Linked by the Mississippi River, the 1987 World Series and presumably six degrees of Kevin Bacon, St. Louis and Minneapolis share something else when it comes to each city's respective baseball fans. A slight sense of dread every time someone mentions the soon-expiring contract of a star player (basketball fans in Cleveland can commiserate).

Arguably the two best players in baseball play close to the banks of the Mississippi, and perhaps not coincidentally, both mid-market teams involved seem to be in contention just about every season. But both the Cardinals' Albert Pujols and the Twins' Joe Mauer could conceivably test free agency within the next two seasons (after 2010 for Mauer and after 2011 for Pujols).

The good news for fans in Minnesota is the Twins and Mauer's agent are reportedly talking about an extension before the start of the season. But if it came down to it, which player means more to a franchise?

Wayne (Sacramento)

Give me the odds, realistically, that Bryce Harper becomes a better player than Joe Mauer.

Keith Law
Keith Law

I wouldn't hang that on any 17-year-old. If Mauer's not the best player in the game right now, he's close. As good as Harper is, it would be an unfair comparison. And, for what it's worth, Mauer does just about everything easily, whereas Harper is more about the power and fury. Full Feb. 11 transcript

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