Fans get to quiz Mauer, Morneau

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 28, 2012 - 11:36 PM

The Twins staged a TV "town hall" with team executives, their star players and manager Ron Gardenhire occupying the hot seats.

How can the Twins cut their payroll after two years of mostly sellout crowds at Target Field? Can they win the AL Central this year, or are they rebuilding for 2013 and beyond?

And considering the team's recent playoff struggles, is the front office concerned about Manager Ron Gardenhire and his staff?

Those were among the questions Twins CEO Jim Pohlad, President Dave St. Peter and General Manager Terry Ryan faced from a hand-picked audience Saturday on live television from Target Field.

Fox Sports North and the Twins staged a town hall forum, inviting select season-ticket holders and sponsors to come with questions. Producers coached the audience to clap before and after the commercials, and several fans arrived in the Champion's Club lounge wearing Twins jerseys, but the questions weren't all softballs.

A fan named Todd, from Stillwater, thanked Joe Mauer for signing his long-term deal -- and for remaining a positive role model -- then asked if the St. Paul native had something to prove to Minnesota fans this year.

Justin Morneau was asked to rate his health on a scale of one to 10. He didn't give a number but said, "I feel like I'm miles ahead of where I was at this point last year."

Gardenhire, Mauer and Morneau answered questions for the first hour, with Pohlad, St. Peter and Ryan serving on the second panel. Ryan again said this year's Opening Day payroll will be about $100 million, which is down from a franchise record $113 million last year.

"I never thought I'd see the day where a $100 million payroll was not enough,'' St. Peter said. ''But ultimately, we think we can win with this club. The fans have been great. The more support we get, the more flexibility we can give Terry -- at the trade deadline, etc. -- to try to improve this team. It's not so much where you start. Sometimes it's where you end."

The 2011 payroll "was an aberration," Pohlad said, noting that players such as Michael Cuddyer, Joe Nathan and Jason Kubel were in the last year of contracts that have come off the books. Payroll has averaged $81 million the past five years.

"I totally disagree with the characterization that we're cutting payroll," Pohlad said.

Coming off a 99-loss season, Ryan insisted: "This is not a rebuilding year. We're going to try to compete [for a division title]. Obviously, on paper, Detroit should be favored. They lost [Victor] Martinez, but they signed [Prince] Fielder. I think they're back to even."

And despite past playoff struggles, Pohlad, St. Peter and Ryan all voiced support for Gardenhire and his staff.

"I have a high level of confidence in that manager and in those coaches," St. Peter said. "In baseball, frankly, getting to the postseason is still a greater challenge than any of the other sports, and we've had chances. We haven't gotten it done, but I wouldn't pin that on the manager and the coaches as much as an organization and as a team."

  • related content

  • Photo gallery: Twinsfest

    Friday January 27, 2012


  • Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and players Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, left to right, answered questions from fans during a live TV broadcast Saturday night from Target Field.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 2 FINAL
Philadelphia - WP: C. Hamels 9
Washington 0 FINAL
Miami 8
Boston 4 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Houston 3
Toronto - WP: C. Hynes 9 FINAL
Boston - LP: D. Hinojosa 7
Tampa Bay - WP: J. Norberto 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Whitley 0
St. Louis 5 FINAL
NY Mets 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Kansas City 4
LA Angels 1 FINAL
Oakland 4
San Diego 8 FINAL
Chicago WSox 2
Chicago WSox 12 FINAL
Seattle 4
Cleveland 2 FINAL
San Francisco 5
Milwaukee 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 11
Arizona 3 FINAL
Cincinnati 0
Texas 4 FINAL
Colorado 10
Pittsburgh 3 Top 9th Inning
Baltimore 3
Detroit 78 FINAL
Charlotte 102
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Washington 106
San Antonio 103 FINAL
Orlando 91
Indiana 74 4th Qtr 5:45
Boston 87
Brooklyn 90 4th Qtr 8:16
New York 81
Chicago 55 3rd Qtr 8:50
Milwaukee 53
Dallas 66 3rd Qtr 10:46
Oklahoma City 70
Sacramento 72 3rd Qtr 6:05
Houston 72
Toronto 75 3rd Qtr 7:37
Minnesota 50
Denver 19 1st Qtr 2:36
Utah 18
LA Clippers 9:00 PM
New Orleans 9:30 PM
LA Lakers
Toronto 3 3rd Prd
Buffalo 2
Philadelphia 1 2nd Prd 7:59
Pittsburgh 1
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Colorado 9:30 PM
San Jose
Loyola-Chicago 45 2nd Half 11:37
ULM 49
Michigan 65
Temple 58 FINAL
West Virginia 66
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question