View from the other side: Twins questions for Jesse from Twinkie Town

Hannah Foslien

We have our second series of the season with the Twins. You might remember the double header in Minny. It was far less than fun. The Twins are 29-32, last in the AL Central, but just 5 games back of the Tigers in first.

I sent off some questions to Jesse manager of Twinkie Town and he sent me back answers (isn't that surprising). Here they are:


What do you think about the Kendrys Morales signing? I’ll admit I’m surprised the Twins signed him.

I think we're all surprised. This didn't leak ahead of time to anybody. Twins media circles were, down to the last person, asking each other what the hell just happened.

I like it. No, it doesn't make the Twins contenders, but it makes them better without mortgaging the future. That's a tough thing to do in the best of circumstances, so you have to give Terry Ryan and the front office credit for sniping him from more likely suitors. The only drawback is that some people think he'll take at-bats away from younger, developing guys like Josmil Pinto and Danny Santana. That's true to an extent, but Gardenhire hasn't been giving Pinto DH duties for weeks anyway, and Santana doesn't need DH at-bats to get playing time. So, personally, I think Morales' addition will have a minimal impact on either one of those players.

Morales has been facing living pitching, but because he's not injured and he's out of options it meant the Twins had to add him right to the active roster. It will be some time before he plays regularly and, realistically, some time before he's hitting like he's capable of hitting. But there's no doubt he makes this offense better. You can find our Morales coverage here.

Are there any prospects you are expecting the Twins to call up in the next couple of months?

Pitchers Trevor May (2.80 ERA, 61 IP, 63 K, 1.13 WHIP) and Alex Meyer (3.30 ERA, 62.2 IP, 75 K, 1.26 WHIP) are both in Triple-A and about as ready as ready can be. They could both step into the rotation right now and make the Twins starting five better, but until the Twins are as bold with Kevin Correia as they were with Morales, and until Samuel Deduno truly pitches himself out of the job, the Rochester Red Wings are doomed to have one of the best rotations in Triple-A.

There's also a bullpen arm or two that I'm looking forward to seeing come back - Michael Tonkin and, just because he's the last remnant of the Johan Santana trade, Deolis Guerra. But other than May and Meyer, we won't see any of the Twins' other top prospects this year.

Can we have a quick scouting report on the starting pitchers we’ll see?

You'll see Ricky Nolasco tonight. He's had a rough season, but I'm losing count of the number of good starts we've seen from him that are ruined because of one bad inning. His last time out he'd allowed one run going into the seventh but then, whoops, three-run homer. He's getting more fly balls than he has since 2010, and he's been giving up more home runs per fly ball, too. There's just been more contact in general this year, and that's carried over into fewer swinging strikes and fewer strikeouts, too.

Tomorrow night you'll face Kevin Correia. You're welcome, probably.

Then on Wednesday you'll see Phil Hughes, who has been better than anyone could have imagined so far this year. He's been one of the most effective starters in the American League to date, he's getting strikeouts, and he's also ditched the slider and gone back to the cutter again. Hughes has been aggressive in the strike zone and has been successful up in the zone, and I think I can fit the word 'zone' into this paragraph one more time. Zone.

With Mauer moving to first base, who is catching for the Twins? How are they doing?

Kurt Suzuki and Josmil Pinto have been the catchers this year. Suzuki has been a revelation, hitting .297 with a .367 on-base percentage. He's been patient and probably a little lucky.

Pinto, meanwhile, is the catcher for Sam Deduno and Kevin Correia. He was also the team's primary designated hitter when there was a third catcher on the team, but now that that's no longer the case his playing time is diminished. It's unfortunate, because when he was playing regularly he added some punch to the bottom of the lineup. He's in a bit of a funk now, and he really struggles defensively (he's thrown out exactly 0% of would-be base stealers), so unless Gardy can find ways to get him involved I wouldn't be surprised to see the Twins send him to Triple-A.

Otherwise, Pinto will start seeing more playing time as Suzuki's performance continues to trend back to his career norms.

Danny Santana was called up and is leading off, he has pretty good numbers, .361/.395/.472, what do you expect from him in the long term?

He's hitting .361 thanks to a 33% line drive rate. Never one to take many walks in the minor leagues, he's been a bit of a godsend for the Twins. A natural shortstop, he's been playing a lot of center field to give Aaron Hicks a break - and he hasn't been terrible, which is about all you can ask considering he hadn't even experimented with the position in years. But right now he seems to be putting solid wood on the ball in almost every at-bat. His minor league track record insists it won't continue and so he'll come back to earth eventually, but then again nobody saw Brian Dozier coming, either. So we'll ride the hot hand while it lasts.

Long-term, I'd still be surprised if he's more than a utility or role player. He hasn't profiled as a starter, even with good instincts. His speed, arm, and contact have always been good traits, but they hadn't ever translated as well as we're seeing them translate now.

Who is your early season MVP?

It has to be Phil Hughes, but if I can't choose a pitcher then it's probably Brian Dozier. The Twins have had a lot of hot starts that cooled off at the plate, with the exception of Eduardo Escobar who is still pretty warm, but Dozier has been steady, productive at the plate, and very, very good at second base.

What else should we know about the Twins?

Most people might think they're outplaying their talent level. If the starting pitching doesn't improve, I'd probably agree. But if the front office can call up May and Meyer, if Nolasco can pitch better to match up with Phil Hughes and Kyle Gibson, and with a lineup featuring Joe Mauer, Kendry Morales, Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, and Brian Dozier...I think they'll surprise some people.

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