The Twins, man. The Twins are dreadful. The worst in baseball by record and talent, I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest. After narrowly avoiding becoming the just the second team to lose 100 games with a $100 million dollar payroll, the Twins and their 7-21 record look poised to repeat last season’s ugliness – with a slightly reduced payroll to avoid historical ignominy. But it is truly an ugly time in the upper Midwest.

Which, in the interests of full disclosure, doesn’t bother this blogger one bit. The Twins are very bad and while it might not be as Good For Baseball as Joe Mauer’s contract, it certainly adds a tiny ray of light to my black heart.

The Cult of Gardenhire is church without exclusive membership. If you can complain about Joe Mauer getting hurt, you can be a member. Up the hustle, up the grit. Praise the players who do the little things out one side of your mouth while slowing losing your mind out the other. This is a season in which not getting no hit by Jered Weaver constitutes a moral victory.

“We were definitely better against (Weaver) and made him work a little bit harder,”

manager Ron Gardenhire said. “But he found a way to get out of a couple jams. That’s what these guys that win all these games are all about: They find a way, even when they may not have their best stuff. They find a way to get out of innings, and don’t give up runs.”

The Twins are a mess. Their rotation is shambolic and their offense inert. Long-time manager Ron Gardenhire might just be losing his religion. After an extended period of success, including four playoff appearances in five years and seven in ten full seasons, Gardenhire is finding it difficult to make do without a roster full of elite talent. Weird, that.

After getting no-hit by Jered Weaver a week ago, Gardenhire lashed out at his team, claiming they played “like Little Leaguers” before storming out of his press conference. Gardy lamented things getting “harder” when looking up and down a roster that no longer features a Cy Young favorite, and All-Star center fielder or healthy versions of the best catcher in baseball and a former American League MVP.

Twins CEO Jim Pohlad came out in support of his beleaguered manager this week, saying nobody “wants to win” more than Gardenhire and brand new GM Terry Ryan. Which is all well and good. The team simply doesn’t have enough good players to win. Despite the instance from many media members that the Twins coach their players up, instilling them with the sort of fundamental values KEY to winning baseball, it comes back to talent.

Thanks to injuries and poor personnel decisions, the Twins don’t have enough good players. The Twins are in the process of funnelling many of their top prospects to the big club, trying anything to get a spark in this lost season. A great idea but most of the names don’t inspire a great deal of confidence – this is a team with a reputation for drafting safe, low-ceiling players. Which shockingly leaves them with only low-ceiling players.

Is Gardenhire the man to steer this team through another rebuild? The Twins aren’t exactly in the habit of turning over field managers (employing a whooping two since 1986 – Gardy included!) Is it Gardy’s fault the team is bad? Of course not! Just as it wasn’t his doing that the Twins won all those games a decade ago.

Talent wins. You can make the most of the existing talent and extract a few advantages here and there but without a sound strategy to identify and develop top talent, any team in baseball is doomed. The Rays have the incumbent Best Manager in Baseball but he has quite a lot to work with, and he works with an incredibly adept front office to make the most of the talent they have.

The Twins…just aren’t doing this. The Twins face a long uphill battle back to respectability, Miguel Sano or otherwise. No amount of fundamental instruction and no number of sacrifice bunts will get them there – it is going to take talent. When the talent was here, Gardy won. Without it, he’s just another angry guy shouting at his charges to do better. After repeated post-season failures