(This can be true in any sport. A basketball team could have solvable problems rebounding or shooting that cause a losing streak. Football teams might not block well or get enough pressure out of the front seven because of problems with execution or communication. A hockey team might just get in a lull where they don't give the necessary second and third efforts to make important plays. It's not always permanent.)
For the Minnesota Twins, their 9-18 start is equal parts hideous and alarming.
It's hideous because virtually no one is playing to what their perceived capabilities are.
It's alarming because virtually no one is playing to what their perceived capabilities are, and there's no tangible end in sight.
Between injuries and completely ineffective players, the Twins don't have enough bodies to answer all their questions.
In the Star Tribune, LaVelle E. Neal III did a great job laying out many of the issues Tuesday.
- Alexi Casilla is hitting .190 and stinks defensively.
- Danny Valencia is hitting .211, stinks defensively, and seems to struggle with baserunning when he bothers to avoid making an out.
- Justin Morneau just hit his first home run of the season and is carrying a .225 average into Tuesday's game at Chicago.
- Joe Mauer is still out.
- Mauer wasn't hitting when he was in.
- Drew Butera is hitting .106 in Mauer's place at catcher, making Mauer's .235 average look like freaking Ted Williams. Butera is an ace defensively, but has a lower average than that of all National League pitchers combined, Neal notes.
- As a team, the Twins have 12 home runs. Alfonso Soriano has 11 by himself.
- Michael Cuddyer is hitting .226 with four RBI, putting him on pace for approximately 25 this season.
- The Twins have scored 85 runs. St. Louis' Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, and Colby Rasmus have combined for 88 by themselves.
- Minnesota's team ERA of 5.06 is the worst in baseball, and nearly double that of first-place Oakland (2.66).
- The "pitch to contact" mantra isn't working well. The Twins have just 152 strikeouts, easily the worst in baseball.
They're on their own for this one.
Getting Mauer back could be beneficial, and it won't hurt when Tsuyoshi Nishioka is healthy. In the end, though, a whole lot of guys have to start hitting, and the Twins can ill afford to see Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, and Nick Blackburn stink the joint up nearly as much as they have been as of late.
When Scott Baker is your ace, and he has one win, you have problems.
Then again, when you look at the laundry list of issues above, it's hard to argue the Twins don't have problems.
Now, they just need to find solutions before it's too late.