Dodgers vs. Twins Series Q&A with Andrew Bryz-Gornia from Twinkie Town

Hannah Foslien

Before the Dodgers and Twins face off at Target Field, let's take a look at how Minnesota has done so far this season.

The last time the Dodgers and Twins faced off, Casey Blake was a member of the Boys in Blue. Before they face off in a three game series, I sat down with Andrew Bryz-Gornia from Twinkie Town to talk about Minnesota's start.

DAVID LAUTERBACH:  Who's had the best start to the season?

ANDREW BRYZ-GORNIA: It's a tie between 3B Trevor Plouffe and 1B/RF Chris Colabello. Plouffe surprisingly developed some power upon being promoted to the majors a few years ago, but his weakness on offense was hitting for average as he was a dead-pull hitter. However, this year he's learned to hit to the opposite field, as evidenced by several of his 10 doubles going to right field, and his ability to go the other way has contributed to his batting average being over .300. Unfortunately he was hit in the upper arm by a pitch on Saturday and was removed from the game, so hopefully that injury isn't serious, because it's a huge offensive drop-off from Plouffe to backup infielder Eduardo Escobar.

AGB: As for Colabello, he was supposed to be platooning at DH with Jason Kubel to start the season, but early injuries to outfielders Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia opened the door for him and now he's the everyday cleanup hitter. He's one of the few Twins that isn't drawing walks by the truckload, but he's hitting over .300 and is second on the team in doubles with 9. Last year he spent most of the season in Triple-A, earning the International League MVP for Rochester by hitting .352/.427/.639, but he wasn't able to carry his success into the majors. However, that success has finally arrived and he's become one of the most dangerous hitters in the Twins' lineup. He's a lot like Joe Mauer where his power is to the opposite field, but as David Price learned last week, he'll also crush the inside pitch.

DL: Who's had the worst start to the season?

AGB: Well the obvious choice would be to pick SS Pedro Florimon as he's currently hitting .115/.193/.173, but he's one of those all-glove, no-bat players and thus not much should be expected from him anyway. Instead, I have to go with Mike Pelfrey, who many were hoping would be much better in his second year after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Instead, he's become worse as he's ceased to strike out batters, he's walking nearly twice as many hitters as usual, and the worst part is that his ability to suppress the long ball has disappeared. Add it all up and the Twins have a pitcher with a 7.32 ERA that also has a 2-year contract in hand, a move that many did not approve of during the offseason. His fastball velocity is down over a mile per hour which is really disheartening considering his MO is to pump fastball after fastball into the strike zone. Toss in his glacial pace on the mound and you can understand why Twins fans don't have much patience for him right now.

DL: What was a move the Twins should've made over the offseason?

AGB: If I had been asked this question when the season started, I would have said that the Twins needed to desperately improve their offense. Much of the focus was on the starting rotation, and rightfully so as it was the worst or second worst in many important categories last season, but the offense was pretty run-of-the-mill as well. Instead, since the entire group has shown an unprecedented amount of patience, the offense now seems just fine.

AGB: However, with Florimon's terrible start, I still feel that the Twins should not have been complacent with him and should have gone out to get Stephen Drew. Yes, the loss of a second round draft pick would have hurt, and despite their surprising start the Twins are not expected to be competing for a playoff spot this year, but giving Drew a three year contract would have helped the team over the next few years when the likes of Alex Meyer, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano bring the Twins back into playoff contention.

DL: How has Joe Mauer adapted to first base so far?

AGB: Defensively, I think Mauer has been doing fine this year. While it's a new full-time position for him, Mauer has had 56 appearances at the position over the past three years as manager Ron Gardenhire looked for ways to keep his bat in the lineup, so really it's not that new of a position for him. However, maybe it really is a change for him as he reportedly texted former teammate Justin Morneau and asked, "What do you do to keep yourself busy over here?" Now if he'd just stop striking out so often...

DL: What do you think of the Ricky Nolasco signing?

AGB: I absolutely loved the signing when it first was announced. While Nolasco is not a top of the rotation starter, he was immediately better than anyone else the Twins had thrown out there last season. Unfortunately, it hasn't looked good though as he currently has a 6.67 ERA, plus he's not striking out many hitters. I wouldn't be surprised if some fans will start accusing pitching coach Rick Anderson of telling Nolasco to pitch to contact more (a common discussion topic as the Twins have been at the bottom in strikeouts for several years now).

DL: Is there anyway Byron Buxton could be called up this year?

AGB: Buxton looked to be on the fast track through the minors after a strong showing last year, but then he sprained his wrist trying to make a diving catch in spring training and hasn't appeared in a game for Double-A New Britain yet. However, if he can keep raking at the plate, stealing bases, and playing strong defense, he'll be making a strong case to be in Minnesota before the end of the season. With Aaron Hicks struggling again this year, many will call for Buxton to be promoted quickly, but they did bring in Sam Fuld as a stopgap and any promotion before September would be a shock.

DL: What needs to happen for Minnesota to compete in the AL central this year?

AGB: The offense likely will not continue to draw more walks than the rest of the league, so when they return back to earth they'll need strong performances from Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia when they return from the disabled list. The pitching rotation also needs to turn it up a notch or two, as their only starter that has done well this year has been rookie Kyle Gibson (though Phil Hughes' secondary numbers have been excellent thus far). If Pelfrey or Kevin Correia continue to struggle, I wouldn't be surprised if they swap places with long reliever Samuel Deduno and his "crazy" fastball, who is in the bullpen only because the rotation was full.

DL: Who could you see being the Twins' MVP and Cy Young this year if you had to predict?

AGB: While Colabello and Plouffe have been raking at the plate, I believe the MVP should go to the player that performs in all facets of the game and thus it should go to 2B Brian Dozier. In fact, if it weren't for Joe Mauer, he would have been the team MVP last year as he led the team in home runs and was second in RBI, though that was more a testament of how mediocre the offense was last year. Dozier steals bases, he's developed a power stroke in the leadoff spot, and has become a good defensive second baseman after struggling at shortstop two years ago. Sorry to go all Ted Mosby on you, but here's a fun fact about Dozier: His 18 homers last year were a career high at any level he's played in professional baseball, so yeah, his power came out of nowhere.

AGB: The Twins' Cy Young winner is a tough one. The rotation isn't really that outstanding, and thus no one really has a clear path to being called the best. Kyle Gibson looks like the frontrunner right now, but I'd argue he's doing it with smoke and mirrors. Plus, after seeing Nick Blackburn and Scott Diamond in past years, I'm not going to get too attached to someone with a tidy ERA but poor secondary numbers. Instead, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the Twins' Cy Young winner is not even in the major leagues yet, but he will be by midseason: Alex Meyer. The tall righthander was acquired in the Denard Span trade, and his mid-90s fastball and sharp curveball give him the best stuff out of any current or future Twins starter this year. Oh, and he's reportedly found success with a new change-up grip, so he may have just become an even better pitcher now.

DL: Series prediction?

AGB: Nobody will win as all three games will be rained out.

AGB: Seriously though, in spite of the poor weather for the series, I'd say the Dodgers take two of three. The Twins have been reaping the benefits of drawing walks, but they face off against Zack Greinke and Dan Haren in the first two games, and those guys are not going to hand out any free passes. With the Twins' team batting average and power numbers being more pedestrian, I think they will struggle to score some runs against those two.

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