Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi throws against the Houston Astros during the ninth inning in Game 4 of baseball's American League Championship Series Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, in Boston. Credit: Winslow Townson / AP

Those of you who are at my advancing age or older remember spring time and looking ahead to a Red Sox season with renewed yet cautious optimism. Or perhaps it was thinly veiled skepticism.

I’m talking long before 2004. For years and years it always seemed like the Red Sox had just enough talent to win a bunch of games, but they were always missing the key ingredient to the recipe that could actually help them claim that elusive World Series title.

But since 2004 it seems we’ve all approached every season with unbridled excitement as each year there’s a real possibility another World Series title could come back to Fenway. And of course three more times after 2004 we have been correct.

But I fear this year whatever optimism we harbor for this Red Sox team will be slapped right out of our heads, Will Smith style.

This team sort of fits the description of many of those pre-2004 teams. There’s some talent here. Definitely a bunch of guys that can hit the ball. The infield should be exciting and much better defensively without the lapses that we saw last year. The outfield lacks the pop of my youth but still should be solid in the field and at the plate. (JBJ excluded. Terrible trade.)

Alex Cora recently identified his bullpen as his biggest concern right now. That’s fair. Definitely question marks there. But for me where this whole season falls apart is the starting rotation.

You know how sometimes you go to a restaurant and can look through the menu and find a ton of appealing items? Then there’s one section with a bunch of stuff listed that you wouldn’t eat on a bet?  

That’s how I feel about this team and rotation. The rest of the Sox menu looks good but to be perfectly honest the starting rotation is nauseating and probably will cause us a lot of heartburn all year.

Chris Sale is hurt and out until at least mid season. That leaves a group of five guys who had a collective record of 30 wins and 31 losses last season.

I like Eovaldi but he really should be a great number three or four at this point. Wacha and Hill are way past their prime. Houck and Pivetta could bring something I suppose.

But combined as a group there’s just not enough there to keep lineups in check. The bullpen‘s going to get a lot of innings for sure.

Hope springs eternal and it will be great to have baseball and the Sox back. But I’m pretty sure by August we’ll be fed up with this team and ready to cleanse our palate for the Patriots.

Jeff Solari is the founder of the Maine Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free weekly sports email newsletter. He has been in sports media since he was 17 and is not shy with his opinions or perspective on the world of sports. The longtime sports broadcaster is a graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the University of Southern Maine. Previous gigs included WLBZ-TV and WCSH-TV, host of “The Shootaround” talk radio show on WZON and stints with “Downtown” and “The Drive.” Solari has won more than 15 Maine Association of Broadcasters and AP broadcaster awards.

Jeff Solari, Sports contributor

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports email newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in...