Watching the bottom of the ninth inning between the Boston Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers April 8, with Boston leading 10-7 and the top of the Detroit order coming to the plate, I turned to a friend of mine and made the following declaration:

“You know, [Miguel] Cabrera is going to tie the game, right?”

True to form, the first two Tigers reached base and Cabrera cranked the first Alfredo Aceves offering he saw into the left-field bleachers to tie the game.

Rarely, if ever, have I been more irritated to be right.

As we now know, the Tigers won the game 13-12 in the bottom of the 11th inning on a two-run home run by Alex Avila, blowing the Sox’s second chance in an hour to close out their first win of the year.

As a lifelong Red Sox fan, I, like most of the card-carrying members of Red Sox Nation, cannot wrap my head around this team.

They are not the group of lovable “idiots” from 2004 that came together to end 86 years of misery, and they are not the 2007 team that had just the perfect mix of youth and experience to win their second World Series title of the decade.

No, if I can sum this team up in one word, at least in the early stage of the season, it would be: disjointed.

Individually, each of them seems to bring something to the table. Dustin Pedroia’s team leadership. Jacoby Ellsbury’s speed and, until his outfield blunder that cost Boston three runs Sunday, his defense. The abilities of both David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez to hit the long ball can also not go unnoted.

But, collectively, there seems to be something amiss, and it seems to be more than just the bullpen. Which, let’s be honest, is in disarray, and that, unfortunately, is the nicest way I can put it.

Sure, Aceves did get his first save Monday night, April 9 in Toronto, but they’ve definitely stumbled out of the gate, going 1-4 through their first five games. Based on the serving size of the bullpen we’ve gotten over the first four games of the season as a whole, with the likes of Scott Atchison, Mark Melancon and Franklin Morales, things look shaky at best.

Let’s put it this way. When people start saying things like “Vicente Padilla looked good today” and Felix Doubront had the strongest performance of the week among Red Sox starting pitching, it’s time to get all the kids out of the pool.

The majority of things the Red Sox have done this season, in my opinion, have been head-scratchers.

They trade starting shortstop Marco Scutaro for a bag of balls presumably to free up money to go get starting pitcher Roy Oswalt, but don’t make a move. Instead they opt to let Mike Aviles be the team’s shortstop and send prospect Jose Iglesias, the human vacuum, back to AAA Pawtucket.

They move Daniel Bard, who did not end the season well last year but as a whole, was one of the team’s top relievers, to the starting rotation, where Oswalt should have been penciled in, again making one scratch their head about the Scutaro trade.

And don’t even get me started on new manager Bobby Valentine. This is hard enough as it is.

The biggest thing I see this team lacking, which is something that many of the Red Sox teams over the past decade have had whether they’ve won the World Series or not, is confidence. It’s almost as if we’ve reverted to the pre-2004 Red Sox where everyone is looking around waiting for someone else to make a play, and the fans are collectively looking around waiting to see what will go wrong.

To be fair, the Red Sox organization has gone through the ringer over the last six months with Theo Epstein and Terry Francona leaving and the public relations nightmare that followed, the chicken and beer incident with Josh Beckett and John Lackey and, of course, the team’s late-season collapse that cost them the American League wild card. A collapse so bad it nearly trumps the team’s still-enjoyable-to-think-about-comeback in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees — nearly.

But it’s time the Sox pick themselves up off the ground from their six-month hangover, stop looking in the rear mirror and figure out how they are going to get through another 157 games. Because if you look around, you quickly start to realize it’s not going to be easy.

Detroit looks every bit as good as advertised in their three-game sweep of Boston, with Cabrera and Prince Fielder looking to be the most feared duo since Ortiz and Manny Ramirez in their respective heydays.

Los Angeles went out and got Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, bolstering an already impressive offensive lineup and pitching staff.

Texas, who has represented the American League in the World Series the last two seasons, looks as confident as ever and has the cohesion top to bottom that a team like Boston currently lacks.

Oh, and in case you forgot, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are still in the American League East.

The tone of this column is pessimistic to be sure, but truth be told, the Red Sox do have a good team this season. But the team also has a considerable number of question marks and holes. If everything goes well, they could be looking down at the rest of the AL East having won 100 games. If injuries persist and the team does not begin to gel, they could be hovering around the .500 mark, missing the postseason for the third straight year.

Unfortunately, with the cosmic shift the American League has experienced this offseason, the Red Sox are fortunate that another wild card spot was added for this year’s playoffs. Because if things do not come together over the next few months, that may be their only shot to get in to postseason play.

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at