MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -Carl Pohlad has controlled the Minnesota Twins for almost 24 years. As the owner ages into his 90s, one of his three sons has emerged as the face of the family.
Jim Pohlad said Friday, though, that his 92-year-old father still has his place at the top of the organization. He also maintained their commitment to owning the franchise for the foreseeable future.
``Whether or not fans want to hear that or not, I can't personally see that's any different,'' Jim Pohlad said, wryly acknowledging the Pohlads' rather miserly reputation during a rare interview arranged by the team for a handful of local reporters.
He said his dad doesn't have much energy these days, but that he remains in good health. All major decisions, such as the all-for-naught contract offer to Johan Santana, must be approved by the billionaire banker and his executive board.
``I wouldn't say everything is exactly the same, but he's still very involved,'' Jim Pohlad said.
Twins executive Jerry Bell, who joined Jim Pohlad for the 50-minute session, chimed in with his endorsement of Carl Pohlad's health: ``I had lunch with him today. He's fine.''
On the subject of Santana and Torii Hunter, the other star who left Minnesota this winter for market-shattering money, Jim Pohlad repeated the message previously stressed by the front office:
The Twins believed the $137.5 million over six years the Mets are paying Santana was an unwise investment, despite his Cy Young credentials. Same for Hunter and the $90 million over five years he got from the Angels.
``For the Twins to offer any player a so-called legacy contract, we'd have to look long and hard at that,'' Jim Pohlad said. ``It would have to be a special situation, and that doesn't mean that Torii or Johan is not special. It's just that the terms of that or the length, we're not really in position to do that on a regular basis.''
Said Bell: ``Next year, that fundamental will still be there. The question is are the players going to be there for us to pay the money to that the baseball people think are worth it?''
The team's guideline is to spend 52 percent of revenue on player salaries, though the Santana trade will push the 2008 payroll well below that mark - likely somewhere around $55 million after a 2007 opening-day figure of more than $71 million.
Twins president Dave St. Peter said the original budget called for an increase, not a reduction. Jim Pohlad said a 2009 payroll that surpasses the 52-percent standard would be acceptable, but not simply to appease fans for their role in funding for the new stadium. (About 75 percent of the cost of the half-billion-dollar, 40,000-seat ballpark is coming from a 0.15 percent Hennepin County sales tax.)
``Don't go out and just throw away money and make it not productive at all,'' Jim Pohlad.
Bell also defended the team's decision to limit the offer of an extension to Santana at $80 million over four years. He claimed a fellow executive from one of the three teams in the running - the Mets, Red Sox and Yankees - essentially acknowledged their involvement in the talks was superficial.
``I can't say which one, but one of them told me, 'You know, he really doesn't add to the bottom line. Why am I even thinking about this?''' Bell said.
So, is this a rebuilding year?
``No. We're prepared for a winning year, a contention year,'' Jim Pohlad said. ``I don't believe the word rebuilding has ever come up since the 2007 season ended.''
Though stung by the loss of their two best players, the Twins have tried to steer the public's focus toward the team's young core. That includes Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer, who signed expensive contract extensions last month.
``They weren't made as gestures to fans. They were made as baseball decisions to put us in the best position to win over the long haul,'' St. Peter said.
Twins employees have long lauded the Pohlads for their patience and hands-off style.
``They are committed to winning and committed to us having a competitive team now and long-term,'' general manager Bill Smith said. ``The Pohlads are wonderful about delegating responsibility. I think they give Dave St. Peter tremendous latitude to run the business operations and they give us tremendous latitude to run the baseball operations.''
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report from Fort Myers, Fla.

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