SI Vault
 
Tom Verducci's View
Tom Verducci
June 05, 2006
TWINS' FUTURE SECURE, BUT ...
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
June 05, 2006

Tom Verducci's View

View CoverRead All Articles

TWINS' FUTURE SECURE, BUT ...

The Twins didn't get the retractable-roof stadium that team officials wanted, but they got the next best thing: an open-air, $522 million ballpark for which the franchise must kick in only $130 million. Amazingly, the public will foot the rest of the bill--through a Hennepin County sales tax--even though it never had the chance to vote on funding. The Twins currently have $22 million of their $63 million payroll covered by revenue sharing, so when will the expected ballpark revenues allow general manager Terry Ryan to boost the budget? "I don't think we'll see an effect until '08 and '09," he says. In the meantime Ryan would do well to lock up catcher Joe Mauer, 23, and lefthander Francisco Liriano, 22, with long-term deals. Last Friday, on the night the ballpark funding became official, Mauer (right) hit a 427-foot homer and Liriano threw five shutout innings in a 3--1 win over the Mariners. With the downtown park expected to open in time for the 2010 season, the future of baseball in Minnesota never looked brighter.

MISERY STARTS AT THE TOP

Centerfielder Juan Pierre has been one of the biggest disappointments in the Cubs' miserable season. He has been such a bust atop the lineup that Chicago had a worse on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot (.265 at week's end) than the Braves and the Cardinals had out of their ninth spots. Over the winter Chicago tried to sign free-agent shortstop Rafael Furcal to be its leadoff hitter. First, Furcal (left) balked at the Cubs' request that his contract be voidable if he were convicted of another drunken driving offense. (He has two convictions in the last four years.) Then the Cubs made no attempt to come close to the Dodgers' offer of $39 million for three years. Furcal had a .343 OBP through Sunday for L.A., which gives him off-field support. Says Furcal, "I've learned. I don't need [a clause] in my contract. Think about it: Who has more to lose, the team or me?"

THE RUNDOWN

?Be careful, Astros. Caught in a 7--16 free fall at week's end, Houston is in danger of playing itself out of the Roger Clemens sweepstakes. Yes, Houston is the Rocket's home, but Clemens wants the carrot of a playoff appearance.

?The Marlins are not yet taking bids on Dontrelle Willis (right), but that should change before the July 31 trade deadline. The Diamondbacks, with their deep farm system, may have the best chance at landing the lefthander. The Mets, Yankees, Phillies and Cardinals will also be involved.

? Jim Bowden's future as Nationals G.M. will depend on the disposition of his DUI case in Florida. (He was arrested on April 17 for allegedly running a stop sign.) If he beats the charge this summer, new ownership plans to keep him through 2007. If not, he'll be out of a job.

1