As president of the Twins and a member of the team's five-man executive board, Dave St. Peter should get a lot of credit for the success of the organization since Target Field opened. He has called the shots.
It hasn't been publicized, but as president of the team, St. Peter is in charge of everything, including the baseball operation. He reports to club CEO Jim Pohlad.
The payroll might be a big problem in 2012, with a number of key players free agents after the season. St. Peter said this year's payroll was around $115 million and that going forward the payroll "will be a function of revenue, we've always said that."
He added: "Our payroll this year is what it is. Obviously [the team] has not delivered the results that we would have hoped. I think it proves one thing we've always said, that payroll is not necessarily a prerequisite for winning. We have to make better, smarter baseball decisions and ultimately need to get some of our core guys healthy and playing."
With Jason Kubel and Michael Cuddyer potential free agents and the team having an option on closer Joe Nathan, St. Peter said the Twins will have a very challenging offseason, with some really difficult decisions.
"I think that comes with the territory," St. Peter said. "But hopefully we'll be in a position to bring some of those guys. Needless to say, our payroll is going to be much higher than it would have been back in the Metrodome days.
"[Kubel and Cuddyer] are two guys that are very important to us. They both are products of our system. I think they both have demonstrated that when healthy, they can be very, very solid players on good, winning teams. We'll see what the offseason brings. I think both gentlemen want to pursue the free-agent market, but I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to bring both of those guys back to Minnesota."Changes in baseball
"Baseball as an industry has gone through a pretty significant transformation over the course of the last 20 years, with all the new facilities and revenues going north," St. Peter said. "I think with that you've seen payrolls continue to rise. What's interesting is that Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association continue to negotiate a new collective bargaining agreement with virtually no media coverage, which I think is a good thing."
St. Peter believes the key going forward for the Twins to remain successful is to field a quality team and to continue improving Target Field each season so fans keep coming.
"That's the key for any ballclub that has had both success on the field and opened a new facility," he said. "You look at the history in so many markets across the country, there has been a pretty significant dropoff.
"Thankfully, here our fans have been able to support us at a level where that hasn't really been the case. We're basically selling out every game here in Year 2. I'm optimistic that tickets are going to be very difficult to come by here in Year 3. The key for us is being able to sustain that. That puts pressure obviously on the organization, rightfully so. We need to be accountable for playing better baseball, winning games, competing for a spot in the postseason, and ultimately doing what we need to do to keep the games affordable and provide a high level of service at the ballpark. That's what we're focused on every single day."
St. Peter said there is a possibility a balanced schedule could return in the future, which would mean more games with the Red Sox and Yankees, teams that are always gate attractions.
"One of the reasons I think that's getting a lot of focus is to try to help some of the teams that are perhaps even in the American League East, the Orioles, the Rays, the Blue Jays, so they maybe play a few less games against the Yankees and the Red Sox from a competitive perspective," St. Peter said. "I think they have a lot of support for a balanced schedule. I don't think it will happen for 2012. It's one of those things that needs to be in that collective bargaining agreement that I referred to earlier. I would suspect, if it were to happen, 2013 would be the year that would be implemented. Not quite sure yet how that would play with interleague play and how it would be balanced.
"You may still have a schedule where you play a few more games against teams in your division. But I think there's a better chance than ever before that we could go back to a balanced schedule in some way."
Yes, fans can be unhappy with the Twins' performance this year. But how would they like to be supporting the other AL Central teams that have watched the Twins dominate the division for years?Jottings
• The offensive line is certainly one of the question marks of the Vikings, and coach Leslie Frazier said there could be a battle for the right guard spot between Anthony Herrera, a starter last year before he tore up his knee; second-year player Chris DeGeare, who replaced Herrera in December; and Ryan Cook. "We are not certain where Anthony is going to be [healthwise]," Frazier said. "We have to see how he progresses."
• Twins farm director Jim Rantz said he saw 2010 first-round pick Alex Wimmers pitch two innings this week, and the former Ohio State star, who has had serious control problems earlier this year, finally looked like he has regained some of his old form. The righthander pitched six innings over this past week, giving up two earned runs. But he still has a way to go.
• Trevor Mbakwe continues to play well at the World University Games in China. Against Finland on Wednesday, he had 14 points and six rebounds in 16 minutes as Team USA won 124-64.
• The Miami Herald reported former Cretin-Derham Hall standout Seantreal Henderson, now at Miami, had back surgery Monday. Hurricanes coach Al Golden said the result was "very positive," but added, "What that means long-term is still tenuous."
• Edina native Cole Nelson, traded to the Twins from the Tigers in the Delmon Young deal, made his first appearance for Class A Fort Myers on Tuesday, giving up two runs on three walks and one hit in one inning of relief. He took his 12th loss of the season.
• Dominique Byrd, who played at Breck and Southern California and has been with several NFL teams, is now with the Seahawks.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. • firstname.lastname@example.org