There's no farm system that could mend this many wounds created by injuries. There's no manager who could plot or no clubhouse leader who could inspire to fill this many holes.
You don't need fancy stats to draw that conclusion, but I think they'll help illustrate just how much injuries have hurt the Twins. Let's look at the two problem areas, the lineup and the bullpen, in terms of wins above replacement. WAR isn't exactly a perfect stat, but it is good enough for our purposes. We just trying to estimate the effect of losing key players to injury on overall team production, so we don't really need an exact measure of player value. These are the players who have logged the most plate appearances at each position, and the relievers who have logged at least 10 innings thus far:------snip------
The 10 key players have made 70.1 percent of the Twins' plate appearances -- and that number isn't going to get better any time soon.
There's a difference between making an excuse and looking at reality, and the reality is the Twins' season has been ruined by an unrelenting run of injuries to key players.
It's tempting to pin all the blame on the front office. After all, the bullpen has been relatively healthy, and they've still stunk. Bill Smith made some moves that looked questionable at the time and seem downright idiotic now: he traded J. J. Hardy for Jim Hoey and some other middle relievers; he didn't make any attempt to re-sign Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, or Jon Rauch, or to add any other free agent reliever; and he traded away Jose Morales for a reliever who later turned out to have brain cancer. If that wasn't bad enough, GMBS spent all that money he saved on: Carl Pavano (2 years, $16.5 million), Tsuyoshi Nishioka (3 years, $9.25 million; not a bad gamble, though it hasn't paid off so far), and Matt Capps (1 year, $7.5 million). The team was left with little depth at catcher, in the bullpen, and the infield, and woefully unprepared to deal with even minor injuries.
However, the poor planning in and of itself doesn't entirely explain the Twins' 33-45 record; poor luck certainly plays a role as well. Here's what the same lineup would look like if the Twins kept both Hardy and Orlando Hudson:
It's not really a huge improvement, at least not enough to offset the horrible production out of the bullpen. Actually, both Hudson and Hardy have spent time on the DL early in the season, so it's a good bet that the middle infield would still have been some combination of Alexi Casilla/Trevor Plouffe/Luke Hughes. Of course, the Twins almost certainly would have gotten more value out of Hudson and Hardy than Casilla and Nishioka, but they would still probably be close to ten games under .500 right now. We could go even farther and pretend the Twins kept Morales as well, but the difference between he and Butters this season (0.2 fWAR, 0.1 rWAR) is pretty negligible.
Another hypothetical: let's pretend the Twins decided not to trade for Matt Capps in the first place. Starting Wilson Ramos instead of Drew Butera would certainly help ease the loss of Joe Mauer, right? Well, sort of:
This is an offense that would still likely rank somewhere near the middle of the pack in the American League. It's better than being in the bottom third, and the Twins might be closer in the standings to the Tigers than the Royals, but they still need everyone to get healthy and the bullpen to not suck if they hope to crack the .500 mark. There is little doubt, though, that this team would be in a better position to make up ground in the division should both of those things happen.
Now, let's pretend the bullpen doesn't suck. Or at least pretend that Bill Smith opted to cut Capps (or never acquired him in the first place, you choose) and re-signed every free agent in the bullpen. I figured Jesse Crain would take over Capps' role as the closer, Matt Guerrier would replace Alex Burnett, and the Twins would never have acquired Dusty Hughes or Jim Hoey if they kept Brian Fuentes and Jon Rauch, but you could probably swap out the relievers any way you like:
Instead of one of the worst 'pens in all of baseball, we have a pretty decent crop of relievers. Combined with the mediocre Ramos lineup, the Twins might be eight or nine games below .500 instead of twelve. That's right, in the very best-case scenario, the Twins might improve their current record by about four games. Of course, the best-case scenario was just unrealistic; the Twins simply didn't have the money to keep all of these guys around, and they don't like to sign relievers to multi-year deals anyway (and for good reason, but that's an entirely different post). They obviously didn't put themselves in the best position to weather an injury crisis, but it's also really tough to plan on losing over 30% of the active roster to the disabled list.