La Velle E. Neal III has covered baseball for the Star Tribune since 1998 (the post-Knoblauch era). Born and raised in Chicago, he grew up following the White Sox and hating the Cubs. He attended both the University of Illinois and Illinois-Chicago and began his baseball writing career at the Kansas City Star. He can be heard occasionally on KFAN radio, lending his great baseball mind to Paul Allen and other hosts. Mark Rosen borrows him occasionally for WCCO-TV.

Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Francisco Liriano takes his talents to Pittsburgh

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 21, 2012 - 9:23 AM

The Francisco Liriano era is officially over in Minnesota. The lefthander has agreed to a two year, $14 million contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates, according to a source. The deal will be finalized once Liriano passes a physical.

Liriano was one of three pitchers the Twins received in exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski in 2003. Liriano reached the majors in 2005. but it was 2006 when he electrified Twins fans with a 12-3, 2.16 season. That season was cut short by a torn elbow ligament and, while he seemed to regain almost all his stuff from that injury, he couldn't become a top pitcher.

(What if moment: What if Liriano could have pitched in the postseason that year with Johan Santana?)

Liriano was 3-10 last season with a 5.31 ERA before being traded to the White Sox. The Twins discussed re-signing Liriano a few weeks ago but talks stalled.

The Twins have moved on, signing Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey. They are interested in Joe Saunders and Rich Harden, but I've heard that a couple other teams have stepped up their pursuit of Saunders. Stay tuned.

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