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Baseball the big winner in Mauer deal

Chris Ruddick, MLB Editor

Rounding Third Logo Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The baseball gods smiled upon the sport on Sunday when it was announced that the Minnesota Twins locked up catcher Joe Mauer with an eight-year, $184 million extension.

Now, as much fun as it would have been to watch the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox fall over each other for the right to land the American League's reigning Most Valuable Player, it just wouldn't have been right had Mauer left Minnesota for, let's just say, greener pastures.

Had he hit the free agent market Mauer probably would have been able to reap over $200 million. Free Agency is always tempting, especially when you are one of the top five players in the game, but as a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, he had to stay.

While I think it is good for the game that he stayed, it is not as if Mauer gave the Twins any kind of hometown discount here. I mean, the deal is easily the highest ever handed out by the Twins and is the fourth-largest contract in Major League Baseball history.

It was not really a tough decision.


Joe Mauer's new deal is the fourth-largest contract in MLB history.
Minnesota's Opening Day payroll in 2009 was around $65 million. This year when they take the field on April 5 in Anaheim, the Twins' payroll will be close to $100 million. Oh, and Mauer's $23 million per year does not even kick in until next season.

Keep in mind that the $23 million Mauer will pocket in 2011 is $4 million more than the Twins' entire team payroll in 1999.

Don't get it twisted. The Twins are not a large market team now, although they could have a payroll close to $125 million when next season starts. The billionaire Pohlad Family has always been very frugal when it comes to the way they run this team. The recently-deceased Carl Pohlad ran the team like a business for years, meaning the payroll was generally comparable to what the team brought in as a whole.

So, it stands to reason that they would have a significant payroll jump this year with the opening of brand new Target Field, which should generate the type of revenue this team has never experienced.

Let's be real here, though. Pohlad's son Jim, who now calls the shots, is not going to become George Steinbrenner (or his sons). Minnesota is never going to spend like the Yankees or the Red Sox or even the Angels.

But, they have proven they will pay to keep their own players, and that is a good thing.

BREATHE EASY, METS FANS

New York Mets fans got some good news on Tuesday, as Jose Reyes' thyroid levels returned to normal and the shortstop has been cleared to resume baseball-related activities. With just under two weeks until Opening Day, it is not crazy to think he will be ready when the Mets take the field on April 5 at Citi Field.

The Reyes news comes on the same day that the team demoted first baseman Ike Davis to Triple-A. Davis, who has never played above Double-A, had been the Mets' best player this spring, hitting .480 with three home runs.

By the way, the averages of Davis' competition this spring - Daniel Murphy (.133), Mike Jacobs (.174) and Fernando Tatis (.050) - add up to .357 when put together.

In other words, as long as Davis continues to hit in Buffalo, he will be in Flushing sooner rather than later.

VIN SCULLY OK AFTER TRIP TO HOSPITAL

Thankfully, everything turned out well for Los Angeles Dodgers legendary broadcaster Vin Scully, who took a spill in his house last week, leading to a short stay in the hospital.

The 82-year-old Hall of Famer received five stitch-like "staples" to close a cut in the back of his head from the fall which was brought on following a "blackout" stemming from a coughing fit.

Scully was back in his familiar spot behind the mic for the Dodgers' 12-5 setback to Cleveland on Sunday at Camelback Ranch. It was his first game this spring.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Chris Ruddick at cruddick@sportsnetwork.com.

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