February 5, 2013

Transcript of Twins president Dave St. Peter on “Gleeman and The Geek”

Twins president Dave St. Peter was recently our guest on "Gleeman and The Geek" for a lengthy, unedited interview about a wide variety of on- and off-field topics. We talked to St. Peter for more than 35 minutes, so I'd encourage everyone to listen to the entire episode for the full context of our questions and his responses, but here's a transcript with a sampling of his direct quotes on various subjects.

On the Twins decreasing their payroll significantly for the second straight season:

There's a lot of focus on payroll. I tend to focus more on where we end up, versus where we start. ... I can assure you that Terry Ryan has all sorts of flexibility relative to where our payroll number is. But we also understand that I don't know if he views it coming into this offseason that we were, say, one or maybe even two players away. We're trying to do this right, we're trying to do this the only way we know how to do it, which is build this thing through our farm system over the long term. ... We don't focus a lot on payroll. That's something you guys in the media and all the fans focus on. We try to focus on what gives us the best chance to win.

On why the Twins don't use the payroll space to sign players to one-year deals:

I can just tell you that there's plenty of payroll flexibility. We don't view payroll as the problem. It takes two. It's easy to say "spend $15 million on guys on one-year deals." When you're sitting in that GM chair it's a little different in terms of getting that agent to agree to that one-year deal. ... Particular from a free agent who's going to assess how close we are to really winning. You might identify a player who's a high-profile guy, but you've got to understand he also has to want to come play in Minnesota, play at Target Field. ... I can tell you Terry Ryan has had a lot of discussions with a lot of free agents, a lot of guys you have championed that we sign. Don't think that we don't necessarily agree with you, but it takes two to get those deals done.

On whether it's been hard to get free agents to come to Minnesota for non-monetary reasons:

No. It's dollars and years. It's dollars and years. And at the end of the day, a player might have Option A and Option B, depending where they're from. He may be able to take less in Option A, but at the end of the day it's ultimately going to come down to dollars and years.

On the many free agent starters who signed one-year deals with other teams:

We've had a rich history here, certainly during Terry's tenure, of trying to make good baseball decisions. And we certainly have a belief in what a guy's worth. I have to trust, with all due respect, I have to trust our evaluators. I think they've done a great job. We're trying to get better. And ultimately your assessment of a player, there might be a reason why a guy got a one-year deal versus a multi-year deal that perhaps we're more privy to than maybe the public is. Whether it's health, whether it's makeup, whether a player specifically wanted to play in a certain market or a certain ballpark or with a certain manager or a certain teammate.

On the rapidly growing gap in local television revenue:

I think TV revenue has always played somewhat of a role, certainly since the explosion of cable and satellite television back in the early 80s. We all know about the disparities in payroll that we've dealt with in our game and that's largely been driven by baseball's economic model, which certainly is much more based on local television and cable dollars being the driving force versus the national. I think on some level Minnesota is going to be Minnesota. There's going to be some limitations on what we can reasonably expect out of our local partnership with a FOX Sports North relative to what the Los Angeles Dodgers can expect. ... I think right now we have a market deal. Will that be the case five years from now or 10 years from now? I don't know.

On the impact of revenue sharing within the new collective bargaining agreement:

The good news from a baseball perspective is now today we have a pretty robust revenue-sharing plan, so now the Dodgers, if you read, they're going to go out and sign a record-breaking deal. They're going to give up a certain percentage of that into the revenue-sharing pool, which in essence benefits every team in the game, not just the Dodgers. ... That's played a huge role in having much more competitive balance in the game. Could there be more revenue sharing? Yeah, I'd love to see it, but it's interesting in the National Football League, where it's all about national television revenue, you have many owners fighting for less revenue sharing.

On the Twins' unsuccessful attempt to launch their own channel, Victory Sports, in 2004:

I think it was the right idea, it was probably the wrong time. But at the same time I would tell you that without that launch, or failed launch, of Victory I don't know that we would be where we are today relative to the television revenue that we're garnering from our partnership with FOX. I don't look back on that with a lot of regrets, but it certainly was a concept that was pretty controversial in the market at the time. I think what we were trying to do was control our own destiny, so to speak, in terms of television.

On the Twins switching radio stations from 1500-ESPN to the Pohlad-owned KTWIN-96.3:

I think radio tends to be a little more pure in the sense that, yeah there's a revenue component to it, but it's never going to be the single biggest driver in terms of a team's broadcast revenues. For us it was more of an opportunity that we have a sister company that's a radio station, an FM radio station, and we felt as though we could do a better job of servicing fans in the Twin Cities metropolitan area with not only the game sounding better, but hopefully covering more area, penetrating more buildings.

On the 81 percent renewal rate for season tickets:

I'd say your average renewal rate is probably 75-80 percent. I can tell you it's extremely good for a team coming off of two consecutive 90-plus loss seasons. It continues to confirm that this is frankly a dynamite baseball market and one that certainly has great passion.

On the future of Twins Fest once the Metrodome is no longer an option:

I'm hopeful that perhaps the new football stadium, which will be able to be configured for baseball, perhaps could be the long-term home for Twins Fest despite the fact that we don't have any history there. I think it'll lend itself well to the event. But short term, as we move from the Metrodome, we'll probably have to change the event pretty dramatically for a couple years. ... It probably becomes a little bit smaller, it probably becomes a little bit different in terms of the way we price tickets. And I'm not really thrilled about that, but I just think that's going to be the reality of it.

On his expectations for the team in 2013:

I think we expect to get better. Everybody talks about how we look on paper versus everybody else and I can tell you from my experience in this game is that's a very dangerous assessment. ... At the end of the day I'd like to think that you're going to see a baseball team that's very competitive, we hope to obviously be in a position where we can contend, but first things first I think we've got to restore some of the fundamentals and we've got to get off to a better start. I think that's been a significant issue for us, particularly last year, the year before. We've got to play better early and we understand that. Our everyday nine lineup, we frankly think is good enough. We think we'll score enough runs. We think our bullpen will be fine. But ultimately it's going to come down to who's on that mound in terms of the starters and there's going to be a lot of focus on that in spring training.

There's a whole lot more where that came from--the above quotes represent maybe one-third of the total interview--so check out the full episode.


This week's blog content is sponsored by Rotoworld's annual "Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide," which is available in both magazine and online versions. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

February 1, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Aaron Rupar of City Pages was at a coffee shop when he witnessed the start of a blind date, so naturally he stuck around for the whole thing and live-tweeted it.

• I'm thrilled that one of my favorite writers, Joe Posnanski, will be joining NBCSports.com as a columnist, blogger, and all-around "digital voice." And now that he's a co-worker I'm going to use Posnanski to become friends with Ken Tremendous/Michael Schur and then use him to meet Aubrey Plaza. Any writing Posnanski does is just a bonus.

• Speaking of Posnanski, it almost seems like he didn't enjoy watching "Trouble With The Curve."

• And speaking of NBCSports.com, my blog-mate Craig Calcaterra put together an extensive oral history of HardballTalk.

Tony Soprano's daughter is marrying Lenny Dykstra's son.

• As a kid I owned a Nick Van Exel jersey, so this news makes me feel both old and sad.

• I made my triumphant return to Paul Allen's show on KFAN yesterday and we talked Twins, but the highlight was when he sang to me and asked how my mom is doing.

• I'm asking my family to do the same thing, but with Chinese food carryout.

Eddie Guardado was elected to the Twins' team Hall of Fame. I ranked him as the 26th-best player in Twins history.

• My first concert was Boyz II Men (with opening acts Babyface and Tevin Campbell) at Target Center in 1994. They're coming back to Target Center in July ... with New Kids On The Block and 98 Degrees, which is probably more nostalgia than I can stomach at this point.

• Twins president Dave St. Peter was our guest on this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode and we asked him all about payroll, revenue, television money, attendance, and a lot more.

• Also on this week's podcast: If you listen closely John Bonnes mentions magnets at one point and I start to say this before realizing he won't get it.

• This would be a bargain at double the price, but as always the University of Minnesota could have saved $3,406 and just watched "Seinfeld":

"Fake, fake, fake, fake" is one of my top-five lines in "Seinfeld" history.

• And people think I never leave the house.

Phil Miller has officially started covering the Twins for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, so you should definitely be following him on Twitter.

Carl Pavano had his spleen removed after suffering a laceration when he fell shoveling snow.

Chuck Klosterman wrote a very interesting, nuanced article about mental illness and Royce White, who's yet to play an NBA game.

• As someone who relies on a GPS to get him everywhere, I now have something new to fear.

• Saturday night's attempt to #GetSethDrunk at the Twins Daily get-together was unsuccessful, but this receipt shows that I tried my best. Sadly, he gave up after one.

• I posted a few other pictures from Twins Fest and the star-studded post-Twins Fest get-together.

• Based on this study Nick Punto should have been murdered years ago.

• I consider these men American heroes and hope their story is the plot of "Ocean's Fourteen."

• Phillies manager Charlie Manuel summed up Delmon Young's entire career in one depressing but true quote.

• On a related note, reading what Phillies blogs wrote about signing Young is quite an experience.

• I don't know enough about the non-baseball part of Boston sports media to say if Alan Siegel's article in Boston Magazine is particularly accurate, but it definitely raises some interesting topics that can be applied to Minnesota and every other major market.

• And to think, people make fun of me for only wanting to go to bars around Hopkins.

David Fincher is my favorite director and I'm obsessed with Netflix instant, so I'll probably watch "House of Cards" in one sitting.

• "End of Watch" was a mediocre movie overall, but it's worth renting just for Anna Kendrick singing "Hey Ma" by Cam'ron:

Seriously.

• As if that video didn't make world-renowned Kendrick fan and 1500-ESPN producer/writer Dana Wessel happy enough, his wardrobe is about to expand significantly.

• On a related note, Wikipedia says the following about Cam'ron's pre-music days:

Cameron Giles was born and raised in Harlem, New York. He went to school at Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, where he would meet his long time friends Mase and Jim Jones. He was a promising basketball player alongside Mase, however, he was unable to take advantage of various scholarship offers due to a poor academic record.

I'm the biggest Mase fan in the world, but not living in the alternate universe where Cam'ron and Mase became the next Stockton and Malone makes me very sad. If nothing else, based on this video we can say conclusively that Cam'ron was a better basketball player than David Arquette.

• Friend of AG.com and Twins Daily blogger Nick Nelson profiled fantasy sports payment service LeagueSafe and its creator Paul Charchian.

• As a nation we're not talking enough about Michael Beasley's hair.

Terry Ryan's explanation for signing Kevin Correia makes it difficult to buy into the Twins' supposed embracing of statistical analysis or trust their scouts.

• Friend of AG.com and longtime prominent stat-head Tom Tango now works exclusively for the Cubs after consulting for multiple teams and they're also looking to hire a Director of Research and Development in Baseball Operations.

• After his 10-year NFL career former Vikings running back Leroy Hoard struggles with memory loss and emotional problems at age 44.

Carson Cistulli's first act of journalism since joining the Baseball Writers Association of America involved asking Brewers reliever John Axford about his mustache and Ryan Gosling.

• New podcast discovery: "Put Your Hands Together" with Cameron Esposito, who records the weekly stand-up comedy show she hosts at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater in Los Angeles and mixes in some interviews. Through three episodes the list of comics featured includes Aziz Ansari, Anthony Jeselnik, Bob Odenkirk, Kyle Kinane, Steve Agee, Bobcat Goldthwait, James Adomian, and Jerrod Carmichael. Stand-up comedy nerds will absolutely love it.

• I guess A's left-hander Brett Anderson is my new favorite player now.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Can you get skinny by going swimming?"
- "What team did Denard Span go to?"
- "Quick ways to lose 150 pounds"
- "Jason Kubel tattoos"
- "Twins pitcher sucks"
- "Aubrey Plaza tied up"
- "29th birthday"
- "Rob McElhenney bench press"
- "Dan Gladden daughter"
- "Is winter statistically harder to lose weight?"
- "Girlfriend obsessed with podcast"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Hey Ma" by Cam'ron:

This week's blog content is sponsored by Peter David Benson's book "All Babies Suck," which is available on Amazon.com as a free Kindle download. Please support him for supporting AG.com.

January 28, 2013

“Gleeman and The Geek” #78: Live at Twins Fest with Dave St. Peter

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded at the Metrodome during Twins Fest with Twins president Dave St. Peter as special guest, and topics included unspent payroll room, revenue sharing, attendance and season ticket renewals, television contracts, the joys of Twitter, Aaron Hicks' timeline, the future of Twins Fest, why John Bonnes owes me $20 for a ruptured spleen, going back to school, breathalyzers, and Delmon Young's be-less-fat clause.

Gleeman and The Geek: Episode 78

In addition to the direct download link above you can also subscribe to the podcast via iTunes.


Some pictures from Twins Fest and the post-Twins Fest get-together at Hubert's. First, my view entering Twins Fest for the first time since 1995:

Podcasting from the Metrodome seats before interviewing St. Peter:

Bonnes bartending at Hubert's:

Some of the crowd at Hubert's, including me and (if you look closely) Seth Stohs of Twins Daily and Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Also there but not pictured: Rhett Bollinger, Joe Schmit, Darren Wolfson, Parker Hageman, Nick Nelson, Randball's Stu, Jon Marthaler, David Temple, Mike Bates, Bill Parker, Cody Christie, Official Couple of "Gleeman and The Geek" Joe and Kate, and 75-100 other people. Thanks to everyone who came to the get-together. It was an amazing turnout and a great time, so we'll definitely plan more events soon.

This week's blog content is sponsored by Peter David Benson's book "All Babies Suck," which is available on Amazon.com as a free Kindle download. Please support him for supporting AG.com.

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