Red Sox’ Chaim Bloom needs two more seasons
The 2022 baseball season was not kind to the Boston Red Sox, especially Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom.
The phrase “Other than that, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?” summarizes the disaster that Bloom was part of, and it shows on social media and in traditional media.
This will be a rather tepid “defense” of Bloom, with the underlying optimum word being “patience.”
The dissecting of the failure is quite simplified to one succinct word: Pitching. The staff collapse was Patient Zero in vanquishing the season – a season with the masses of Red Sox Nation anticipated with jubilance after the surprising success of 2021.
Bloom’s reputation was built on success in Tampa with a low payroll, excellent farm system development, and getting talent on the cheap- talent that generally exceeded expectations.
“I was just following orders” is an oft-used excuse for failure to do the right thing, and Bloom can use that phrase in his memoirs. Principal owner John Henry has done a pivot on baseball expenditures, or that is the party line. More will be known now that the Red Sox are significantly under the luxury tax.
Just what input does Bloom have? Was Bloom directed to sign a free agent of note in 2021? The Red Sox waited…..and waited…until Trevor Story became the last one on the dance card. Alas, this choice had less than a successful outcome, but injuries are the great unknown. Story symbolizes that nothing is more consistent than inconsistency.
Bloom replaced Dave Dombrowski, and Dombrowski’s history is one of short-term success with longer-term consequences, but Dombo got the Phillies to the World Series just as he did with the Red Sox. Part of Bloom’s responsibility was cleaning up after Dombrowski.
Bloom’s strategy of throwing it against and seeing what sticks regarding pitching was a disaster. The carousel of arms off the waiver wire or brought up from Worcester (AAA) did nothing to soothe the ire of RSN. The only promising arm was righty Brayan Bello signed during the Dombrowski regime.
Administrations overlap as bad contracts, good contracts, great drafts, and horrible drafts are moved forward. Bloom inherited his share of all. But now the winnowing is speeding up, and more of the farm system development and contractual musings are in Bloom’s closet.
Contracts are the paramount issue, and I plead guilty to the beating to death of Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers’s situation. What level of responsibility falls on Bloom’s desk? I tend to view it as Bloom carrying the bad news to the player’s agents via a directive from senior management, which I assume would be Henry, Tom Weiner, and Sam Kennedy since Henry has become somewhat insular in direct dealings with the media and I assume directly with the Muntenia of contract negotiations. I would like to know if anyone outside the management bubble knows precisely the responsibility parameters.
Does Bloom deserve more time? The Red Sox organization has a plan, and Bloom is a vital part of it – at least I hope there is a plan. The Red Sox have issued a vote of confidence to Bloom and manager Alex Cora, but that could change dramatically based on the whims of senior management. Next season is the crucible for Bloom and possibly Cora.
I would go further than one season. Bloom’s influence on the farm system is taking hold, and drafting and international signings now have his stamp upon them, not Drombrowski’s. An excellent time frame will be the next two seasons to see if Boston does create a Tampa-type farm system. Then there is the money.
How much you spend is not as important as how you spend it. Story has been the only significant free-agent signing, and I assume Henry et al are the drivers behind the more adventurous ones. Somehow I doubt Henry is enjoying his morning latte on his yacht and opens the Globe to see Bloom has just signed Aaron Judge for $400 MM.
Bloom may have a wish list to present to Henry with the stamp of his evaluators. What do we need, what should we pay, and how much in prospects if it is a trade situation? This is all a reported strength of Bloom.
A voracious fan base and media will crucify Bloom (and Cora) if the team stagnates again in 2023. Who could blame them? So I will again state that Bloom needs another two seasons. Painful as it may be or as rewarding as it may be. If Bloom needs a baseball legacy, it may die or survive in Boston.