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.

Winter meetings wrap-up: The Twins actually made a trade

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 6, 2012 - 11:29 PM

First of all, the Opryland Hotel is far from affordable family fun. I hit a breakfast buffet on Monday, and found out it was $21.00. Lunch on Tuesday consisted of two sushi rolls, miso soup and iced tea. That was $40.00 (and they weren't exotic rolls). I spent the rest of the meetings buying sandwiches at coffee shops. Geez...

And the complex is just enormous. Too many places for teams to hide. Too spread out. Instead of saying 'hello' as we crossed paths with other scribes during the week, we would say. 'I hate this hotel,' for a greeting.

Still, it's a baseball convention. There are still debates that go on into the early morning at the bars. The wild rumors still spread around the lobby, and it gets you looking forward to spring training. I love this stuff.

I'm trying to figure out what kind of Twins team will report to Fort Myers, Fla. in February. GM Terry Ryan stunned me and made a trade today - the first time he's swung a deal during the winter meetings in my 15 years on the beat. All you folks who predicted the Twins would do nothing were wrong - for the first time, ha!

I'm totally behind the concept of adding the pitchers the Twins have added. They traded Ben Revere, who has speed and a good glove but doesn't have power or a strong arm, and turned him into two pitchers. One, Vance Worley, was described by a scout as a, 'Twins type pitcher.' He doesn't miss bats and needs good control to win. He's young and he said he has his cut fastball back that he didn't have last season because of bone chips in his elbow.
 
The other pitcher, Trevor May, has upside. He could turn out to be a No. 2 starter because he hits 94 and has good secondary pitches. His control needs to improve, but coming to the Twins and Rick Anderson could be just what he needs.

So YOU MAKE THAT TRADE. You get two starters - one for now, one for two years down the road - for a speedy contact hitter.

It's time to re-do my top ten prospects rankings, again. May doesn't have Alex Myers' upside but he could land anywhere from 4-6 in the rankings. A potential rotation of Meyer, Gibson and May - the MGM boys - looks promising.

I expect Terry Ryan to sign at least one more starting pitcher this offseason, so the 2013 can resemble more of a makeover. If they re-sign Francisco Liriano, I hope there's a second signing. They still have several offers out there, waiting for the pitching market to loosen up.

I'm going to miss Revere, one of the most positive people in that clubhouse. I'm going to miss Denard, one of high-quality guys I've met during my career. But the Twins have to address this starting pitching problem, and had to make these deals.

Not sure who will start in center. At 1 a.m. this morning, when I was chasing down the Revere rumor, one official said he heard that the Twins are ready to give Hicks a chance to start in center. Wow. We'll see if they stick to that.

All I know is this: If the season started today, Joe Mauer might have to be the leadoff hitter.

It was a productive week for the Twins. In addition to Worley and May, the Twins picked up righthander Ryan Pressly and third baseman Mark Sobolewski in the Rule 5 draft and signed reliever Jared Burton to a two-year contract, plus an option.

They have two spots open on their 40-man roster, by the way.

Watch the Strib this weekend for more coverage of the remodeling of the Twins' rotation. An online chat has been scheduled for Monday, too. And I'll join KFAN's Paul Allen on Friday (actually about 12 hours from now) at Buffalo Wild Wings in Coon Rapids to talk Twins and argue about the Bears-Vikings game this weekend.

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