Worst team in baseball in the first week? The Minnesota Twins. They lost 99 games in 2011 and they’ve started 2012 as if they’re out to top that.
Take a look at their roster. There hasn’t been anything so bad to come out of the state since the idea that a wrestler could be governor. The Twins are so bad they made Orioles’ fans overconfident.
The Twins have scored only six runs in four games, and they’ve been outscored by an MLB-high 14 runs, but the bigger problem is going to be their pitching. The Twins might have the softest-tossing rotation in MLB, and the most injury-prone.
“We’ve got to score more runs for our pitchers,” manager Ron Gardenhire said, according to startribune.com. Correction: the Twins have to score a lot more runs for those pitchers.
Only four active pitchers make more than the $1.5 million by Glen Perkins (who is the best bargain on the staff). The Twins built their pitching staff like the guy who cruises the neighborhood on trash day, trying to find value in others’ junk.
Carl Pavano, a 36-year-old who has had two decent seasons in a career spent mostly in the trainer’s room or on the operating table, is paid $9 million. Batters hit .294 against him last year, and they’re likely to again.
Pavano has had an injury-free career compared to Francisco Liriano, who has never pitched 200 innings and never mastered the strike zone; he might have less arm problems if he threw less pitches, but that would mean throwing strikes. He’s paid $5.5 million.
Nick Blackburn does what Liriano doesn’t, which isn’t always a good thing. He’s given up 865 hits in 726 innings and has a career .299 batting average against. The Twins are paying him $4.75 million; they’d have received more value in return if they’d spread it around the Mall of America with the intent of spreading good cheer. (If you took Liriano’s stuff and Blackburn’s control, you might have one good pitcher).
Matt Capps is the closer, which should leave him pretty idle. Good thing, because he blew nine of 24 saves last year; for that the Twins are paying him $4.5 million.
Scott Baker is the Twins’ best pitcher, but he made only four starts after the All-Star break in 2011, and he starts 2012 on the DL with an elbow injury, which has been a recurring problem in his career. He gets $6.5 million, and it might just be enough to keep the Twins from 100 losses if he can make 20 starts.
The Twins have never started a season, since moving to Minnesota, by losing more than their first four games. They’ll get a chance to do that Wednesday. But here’s what passes for hope: two of the Twins’ worst starts — losing four straight in 1981 (41-68) and seven of eight in 1994 (53-60) — came during strike years. A work stoppage is about all Twins fans have to root for because a win stoppage has apparently begun.