Hartman: Twins open to keep or reacquire Morneau

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 16, 2013 - 6:49 AM

Even if the first baseman is traded, he could become a free agent after the season and the club could re-sign him.

While Terry Ryan is general manager of the Twins and has the final say when it comes to baseball decisions, team President Dave St. Peter is involved in all of the club’s financial decisions.

So St. Peter was asked if there still is a chance the Twins will sign first baseman Justin Morneau, even if he is traded and becomes a free agent at the end of the season.

“There will be a time for that discussion,” St. Peter said. “He has made it known that he wants to be in Minnesota, I know that’s important to Justin and his family.

“He also is going to earn the right to potentially be a free agent here. That’s a process, but he has been a huge part of our franchise, a big part of our brand, he’s very active in the community. I know there will be a dialogue; I know we’ll have a chance to sign him. At the end of the day, that’s all we can ask for as this club and the relationship we have with him and his agent.”

The word is the Twins will wind up with about 15 percent less in revenue this year than in 2010, the first year in Target Field. The worry is if the club doesn’t start winning in the future, fans will quit coming to the park and revenue will drop.

However, St. Peter is encouraged by the team’s play since the All-Star break, with a record of 15-12.

“We shown some flashes,” St. Peter said. “That’s really been the story of our season, and unfortunately I think we’ve been unable to be consistent.

“There has been some good signs. You have to like the fact that Morneau is swinging the bat like he is. Let’s hope he can continue to do that over the course of the season. I’m very encouraged by [second baseman Brian] Dozier, [outfielder Oswaldo] Arcia, it’s nice to have [outfielder Josh] Willingham back in the lineup — you start to see the making of what we thought we had when we came into the season, which was a pretty good offensive club.

“We have a lot of work to do, and needless to say it starts on that mound. Hopefully we can continue to get some decent starting pitching and take the step forward that we all really thought was going to happen at the beginning of the year and frankly within the organization believe can still happen, depending on how we play the last two months.”

St. Peter added that the progress of several highly touted prospects in the minors, such as third baseman Miguel Sano, outfielder Byron Buxton, second baseman Eddie Rosario and pitcher Trevor May brightens the franchise’s outlook.

“The good news is that at this time last year, I would have had as hard of a time selling the fans or anybody else on the future,” St. Peter said. “Right now, when you start to look at some of the pieces that are coming together — both on this year’s club and [the prospects advancing], it’s a much easier sell for me. I’m pretty bullish that we’re not that far away from being a very good baseball team.”

McHale, Saunders back

It looks like former Gophers teammates Flip Saunders and Kevin McHale have found their calling in the NBA. McHale coached the Houston Rockets into the playoffs last season, and Saunders has done a fantastic job of putting a possible playoff team together as the Wolves’ new president of basketball operations.

Saunders and McHale spent 10 years together with McHale as GM and Saunders as coach of the Timberwolves, reaching the playoffs eight times, but McHale eventually replaced Saunders in February 2005. Then-GM David Kahn removed McHale as coach in June of 2009.

McHale’s Rockets went 45-37 last year and made the playoffs, but this year some analysts believe he might have the ingredients for an NBA championship run with center Dwight Howard coming aboard.

Jottings

• Weather could be a problem when the Twins open the 2014 season against the White Sox on April 1. The Twins’ interleague opponents next season are at home against Milwaukee, Arizona, the L.A. Dodgers and San Diego and on the road against Milwaukee, San Francisco, Colorado and San Diego.

• Forbes Magazine released their annual ratings of the most valuable NFL franchises and the Vikings came in 21st with a worth of $1.007 billion. The Wilfs paid $600 million for the club in 2005 and before the new stadium was agreed upon, the franchise was worth about half of what Forbes has it valued at now.

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