When Chaim Bloom was hired as Dave Dombrowski‘s successor in November 2019, it’s fair to say that Red Sox Nation was a bit concerned about the change in leadership.
After all, Dombrowski, who just took the Philadelphia Phillies from the longest playoff appearance drought in the National League to Game 6 of the World Series, built a Boston Red Sox team that won a franchise-record 108 regular-season games in 2018 and their fourth championship in fifteen years. That’s the good stuff. Bloom, on the other hand, made his bones in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, a notoriously frugal club that often seems to prioritize prospects over postseason runs.
The concerns of the Fenway Faithful have been partially validated. The Sox have finished at the bottom of the division twice in the three years since Bloom came to town, but they also went all the way to Game 6 of the ALCS in 2021, though that seemed more like a pleasant surprise than an intentional effort on the front office’s part. The farm system is flourishing, but Mookie Betts is gone, and Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers may follow.
It turns out, fans weren’t the only ones apprehensive about the change in leadership. In October, Bloom sounded like he hadn’t been over the moon about joining the organization in November 2019:
"“It’s better than what I thought it was going to be. I appreciate it more now with it being home. I think it’s probably the best in-person baseball experience in the country. I haven’t been to enough places to say the world, but I put it up against anywhere. It’s special.“The energy that is here, in good times and bad, is really unique.”via Boston Globe (subscription required)"
Better than he thought it was going to be. What did he think it was going to be?
Chaim Bloom admits he was hesitant to take Red Sox job in 2019
Maybe he was trying to say that he thought it would be a good experience and it exceeded his expectations, but it’s very easy to read this as hesitation and trepidation.
But can you blame him for being apprehensive? Bloom saw Red Sox Nation from the other side during his many years with the Rays, as well as the frequent top-level front-office turnover. And coming into the hornets’ nest knowing he might be told to trade Betts not long after was not an undertaking for the faint of heart. He immediately put himself in an unlikable position, and many Red Sox fans seem to forget that he serves at the pleasure of ownership.
Of course, no one forced Bloom to take the job. And this isn’t to give him a free pass. He’s bossed around by the owners, but they don’t dictate his every move or how he decides to treat players. It’s hard to see John Henry or Tom Werner being so involved in the day-to-day that they ordered Bloom not to even give Brock Holt a call to let him know that he’d have to seek employment elsewhere when he became a free agent. That’s one of many examples, and raving about a player to the media while not treating them courteously in private isn’t how things are done in Boston.
Whether fans like it or not, Bloom’s job seems pretty secure. The Sox are sticking with him after two abysmal seasons with one unexpected success in between. Compared to Dombrowski, who got the axe during an above-.500 season (and after three consecutive division titles and a championship), his successor clearly has a much longer leash with ownership. The contrast is stark: Dombrowski has always been focused on winning, while Bloom got his start with a team that’s never won and probably never will if they don’t up their payroll. After the Sox fired Dombrowski, Henry attempted to explain that the executive and ownership were no longer ‘on the same wavelength.’ In doing so, he inadvertently informed the public that ownership was no longer focused on winning.
Bloom says he understands the intangibles of Boston baseball, but he’s yet to prove it. He may feel more comfortable here now, but fans certainly aren’t convinced that he gets it.