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.

Evening update from the winter meetings: Gardy on his future

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 4, 2012 - 10:16 PM

Tuesday was the first day the media horde had a chance to interview Twins manager Ron Gardenhire since the end of the regular season. So it was the first time many of us had a chance to ask him about managing without a contract beyond 2013.

It led to some interesting stuff. A lot of it will be detailed in the dead tree editions tomorrow, but here's a little bit of a preview.

Here's Gardenhire, when asked how confortable he was with managing in 2013 without an extension:

"Well, I don't have a choice.  It's not like I have a choice whether they want to give me an extension.  It's not something that I lose sleep over at night.  You earn your contracts and you earn your extensions, and as I said this last couple of years, I haven't earned anything.  We haven't done very well, and you're graded as a manager on how your ballclub performs.  It doesn't matter whether you had injuries, it doesn't matter whether you were short on players.  It doesn't matter.  You're still graded on wins and losses.  Terry told me that, and it didn't offend me at all, didn't bother me at all.  You know what, if I don't make it through this year, something happens and I don't make it through this year, I'll be okay.  I've had a great opportunity here."

He was asked if he received assurances from GM Terry Ryan that he was going to upgrade the roster:

"No.  Do you have assurances that you're going to be a reporter next year? (laughter) I'm working under the same contract as you.  There's no assurances. All I know is Terry Ryan is taking back over and his goal is to get this organization built from the bottom up and get our organization, our system developing players and all those things.  We've talked about it an awful lot, about the needs of this organization, the Minor League levels and the Major League levels, and really, I think, all you need is an understanding of what we're trying to do here.  I have that with Terry on what we're trying to do.  He understands my    I want to win.  I want to win now.  I understand the process of developing.  But it's a lot of fun to shake hands at the Major League level."

We took our talents upstairs to GM Terry Ryan's suite and asked for his side of the story. Ryan put the focus on himself, stating that Gardenhire is a good manager and he has to find good players for him. Ryan pointed out that trading for Alex Meyer last week gives them a top pitching prospect for the future but doesn't help Gardenhire in 2013.

"I feel like we’re getting in a little bit of an area where I’m trying to defend our manager," Ryan said. "I’m not trying to, but you brought it up. I didn’t extend him, and I know I put him in a tough spot, but I’m the one that’s giving him the players, and ultimately that trade last week, hell, you’re going to start having to look upstairs, not at him, if that’s the barometer. I’m willing to take that on. I just did what I thought was right for the organization. And if it works, great, if it doesn’t, OK, we’ll have to try again. Just like in any trade, some of them wind up being decent, and some of them aren’t going to be so decent, and we’ve been down that path."

It's going to be an interesting offseason, because if the Twins don't upgrade their rotation, Gardenhire will have try to win with most of the pitchers responsible for their 66-96 record last season.

FREE AGENT SEARCH

Not much movement with free agents during the day. Things could change tonight as the Twins remain in contact with the agents for all the key starting pitchers. Will Ryan make a move before the winter meetings end?

“That’s always a tough question," he said. "You never know. We could. We may not. So that’s difficult. You can’t predict that. I didn’t know I was going to trade Denard that particular day either. I got a call saying they freed up the pitcher we were interested in so we made it. So that’s how that happens. It’s amazing. I had no idea.”

 

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