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Dick Williams to the Hall of Fame

The first real news of the Winter Meetings has been announced,
and no, it has nothing to do with Johan Santana.

The Veterans Committee announced five new additions to the Hall of Fame this morning, and the most noteworthy electee _ at least from a Bay Area standpoint _ was former A’s manager Dick Williams. Williams, the manager of the A’s first two World Series champions in Oakland in 1972 and ’73, received 13 of 16 votes by the committee.

Initial reaction: The honor was long overdue. Williams also was the manager of the 1967 “Impossible Dream” AL champion Boston Red Sox, and also guided the 1984 San Diego Padres to the World Series. He also led the Montreal Expos to their only playoff appearance in 1981. He ranks 18th on baseball’s all-time list with  1,571 wins.

The other additions to the Hall are longtime NL manager Billy Southworth, former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, one-time Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley and Barney Dreyfuss, a Pittsburgh Pirates owner from 1900-32 who was instrumental in the creation of the World Series.

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The Winter Meetings

Arrived here at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville on Monday morning, and the joke was already making the rounds. Baseball’s Winter Meetings should be re-named the Santana Meetings, at least this year.

Make sense. A paltable buzz exists as baseball’s collective nation waits to see where Minnesota Twins two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana lands. According to multiple reports, the sweepstakes will come down to the Red Sox and Yankees, with each team upping its ante in recent days. The Yanks reportedly have given the Twins 24 hours to accept an offer that reportedly includes top-notch pitching prospects Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy and center fielder Melky Cabrera.

The Twins’ decision regarding Santana figures to have a direct impact on the A’s, because the loser of the Santana Sweepstakes likely will shift its focus to Dan Haren. If Haren becomes the No. 1 attraction, which he will be once Santana is traded, the A’s can hold out for an even better offer.

It’s early, but it shouldn’t be long before the news starts to trickle in. Stay tuned.