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.

MLB Winter Meetings, Day One - Morning Edition

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III Updated: December 5, 2011 - 10:54 AM


Good morning! It's Day One of the winter meetings at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, the same place where, in 2000, A-Rod signed the whopper 10-year $250 million contract with the Rangers.

The first thing we should learn today will happen in about 10 minutes, when the Veterans Committee announces which players from the Golden ERA, if any, have been elected. Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat are considered pretty good candidates, but Ron Santo might be the favorite. UPDATE: Santo is in. Kaat, Oliva fell short.

Hundreds of people already have arrived at winter meetings headquarters but many more are due in today.

Here are a couple things I picked up last night while catching up with club officials, agents and fellow hacks.

Agents now are speculating that Michael Cuddyer will end up back with the Twins. The belief is that the offer Cuddyer and his agent, Casey Close, expected isn't out there. That could change this week of course.

We know the Twins offered Cuddyer two years and $16 million during the regular season. That have since improved their offer. But my Spidey sense tells me that the Twins have not added a third year. There are teams in need of outfield help. The Giants might be looking for three new starters. Boston, freed of J.D. Drew's disastrous contract, could use an outfielder.

So there are many people here interested in what happens with Cuddyer. Me too. The Twins can't move forward with the rest of the their offseason until they figure out if they will have Cuddyer or not. I think Terry Ryan's comment: ``But you have to watch out for when the music stops; you don’t want to be left without a chair,'' was a message to Cuddy's camp to make up their minds.

Heard from two people last night that Jared Burton could be a sleeper. Burton, signed as a minor league free agent, has struggled with shoulder problems but, I was told, could be an excellent eighth inning guy when he's right. According to fangraphs, his average fastball is 91.8 miles an hour - but it has dipped to around 90 during his injury-plagued years.

  • The Japanese media want to talk to Ryan about free agent pitchers. They feel that pitchers like lefthander Tsuyoshi Wada if affordable on a Twins scale.
  • I can see the Twins going after someone like Jeff Francis. Don't see Edwin Jackson. An agent told me last night, ``Watch. Boras is going to wait until C.J. Wilson signs then claim Jackson is nearly as good.'' If Wilson gets $13 million a year, what is Jackson going to get? Too much for the Twins, I predict.
  • Heard that scout Bill Harford, who was with the Cubs, is now with the Twins. Great guy.
  • Since the Marlins are into splashy signings, doesn't it make sense for them to go after Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes once he becomes available? Seems like a no-brainer for South Beach.




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