Lots of final thoughts from the Bellagio

Posted on December 11th, 2008 – 6:57 PM
By La Velle

We’re tired.

Four days of walking from the media room to the hotel lobby five times a day - with strategic stops at the elevator bank to stake out sources – has most of us worn down.

The winter meetings are over. The Yankees spent freely again. The Twins made no major moves, again. There’s plenty of offseason left for the Twins to come up with a third baseman and eighth-inning help, so we’ll see what happens.

Some thoughts

Twins GM Bill Smith said he’s comfortable with going to spring training with Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris as a third base platoon. But rest assured they are still talking to teams about third basemen.

Talks with the Rockies about Garrett Atkins have slowed down for now but there’s a chance the sides could get together again.

Seattle’s Adrian Beltre has placed the Twins on his no-trade list. But I don’t know how the Twins and Seattle can make a deal anyway. Beltre is going to walk after the 2009 season, which affects what the Twins are willing to give up in a deal. If the Twins don’t find a third baseman before the season starts I wonder if it would be easier to make a half-season rental deal.

I think Kevin Kouzmanoff would be a good fit. I think Ty Wigginton would be a good option if all else fails.

Look for the Twins to keep talking with the Cubs about Mark DeRosa, too, now that Cubs GM Jim Hendry doesn’t have to worry about Jake Peavy talk.

There are teams (Seattle, Philly, Colorado) that still need a corner outfielder, so Delmon Young might continue to see his name in trade rumors.

I wonder how large Boof Bonser looms in trade talks. He could be viewed as a low-risk mini-reclamation project for a team hungry for pitching.

The only reliever I’ve heard of who was attached to the Twins was Texas’ Joaqiun Benoit – but that was shot down by a Twins official. Does Bill Smith have something up his sleeve here?

Some highlights

It was cool to see a few more players around the winter meetings. I guess that’s what happens when you have it in Vegas.

In addition to Twins players Nick Punto and Joe Nathan, Ben Sheets, Milton Bradley, Jack Wilson and Derek Jeter were seen. Torii Hunter lit up the lounge when he stopped by Tuesday night.

There were many noteworthy former players here too. Eric Davis and Ellis Burks looked ready for a camp invite. Michael Tucker hasn’t played since 2006 and WAS in Vegas looking for a camp invite. George Brett, Frank Robinson and Al Kaline all commanded attention….

I’m finding out more baseball people are reading my blog. After writing about how great a prospect Jason Donald is, I was assailed by a scout from a NL team who disagreed.

I hopped on the elevator Tuesday to begin my work day, only to have it stop on the next floor to pick up Andy MacPhail, the former Twins and Cubs exec who now runs the Orioles. We began to chat.

“I’m trying to find out what the club I cover is going to do for a third baseman,” I said.

“I read your stuff,” MacPhail said. “Mark DeRosa? That would be a good pick-up for the Twins.”…

Ran into a few Upper Midwesterners during the week. One woman was embarrassed to approach me and had her friend ask who I was. Turns out her name was Meghan <sp?>, who works for the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks and was with other staff members at the meetings. They listen to KFAN all the time and, I hope, read the StarTribune. Anyway, hello Meghan and the rest of the Redhawks staff.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! gets big props. He made an unannounced run Tuesday night to In-N-Out burger and busted into the media room with 35 burgers and a tubful of fries. Talking about lifting spirits! Goodness, we’re so easy….

By the way, my boss mentioned the words, `Per,’ and `Diem,’ to me the day he found out the meetings were in Las Vegas. Well, I’ve only had dinner twice this week – and one of those times a buddy gave his credit card to the waitress without me knowing and picked up the whole tab! The media this week wore out a trail to a sandwich shop near the poker room to get some grub. Eating well at the winter meetings is hard to do….

Uber blogger Aaron Gleeman on Tuesday, like he’s done before, sat in on Ron Gardenhire’s press conference. He also joined us for the daily briefing with Twins GM Bill Smith and got a taste of what it’s like to try to get information from someone who doesn’t want any of his cards on the table. Gleeman was nowhere to be seen when Wednesday’s briefing took place…

I spotted Twins manager Ron Gardenhire in a haberdashery at the hotel. He under packed for the trip and needed to buy a jacket to wear the next day at the annual media-managers lunch. He purchased one sweater and one jacket that cost more than my hotel bill and airfare to Vegas. The jacket was tailored within two hours.

Gardy looked sharp the next day as we shared a table with Royals manager Trey Hillman and the Royals writers. It was like a homecoming for me. Kansas City Star beat writer Bob Dutton was my high school editor at the Star when I broke into the business in 1989 (I was responsible for him running out of red ink). MLB.com reporter Dick Kaegel was the Star’s Royals beat writer then and later helped me learn the ropes my first year on the Royals beat in 1995.

While eating, the sad state of the newspaper industry came up. And Phil Miller of the Pioneer Press produced the line of the day.

“This may be the first year that the writers have worse job security than the managers,” Miller said….


I’ll still monitor Twins news, but I’m on my own dime here after tonight. I’m switching hotels and laying low for a couple days – as well as one can lay low in Las Vegas.

Check this out for one person’s take of the winter meetings.

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