Breaking Down the Twins with Brandon Warne


The Minnesota Twins find themselves moving into the heart of the summer, and as things continue to progress, a crossroads of relevance presents itself.  Looking towards the trade deadline, post season, and even next year, the Twins look to right the ship in hopes of playing meaningful fall baseball.

Few people in the Twin Cities area know the organization or the breakdown of the Minnesota Twins as well as local personality, Brandon Warne.  A contributor for both the Pioneer Press, as well as the Twins radio home, 96.3 KTWIN, Warne has made a name for himself as a Twins go to source.

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I had the opportunity to discuss everything from where the Twins find themselves at now, to where the organization is headed recently with Warne.  Check out his thoughts below.

Puckett’s Pond: Heading into the latter half of the season, what is the one thing you are most looking for in order to project future success for this team and organization?

Brandon Warne: How the team handles the prospects, most notably those that are nearly big league ready.  Will the team promote Trevor May sooner rather than later?  What will happen with Alex Meyer?  Additionally, warding off the second half swoon will help differentiate this team from the previous three seasons, as this team’s first half record isn’t really that disparate from the previous three seasons.

This team seems a bit better positioned to keep that from happening, but if Phil Hughes continues to struggle and the offense continues to be without Joe Mauer — the Joe Mauer of old, anyway — another late-season slide has to start creeping into the back of people’s’ minds.

PP: With Kris Johnson and Yohan Pino continually making starts for the Twins at the Major League Level, what is your take on the handling of Trevor May and Alex Meyer?  What is the thought process behind holding them back?

BW: With Meyer’s control issues, and the fact that he’s not on the 40-man roster, it’s not entirely surprising that he hasn’t been promoted.  He’s not really a finished product in terms of polish.  Could he hang in the big leagues right now?  There’s no question about it.

With the recent string of pitcher injuries, it’s worth wondering how many bullets Meyer has fired in Triple-A that could be in vain if he were to hypothetically get hurt.  *knock on wood*

As for May, he’s basically ready, and if he hadn’t gotten hurt before the All Star break/Futures Game might well be on his way to Minneapolis now — if not here already.  His promotion is coming very soon, and quite frankly could have come at any point this season.

PP: If the Twins are able to make at least one deal at the trade deadline, who is moved, and what do you expect them to get back in return?

BW: I would say Kevin Correia for a fringe prospect.  There’ll be teams looking at Correia from a ‘stabilize the back end’ standpoint, so maybe the Twins can leverage that into a B- prospect or a lottery ticket type.  A sleeper to be moved is Brian Duensing.

PP: Going into the season, Sports Illustrated had the Twins at 100 losses, do you see them reaching that mark?  What do they need to do to get back to competitive baseball the rest of the way?

BW: Baseball Prospectus’ forecast today has the Twins at 77-85, and that’s a record I’m pretty comfortable with.  If the Twins go 18-48 down the stretch, heads will roll.

PP: The Twins made two big moves this offseason in signing Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, do you see them making any big splashes in the upcoming offseason, and if so, who?

BW: I’m of the belief that the Twins can actually get a lot better by just making a move or two in the offseason.  I would sign a shortstop (Jed Lowrie/JJ Hardy) and one more starter (Brandon McCarthy) and then start bringing up the kids.

The Triple-A bullpen is loaded and that’s before even considering how good a guy like Nick Burdi could be.  The rotation has a good start with guys like Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, and Trevor May, and when you start to add guys like Jose Berrios, Alex Meyer, and others in addition to whatever value can still be squeezed out of Ricky Nolasco — not done with him, yet — I think there’s some room for growth.  This should be a very, very fun team to watch next year.

PP: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano are both slated to be huge assets for the Twins in the coming years, when do you see them making their debuts, and do you see them as instant impact players at the Major League level?

BW: I think you could see both making their debuts early next season.  Buxton will likely make an impact right away solely on the basis of his glove and legs, but he also shouldn’t be a guy like Aaron Hicks who is toolsy and needs time to adjust.

Sano is harder to read because of his defensive chops and the swing-and-miss profile in his game.  He may be a game-changer from day one, or he may be a three true outcome guy who needs some time to round his game into form.

PP: Finally, looking way ahead to next year, what is your breakdown of what the Twins look like and what expectations should be?

BW: On the high end, shooting for the second wild card, and on the low end, a .500 season should be in the sights.  That’s a pretty narrow gap, but this team NEEDS to be better next year.  There are no more excuses.

As always, it was a great conversation, and always great insight from Brandon Warne.  You can catch him on 96.3 KTWIN talking Twins on Sunday’s as well as on Twitter @Brandon_Warne.

Make sure to catch the Twins taking on the Cleveland Indians tonight at 7:10pm central time.  Also, check out our series preview breaking down the macthups.