Looking back at the series of events, I didn't know whether to be amused or depressed.
Last Sunday, Kevin Correia gave a frank assessment of the Minnesota Twins' situation: "We need a miraculous run right now."
And in the three games following that statement -- three must-win home games within the division -- the Twins' starting pitchers were Kris Johnson, Yohan Pino and Anthony Swarzak. Two aging minor-league journeymen with little major-league experience, and a long reliever who hadn't made a start in two years.
I was struck by the Correia quote because, while it may have been uttered in a moment of frustration, it provides a glimpse into the mind-set of a competitive guy who is watching the same scenario unfold for the second year in a row.
In the first half of 2013, the Twins showed some signs of being a factor. They put together a little winning streak in mid-June and moved within three games of .500. But by the time the trade deadline rolled around, they had cratered to firmly establish themselves as non-competitive sellers. Things just got uglier as the season sputtered along. By the end, the team was remarkably lifeless. They lost 10 of their final 11 games, and the only win took 11 innings.
Correia was there all along, making his start every fifth day, just as he has this year, where he's watched the Twins draw within two games of .500 as recently as June 22 before spiraling once again. Mired in last place, the team's selling process has already begun with Thursday's trade of Kendrys Morales to the Mariners.
Correia has played his part in the struggles -- his numbers are below-average across the board -- but it is the turmoil that has played out around him that defines these last two dismal seasons for the Twins, not to mention the two dismal seasons that preceded them. There has been some mismanagement, but the extended and ongoing losing spell goes well beyond that. This organization is flat-out snakebitten.
In the Cleveland series last week, the Twins were forced to start Johnson, Pino and Swarzak because $60 million worth of offseason investments (Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey) are on the shelf indefinitely and Kyle Gibson came up with a stiff back.
Trevor May, one of two MLB-ready pitching prospects who could actually make an impact? He's working his way back from a month-long absence due to a calf strain that struck right as he was on the verge of being called up. His teammate, fireballing righty Alex Meyer, has had his pitch counts and innings strictly limited in Triple-A after missing two months last year due to shoulder issues. The team's warranted caution has pushed back Meyer's heavily anticipated MLB debut.
These poorly timed injury setbacks are par for the course in a system loaded with talented prospects who can't seem to get over the hump.
Byron Buxton, the team's glimmering beacon of hope, has basically had his entire season ruined up to this point by multiple wrist injuries. Miguel Sano became one of the few position players to require Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire season. Both Buxton and Sano were universally ranked as top-10 prospects in the game, and were both set to open in Double-A. The real potential of midseason call-ups for either young phenom added a much-needed element of potential excitement to this 2014 campaign.
Alas, it appears that neither is in the cards. So it goes for the Twins these days.
It is almost unbelievable how much bad luck this franchise is enduring right now. The way misfortune is striking every key player throughout the system, it's reminiscent of Mr. Burns' softball team the day before the big game against Shelbyville.
Even looking beyond Buxton and Sano, you've got Eddie Rosario, another top prospect whose upward momentum was halted by a 50-game drug suspension over the winter. Kohl Stewart, last year's No. 4 overall pick and a highly touted young arm, recently landed on the DL with a shoulder impingement. I'm just waiting to hear about a prospect diagnosed with gigantism.
At the big-league level, you have the Joe Mauer situation. Who knows what's going on there. Maybe it's just a bad year; he's young enough to bounce back. But man, has it been hard to watch.
My pal and fellow Twins blogger Aaron Gleeman had a tweet the other day I thought rang pretty true. He said, "More and more I think the Twins have reached the point of fans not caring as opposed to fans being angry, which is a dangerous place to be."
I hate losing and I'm sickened by what appears to be transpiring yet again. In the new setup where there are two wild-card spots in each league, it shouldn't be that difficult to at least remain relevant into the last two months of the season, but for a fourth straight year the Twins have failed to do so.
I can't even be angry about it. For the most part, I don't hate what Terry Ryan and company have been doing. They spent some money during the offseason to fill some holes. Phil Hughes and Kurt Suzuki have been two of the most successful free agent signings in franchise history. But what can you do when your two super-prospects who are nearing the majors suffer massive setbacks, and when your highest-paid player and franchise centerpiece turns suddenly into a pumpkin at age 31?
Regardless of who's at fault, the Twins are once again terrible. As much as I love my baseball -- I've been following and writing about this team fanatically for about a decade -- getting pummeled with bad break after bad break is taking a toll on me, and I know I'm not alone.
I'm not amused. I'm not depressed. I'm just growing ambivalent, and as Aaron put it, that's a dangerous place to be.
Nick Nelson helps run the Twins Daily blog, which just unveiled a new design with the same in-depth coverage of the Twins and their minor league system.