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.

So long, Jason Kubel

Posted by: La Velle E. Neal III under Vikings draft Updated: December 19, 2011 - 10:09 AM

When I spoke with Jason Kubel on Sunday night, he knew he was headed elsewhere but just didn't want to say.

``Check with me tomorrow,'' he said.

Oh, Jason, it's hard for anyone to keep a secret these days. Early this morning, reports that Kubel had agreed to a deal with the Diamondbacks began to surface. Now is reporting that he's off to the D-Backs for two years and $15 million.

That's a great deal for Kubel. During another conversation last night, someone asked me what I thought Kubel would get. I guessed $5-6 million a year. I was told he was going to get more than that, and he did. So Kubel gets to play in a hitter's park for a nice chunk of change. Only two other parks in the National League yielded more home runs per game than Chase Field last season, according to

I don't think we've seen the best of Kubel. The guy can hit and hit for some power. After letting Target Field get into his head in 2010, he came back with a different a approach and was locked in pretty good when he hurt his foot in Detroit on May 30 and never recovered. He had an .820 OPS at the time of the injury. He hit well when he first came back from the injury in July but the foot never fully healed and his OPS during the second half dropped to .702.

If he's healthy, he's going to hit in that park. He has a very good chance to match his 2009 numbers when he batted .300 with 28 homers and 103 RBI. He'll be in a pretty good lineup, with Justin Upton, Ryan Roberts, Stephen Drew and the impressive young power hitter, Paul Goldschmidt. And Kubel gets to see Michael Cuddyer in NL West action.

This offseason has become more about who's left the Twins than whom they've added. Kubel, Cuddyer and Joe Nathan are gone and the team hasn't come close to replacing them. They don't even have young players ready to take over.  Granted, Terry Ryan had a long list of issues to address when he took over for Bill Smith, but this has not been a great offseason.


With Kubel, a Type B free agent leaving, the Twins will get another draft pick as compensation.

 They will have the No. 2 overall pick in the draft (no, they don't drop to third for signing Josh Willingham, that pick is protected).

They will have two picks in the supplemental round, for losing Michael Cuddyer, a Type A free agent, to Colorado and Kubel to the D-Backs. Based on a couple models I've seen, the Twins should get the 38th pick for losing Cuddyer and the 49th for losing Kubel.

The Twins' second round pick should be the 65th overall.

The Rockies' first round pick is protected since it's in the top 15 of the first round. If the Rockies' pick would have been in the second half of the first round, the Twins would have slipped in front of them in the first-round draft order, but that's not the case.

 The Twins will draft in front of Colorado in the second round, which is No. 74 right now.

At worst, the Twins will have five of the top 74 picks in next year's draft. I'm in the process of checking these projections and will adjust them if I hear something different.



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