After losing 11-0 last night to an Orioles team that had dropped eight straight, the Twins sit at 6-11 on the season. They have been outscored 83-50 in 17 games, averaging less than three runs per contest. They rank last in the major leagues in runs, walks, home runs and OPS.

Things are as grim as can be.

They will get better. Even with the injuries and the presence of offensive black holes like Alexi Casilla and Drew Butera, the Twins are not going to remain the worst-hitting team in baseball for long. They're too talented.

But the inevitability of improvement for their mind-numbingly bad offensive start does nothing to erase the more legitimate long-term concerns that have manifested in the early going.

In analyzing the 2011 squad as the season approached, the one thing that most deeply concerned me was the precariousness of the club's principal investments. Yes, the Twins pumped payroll up to an all-time high $112 million, but much of that money was tied up in significant question marks.

It wasn't the cheap role players like Casilla and Butera who would determine this team's fate. It was the hobbled veterans whose bulky salaries forced the team to part with quality players like Orlando Hudson and J.J. Hardy, not to mention the entire bullpen.

So far, those pricy question marks have not fared well.

Joe Mauer, earning $23 million, struggled to a .554 OPS with one-extra base hit in nine games before landing on the disabled list with a bizarre assortment of ailments. There's no firm timetable in place for his return.

Justin Morneau, earning $14 million, has admirably returned to the field after a long battle with post-concussion syndrome, but has not been at all effective. He managed 11 hits -- no homers -- and three walks in 56 plate appearances before missing the last three games with the flu.

Joe Nathan, earning $11.5 million, also earns respect points for his recovery from serious injury, but it is evident that he does not belong on the major-league roster at this point. He is only hurting the club by occupying a spot in a bullpen that is already lacking trustworthy options.

The underrated Michael Cuddyer, earning $10.5 million, owns a .608 OPS with no homers, and still hasn't driven in one run in 16 games.

Those four players account for nearly half the payroll, and none have yielded any meaningful production up to this point. Throw in the struggles of moderately expensive players like Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano, Delmon Young and Matt Capps, and it shouldn't be difficult to see why the team is struggling so mightily.

The front office invested a lot of money into this 2011 roster and so far they've been ripped off by the hideous product on the field. Hopefully these players can get over their illnesses, rust, slumps and mental blocks in a hurry, because these dismal performances are getting harder to watch for fans and harder to justify for a $112M team that should be amidst a window of contention.