The Boston Red Sox entered Tropicana Field Monday against the hottest team in baseball, the Tampa Rays, trying to make a statement. Well, they made a statement, a laughable, sad, embarrassing statement.
Boston got swept in four, netted a -14 run differential in the series, and plunged to eight games back the top of the AL East standings.
The club now shifts its focus to a seven-game home stint where they hope to get their season back on track.
Like Taylor Swift talking about her ex-boyfriends, there are so many problems to discuss it's hard to know where to start.
My idea was to compile all the issues this team has into a comprehensive list; my idea of a venting exercise.
5 reasons behind the poor start from the Boston Red Sox
1. The Red Sox' catchers
Do you remember Christian Vasquez? The Red Sox dealt the fan-favorite catcher last August and have been searching for a replacement ever since.
Connor Wong is promising defensively but not a major-league player at the plate. Reece McGuire has been very impressive with the bat and has DH upside, but he's a liability when catching.
That means there's not a player sufficient of both facets of the game, which is mind-boggling.
Elite catchers are hard to come by, but this two-man rotation of mediocrity will not cut it any longer.
2. The Red Sox' baffling lineups
Alex Cora, by all accounts, is phenomenal at his job, but the lineups he has put out this year are head-scratching.
Kiké Hernandez has been one of the worst players in baseball and still starts every day, and has even got some run in the leadoff spot. Why? Who knows.
Rafael Devers, the best pure hitter on the team, has been stuck batting second. This could make sense if someone more consistent than Justin Turner was behind him in the order.
3. Lack of quality starts from the Red Sox rotation
Let's play a game: who is the best starter on this team? I'm waiting. You don't have an answer either? Awesome!
Don't get me wrong, I wasn't expecting the starting pitching to be particularly good, but they managed to fall short of even my pessimistic standards.
There are enough words to fill a short book with how bad the staff has been, but I'll summarize it with one stat.
The Red Sox have zero (not a typo) quality starts this season. For context, Rich Hill and Michael Wacha have already thrown one each. Make it stop.
4. Ryan Brasier
If there were an award for the Sox reliever that garners the loudest collection of groans when they come out of the bullpen, Ryan Brasier would win in record fashion.
He's the definition of an "AAAA" guy. He can eat innings against struggling offenses, but against much of the AL East, he can't be relied upon in any serious situations.
5. The golden inflatable dumbells
Was the laundry cart the most innovative celebration in sports? Yes, and at worst, it's certainly in the conversation.
Kevin Plawecki, one of the pioneers of that movement, took his talents to the Washington Nationals, so it was only fitting for the Sox to look for something new. They settled on golden inflatable dumbells.
They would look cheap even for Party City, which makes it more puzzling why one of baseball's most illustrious franchises would settle for something so cheesy. It's not too late to think of something else.