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Jerry_Manuel
11-10-2001, 02:14 PM
Associated Press
MINNEAPOLIS -- In a letter that acknowledges they do not oppose the elimination of the Minnesota Twins, owner Carl Pohlad and his son asked employees to stay despite the uncertainty.

Baseball owners voted to eliminate two teams, a move that could come before the winter meetings Dec. 9-14 in Boston. The Twins and the Montreal Expos are considered the teams most likely to be folded.

Pohlad's son Jim, a member of the team's executive board, painted an ominous future for the franchise in a letter distributed to about 70 staff members Friday. Details of the letter, written and signed by him, were reported Saturday by the Star Tribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press.

"Our willingness to go along with contraction, if the commissioner so decides, has come from a feeling of hopelessness," he wrote. "Within the context of baseball's commitment, when we are posed the question, 'Why should the Minnesota Twins not be contracted?' we are unable to find a plausible answer."

The Pohlads and team president Jerry Bell met with the staff for about 45 minutes Friday, the newspapers reported.

Carl Pohlad and Bell did not immediately return telephone calls from The Associated Press seeking comment Saturday. A Twins spokesman would not comment.

While Minnesota business leaders have expressed a willingness to try to buy the Twins, Carl Pohlad indicated the decision to sell might not be all his.

"If a local buyer wants to buy the team, they can go to the commissioner and buy it," he told the Star Tribune.

Commissioner Bud Selig has said the main problem for the franchise is that the Metrodome doesn't bring it enough revenue for the team to compete. And Minnesota residents have been vocal in letting lawmakers know they don't want taxpayer dollars to go to building a new stadium to replace the 19-year-old Metrodome.

The Pohlads asked employees to hold off seeking other jobs, the newspapers reported.

In an attempt to keep employees, the Twins introduced a "Pay to Stay" program, promising those who remain with the club three months' salary plus regular termination pay if the team is folded.

The Blue Jays have asked for permission to approach Twins general manager Terry Ryan about a similar position with Toronto.