La Velle E. Neal III
See more of the story

La Velle's 3-2 Pitch: Three observations and two predictions on Sundays.

. . .

Bill Milos' sleuthing skills helped the Twins land Nick Anderson, who has since pitched in a World Series for the Rays in 2020.

Fred Guerrero was responsible for several international signings for the Twins, including Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sanó. Sanó recently flamed out, but at age 16, with his size and power, he was a great get.

Baseball scouts Milos and Guerrero have been responsible for dozens of players joining the organization through the years. But Milos is now out of a job and Guerrero has left for Kansas City. These are unfortunate recent developments for the Twins. Both pounded the pavement to turn up quality players. But financial considerations — the Twins aren't just pulling back on payroll — and strategical shifts have led to their departures.

Milos has been an amateur and professional scout for the Twins for more than 29 years. He advocated for the trade that landed Rule 5 pick — and future two-time Cy Young Award winner — Johan Santana. He pushed them to trade for Alexi Casilla, Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Núñez. He signed Josh Rabe, Pat Neshek, Joe Benson, Jeff Manship and others as draft picks.

Most recently, he was asked to scout independent baseball for help. That's how the Twins ended up with pitchers Randy Dobnak and Buddy Boshers. His best work might have been with Anderson, a Brainerd native who was charged with drunken driving in 2010 while at St. Cloud State and later was charged with second-degree assault with a deadly weapon.

Milos spent hours on the phone with Anderson, who had landed in the Frontier League following college, to get a sense of where his mind was. He even spoke with Anderson's parole officer before recommending him. The Twins signed him in 2015 but traded him three years later to Miami. In four big-league seasons, Anderson has a career 2.93 ERA as a reliever.

Milos isn't the guy you get rid of. He's the guy you let do his thing. But the Twins are trying to streamline their scouting department and rely more on analytics. So Milos was let go last week, along with scouts Rafael Yanez and Mike Larson, son of longtime Waseca coach Tink Larson.

Guerrero, the director of Latin American scouting, has a wealth of connections and outlasted other scouts to land Sano, who was a physical specimen as a teen. Moreso than moving money around, the Twins are restructuring how they proceed in Latin America. Roman Barinas has been brought on to replace Guerrero, but the Twins will fill the other three positions from within.

How do you let go of someone who successfully mines talent from the independent leagues? How do you end a relationship with someone who landed All-Stars in Sano and Polanco? Change is inevitable in baseball, but the Twins better be right about these decisions.

How about Gophers-Tommies?

The St. Thomas men's basketball team won 19 games last season, its second as a Division I program. There is curiosity around town about a matchup someday with the Gophers.

A hockey doubleheader between the two men's and women's teams last month attracted a healthy crowd to the Xcel Energy Center. What about hoops?

"I'm not saying we'd beat them. I'm saying we'd love to play them," said St. Thomas coach Johnny Tauer, who last Sunday won his 250th game at St. Thomas. "I think it would be a great game for the state."

Gophers coach Ben Johnson knows Tauer well and is aware of the clamoring for a Gophers-Tommies matchup, but scheduling such a game will be a challenge.

"Nothing against those guys," Johnson said. "I just think, right now, for us I don't know if that makes much sense. Down the road, maybe look at it and think about it."

Translation: The Gophers would never hear the end of it if they lost.

Soccer controversy

Barnsley, which plays in League One — the third tier of soccer in England — has been kicked out of the annual FA Cup competition for fielding an ineligible player. That's the club run by Khaled El-Ahmad, who will start as the Loons chief soccer officer sometime next year. It's the first time a team has been booted from the tournament since 2006.

This is not the first time Barnsley has dealt with drama. In 2022, it had to terminate a shirt sponsorship deal with HEX, a cryptocurrency website, after homophobic and sexist social media posts were linked to people involved in the transaction.

Should Loons fans get nervous about who's coming to run the shop? These developments are concerning, but Minnesota United CEO Shari Ballard and the club surely vetted all of this before selecting El-Ahmad. Loons fans should be more concerned if El-Ahmad botches the coaching hire.


Bears breakdown

The Bears will lead the Vikings in the fourth quarter on Monday but will throw a big interception, lose a fumble or give up a special teams score — because that is what they do. Vikings win 23-17.

Boldy breakout

Kirill Kaprizov is not himself at the moment, but Matt Boldy has a 3.2 shooting percentage that can't and won't continue. Look for Boldy to find the net on Sunday to kick off a scoring surge.