By Luther Dorr
Mille Lacs County Times
The Minnesota Twins, mostly by letting Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel go after last season, have dropped about $15 million from their payroll for 2012, despite drawing more than three million fans and piling up some money last year.
It’s at $94 million this season, giving the team an average salary of about $3.5 million.
What might surprise you is that three of the team’s former players are the highest paid on their teams.
Johan Santana pulls down $23.1 million this year for the Mets, Cuddyer leads Colorado with $10.5 million and Kubel leads Arizona with $7.5 million.
Both Colorado and Arizona have total payrolls of $78 million or less, while the Mets are at $93 million.
And then there’s Joe Mauer who leads the Twins with a salary of $23 million that is part of a contract that will likely hamstring the team for years to come.
Only the Yanks’ Alex Rodriguez ($30 million), Vernon Wells of the Angels ($24.1 million), Santana and Mark Teixiera ($23.1 million) of the Yankees make more.
Prince Fielder of the Tigers makes the same $23 million a year as Mauer.
For those who are wondering what Albert Pujols’ 2012 salary is, it’s $12 million. But, he signed a 10-year, $254 million deal when he signed with Los Angeles.
How about these other former Twins (there are 30 former Twins in the majors at this time)?
Torii Hunter of the Angels is second on that team at $18.5 million and Jason Bartlett and O-Dog (Orlando Hudson), believe it or not, are second on the bare-bones San Diego roster at $5.5 million each.
Kyle Lohse (not a favorite of Ron Gardenhire) is third on World Series champ St. Louis at $12.2 million and Matt Garza (also not a Gardenhire favorite) is third on the Cubs at $9.5 million.
J.J. Hardy (not a Gardenhire favorite) is fourth on the Baltimore list at $7.4 million.
David Ortiz, on the downside of a great career for the Red Sox, is fifth at $14.6 million.
There are lots of ex-Twins who are sixth on their team’s payrolls. Joe Nathan gets $7 million from the Rangers, Grant Balfour gets $4 million from the Angels, R.A. Dickey gets $4.8 million from the Mets, Delmon Young gets $6.8 million from the Tigers and A. J. Pierzynski, on the last year of his contract, gets $6 million from the White Sox.
The Twins let three pitchers go after the 2010 season because they were too cheap to pay even one of them, or so some people say.
Matt Guerrier is 8th for the Dodgers at $4.7 million, Jesse Crain is 9th for the White Sox at $4.5 million and Jon Rauch is 7th for the Mets at $3.5 million. Think any of those pitchers – just one, maybe – could help the Twins in 2012?
Heck, LaTroy Hawkins, who the Twins let go to free agency in 2003 after a 9-3 record with a 1.86 ERA, is in his 19th year and is getting $3 million from the Angels, not exactly a run-of-the-mill team.
And so it goes.
A record 14 major league players will earn at least $20 million this year as the average salary increases 4 percent to $3.45 million.
Joey Votto of the Reds just signed the most recent blockbuster deal at 10 years for $225 million.
No one can argue that salaries in professional sports haven’t gotten out of hand. But there seems to be no end in sight.
The Yankee payroll of $197.9 million is its lowest since 2007 but they have the highest payroll for the 14th straight year.
The Twins come in at 13th on the list, even with the decrease this year. But some think, with the team’s increased revenue, that it should be spending more.
Let’s see which way the Minnesota payroll goes if the 2012 season is not better than, or maybe worse than, the 2011 season.