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.

Some post-TwinsFest notes and a free agent update

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: January 28, 2013 - 2:11 PM

Cleaning out the notebook after another TwinsFest

SAUNDERS UPDATE: There were reports a couple weeks ago that things were heating up between the Twins Joe Saunders but that wasn't the case. In fact, the sides have had little contact in recent weeks.

The Twins remain interested, but they are not going to give Saunders a three-year deal. They would do a two-year deal if the money was right. I'm sensing that the Twins would prefer to sign Saunders to a one-year deal with an option for a second year.

Unsigned players should be getting antsy now that camp is just around the corner, so prices should drop.

COMPENSATION CLASS: Some free agents, like Kyle Lohse and Michael Bourn, come with draft pick compensation. Any team that signs one of those free agents loses a first round pick. But teams with the ten worst records have their first round pick protected, so they would lose their second-round pick.

A fan wanted to know if the Twins could sign Bourn, lose their second round pick then trade him for prospects that could-would-should be at least second round quality.

It's an interesting approach. But there are two things to keep in mind. One, a team that signs a free agent can not trade or outright that player until June 16 without his consent. The only way that player can move is if he agrees to it. Two, not only do you lose a draft pick, you lose the money that's allocated by MLB for that pick. Teams will be reluctant to do that because they will want as much flexibility to sign their other picks.

The Twins have no interest in the compensation class, anyway.

LINE DRIVES

Chris Parmelee has been working on his first step quickness to help him get good jumps on balls hit to the outfield.

Both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau looked great. The Twins are a different team when both those guys are hitting, and one of the frustrating things about this franchise is that they have not played a playoff game together since 2006. If they can stay in the lineup this year, they will hit. The Twins will just need to find table-setters at the top of the lineup.

Player personnel maven Mike Radcliff recently returned from the Dominican Republic, where he scouted players who will be eligible to sign this year. He feels there's a good crop of hitters and a few pitchers in this year's class. He said there were a few corner infielders and outfielders who could turn into good power hitters. ``There's more quantity than in the past,'' he said.

Twins players take physicals during TwinsFest, and initial reports are that everyone checked out fine.

In addition to Twins baseball, Target Field will host the Big Ten Championships in May, the high school state championships in June and the RBI World Series in August.

With the new drink rails behind the right field foul pole, Target Field's capacity is down to 39,000 from around 39,500.

Every spring training game will be broadcasted by K-TWIN. FSN will televise seven spring training games. Bert Blyleven has signed on to work 100 games this year, again.

Finally, I've created a monster. I'm already getting mails and I'm being stopped on the street by fans wondering when the annual food guide to Fort Myers will come out. I promise there will be a 2014 guide by the time spring training games start. I will need some time to check out new spots and see if they deserve to be added to the list.

 

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