The Twins are bad, but the Braves are depressing

Times are tough in Minnesota and Atlanta, times are very tough.

A couple days ago, when the Minnesota Twins had lost only seven games in a row, Nick Nelson of the Twins Daily site wrote, "During an unprecedented 0-7 start, the Twins have been outplayed so thoroughly that it's hard to remember a day where they actually did string together a rally or capitalize upon an advantageous situation." They've since lost 3-0 and 3-1.

Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez decided the best way to end his team's losing streak was to bench his best player, Freddie Freeman, even though he owned a .387 lifetime average with three home runs against Stephen Strasburg. "Obviously, you guys know I'm not too thrilled about it," Freeman said before Thursday's game. "But when you're hitting .080, there's nothing much you can really say." Shockingly, benching Freeman didn't work and the Washington Nationals beat the Braves 6-2.

The only other time two teams started this poorly was 1988, when the Braves started 0-10 and the Baltimore Orioles set a record with 21 consecutive losses to begin a season. The Twins' start is certainly more surprising. After a 1-7 start in 2015, they had a big May and even held first place for a spell before finishing with 83 wins. They have some premium young talent in the likes of Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler, plus All-Star second baseman Brian Dozier and Korean free agent slugger Byung Ho Park. Starter Jose Berrios, one of the top pitching prospects in the minors, should be up soon. The season may already be over, but at least there's a core of young players and in-their-prime veterans to build around.

The Braves, on the other hand, are shaping up as one of the most depressing teams of all time. They're not just bad, they're old. Today's lineup featured 39-year-old catcher A.J. Pierzynski, 32-year-old Nick Markakis, 29-year-old Gordon Beckham, 32-year-old Erick Aybar, and 34-year-old Kelly Johnson batting cleanup for just the 32nd time in his career. On the bench were Jeff Francoeur, Drew Stubbs. Not on the bench was Hector Olivera, put on paid leave after being arrested in suburban Washington, D.C., on an assault charge. Entering Thursday's games, Baseball-Reference had the Braves as the oldest lineup in National League as weighted by playing time. At the least the pitching staff ranked as the third-youngest in the league.

I get where the organization is at: It tore apart the 2013 playoff team and decided to rebuild as it moves into a new stadium in 2017. This is a team of placeholders. They have all these veterans on the roster primarily hoping a couple of them get hot and can be traded in July for prospects.

Braves fans can at least point to a farm system that ESPN's Keith Law rated No. 1 before the season, with seven top 100 prospects, led by shortstops Dansby Swanson (No. 13) and Ozhaino Albies (No. 20).

The thing is, prospects are prospects, and not sure things. We may see a few of the top guys later this season -- Albies and pitcher Sean Newcomb started at Double-A. Maybe Swanson, starting in Class A, advances quickly. None of the top guys are in Triple-A, however, and the Braves may want to save on service time, so we may not see any of these guys until 2017. Speedster Mallex Smith is up now, filling in for the injured Ender Inciarte.

It all makes for an uninspiring team. The 2011 Royals lost 91 games but at least they had Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Salvador Perez and Greg Holland starting their careers.

Plus, this Braves team isn't going to lose 91. It's more likely to lose 105. How many future foundation pieces are here right now? Freeman, I guess. Although it's not a good sign when he said he can't catch up to fastballs.

"He was throwing me heaters right down the middle, and I just could not get there," he said about facing Gio Gonzalez on Wednesday.

Julio Teheran seems to have regressed. Maybe Matt Wisler is a rotation guy. Smith and Inciarte are kind of duplicate players, but certainly useful major leaguers. Olivera's future is suddenly in doubt.

Maybe this team is more like the 2013 Astros. That team went 51-111. It had Jose Altuve and catcher Jason Castro and Dallas Keuchel, who posted a 5.15 ERA and was the last guy you would have picked to win a Cy Young Award. At least it was a young team -- the youngest lineup in the American League and second-youngest pitching staff. If you're going to lose 100 games, you're better off doing by giving some kids the chance to play. Still, the Houston Astros pretty much turned over most of the roster by 2015 and made the playoffs.

That's what Braves fans can hope for: 2018.

Hey, maybe Williams Perez will be the Cy Young winner.