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A couple Twins thoughts to lead off the morning, since news from their neck of the woods has replaced college basketball and even Tiger Woods' embarrassing sexting skills (seriously, the 40-year-old virgin had smoother lines) as the topic du jour. What's the topic du jour? It's the topic of the day. And it's the Twins.
*Absolutely great news on the Joe Mauer contract. We thought 8 years would be the final number on length, and we thought $180 would be the final number on price. They virtually hit that on the nose with the 8-year, $184 million deal that includes a no-trade clause. No more speculation. No more wondering. No more possible trade scenarios. You can say he had 23 million reasons (per year) to stay, but he could have fetched even more next year on the open market. Crazy, but true. The biggest relief for Minnesotans is that what they thought about Mauer -- that he really does want to be here -- is true.
*The Mauer extension was extra good news on a day that started sour, when -- expectedly -- Joe Nathan shut it down for the season and said he will have Tommy John surgery. The official word has led to another round of discussions, this one more intense and official, about who will close ballgames for the Twins this year. Manager Ron Gardenhire made it pretty clear that the subject will be broached with Francisco Liriano, a pitcher Gardenhire said is "one guy we all know that can probably be a closer." Sorry, but if Liriano is back in form -- the kind of form that could make him a reliable closer -- then he is much better suited for the starting rotation. We've maintained all along that he gives a team of No. 3 and No. 4 starters the best chance it has at an ace, which is less important during the regular season but critical during the playoffs. (Scott Baker might grow into being a No. 2 starter, but we don't ever see him being a staff ace). There are plenty of candidates in the pen to get three outs in the ninth inning. Don't make a huge mistake by wasting them on a guy who can get 20-plus dominant outs when he's on his game.
Coming up later: A guest report from the Target Field open house over the weekend ... and we finally saw "The Blind Side."