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Opposition Research: Brian Johnson Talks Minnesota Twins

The Indians continue their home stand as they welcome the Minnesota Twins to town for a three game set. Looking to get a little insight on one of our division rivals, and because any chance you can double the number of Brian’s on this site you almost always have to do it, I reached out to Brian Johnson of Puckett’s Pond to get an idea of what we can all expect and what he thinks of his team’s chances in 2013.

Wahoo’s on First: Last year was a tough year for the Twins. How do you feel about the 2013 version so far?

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Brian Johnson: I couldn’t be happier with their 12-12 record after going a combined 15-33 in April the last two years.  Our -3 run differential is a concern, but I am confident our bats will continue to warm with the weather.  Vance Worley and Mike Pelfrey have been an overall disappointment thus far, but Kevin Correia is exceeding expectations and can hopefully sustain his level of production. Our bullpen has been solid and Glen Perkins has emerged as a dominant closer.  Twins fans can’t get their hopes too high yet but this team is trending upward.  Like everyone in baseball though, it will come down to our starting pitching.  Top prospects Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, and Chris Parmalee also need to take the next leap if the Twins are to make serious noise in the Central.

Wahoo’s on First:What do you think the game plan should be with some of the Twins more prized assets? Do you think either Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau could be traded at some point this year or will the Twins try to build one more contender with them as the core?
Brian Johnson: I can’t see anyone wanting to trade for Mauer with that contract unless he restructured the deal and that’s not happening any time soon.  I can’t see Joe ever leaving Minnesota, and I firmly believe he will take a pay cut in a few years to keep the Twins core of talented prospects on the team for the foreseeable future.  Morneau will certainly be on the move if the Twins fall too far from contention.  He’s in the last year of his contract and would make an ideal rental player for any contender.  He is a beloved Twin, but Terry Ryan won’t hesitate to cut the cord for the right prospect(s).
Wahoo’s on First: How do you feel about the future of the Twins? There is a lot of hype surrounding both Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton in particular. Is it warranted in your opinion?

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Brian Johnson: The future is very bright for Minnesota.  Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are already top 20 prospects and will be in the top 5 next year.  You hear nothing but high praises for them and that’s coming from respected minds outside of the organization.  Alex Meyer, Kyle Gibson, and Trevor May all have all the makings of an ace and will hopefully anchor the Twins rotation for years to come.  2015 can’t come soon enough.

Wahoo’s on First: Who is pitching for the Twins this weekend and what can we expect from them?
Brian Johnson: Pedro Hernandez takes the bump in the opener and I honestly don’t know what to expect from him.  He only has five career starts never started a game, but has posted solid numbers in 15.1 IP this year (2.35 ERA and 1.17 WHIP).  Correia goes in game two and he has been our best pitcher so far.  He’s still a risk to get chased at any time and has struggled in May for his career.  Pelfrey will pitch the finale and he could get demoted if he doesn’t produce a quality start.  I’m not holding out hope for that unfortunately.
Wahoo’s on First: What is your prediction for the series?
Brian Johnson: This series will be a true test for Minnesota, as the Indians are red-hot, and I noticed how they man-handled Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, which makes me nervous about what they might do to our guys.  We just ran through the gauntlet of Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Anibal Sanchez in Detroit, so our hitter’s senses are certainly heightened.  That being said, I think they will split the first two, but Pelfrey will pull a rabbit out of the hat and pitch the Twins to a series win on Sunday.  You know I had to pick ‘em!

Tags: Byron Buxton Joe Mauer Justin Morneau Kevin Correia Miguel Sano

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