Scenes from the Winter Meetings: Elephants? OK, elephants.

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It’s been a strange first day of the Winter Meetings for me. The Hilton Anatole here in Dallas is larger than some European countries, and getting from place to another is a major undertaking. There’s also stuff like this all over the place:

source:

There’s a matching elephant just out of the frame on the left.  I don’t know either. It goes with the giant atrium. Everything is bigger in Texas.

Also, this morning was on a panel for the Sports Management World Wide Career Conference. Joining me was ESPN’s Jayson Stark and Biz of Baseball’s Maury Brown. Here’s us. We’re cute.  The topic: the new collective bargaining agreement and its implications.

Stark noted a couple of times that this or that issue wasn’t totally settled yet even though the agreement is done.  It sort of dawned on me as he was talking that there are many, many such things and that in a lot of ways this CBA is literally half-baked.  It’s almost as if the union and the league are so comfortable with each other and have such a clear mandate from their constituencies (i.e. the owners and players) that they sort of took a “don’t worry, we’ll figure it out” approach.  It’s just worrisome.

There haven’t been any signings or deals since the Reyes thing last night, but much continues to go on down here. Several managers are going to walk in here in a little while and let us ask them questions. As per tradition, I plan on asking them if they would like Hideki Matsui in their lineup.

More later.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.