Red Sox players question Chaim Bloom ahead of MLB trade deadline
As the August 2 MLB trade deadline approaches, Chaim Bloom is on the hot seat.
Will he continue dismantling the core of the 2018 championship team, or bring in the reinforcements his players so desperately want?
There are strong arguments for both options, but the players have made it clear they’d prefer the latter. As the Boston Red Sox flailed their way through July and injuries piled up, Xander Bogaerts begged the front office to buy, not sell. And on Sunday, after they pulled off a commanding 7-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers to salvage the homestand, JD Martinez and Christian Vazquez had some choice words for the executive who holds their fate in his hands.
When asked if he thinks Bloom believes in the current squad, Vazquez gave a vague, but honest answer, “I don’t know.”
Martinez was more explicit:
"“I want to make this as hard on Chaim as possible.”"
Yikes is one of several five-letter words that come to mind. Chaos is another.
It says so much about the current state of the team that players keep making comments of this nature.
Instead of building upon last year’s unexpected success, the Sox have been repeatedly slammed with injuries and several of the healthy players are struggling. After going 20-6 in June (thanks in large part to an easy schedule), they went 8-19 in July, including utterly collapsing against their biggest competition, the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays. 103 games into the season, the Sox are under .400 against each of their American League East rivals, who’ve collectively outscored them 246-153 over 42 games.
Their struggles against the teams they’d face if they somehow grabbed one of the three AL Wild Cards is one of the strongest arguments that the Sox need to sell this week. It’s easy to beat bad teams during the regular season, but they’ll only face good teams once they get there. If the Sox can’t beat the fiercest competition now, why would the outcome be any different in October? Better to trade those soon-to-be free agents and get something for the future, instead of waiting for them to walk away in the fall.
On the other hand, anything can happen in the playoffs. No team has proven that more in the last two decades than the Sox. They’re still the only team to come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a postseason series. If this was a movie, they’d be rallying for one push for glory before the free agents walk off into the sunset.
Martinez and Vazquez will both be free agents at the end of this season, making them natural trade chips. But it’s easy to argue that this Sox team can be significantly better off if it gets reinforcements this week instead of being stripped for parts. The list of injuries is longer than a CVS receipt; currently, Kiké Hernández, Trevor Story, Rafael Devers, Matt Barnes, Matt Strahm, Josh Taylor, Tyler Danish, Michael Wacha, Rich Hill, Chris Sale, and James Paxton are all on various lengths of the IL. Sale finally came back from a rib fracture that sidelined him for almost the entire half of the season, only to get hit on the hand by a comebacker, a freak accident in his second start. Story was also hit by a pitch in mid-July, and his latest doctor’s visit revealed a hairline fracture in his wrist. It must be deflating to be constantly fighting a rising tide of injuries within their own camp while also competing against other teams.
But plenty of promising teams throughout MLB history could say, “We would have been great if we’d only had another starting pitcher,” when in reality, they just weren’t good enough. Even when the Sox were a significantly healthier team earlier in the season, they weren’t able to best their opponents. And realistically, the overwhelming number of injuries makes it hard to see the front office being able to plug each roster leak enough to make this a contending team.
It’s hard to know what Bloom really thinks. He runs one of the most popular sports teams with a local media that puts them under a microscope and one of the most rabid fanbases. At any given moment, what he’s saying, thinking, and doing might all be completely different and contradictory. His moves are often impossible to predict and sometimes make no sense to anyone outside of his inner circle. That said, it’s telling of the atmosphere within the organization that players are speaking so freely about him. Whether they’re emboldened by the knowledge that they’re getting traded this week or so fed up with the change in priorities within the organization that they don’t care, these comments say a lot about the current mindset in the clubhouse.
Unfortunately, whether Bloom believes in this team is somewhat moot; the ones who don’t seem to believe are his bosses, the people who own the team. After all, they’re the ones who hired Bloom to make them cheaper, even if it costs them their reputation, championships, and fans. It’s ownership that regularly decides homegrown, proven talents don’t deserve to get paid, but unproven free agents do, a practice they’ve repeated several times over the last two decades, long before hiring Bloom. They’re the ones who raised ticket prices after demanding he trade Betts.
Need further proof that Bloom isn’t the main problem? Look at how this same ownership group planned to furlough Liverpool FC employees during the pandemic, another team they own, and with which Bloom has no affiliation nor power.
It’s easy to forget that Bloom serves at the pleasure of the owners of this team, but it’s the truth. That doesn’t take him entirely off the hook, but it’s important to remember who hired him and why. Ownership squired him away from the Rays so that he could turn one of the richest, big-market teams into a slightly higher-spending version of his former team. He can make his recommendations and requests, but it’s not his money to spend.
Bloom’s had the deck stacked against him from the start. Will he raise or fold at the trade deadline? And what will the players say when he does?