SAN FRANCISCO -- Like most major leaguers, the Minnesota Twins can read.
They saw how the Chicago White Sox, their American League Central Division rival, kept lefty Mark Buehrle in town by signing the lefty to a four-year, $56 million US deal, rather than deal him before the July 31 trade deadline without waivers.
The Twins all-star, Gold Glove-winning centre fielder Torii Hunter is a free agent two weeks after the season. The contract of former Cy Young award winning lefty Johan Santana is up after the 2008 season.
Can the low-revenue, Twins afford to keep both all-stars?
"It's frustrating, nothing is going on, there's no dialogue," Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, of New Westminster, B.C., told reporters yesterday.
"They say that they don't want negotiations to be a distraction, but every city we go into fans are saying to Torii: 'Come play here next year.' "
At the time, Hunter was seated at a podium 15 feet to his left.
"Everyone thinks it will help when we open our new park," Morneau said, "but I don't think the fans, after paying for the stadium with their tax dollars, will be happy if Torii and Johan leave."
Morneau, a super-two player in terms of service time and therefore eligible for salary arbitration, had talks on a long-term deal in the spring. He eventually signed a one-year deal worth $4.5 million.
"We haven't had any talks since before the season," Morneau said.
Morneau was entered in last night's home run derby, but was eliminated after the first round. Morneau and Albert Pujols tied for the last semi-final spot with four homers each but Pujols beat Morneau 2-1 in a tie-breaker to advance.
Morneau wanted to bring fellow Canadian Larry Walker as his batting-practice pitcher, but Walker declined.
"Advice? He told me to hit the ball over the fence, it's like when I ask him anything about hitting, he'll say that or: 'Hit 'em where they ain't,' " Morneau said with a laugh.
He said he did not consult with Pittsburgh Pirates slugger Jason Bay, of Trail, B.C., for home run derby advice. Bay went homerless in the home run derby two years ago.
"If I asked Jason for advice I would do the exact opposite of what he told me," Morneau said.
When you are the reigning most valuable player in the American League you can zing the former rookie of the year in the NL.
Morneau said he was excited to be in the same park as slugger Barry Bonds.
"Hey he deserves the cheers," said Morneau, hours before AT&T Park rose when Bonds stepped in for his cuts during batting practice.
"It's his park, it's his town, it's his fans. Everything he has accomplished over his career. He's the best player in the game for the last 20 years."