Twins President Dave St. Peter has had the unenviable position of trying to stay positive and keep the team’s brand strong in the midst of four consecutive 90-loss seasons. With 2015 starting out rough as well, St. Peter was kind enough to chat with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand in advance of Monday’s home opener.
Q We’re only a few games into the season [as of interview time Friday], but there have been a lot of discouraging signs. When, as an organization, do you get concerned vs. staying patient?
A Tom Kelly used to preach that you really don’t fully understand what you have relative to your team until the 40-game mark. That’s something I adopted early on in my Twins career, and I preach that inside our front office. That doesn’t make this week any easier, when we didn’t play well to start the year, but the reality of it is that we need to get six weeks into the season to have a really good feel for where we’re at.
Q What was the impact, organization-wide, of Ervin Santana’s suspension?
A It’s hard for me to gauge how it impacts individual players because I’m not in the clubhouse, but make no mistake: I think that news was not just surprising, it was shocking to our team, our front office and our ownership. … But I like the fact that Paul Molitor is our manager. I think he brings a calm approach, and at the end of the day, that approach will serve us well through times of adversity.
Q Season ticket numbers have been nearly cut in half at Target Field from 2010 to this season. How would a sustained slow start to the season further impact ticket sales?
A Clearly another year of losing 90-plus games with very little optimism for the future would be disappointing. I think the good news for us is that no matter how the season turns out, I have expectations we’re going to see a number of our high-level prospects make their Minnesota debut. That group of players is going to signal that better times are ahead.
Q Does a slow start tempt the organization to call up guys like Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano sooner?
A I don’t know if it’s so much a slow start as it is individual performances. If people aren’t getting it done on the major league club, and there are options to try somebody new at the minor league level, I don’t think Terry [Ryan] is afraid to go there. But it’s too early to make that assessment now.
Q Food and drink have become a major part of the allure at Target Field. How has that phenomenon evolved during your time as president?
A I think it’s become something that is now central to the brand of going to a Twins game, and frankly I think there’s now a level of prestige for local brands to be in Target Field. When I have the guys from Red Cow [new in 2015] coming up to me and thanking me for the opportunity, that shows they feel the platform is something pretty special. … Barrio is a whole new space and represents our first foray into really trying to create a space targeted to a younger demographic. All our research shows young people don’t necessarily want fixed seats. They want places to gather and be connected via social media. It’s possible we might see more of that as we continue to evolve the ballpark.