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Padres at Twins series preview: Q&A with Myjah of Twinkie Town

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Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When the Padres played the Twins for a pair of games back in May, a handful of us Gaslamp Ballers headed over to Twinkie Town's open game thread just to check it out. What we found there were some of the kindest, funniest, most knowledgeable baseball fans on the earth. After the series was over, I continued to check the site periodically and am never let down by their stable of fantastic writers. Since the Padres are in Twinnesota for a pair of games, I asked one of those great writers if she'd mind answering a few twinterview questions and she obliged. I mean, obviously she did; I wouldn't be writing this had she not.

Without further ado and to-do, here are my bad questions and Myjah's great answers:

The Twins and Padres have basically the same record this season (50-60 and 51-60, respectively) and neither team has had a .500 season since 2010. How do Twins fans cope with the rut and maintain interest?

Alcohol.

Somewhat more seriously, the future. The Twins have one of the best farm systems in baseball right now (number one according to SBN's Minor League Ball), including uber prospect Byron Buxton. GM Terry Ryan has done an excellent job restocking the Twins system after former (terrible) GM Bill Smith "stepped down" in November 2011. Bill Smith wasn't even exactly fired, because he still works for in the Twins front office, which is a nice little microcosm into how the organization works.

Twins fans have gotten to see some of that future talent this year in rookie Danny Santana, who has a .325 BA through his first 52 games, including five hits in his last game on Sunday. He's had just two fewer hits in his first 52 games than Rod Carew had in his first 52, and the highest OPS+ by any 23 year-old Twins hitter not named Joe Mauer. He played shortstop his whole minor league career, but Gardy has decided to play him in center field instead (don't ask) and he's taken to it great. Keep in mind Danny Santana was rated as the ninth best prospect in the Twins system by Baseball America. That's what is keeping Twins fans going.

In the same vein as my last question, who do the majority of fans seem to place the brunt of their blame on: the players, the coaching staff, or the front office?

This is a great question because there is literally no majority consensus. You could find a Twins fan who places the blame on almost anyone in the organization. Many fans blame Ron Gardenhire, which seems a little ridiculous to me; you can only polish a turd so much. Many fans blame the total lack of competent starting pitchers or pitching coach Rick Anderson. Many fans blame Joe Mauer (seriously). Many fans blame former GM Bill Smith and all of the horrible moves he made (like trading Wilson Ramos to the Nats for Matt Capps). Many fans blame the medical staff. Many fans blame owner Jim Pohlad for being cheap (which I do not agree with at all). Some fans blame Terry Ryan, which is just completely insane to me.

In my opinion, most of the blame lies on Bill Smith and the just total lack of pitching and prospects the system had for a couple years. Smith made a lot of high risk, high reward moves, and most of them tilted towards the bad side of high risk. Also, the Twins were not so lucky when it came to injuries, particularly in 2011. I don't blame the medical staff for that; medicine isn't an exact science and I didn't see anything particularly negligent.

Sorry for starting off with such depressing questions. On the brighter side: Kennys Vargas has been raking since he was called up a few days ago. What should Padres fans know about that tall guy who wasn't out there the last time the two teams played?

The Kennys Vargas call-up is exciting for a couple reasons. One, because it was completely unexpected. He's never played above AA, although fans got to see him in the Futures Game and some spring training games. Two, because the Twins have just never had many players like him. Vargas is huge, and is a total power hitter. The list of Twins power hitters basically begins and ends with Harmon Killebrew. So now it's like the Twins have a chance to have their own David Ortiz. Oh, wait. Dang it.

With Kennys, look for power. He hasn't yet hit his first home run, so we're all kind waiting for that. I'd also tell Padres fans to keep their eye on Danny Santana. He only played one of the games in San Diego earlier this year.

Despite being decent at his best, Kevin Correia was well-liked by fans during his two seasons with the Padres, 2009 and '10. I always assumed it was because he's a San Diego native, but you're a big fan of the guy and he hasn't given you many on-field reasons to be. What is it that makes him so likeable?

I like Kevin Correia because everyone else hates him. He's been the whipping boy for lots of Twins fans, even though he's been far from our worst starting pitcher. A few stat heads wrote blogs disapproving of Correia's contract when he first signed, and basically every Twins fan has latched on to that. I think it is unfair. So I asked my Mom for a Kevin Correia Twins shirsey for Christmas, mostly because I wanted other people to see it and wonder why the hell I had a Kevin Correia shirsey. I also had a Pirates fan friend on Twitter who was grief stricken over Correia leaving and told me I would love him and to call him "The Drizzle". Weird how that actually worked out.

I've read more about Kevin Correia and I like him as a person too. I knew he was a San Diego native, and he apparently has a very large extended family in the San Diego area. I read about the unfortunate passing of his younger brother--something like that really humanizes a player.

Former uber-funny Twinkie Town writer Jon Marthaler wrote this piece about Correia back in the day, and it still makes me laugh. Notice my comments about never saying anything bad about Correia.

There's no way to ask this without sounding like Chris Farley, so here we go: Remember when Pat Neshek came back home as an All-Star? That was awesome, wasn't it?

That was absolutely awesome. Everyone here was so very proud of Pat Neshek and Glen Perkins, especially after everything Neshek has gone through in the past two years. I saw Pat with his young son Hoyt in the red-carpet parade and I was so happy for him. He has always been one of the biggest fan favorites here in Minnesota. A lot of people were very sad when he was traded to the Padres. According to rumors, a lot of it had to do with him questioning the Twins medical staff on social media. I wish Pat Neshek had fared better in the actual game, but I know it was still a very special experience for him. Twins fans will always love Pat.

The whole All-Star Game experience was awesome, and I hope the Padres get one soon because PetCo looks like a great place for one. National prime-time for the home run derby might push it early enough in the day on the West Coast to actually see some home runs.

When Phil Hughes shut the Padres out for seven innings back in May to improve his record to 5-1 and lower his ERA to 3.15 it seemed like he'd done a full 180 from his struggles in New York. However, he has watched his ERA climb a full run since then as he's allowed five or more earned runs in six out of 13 starts. Was early-season Hughes just a mirage, or has warm-weather Hughes been a victim of bad luck?

I honestly have no idea what is going on with Phil Hughes. Better scouting reports? Warmer weather? Not executing pitches? All three? I don't know.

I feel like he will be able to right the ship, though. All pitchers have bad days. All I know is that the Twins have wanted Phil Hughes for a very long time. They refused to trade Johan Santana to the Yankees because the Yankees would not give up Hughes. So there's something there that they see, and I think they tapped into a bit earlier this year.

What's one cool feature of Target Field that most people don't know about?

That's a hard one, because I'm not sure how much people know about Target Field. Perhaps that Kent Hrbek can regularly be found by the bar in Hrbek's (the in-stadium bar named after him behind home plate) interacting with fans. I'm about 99% sure he gets paid by the Twins to do that. Hrbek just continues to live the dream. Twins great Tony Oliva also often sits by the stand for Tony O's Cuban Sandwiches before games to greet fans, but he does Spanish language translation and radio broadcasts for the Twins so his presence is a little more explicable.

Other than that, perhaps that all the gates are numbered after the Twins retired numbers when they moved in: Gate 34 for Kirby Puckett, Gate 3 for Harmon Killebrew, Gate 29 for Rod Carew, Gate 14 for Hrbek, and Gate 6 for Tony Oliva.

Bottom of the ninth, two on, two out, down by one. Who on the current roster do you want at the plate?

Kurt "MVP" "Clutch" Suzuki. I don't know what it is, but he's has been incredible for the Twins this year. The organization is absolutely in love with that guy. I'm not surprised at all they signed him to a two-year extension rather than trying to trade him high (even though I might have preferred that).

Other than that, Joe Mauer--although Mauer has been injured and struggling this year. He's on rehab assignment playing for his brother in Iowa right now. I hope his struggles are just a by-product of injury or perhaps sleep deprivation/stress from having two infants at home. I still have faith in him as a hitter for the future.

Same scenario; Who do you least want at the plate?

Really hard to say, there are so many equally as good answers. Probably Chris Parmelee. He has never really panned out as well in the majors as was expected. Either him or Chris Colabello will be sent down to AAA after Joe Mauer returns.

Most underrated current Twin?

Another hard one, because I'm not sure if anyone on the roster right now is particularly underrated. Maybe Danny Santana because he's still relatively unknown, but I have no idea if he will be able to keep up his performance. Samuel Deduno has stuff to be a really good pitcher, but he hasn't been consistent so I don't know if I could call him underrated. Brian Duensing has been a very talented and versatile left-hander out of the bullpen, with a quiet 2.40 ERA in 41 innings pitched.

Most underrated all-time Twin?

Chuck Knoblauch, for reasons that are probably obvious by now. There are still fans out there who love him for the career he had with the Twins (statistically, he is one of the best players in the team's history), but mostly? Fans hate him. A lot of people just thought he was a jerk, and when he demanded to be traded to "a contender" (he won Rookie of the Year and the World Series his first year with the Twins), everyone just hated him. It reminds me a lot of the situation in Minnesota right now with Kevin Love and the Timberwolves. I haven't heard of a single person who doesn't want him gone. He had to pull out of the Celebrity Softball Tournament for the All-Star Game over the hoopla.

In 2001, Knoblauch was playing left field for the Yankees at the Metrodome on Dollar Dog night, and fans unmercifully pelted him with dollar dogs and batteries. The game had to be stopped and almost forfeited. That is the only time I've ever seen Twins fans do anything like that. Also still the reason there is a two hot dog limit on Dollar Dog day.

So is Chuck Knoblauch truly underrated? I'm not sure, depends on how you define "underrated".

Other than Chuck, I'd say maybe Tony Oliva (if only had knees hadn't failed), Bob Allison (power-hitter), and Brad Radke (who actually has the fifth highest WAR of any player in Twins history according to Baseball Reference).

P.S. On behalf of Twinkie Town, our condolences on Tony Gwynn.

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Again, a billion thanks to Myjah for going above-and-beyond for us. Be sure to check out Twinkie Town (one of my top-five favorite sites with 'twink' in the url) and follow Myjah on Twitter. You won't regret either one.