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Pohlad asks employees not to leave Twins yet

In a letter that acknowledges they do not oppose the elimination of the Twins, owner Carl Pohlad and his son asked employees to stay despite the uncertainty.

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.

"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, spokesman Dave St. Peter said.

"I think everyone appreciated Carl and Jerry and Jim fielding their concerns, because it's an uncertain time for everyone," St. Peter said Saturday. "We have a pretty closely knit front office and it's definitely kind of a touchy issue for all of our employees."

Carl Pohlad and Bell did not immediately return calls seeking further comment Saturday.

Commissioner Bud Selig has said the main problem for the franchise is 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, St. Peter said.

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

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

INDIANS: The Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America named Roberto Alomar the team's Man of the Year.