Sid Hartman: Twins need Hunter, Castillo back in fold

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 11, 2007 - 10:30 PM

There is no one in the Twins farm system to replace these valuable veterans, who are free agents at the end of the year and should be re-signed.

While the media keeps encouraging General Manager Terry Ryan to add a third baseman or a designated hitter so the Twins can contend for the division title, I wonder what the future of this team will be when it moves into a new ballpark in 2010.

There is so much talk of signing young players Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan and Johan Santana to longterm contracts or extensions.

But how good will this team be next year if center fielder Torii Hunter and second baseman Luis Castillo, both free agents, are not back?

The Twins have nobody in the minor leagues who can come close to replacing Hunter or Castillo.

Castillo continues to perform as well as any second baseman in the league, even though he is playing on two bad knees.

He has made it clear he'd like to come back next year, but the money likely will not be available to sign him.

In the case of Hunter, he is every bit as important to this team as Kirby Puckett was when he sparked the Twins to World Series victories in 1987 and 1991.

A Twins lineup without Hunter and a clubhouse without his leadership will be a big negative for the 2008 season.

You wonder if somehow the Pohlads, owners of 26 companies, could arrange something whereby Hunter could work for the Twins, as Puckett did, or as a consultant for one of their companies once his career is over, a plan that could give him some pretty good security for life.

Hunter, a person with great intelligence and a super personality, could be a great asset to a Pohlad company.

Kent Hrbek and Puckett took less money to stay with the Twins. Maybe Hunter would consider that, too.

And while I'm spending money for the Pohlads, I have one other thought.

Wouldn't a contribution to building a new Gophers baseball stadium called "Eloise and Carl Pohlad Stadium" be something the charitable Pohlad Foundation, which does so much for this community, might consider?

Many years ago, when I suggested Pohlad spend some money to make a deal for a player, he had a bottle of red ink and a pen delivered to me with the message that if he listened to me, he would be in the red.

Carl, you don't have to do that this time.

Yes, some people will still bring up contraction, but if it weren't for the Pohlads, we wouldn't have major league baseball in Minnesota today.

And furthermore, before that new ballpark is built, they probably will have invested as much of their own money as any other baseball owners in the country.

Jottings

Twins pitcher Glen Perkins, who has been sidelined for seven weeks because of an arm injury, pitched two scoreless innings for the Twins farm team in the rookie Gulf Coast League on Wednesday. Perkins allowed one hit, walked one and struck out two.

Big Ten football has revenue sharing, in which each school has to contribute into a pool a percentage of its revenue from each home conference game. The minimum amount is $300,000 per game and the maximum is $1 million.

For the 2006 season, the Gophers contributed over the minimum amount for every home league game -- $450,424 for Michigan; $345,076 for Penn State; $335,888 for Indiana and $681,161 for Iowa. So the Gophers contributed $1,812,549 to the pool. But each school wound up getting back $2,805,819. Minnesota ended up with $993,271 more than it contributed. Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State contributed $4 million each to the pool, Iowa contributed $3.5 million, Wisconsin $3.2 and Michigan State $3.1.

Gophers football coaches can't talk about recruits who commit until they officially sign a tender, but word in recruiting circles is that they got two outstanding football players to say they are coming to Minnesota in the past week in Eric Lair, a tight end from Houston (Texas) Lamar, and defensive tackle Padric Scott (6-1, 285 pounds) from Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln. Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have been recruiting Lair. Stanford and South Florida were after Scott.

Former Gophers hockey coach Doug Woog, who is in charge of selling the executive suites at hockey and basketball games, reports there is only one-half of a hockey suite left. It sells for $3,500 a game or a package of $15,000 for five games, Woog said there are 2½ basketball suites available, selling for $3,000 per conference games and $2,000 for nonconference. Woog said sales are way ahead of last year. However, while Woog didn't offer all of the details, in order to get the hockey suites, you have to invest in basketball or football suites.

Nathen Garth, the Texas point guard who has committed to Minnesota, must be a pretty good prospect, having been invited to prestigious summer camps such as the Cactus Classic and the Bob Gibbons Camp. Garth has been spending time in Northern California, where he has been working out with a number of pros, including Bobby Jackson, the former Gopher.

Brandon Sitch, a Gopher wrestler from Kelso, Wash., who was redshirted the past season, has qualified to wrestle at 165 pounds in the under-20 World Championships that will be held next month in China. ... Former Gophers baseball player Jim Brower is now with his eighth organization, the Yankees' Scranton-Wilkes Barre farm team, and is doing well with a 4-1 record and 1.99 ERA. Brower had been with Montreal, Cleveland, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Atlanta, Baltimore and San Diego before signing as a free agent with the Yankees.

With the Tigers having some injuries among their infielders, maybe former Gophers third baseman Jack Hannahan will get a chance to move up from Toledo, where he is hitting .307 with 11 home runs and 49 RBI. ... Among other former Gophers now in pro baseball, Luke Appert is hitting .282 for Oakland's Class AA Midland, Texas, team; pitcher Cole DeVries is 7-3 with a 2.92 ERA for the Twins' Class A Beloit team; former Gopher Mike Mee returned to the Yakima Bears (Arizona's Class A team) lineup Monday after missing 12 games because of a thumb injury.

Mike Ruth, one of the Twins' top scouts, was in the stands this week at Midway Stadium watching Gophers recruit Seth Rosin, a 28th-round selection of the Twins in last month's draft, pitch a one-hit shutout for the Mounds View American Legion team against North St. Paul. However, there are strong indications the 6-6 righthander will go to college rather than turn pro.

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