Behind Enemy Lines: Starting the 2013 season off right with Twinkie Town

J. Meric

The writers of Twinkie Town, SB Nation's Minnesota Twins blog, were kind enough to answer a few questions we had about their team leading into the 2013 season.

We experimented with a couple of Q&A's last year during the playoffs and had some spectacular results, so they are back for 2013! We spoke with Jesse of Twinkie Town about the Minnesota Twins prior to today's Opening Day game at Target Field.

1. Center fielder Aaron Hicks has the misfortune of facing Justin Verlander in his first major league at-bat on Monday. Other than that, there seems to be a lot of optimism surrounding him. Can you tell us why Twins fans are so excited about him?

I'd put the caveat of "cautious" on the optimism. People are excited about him because he's a very talented position player who has the potential to do everything Denard Span or Ben Revere could do, and more. He's also the first of what promises to be a group of six or seven very good position players that will reach the Majors in the next two or three years. Having said all of that, people are cautious because he's still pretty young (he turned 23 in October), he swings and misses a lot, he hasn't been able to use his speed to its full potential in terms of being an effective and efficient base stealer, and at times ones of his biggest strengths (getting on base by taking walks) has been described as "passiveness" and not "strike zone judgement". He hasn't played a game above Double-A, either. So yes - we're absolutely excited. But I also think it's fair to say that we expect a lot of bumps and bruises on the path to seeing him become the player he's capable of becoming.

2. I thought the Twins got the better end of the deal that brought Vance Worley to the Twin Cities. How do you feel about Worley's potential and what he can bring to the franchise?

I think the Twins got better off this deal too, in the long run. Worley's potential is limited only by your expectations of what he's capable of. I see him as a pitcher who is durable enough to consistently give the team 30+ starts per year in the future, but I'd also expect his swinging strike percentage (and therefore his strikeout rates) to take a dip. At his best I see him as a consistent and reliable number 3.

3. Over at BYB, we have a feeling that Pedro Florimon will be a thorn in our side for years to come. Is he "the man" at shortstop for the Twins, or just a placeholder for someone currently developing in the minors?

Oh, man! If you guys think Florimon's gonna be the guy, then I'll have what you're having. I know that Gardy likes him, and he has that typical Twins-Middle-Infield-Thing where he can play multiple defensive positions adequately while also being a black hole at the dish. Maybe that's what it takes to be one of those thorns in someone's side - being the player who shouldn't beat you but does anyway? Never ask my dad about Mark Lemke and the '91 World Series. It almost doesn't matter that the Twins won it. Anyway - I personally doubt that Florimon will be that guy. But I'd be happy if you're right. I should also say that he's not holding the spot for anyone in the minors in the near future, although maybe a guy like Jorge Polanco or Niko Goodrum could surprise us.

4. Speaking of offseason deals, I'm going to touch on a sore subject: Kevin Correia. Is there any optimism around Twins camp with this guy, or is that deal (2 years/$10 million) as bad as it seems on paper?

LA-LA-LA-LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA-LA-LA-LA...

I think Carlos Villanueva got the exact same deal, which is frustrating. But then you look at what other pitchers got for two years: Brandon McCarthy got two and $15.5 million, Joe Blanton got two and $15 million. By those standards it's not an awful deal, and if you trust WAR to tell you whether a deal is a good one or not then all Correia has to do is be worth a shade over one win above replacement. But it's depressing you have to pay millions for that when you could gamble on a much cheaper option to get an equal chance of the same result. I understand that the Twins needed starting pitching desperately, and I understand that better pitchers didn't want to come to Minnesota right now, and I understand that the Twins probably had to overpay to get someone to come in. We're not a good team right now. But $10 million for Correia still doesn't look good no matter how you cut it.

5. Justin Morneau played in 134 games last season and put up some decent numbers (.267/.333/.440 with 19 home runs and 77 RBI) but still wasn't quite the terror that we saw from 2005 to 2009 while the Twins were dominating the AL Central. Will we ever see that version of Morneau again?

I think it's possible. 2011 was really a cheat, because Justin never looked ready to play. And going into last season he'd gone through a completely different off-season regimen of workout and diet (everything was specifically and strategically designed to give his body the best it could possibly have in order to put it in the best position to move past the post-concussion symptoms - you can't cheat the symptoms, but you can put the body in the best possible situation to deal with them), and you could see it in the shape of his body - thinner and leaner than we'd ever seen him. But as the season went on you could catch glimpses of his former self. Maybe having less muscle mass meant his power was sapped a bit in the last half of the year (especially down the stretch), but you could see him finding his swing and plate discipline slowly over the year. He might not be the monster he was from '06 to '10, but I can see him putting up better numbers again this season.

Once again, thanks to Jesse for taking the time to answer our questions during the craziness that is the start of the season. Be sure to check out Twinkie Town for all things Minnesota Twins throughout the season!

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