The Vikings season is over, and the NFL draft is months away. The NHL lockout just ended, meaning we can settle into what is left of that regular season. The Wolves are intriguing but scuffling. Gophers men's basketball is intriguing and winning. Same for Gophers men's and women's hockey.


Fans who adore the offseason churn of numbers temporarily put down those calculators while the Vikings took all the December headlines. Now, however, we imagine many of them will look up at the Twins -- spring training starts next month -- and start to really wonder about this year's projected team and payroll.

As it stands right now, the Twins have $71 million committed to 10 players under contract. That sounds like a decent number, but the projected final total we keep hearing figures to be around $80 million, with the rest of the roster filled out with lower-paid players under team control (unless the Twins make a late move in free agency, of course).

The three-year payroll average at Target Field has been above $100 million, ballooning to a high of $113 million in 2011. Two of those three seasons have been miserable, so it's not as though high payroll = winning baseball.

Still, spending money can be a symbolic gesture in the minds of fans. It can also, you know, be a means to obtaining higher-quality players.

Going with a lower budget this year -- figuring out which youngsters can play, sorting out the pitching and waiting for reinforcements in 2014 -- very well might be the prudent thing to do.

But if the Twins struggle mightily again, while Joe Mauer ($23 million) and Justin Morneau ($14 million) eat up nearly half the payroll, well, we imagine there are going to be some extra-cranky Twins fans bringing it up often during the dog days of summer when hardly anything else is going on.

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