With the Red Sox about to face the Minnesota Twins, I was able to get a few minutes of Tawny Jarvi’s time. She is one of the senior writers for Twinkie Town, our sister site here at SB Nation that covers the Twins
Thank you to her for her time, and willingness to answer a handful of questions I had for her in advance of the series between the Red Sox and Twins.
The Q&A has been lightly edited for clarity.
Jake Kostik: What have you done to Byron Buxton? He is destroying everything, and that’s not the Byron Buxton we know.
Tawny Jarvi: It is a little weird to call a former number one prospect “under the radar,” but Buxton being an MVP-tier producer when on the field is nothing new. The Twins have a much higher winning percentage with him in the lineup than they do without, but he’s injured so often due to running into the outfield wall like a cartoon character running into a wall painted to look like a continuation of a road, I don’t think the greater baseball world realizes how good he can be.
More recently he’s unlocked his power potential due to trying to lift the ball more. It seems under their previous manager, Paul Molitor, he was told to hit the ball on the ground and use his speed to reach, but now he’s utilizing all his potential.
When Byron Buxton is Byron BuxtON the field, special things can happen. Do not cut my awesome pun, I know where you live.
JK: Minnesota’s pitching has been excellent to start the season. Is there an expectation that this will continue or is it a mirage?
TJ: The association of “mediocre pitch-to-contact starters” with “Minnesota Twins” dies hard, but the Twins have quietly had an excellent staff over the last couple of seasons. They don’t have any huge names or obvious league aces to point to, but I think a lot Twins pitchers would be better known if they played for a team in a state that actually had people living in it instead of 40,000 corn fields and a couple viking clans. I have every expectation that pitching will remain a strength, and pitching depth especially is a huge strength of this team, which is something that should come in real handy as pitchers try to get used to a full season of work again.
JK: How are Twins fans feeling about the 2021 season? Is there optimism that this is their year to win the division?
TJ: I think we’re all pretty confident in a third straight division win, but as soon as the playoffs start we’ll all go into sad sack defeatist mode as the Yankees sweep us out of the playoffs despite having 22 of their 26 man roster on the IL or something like that.
The White Sox got a lot of attention this offseason, but as far as projections go the Twins still had a slight advantage. While I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Chicago manages to win the Central, I think it is still the Twins division to lose.
(It’s worth noting a lot of those projections included Eloy Jimenez, who obviously will be out the next several months, as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle)
JK: Why exactly is Alex Kirilloff in the minor leagues? He was on the playoff roster last year, and it seems odd that he’s been relegated back to the minors.
TJ: Kiriloff did have a horrendous spring training, so that’s probably made the decision a bit to keep him down easier for the fandom to digest, but I think we all know the real answer. The real answer is they knew playing Kyle Garlick would let us here at Twinkie Town make a lot of hilarious puns. That or service time manipulation.
JK: Is there a player that we are underrating or should know about on the Twins?
TJ: It looks like Josh Donaldson should be back at some point in the series, and it’ll be interesting to see if he hits a ball to the moon or just immediately re-injures his leg. There is also future batting-title winner Luis Arraez, who feels like a player out of a time machine somehow succeeding in a different era as he hits singles every single at bat until the heat death of the universe.
JK: Is there a particular Red Sox player you are worried/scared about facing?
TJ: Who even plays for the Red Sox anymore? What the hell is a “Franchy?” Christian Vázquez is hitting like a monster, so kinda scared of him. Then you got ex-Twin Marwin Gonzalez hangin’ around and ex-Twins always seem to be Twin Killers so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with a big hit.
JK: How do you think this series will go?
TJ: Should be a fun and competitive series, but, well, “win” is right in the name “Twins” and “Sox” is only one letter away from “Sux” so you do the math.
For real though, the Red Sox will probably win at least one game in some way that embarrasses or breaks the hearts of Twins fans just because the world is cruel and I’ll have to listen to you brag about it in chat. The Twins lose roughly every single game every that goes into extra innings, so look forward to that.
Twins win the series but don’t sweep. Final answer.
(Oh, it is on, Tawny.)
Thanks to Tawny Jarvi for the insightful answers, and best of luck to her team against non-Red Sox opponents.