Talkin Twins with Twinkie Talk

This morning we had an article getting the Twins perspective from Twins blogger Parker Hageman of Over The Baggy. This afternoon we have another perspective from another Twins blogger, Steve Fetch from Twinkie Talk.

Twinkie Talk is a fellow member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and Yard Barker. They are also a part of the Fansided network. It’s a really well written Twins blog that has been around since the beginning of 2009.

Thanks a lot to Steve for taking time out of his schedule to talk with us.

Bronx Baseball Daily: It seems like a lot of Yankee fans preferred that the Yankees settle for the wild-card in order to avoid the Rangers and face the Twins. How do you feel about this from a Twins fans perspective?

Twinkie Talk: Based on how the recent games have gone, I can’t say I blame Yankees fans for wanting to face the Twins, especially when you consider how Cliff Lee has done against the Yankees. I think the Twins are better than the Rangers, but the Cliff Lee factor really narrows that gap.

BBD: How do you think the Twins matchup against the Yankees?

TT: I think the Twins matchup fairly well, or as well as anyone can, just based on team quality. They’re constructed much differently than the Yankees, but talent wise they stack up really well. Matchups wise it is a little farther away. Assuming CC and Pettite go games 1 and 2, the Twins don’t really have a right handed hitter who is a lefty killer, and other than Joe Mauer their lefties aren’t great against righties. On the flip side, the Twins only groundball pitcher this year was Liriano, and if there is a team that you need to keep on the ground, it’s the Yankees.

BBD: What is different about the Twins since last year’s ALDS?

TT: I guess I sort of answered that in the previous question, but the matchups aren’t terribly favorable. I do think the Twins are better in two areas that are key for playoff success: infield defense and the bullpen. Obviously the Twins don’t have a Rivera but I like their bullpen depth more than the Yankees and that could be a difference.

The infield defense is much improved. JJ Hardy and Orlando Hudson are probably the best defensive combo in the AL, and Danny Valencia has proven to be adequate at third base. The bullpen has made some good additions with Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes as well, but really they’re kind of the same old Twins.

BBD: Yankee fans generally consider Carl Pavano a joke, what’s his reputation from the Twins perspective?

TT: Pavano has been the Twins second best pitcher this year, and has been the workhorse in terms of IP, which I’m sure comes as a shock to Yankees fans. The Twins only gave up a PTBNL last August for him and it really has been one of Bill Smith’s best moves.

BBD: Discuss the new stadium, how does it change things?

TT: That’s a good question. I don’t think we’ll know for a few years exactly how it changes things, but some of the benefits (the roof, the noise) are gone somewhat, but it’s still an intimate park where the fans will have some sort of impact on the game. It also appears (again, based only on one year) that the park kills left handed power a bit. And lastly there is always the cold factor. It gets cold in the Northeast in the fall/winter, but you really haven’t experienced cold until you do it in the midwest.

BBD: What’s going on with Brian Duensing?

TT: Health wise Duensing appears to be fine. He had a tight arm during his last start but he supposedly is good to go for Game 3. Stuff wise I think he’s just dealt with some tired arm lately, so hopefully the week off + the playoffs will help in that regard.

BBD: How has Justin Morneau’s absence effected the team?

TT: Morneau’s absence has definitely hurt (he actually led the team in fangraphs’ version of WAR even though he played half the year) but thanks to Jim Thome it hasn’t been as bad as it could have. Thome has put up great stats, and if Morneau had been in it probably would have been Thome’s at-bats that would have been taken, so the difference is definitely less than it could have been.

BBD: Talk about the state of the offense/rotation/bullpen.

TT: The offense certainly has struggled lately, that’s for sure. The strengths and weaknesses are pretty evident in the team: They walk a lot, and don’t strike out much, but they don’t have a lot of power and because of all of these factors they hit into a ton of double plays. I would say they’re definitely better against righties than lefties, but really I think they could go any possible way offensively in this series.

The rotation has been very good with Liriano and Pavano at the top, and Duensing has the possibility to have dominant starts. Nick Blackburn is probably going to start game 4, and while he has had good starts in big games in the past, it probably is a bit of a throwaway game. I don’t really see anyone throwing a no hitter or anything, but I don’t expect anyone to get bombed either.

Bullpen wise, I really have no idea. The Twins have some big names at the back of the bullpen, but their best reliever has been Jesse Crain. Because they only perform in 1 inning or less samples, their performance is completely magnified, and regardless of what happens the pitchers either aren’t as good or aren’t as bad as they appear.

BBD: What are the benefits and disadvantages for the Twins in a short series?

TT: I think the benefit is that Liriano and Pavano have been great at the top of the rotation. That’s probably the most important thing. As far as disadvantages go none come to mind right away, but I do think the team will have it in the back of their mind that they’re facing the Yankees once again in a first round series, though I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as the media makes it out to be.

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