The Cleveland Indians will try to take advantage of their new momentum this weekend as they venture north to take on the Minnesota Twins (owners of the American League’s worst record) in a three-game series. It’s been a while since we’ve squared off against the AL Central cellar-dwellers, so I talked to Puckett’s Pond Co-Editor Hayden Kane about the Twinkies’ attitude towards the trade deadline and outlook for the rest of the season, as well as whether the Indians acquiring Josh Willingham or Francisco Liriano is a realistic possibility.
- The Twins have the worst record in the American League and no chance of making the playoffs. What (if anything) are Minnesota fans excited to see in the next couple months?
I think the focus has appropriately shifted to being excited about individual players as a way to look to the future. Presuming they keep him (more on that in a minute) the power hitting of Josh Willingham is worth watching, along with the emergence of Scott Diamond in the starting rotation and Jared Burton in the bullpen. Depending on what happens in the next four days, we might also be able to add newly acquired players to this watch list.
What do you expect the Twins to do at the trade deadline?
I would say that I definitely expect them to end the enigmatic Francisco Liriano era. I have been trying to get a feel for this situation ever since I started with Puckett’s Pond a couple weeks ago, and it just seems like they know they need to try to get some value for him now rather than pay him too much per season as a free agent. I also expect them to explore moving Matt Capps after the July 31st deadline. I do not know if that will be possible, but I believe they will try. My instinct is that the other players mentioned in rumors, ranging from Justin Morneau to Glen Perkins to Josh Willingham, will ultimately stay in Minnesota. But as we know these things can change quickly.
- The Indians have been connected to both Francisco Liriano and Josh Willingham. What do you want for them?
In short, a haul for either of them. I believe the asking price for Willingham will remain so high that they end up keeping him and feeling good about it. As for Liriano, whether or not they can cling to a high asking price will depend on his start Sunday.
- Who’s pitching for the Twins this weekend, and what should Tribe fans expect from them?
Friday night it will be the lone bright spot in the rotation, Scott Diamond. To be frank, that is the only night that Tribe fans should count on a good competitive start from the Twins. Diamond consistently keeps the team in games and logs 6 or 7 innings.
Samuel Deduno is still quite raw. Everything he has moves a ton, unfortunately his fastball is really his only big league ready pitch at the moment. He has still managed to deliver some quality performances for the Twins in a small sample size. The key for him is fastball command; if he struggles in that regard, the Indians should be able to tee off.
As for Liriano on Sunday: your guess is as good as mine. He might strike out 12 and he might not make it out of the second inning.
- What’s your prediction for the series?
Based on recent results, I predict that the Indians are able to get healthy against the Twins. If they do not sweep, I believe they will get a series win on the road.