As we approach the All-Star break, the Minnesota Twins are sitting in third place after a 6-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The Twins are only a game and a half out of first.

This doesn’t sound bad, but expectations are high and anything besides a deep playoff run would be a disappointment.  

The problem is that this was supposed to be the year the Twins put everything together.

They moved into a beautiful new ball park, getting out of the hideous Metrodome. Joe Mauer was re-signed, JJ Hardy was traded for, and Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson were brought in as free agent signings.

Simply put, the Twins spent money to improve the club.

Now, with the Tigers and White Sox surging and the Twins playing sub-par baseball, it’s time to ask: how good are these Minnesota Twins?

The pitching staff has floundered.  And, while the lineup looks potent on paper, it hasn’t produced to it’s capability on the field.

Justin Morneau is having another MVP-type season and Delmon Young is enjoying a breakout year.  However, other than that every other Twin that was a regular in last season’s lineup has underperformed.

Most notably, reigning AL MVP, Joe Mauer.

Yes he’s still hitting above .300 and has to deal with the daily grind of being a catcher. That being said, the Twins didn’t re-sign Mauer to an eight-year deal worth $184 million for the type of offensive production he has given them this year. By no means is the stud catcher having a bad year, but in terms of what we expect from Mauer, he is having a down year.    

Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Denard Span have all had solid seasons, but nowhere near what was expected of them.

Cuddyer hit a career-high 32 home runs last season but has experienced a power outage thus far.  While part of that can be blamed on the pitcher friendly Target Field, he only has seven home runs.

As the cries for Cliff Lee become louder with every poor pitching performance, the Twins will be expected to make a big trade at the deadline.  One thing Lee won’t be able to do for Minnesota is hit.

The Twins have given up the least amount of runs in the division.  But, when it has come down to getting a bases loaded hit to break open the game or get a runner in from third with one out, the Twins haven’t been successful.

Lee would be a great addition to the rotation, but he won’t be able to deliver the clutch base hit in a pennant race.

If Minnesota wants to validate renting Lee for the remainder of the season, they are going to have to prove over the coming weeks that this recent stretch of poor play is the exception and not the rule.

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