At roughly the moment Yu Chang nearly shoveled an easy double play relay over the head of his gigantic shortstop, I had a thought: What the hell are we watching?
If the Red Sox can't beat the Rays, that doesn't necessarily mean their season is over. No one can beat the Rays.
But when your starting shortstop is a sub-par defensive first baseman, and when your starting center fielder is your former starting shortstop who was previously your starting center fielder as the snake eats its own tail, and when the first man up in the infield is a waiver claim who barely attended spring training, and you have one of the highest payrolls in baseball, I'll repeat the question: What the hell are we watching?
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If this is the plan, I'd like a new plan, please. The Red Sox hired Chaim Bloom to recreate some of that Rays magic, but they're getting the Devil Rays, and it's fair to wonder when John Henry will decide he has seen enough, if he's even still paying attention.
Wednesday night's result -- a 9-7 loss to baseball's only undefeated team -- wasn't embarrassing in and of itself. The Red Sox overcame deficits of 6-1 and 8-2 to make a game of it. For what it's worth, they have shown good fight this year.
It's how we got here that's so enraging. The Red Sox somehow constructed a roster that could not withstand the loss of center fielder Adam Duvall, a late-offseason pivot following the couldn't-see-that-coming news that presumed shortstop Trevor Story needed modified Tommy John surgery.
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A team with real depth could probably live without Duvall, even when he's hitting .900. But as we've already laid out, the Red Sox needed to summon Dalbec to replace him to play shortstop because their house of cards crumbled at the first exhalation.
They say baseball teams are built up the middle, and that's where the Red Sox are weakest. Catcher Reese McGuire is hitting, which is a welcome development, but the next baserunner he throws out will be his first, which has necessitated increased playing time for Connor Wong, who's batting .120.
Starting shortstop Kiké Hernández finally snapped an 0-for-28 streak on Wednesday, but in a perfect world, he'd have played so well defensively that the team wouldn't even consider shuttling him back to center at the first opportunity. Five errors in 10 games made that impossible, unfortunately.
Second baseman Christian Arroyo is a bat-first player who's batting just .176. For all his righteous mashing offensively, Duvall looked like a sub-par defensive center fielder before breaking his wrist. It's an indictment of the roster that every player at those four keystone spots is either a career backup, playing out of position, injury-prone, or some combination.
But that's not all. Ace Chris Sale was lit up again on Wednesday and now owns an ERA of 11.25, good for 153rd out of 155 pitchers who have thrown at least eight innings. When he misses, it's center cut.
It will come as absolutely zero surprise that shortly after Dalbec booted a routine grounder up the middle in the first inning on Wednesday, Sale served up a three-run homer. Maybe this is just who he is for two more years at $ 27.5 million per.
Meanwhile, $ 90 million import Masataka Yoshida was a late scratch with a sore hamstring, but 10 games into his career, his primary attribute seems to be pounding balls into the ground. Whatever brief hopes we had that he'd take the American League by storm, at a minimum those have been dashed.
Yoshida has formed one of the worst 3-4 combos in the league with veteran Justin Turner, who just delivered his first multi-hit effort since the second game of the season, but is still only hitting .233 with no homers.
Outside of outfielder Alex Verdugo and third baseman Rafael Devers and maybe McGuire, there's been little offense without Duvall. Closer Kenley Jansen looks legit, and reliever Josh Winckowski has been a revelation, but Chris Martin has pitched worse than his numbers, Ryan Brasier continues hanging by a thread, and the inspirational Zack Kelly suffered what looked to be a serious elbow injury on Wednesday.
It's enough to make one wonder not, "What the hell are we watching?" so much as, "For how much longer?"