There's a lot of chatter going on right now, and LEN III's late-morning update on his blog has the most interesting information.
Neal shares two massive quotes from a couple of Minnesota's perennial All-Stars. First, Joe Nathan:
"I think a lot of us think this is a special team we have here and have a chance to go out and do some good things. Getting to the postseason is what you wish for. After that, anything can happen. A lot of us feel like this is a time to go out and do some special things."
As far as soundbites go, that's a pretty fair and even-handed tidbit. Justin Morneau's statement is a bit more intense:
"I don’t know if we are worried about this new stadium or having a good team in the new stadium. If that’s the case, tell us that. Don’t say, `We want to win,’ then don’t show it. Do we want to win the World Series or be the team that has a chance to be in the playoffs?"
Add onto those two quotes the following, also courtesy of the Strib, and it sure sounds like the players themselves are looking to see if the front office is on the same page as they are.
Back to Nathan:
"A lot of times it's not that anyone feels we need something to help this club out, more-so to show that everyone is on the same page and everyone is trying to get better and get over the hump and that everyone is on board with one goal: to get where we need to be.''
"[Tradeing Luis Castillo in 2007] left a bad taste in our mouths. Are we trying?''
"It's important to show the hometown boy that this organization wants to win."
And for Justin for another round:
"You hear about the future, the future. I don't know who gets to decide when that is or when they think that is...You have a core of a lineup that can compete with anyone in the league. One of the best closers in the game. Young starting pitching that might be missing one veteran guy to show them the way...It makes a difference to have someone like that.''
"If we don't do anything this year, I can't see how [Joe Mauer's] going to want to come back and go through this every year."
And finally, from the golden boy himself, Joe Mauer:
"Yeah, there's frustration, but I've learned over the last few years not to try to get my hopes up that we'll have something, then get disappointed.''
"I think Morny and Joe, the guys you talked to, are the same way. They want to win. We want to have chances to win. That's going to be a big factor into my decision. But I don't have to make that decision for a while.''
All of these are loaded, strike that, mega-ton loaded quotes. We're seeing three of this team's stars stepping up and holding this front office's feet to the fire. This raises a lot of issues, but the big one for the moment is this: are the players concerned that this organization runs the team as a business first, with the competetive balance of the team coming as a result of how that business is run? It's hard to argue with the relative success this organization has had this decade, but these guys play baseball as their job. They strive to win, it's why they play. If every star player that comes through is questioning the confidence that the front office has in its players and questioning if they're all on the same page, then a message needs to be delivered one way or the other.
Four days and counting.