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Updated: November 2nd, 2011 4:47pm
Twins' payroll was high in 2011, St. Peter says, but will not dip much

Twins' payroll was high in 2011, St. Peter says, but will not dip much

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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With the Minnesota Twins able to dip into the free agency pool as soon as Thursday, questions linger about what the team's offseason blue print will look like to fix a squad that lost 99 games.

More specifically, how much money will the front office be allowed to spend on free agents or upgrades via trade?

On Wednesday, team president Dave St. Peter provided some clarity, telling 1500 ESPN that the payroll "will end up at the end of the day being relatively comparable (to last season)."

The Twins' payroll hovered around $115 million last season, which, according to St. Peter, was "frankly, north of where I wanted it to be, or where we thought it should be relative to our percentages of revenue.

"But we made a decision, obviously, to try to bring back (Carl) Pavano, bring back (Jim) Thome, and I don't think anybody here regrets that. I think we thought they were the right decisions at the time."

When factoring in estimated arbitration figures for Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, Alexi Casilla and Jose Mijares, the Twins currently have approximately $83 million tied up before signing any free agents.

That leaves no more than $25 or $30 million -- maybe less -- to spend on a boatload of needs that includes right field, starting pitcher, shortstop and bullpen help.

"I think I can say that I don't think payroll is going to be the number one barrier for us doing what we need to do to improve our baseball team," St. Peter said. "We have to make smart decisions, and ultimately we think there are players out there that can help us. We think there's guys that are closer than maybe some think that can help us coming out of our system, and I expect us to go to spring training with a very good team."

Twins promote Brunansky

The Rochester Red Wings have not yet named a new manager, but former Twins outfielder Tom Brunasky will be the team's new hitting coach in 2012.

Brunansky, 51, drew rave reviews within the organization for his work as Double-A hitting coach in New Britain last season. Upon his arrival to Minnesota last season, Joe Benson, who hit .285/.388/.495 with 48 extra-base hits for New Britain, spoke very highly of Brunansky's coaching abilities.

Brunansky spent 14 seasons in the big leagues from 1981-1994, posting a .245/.327/.434 career batting line with 271 home runs. In seven seasons with the Twins, Brunasky hit .250/.330/.452 with 163 home runs. "Bruno" hit at least 20 home runs in eight consecutive seasons from 1982 to 1989.

It's likely a new Triple-A manager will be named sometime next week.

Season ticket update

During the final two months of last season, Target Field's announced crowds of 35,000+ looked more like 20,000 or less in actual, physical attendance.

When asked how a dismal season has affected season ticket renewal rates, St. Peter said, "Obviously anytime you go through a year like that you're going to have some attrition. ...

"We're very pleased. I think when it's all said and done we're going to come in with a renewal (rate) of around 85 percent, which I think certainly will rank north of the league average. Assuming the on-deck circle -- which is our the waiting list -- will buy what they say they're going to buy... it'll put us right back into the mid-20 (thousand)'s for our season ticket base."

St. Peter added that the renewal in the Legend's Club and Champion's Club is the highest rate of all.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
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