There have been hard questions in the past about the personnel moves made by the Twins and there will be the appropriate tough questions in the future about surrounding Joe Mauer with the talent necessary to realize the dreams of the organization and its fans.

If the performance of the Twins and the Mauer Posse is any indications, I think there's reason to have faith.

That Mauer knows he probably took less to stay in Minnesota (probably only because of the potential for injury) is pretty irrelevant to the tale because the numbers involved are so huge as to be important only to someone who needs his ego stroked by having the biggest or fastest or hottest whatever. That's the difference between Mauer and A-Rod or LeBron or Tiger.

That Mauer's people and the Twins realized the deal on the table was great for both parties and got it done sooner rather than later is the difference between Mauer and the drama-queen Brett Favre.

That Bill Smith, Dave St. Peter and the others in the front office have quietly and dramatically turned around the reputation of the front office in the last nine months, instead of writing yammering letters to fans promising better in the future is the difference (one of 'em) between the Twins and the Timberwolves. (Looking around Target Center after FSN's broadcast of Mauerpalooza, it looked like there were more people at the press conference than at the Wolves-Raptors game.)

That Twins fans have been demanding of their team -- usually in a reasonable way -- has contributed to the current environment, I believe. If you go back to the Calvin Griffith era, the loss of the team's best players (Carew, Bostock, Hisle, Blyleven) was met more with resigned indifference than distress. People started going to pro soccer games, of all things. That's what Twins president Dave St. Peter was talking about when he told Dick'n'Bert, "This isn't your father's Minnesota Twins."

Yes, the Santana and Hunter situations were different (both from Mauer and each other), but the Twins knew you wouldn't let them go 0-for-3. After two strikeouts -- even if there was little chance of success in those first two situations -- the Twins adjusted and smacked one out of the park. Monday night's press conference was the triumphant home run trot and curtain call.

For lack of a more eloquent way to say it, the Mauer deal is what it is. It won't set a new standard for catchers because Mauer is a singular talent. It doesn't signal anything for "small-market franchises" like Pittsburgh and Kansas City because those teams have turned losing records into an art form (and the Twins were never really a "small-market team" as much as they had an unfortunate lease in a football stadium).

The Mauer deal, accompanied by the other moves, means the Twins are serious about moving into a new era with an increased sense of purpose. If you care about them, you are among those who have contributed to that.



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The official minor-leaguer of Section 219