Tyler Hirsch has caught on with Johnstown Chiefs of the East Coast Hockey League and has five goals and nine assists in 14 games. ... Gophers junior third baseman Nate Hanson, an all-conference third baseman last year, has been named to the Perfect Game Crosschecker list of players who are projected to have breakout seasons in 2008. He batted .338 with 10 home runs and 51 RBI last year. ... Speaking of the Gophers baseball team, its GPA for 33 players for the fall semester was an impressive 3.17. Twenty-three players had a plus-3.00 GPA. Erick Decker, Matt Nohelty, Seth Rosin, Cullen Sexton and Tom Steid had all A's.

Litchfield High School graduate Josh Fenton is an assistant athletic director at Miami (Ohio). Fenton, who was the Minnesota boys' Class A golf champion in in 1996, started as a hockey grad assistant at Miami.

Gophers recruit Aaron Ness of Roseau is listed No. 24 on the International Scouting Services' top 30 rankings, and St. Cloud State recruit Jared Festler of Little Falls is mentioned as a rising prospect. Alex Pietrangelo, a defenseman for Niagara of the OHL and relative of former Gophers goalie Frank Pietrangelo, is fourth.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast twice a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com

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