Twins Series Preview: Q&A with Jesse Lund of Twinkie Town

Say it ain't snow, Joe! Seriously though, we need good weather this week. - Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

With the A's and Twins squaring off for three games in Minnesota, I asked Jesse Lund of Twinkie Town a few questions about his favorite team. Here's what he had to say!

If the first week of your season is characterized by fielding errors, blown saves, poor luck and rain delays, and you come out of it with a 3-3 record, you should probably be happy about it. Sure, this team could easily be 4-2 right now and it's not a stretch to say they should be 5-1 (if Donaldson's hit goes one more foot on Opening Day). But the entire league is off to a mediocre start with no one setting themselves apart yet, so .500 is an adequate place to be right now in the early going. The A's will get a chance to pad that record this week in what will be their only visit to Minnesota this season.

These are the expected pitching match-ups for the series:

Mon: Scott Kazmir vs. Kevin Correia
Wed: Jesse Chavez vs. Phil Hughes
Thu: Dan Straily vs. Mike Pelfrey

No, that's not a typo. The series starts Monday for the Twins' home opener, and then everyone gets Tuesday off before playing the final two games. I called Bud Selig to ask him about it, and he said he'd get back to me in about five years. The A's have the clear upper-hand in the Monday and Thursday pitching match-ups, but Chavez vs. Hughes is a battle of two completely unpredictable commodities. Chavez is still proving himself, and you just never know what you'll get out of Hughes -- eight sparkling innings, or four outs, seven runs and an arm injury?

1. The Twins spent a lot of money this winter revamping their starting rotation. Was this a good idea, and if so, are you happy with the guys they signed?

JL: Of all that is good and holy in this universe, yes, it was a good idea. There were certainly other ways of going about upgrading that abysmal excuse of a rotation, but this isn't the time for this franchise to be dealing from their minor league depth for Major League talent. Free agency was the best option, even if I don't fully endorse all of their decisions.

Ricky Nolasco, for all the money and all the years and all of his foibles, I understand. Ownership dictated that Terry Ryan be decisive in free agency when addressing the rotation, and that's exactly what Ryan did: he gave Nolasco big money pretty early, and set a record for the biggest free agency contract in team history in the process. Then the Twins added Phil Hughes (3 years, $28 million) and brought back Mike Pelfrey (what?), and that's where my vision for the team's future and the club's vision diverge, but I give them credit for knowing that they didn't have the pieces to internally fill more than one or two spots. Kevin Correia was just coming out of the first year of his deal and they gave another spot to Kyle Gibson, but the front office was in on everybody.

2. Joe Mauer is now one week into his new life as a 1B/DH. How is he taking to that move so far, and do you think it was the right choice to move him out from behind the plate?

JL: He's taking the move in stride, which is a good thing considering he made the decision. He knew that the earlier he made that call, the more time Terry Ryan would have to make the corresponding moves in putting a team together, so it happened early -- which is nice. And we all know that Joe Mauer is nothing if not nice. And amazing at hitting baseballs.

Do I think it was the right choice? Absolutely, and I'm glad he did because the organization wouldn't have forced him to move. The Twins (and their fans) are a bit trigger shy when it comes to concussions - thanks to the whole Justin Morneau situation -- and so that maybe made us all a bit more sensitive to the issue than we might otherwise have been, but there's no denying that sitting behind the plate gives a guy more opportunities to get hit in the head. As Morneau proved, you can get a career-altering concussion regardless of the position you play, but ultimately this move was about mitigating those chances and keeping the team's best player on the field.

3. With recent top-100 prospects like center fielder Aaron Hicks, right fielder Oswaldo Arcia and starting pitcher Kyle Gibson set to play full seasons in Minnesota this year, and current top-5 prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano (out for 2014 with Tommy John surgery) working their way up the system, how long do you think it will be until the Twins can compete in the AL Central? And was has to happen for them to get there?

JL: The future is bright for the Twins, and I think most fans are pretty excited for the next couple of seasons. There's so much depth in that minor league system, and it's depth in terms of upside as much as it is quantity. Guys like Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Lewis Thorpe, and Adam Brett Walker are all capable of being pretty good players in the future -- having blue chips like Sano, Buxton, Meyer, and Stewart in the pipe just makes it that much more exciting.

Not all prospects come through, of course, and so to actually turn the team around the front office needs to keep drafting well, which I guess is easier when you're drafting in the top five, and find ways of bringing in legitimate Major League talent so that, when those young guns finally do arrive, they're surrounded by quality players. You don't want the young guys to have to do it all on their own.

Byron_buxton_mediumOutfielder Byron Buxton, 20 years old, is the consensus No. 1 prospect in baseball.

4. Looking around the diamond, at which position do you think the 2014 Twins are weakest? As an outsider, my first thought would be Arcia because I saw him butcher some fly balls last year, but he's only 22 and he's already a decent hitter with some pop. So, I'd probably go with a toss-up between third baseman Trevor Plouffe (lots of power, no defense) and shortstop Pedro Florimon (all defense, career 66 OPS+). Who would you pick, as someone who watches the team every day?

JL: In general I'd say the bench, simply because it exposes the lack of depth and talent on the Major League roster. But specifically, I'd disagree on Arcia (turns 23 in May), who was a .314/.376/.540 hitter in the minor leagues. He's talented enough to turn into legitimate middle-of-the-order hitter ... although you're right, he has looked miserable on some of those routes in the outfield. The Twins need him to get better in that regard.

I'd agree that Plouffe and Florimon are probably the easiest targets. Plouffe is an obvious platoon candidate since he destroys lefties, but Florimon is, ideally, your backup infielder who can play three positions pretty well and can run. He's maddeningly inconsistent. Otherwise, I might actually say catcher. Josmil Pinto has a minor league track record as a hitter but we're still dealing with a very small Major League sample size and, as nice of a guy as Kurt Suzuki is, ideally he's a backup.

5. Minnesota extended closer Glen Perkins for four years and $22 million this winter, after he'd put up his third straight monster season and reached his first All-Star Game. Was extending him the right move after a career year, or would you have rather seen the team trade him for prospects since clubs in the Twins' position on the winning curve don't really need All-Star closers?

JL: Pre-extension, yes, I would have thought the Twins' future would have been better suited to see what they could get for Perkins. Joe Nathan was just as efficient (if not more so) than Mariano Rivera at closing out ballgames for the better part of a decade, and Perkins' 2013 was arguably better than any season Nathan put up with the Twins. Having said that I have no problems with the Twins extending him, for a couple of reasons.

First, signing a reliever of Perkins' quality to such a team-friendly contract doesn't hurt his value. Nor does it make him less attractive. If anything, if the Twins want to shop him around later this season or over next winter or in 2015, as far as I'm concerned it adds value -- having one of the game's best closers under a contract that pays no more than $6.5 million in a season will be seen as an asset of incredible value. And rightfully so.

Second, one of Minnesota's stated goals this winter was to create a positive atmosphere in the clubhouse this season. To do that you not only need to have good players around, but you need to show your own players and potential free agents and potential trade targets that you're willing to do what's necessary to keep your best players in the fold. You can argue that maybe this wasn't the time to do that and that there are other positions better suited for mutli-year, multi-million dollar deals, but the Twins don't have that many guys on the roster who are worth the effort.

To be honest, I also don't think they wanted to give the fans one more sucker punch to the balls by trading Perkins. Ownership was embarrassed by the on-field product last season. So, I understand what they did -- even if I would have done things differently.

Glen_perkins_mediumEvery time I read the name Glen Perkins, I hear it in the voice of Rob Lowe's character from Parks & Recreation. Glen Perkins!

6. Brian Dozier is a second baseman who has some power, posted good defensive metrics last season and has several more years of team control. He also looks like he would play best as part of a platoon with a lefty. Like, say, Eric Sogard. What I'm saying is, can we please have him?

JL: During the SB Nation Mock Winter Meetings, I traded him to Oakland straight up for A.J. Griffin. If Griffin was healthy, I'd still do that in a heartbeat. He looks like a young Dennis Miller, though. It's the eyes, man. The eyes.

7. Catcher Josmil Pinto posted a .963 OPS in an extremely small sample last year (83 PA's) and already hit a homer in the first game he played in 2014. Given that the Twins signed Oakland fan favorite Kurt Suzuki this winter, how much playing time do you think Pinto will get behind the dish?

JL: That's all down to Pinto. If he keeps hitting when he's given a start, and if he keeps working on his footwork behind the plate and works on building relationships with his starting pitchers, then over time Gardy will give him more and more opportunities. For now I'm expecting more of a 70/30 or 60/40 split with Suzuki getting more time, but yes -- if he plays well, he'll be the team's everyday catcher.

8. Will Josh Willingham hit game-winning home runs in two games in this series, or in all three?

JL: If he wasn't day-to-day I'd put money down on one game. Poor guy took a fastball to the wrist today. As of this writing, the Twins just called up Chris Herrmann -- which means either Willingham or Arcia will be hitting the DL with wrist issues. The A's may not see either of them. (Editor's Note: It ended up being Jason Bartlett who was sent to the DL with a sprained ankle to make room for Hermann.)

Thank you, Jesse, for participating in the Q&A!

The series begins in ... two freaking hours? But it's Monday, dagnabbit! Well, for some reason the Twins want to have their home opener at three o'clock local time on a Monday when everyone is at work. To be fair, I've heard it can get slightly cold in Minnesota, so maybe April night games are not preferable. First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. our time, Kazmir vs. Correia. Josh Willingham is out of the lineup, so we don't have to worry about him ruining our day, and the Twins' cleanup hitter (Chris Colabello) is a 30-year-old who hit .194 last year. Excellent.

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