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.

Winter meetings Day One: Greetings from Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 9, 2013 - 10:07 AM

I was going to begin this by complaining about my flight last night from MSP, which was delayed three hours and forced me to arrive at the hotel at 3:10 a.m. But I just heard that ESPN's Jerry Crasnick was delayed 15 hours yesterday while trying to get out of Philly, so I'm not doing that bad!

Crashed around 3:50. Toss and turned. Woke up at 7:20 to prep for an 8:30 meeting. I will be fueled by Foldgers today. The funny part was when I shuffled out of my hotel room to head down. A guy in workout clothes is walking down the hallway and yells at me, ``you already hunting!''

He stuck out a hand. It was Mike Redmond, the human pick me up.

Several months ago, I predicted this would happen. The new TV contract would kick in, sending $25 million more to each major league team. I said at the beginning of the 2013 season that it would burn a hole through the pockets of these fat-cat owners.

Last week, more than $700 million was given out to free agents - that includes $73 million spent by the Twins on Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. And 26 teams added a player via trade or free agent signing, Derek Goold of the St. Louis Press-Dispatch pointed out.

And that just might have been the league stretching its legs. More is expected this week in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. at the annual winter meetings. Ervin Santana needs a home. Masahiro Tanaka could be posted. David Price could be traded. And a whole lot more.

As I pointed out in today's paper, Twins GM Terry Ryan is headed to the meetings with an open mind. If he has a chance to upgrade anywhere, he'll listen. Ryan and his staff flew in Sunday afternoon.

One thing that won't happen - and is usually a staple of the Twins visit to the meetings - is a Rule 5 selection. The Twins annually go into the draft with room on their 40-man roster to select someone. Seems unlikely this year.

``Thankfully we did that last year because we got (Ryan) Pressly and he was a good acquisition,'' Ryan said. ``It is possible (this year) but it is probably improbable.''

Ryan is expected to meet with teams and agents throughout the week as he searches for some offense and perhaps another starting pitcher. If the Twins make any room on their 40-man roster it will be to add a player through trade or free agency, a welcome change.

The first news of the day has been announced. The Hall of Fame Expansion Era Committee announced that Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre were all unanimously voted into The Hall. Among those not receiving 12 of the 16 votes required for election: Tommy John, Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner.

ESPN's Buster Olney couldn't resist with the following tweet: ``George Steinbrenner finishes a half-dozen votes short of HOF induction. I'd bet he wouldn't have been thrilled that Torre got in before him.''

The Expansion Era committee meets every three years. Next year, the Golden Era Committee will look at candidates who contributed to the game from 1947-72. Then the Pre-Integration Era will meet in 2015 to examine candidates from baseball's origins to 1946.

Headed to the lobby now. Hope to check in this afternoon with updates.

``

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