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Q&A with Twinkie Town’s myjah

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The Phillies square off tonight against a Twins team that is nearly as depressing as they are. We corresponded with Twinkie Town to commiserate.

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Phillies start a three-game series against the Twins tonight. In advance of the series, I asked myjah, the Managing Editor of SB Nation’s Twinkie Town about the Twins season. Below are her answers. You can read mine here.

1. Unlike the Phillies, the Twins came into the season with modest expectations and got off to a terrible start. At 21-48, the playoffs are certainly out of the question, but what are your expectations for the remainder of the season? Is there any way the season could play out that you will interpret as a success?

My expectations for the remainder of the Twins season are very low, as in, non-existent. I'm just numb by this point. I didn't expect the Twins to be anywhere near this bad.

If the Twins won every game for the rest of the year, I would consider that a success. If the young prospects (i.e., Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, etc.) can get going on the major league level, that would be a semi-success. If Joe Mauer went on a torrid hot-streak and got back in the batting title discussion, that would be a full success to me. I'm just not expecting any of these things to actually happen.

2. Why have the Twins struggled so much for the first half?

Why haven't they? Seriously, Prince did not die for this [redacted]. Seriously. There's just been a number of issues:

* Our pitching is terrible: We have Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, and Ricky Nolasco "holding down" most of the rotation and they've all been not good (and are under contract for multiple ensuing years. Shoot me.) Kevin Jepsen has attempted to close for most of the year and I very honestly mean "attempted" because he has a 5.46 ERA and has blown four of his 11 save opportunities (although it feels like even more).

* Our younger players have not been able to step up as we'd hoped: Our opening day center fielder, Byron Buxton, was sent down for about a month. Our opening day left fielder, Eddie Rosario, is back down in the minors currently. Our top pitching prospect, Jose Berrios, was called up briefly and sent back down. Our opening day right fielder, Miguel Sano, didn't get off to a hot-start and is now injured. So on and so fourth.

* Injuries: These are never helpful. Most notably Glen Perkins went down early in the season and it was only just discovered he has a torn labrum. His career is probably over. Miguel Sano is rehabbing from a hamstring injury now. Phil Hughes broke his leg (maybe a blessing in disguise?). Starting pitcher Kyle Gibson, super utility guy Danny Santana, shortstop Eduardo Escobar, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, outfielder Max Kepler, and others have also all spent time on the DL.

* Bad defense: The Twins have a bit of a reputation for relying on "pitch to contact" type pitchers. Well when you have those types of pitchers but then also decide to move Miguel freaking Sano to play in the outfield, guess what happens? Sano is supposed to be a third baseman, but the Twins claimed they wanted to keep Trevor Plouffe at third because his defense was better, and the DH spot is usually occupied by Korean acquisition Byung Ho Park. Oh, and guess what? Plouffe is having one of his worst defensive seasons ever.

* Bad luck: Especially earlier in the season, the Twins lost a lot of close games. It's not like it's been all blow-outs.

3. What's been the biggest bright spot for the Twins so far this season?

I was going to say alcohol, but considering the actual serious situation with our pitching coach Neil Allen, that feels inappropriate. So, uh, pass?

4. Coming from another team with a well-paid, veteran first baseman who many feel is under-performing, how are Twins fans dealing with Joe Mauer? What do they want to see him do or happen to him? Where does the hatred of Mauer come from?

I'm not exactly sure how much fans of other teams are aware of this, but there has been a very substantial and strong anti-Mauer subsection of Twins fans for the past five or so years. They think he's over-paid, lazy, faking injuries, doesn't hit enough home runs, and they are mad that he isn't Torii Hunter in the clubhouse. Even when Joe has done well these people are quite loud and pretty unreasonable.

A lot of these views of Joe have been perpetuated by particular local sports-media columnists, mostly because Joe doesn't like them or talk to them much (wonder why?). Torii Hunter used to just feed these writers golen them BS whenever they asked, and even now they call up Torii Hunter at his home in Texas to get soundbites for articles. A lot of the fandumb eats up these clearly outrageous columns about Mauer just quitting catcher or whatever because he's lazy, instead of because, you know, doctors at the Mayo Clinic advised him to.

Most of the fan base still loves Joe and roots for him. Overall, I still think Joe has given more in value to this team than he has been paid. I'm fairly disgusted by the anti-Mauer people.

5. What's the deal with Robbie Grossman?

I wish I knew. He's been playing historically fantastic out of nowhere. I read that the only other switch-hitter with 100 plate appearances and a higher OPS in a single season than Grossman is Mickey Mantle.

6. Between Miguel Sano not quite following up on his promising rookie season and both Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton struggling in their early appearances, where do you stand on the Twins future?

Where do I stand? The Twins have Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Jose Berrios, and none of them are over 23 years old. So I stand pretty good. I've seen Miguel Sano just absolutely mash taters, I've seen Berrios's curve ball make major-league veterans look absolutely silly, and I've seen Byron Buxton run. They all clearly have the talent and will be fine with more learning time. I feel like because people have heard about them for years, they don't realize how incredibly young all these guys still are.

7. The Twins have long struggled to find and develop good pitchers and this year doesn't seem to be an exception to that (only one starter has an ERA under 5.00). Where have they gone wrong? Is there any hope on the horizon?

Well, signing a bunch of mid-rotation, aging veterans to long contracts wasn't the best idea. Some other pitching prospects haven't panned out: The Twins went out and got Alex Meyer from the Nationals for Denard Span, and of course, Vance Worley and Trevor May from you guys for Ben Revere (and don't get me wrong, I loved Revere, but I did a laughing spit take when I saw that trade). Trevor May has been a valuable guy in our bullpen, but Alex Meyer has failed to pan out and Vance Worley left pretty early.

I don't know if it's true or not, but I almost feel like the Twins were desperately searching for their "new Brad Radke" for awhile and, quite obviously, did not find one. The pitch-to-contact focus stuff: it's a nice idea, but like I said, it doesn't work when you put people like Miguel Sano and Oswaldo Arcia in the outfield.

8. In many ways the Phillies organization, until last year, was very much like the Twins in that they seemed to value loyalty at the expense of quality. Does the Twins loyalty--to Terry Ryan, Paul Molitor, etc.--explain where they are now or is there more to it?

I think the Twins loyalty has been both a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing.

I think Terry Ryan is a good GM, but the other people assisting him in the front office aren't so much (especially former GM Bill Smith, who for some damn reason is still working for the Twins). Maybe Terry Ryan is totally out-of-touch now, but I'm not fully sure yet. I don't know who the Twins would get who'd be better. Last time we tried to replace Ryan we got Bill "I traded Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps and J.J. Hardy for a couple minor-league relievers" Smith.

As for Paul Molitor... Molitor is an extremely smart baseball man, but he was not who I wanted to be manager. I wanted Doug Mientkiewicz. Paul's very cerebral, smart, and sort of low-key, and I don't think it's the best choice for leading this young team. When Torii Hunter was around to do all the motivation and clubhouse stuff, Paul was fine. Now? not to much.

But the thing is, Doug Mientkiewicz is also a Twin and has been part of the organization for years both as a player and minor league manager. He's been exceptionally loyal to the Twins and the Twins to him. Everyone knows he's going to be the next Twins manager, I just wish it would have happened sooner. My prediction (and hope) is that Paul Moltior will "voluntarily" step down after the season and Doug will be our manager a year from now (if not sooner).

There's probably some Twins fans who want the team to go hire a new manager from outside the organization just for the sake of hiring outside the organization. But if the Twins pass on Doug or let him go elsewhere, I will literally go and burn down Target Field with my own two hands. He is the right guy and 100% deserves it.

Thank you to myjah for her responses. You can and should follow her on Twitter (@KirbysLeftEye) and read Twinkie Town. Our Q&A with Twinkie Town can be accessed by means of this hyperlinked text.