I got a Twins wall clock. My daughter got a few Twins t-shirts and a really cool audio CD of her winning the World Series in a dramatic Game 7 come-from-behind walk-off win! Awesome!
Who else got some Twins gifts? Who got the coolest Twins-related gift, or the most creative?
What gifts have the Twins given their fans in the past few years? Since the early stages of Target Field, the Twins have done several things, and with the increased revenues of actually being in the stadium, there have been more.
- Payroll - it's where it all starts, right? At least for some fans. They went from $65 million in 2009 to almost $100 million in 2010. In 2011, payroll will likely start somewhere around $110 to $115 million. Say what you want about the frustrations of this offseason, but if you look at the big payroll picture, and where the Twins are compared to other teams around the league, they have more than held up their end of the bargain.
- Players - The key frustration with many was that the Twins were unable to retain their key players from within the organization. I definitely think that the Twins have done that. They extended key players and provided long-term deals to players. Joe Mauer is paid like a Top 5 player in baseball. Justin Morneau is making $14 million. Joe Nathan and Michael Cuddyer are both over $10 million in 2011. They have bought out free agent years of Scott Baker, Jason Kubel, Nick Blackburn, Denard Span and others. Maybe they'll lock up more this offseason.
- International Signings - Getting top players in free agency makes little sense since those players cost a ton of money that they generally don't like up to because they are already in their 30s. However, the Twins have become a big player in the international market. In the last two years, they have signed the top player from the Dominican Republic in recent years (Miguel Sano). They have also signed Jorge Polanco and Javier Pimental the last two years, both top 20 Dominican talents. They signed the best prospect to come out of Europe, ever (Max Kepler). They have spent money on top talent in Australia. They have moved into new markets like the Czech Republic, South Africa and other areas of the globe where baseball is only getting better. Making in-roads there now will pay off tremendously in the future. And now the Twins are a player in Japan with the signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Wise signings like these will pay off over the long-haul and keep the Twins viable for years to come.
- MLB Draft - The Twins have picked at the bottom of the first-round throughout the decade because of the great success of the big league club throughout the years. Because you aren't going to be able to draft for-sure talents in the 20s, they have drafted smart. Some complain that the Twins never take players like Tim Lincecum, Evan Longoria, Chris Sale, David Price, etc., but they don't draft that type because they aren't available in the 20s. Instead, they took a chance on Kyle Gibson and paid him above slot. Alex Wimmers was drafted last year. Gibson is believed to have #2 starter potential. Wimmers is believed to have #3 start stuff, but be close to big league ready too. Pretty good value at those picks.
- Target Field - The field is incredible. The stadium is remarkable, and in 2011, they will unveil even more improvements. We should be most thankful for the incredible drainage system that meant there was just one postponement in 2010 out of 83 games. Target Field is something Twins fans should be proud of.
No, it hasn't been a great offseason (so far) for the Twins, but I do think it's important to take a step back and look where this team and this organization is now, not only compared to where they were a decade ago, but also compared to where it was just a few years ago. The Twins have given us a lot to be excited about, and Twins have have reciprocated by showing up to Target Field, to Twins Fest, to the Twins Winter Caravan. Twins fans have bought a lot of memorabilia. The bar has been set higher, and that can be a good thing.
And again, Happy Holidays to you and your families.