The Red Sox have ended the Chaim Bloom era in Boston.
After four seasons as Chief Baseball Officer of the Red Sox, Bloom’s termination was announced today by owners John Henry and Tom Werner as well as Team President and CEO Sam Kennedy.
While the last two Red Sox seasons have ended in failure, I have to say that I am absolutely bewildered by the move. It felt to me like ownership was in lockstep with everything Bloom was doing, which was geared around building a team that can compete for championships for a decade. I assumed that the entire organization was on board with taking a step back at the big league level in order to accumulate the financial flexibility and minor league assets that it takes to build a long-term winner.
I was wrong.
Henry and Werner have apparently been gritting their teeth behind the scenes this whole time, raging that Bloom couldn’t build a plentiful minor league pipeline while simultaneously loading up the Major League roster. You know, as it that were still a thing in 2023.
What I’ve seen the past few years is Bloom shaping the Red Sox in the image of the MLB organizations that are built for long-term success right now. Teams like the Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Baltimore Orioles. Teams who endured lean years at the Major League level while accumulating promising, yet unproven talent that can come up through the system to either contribute to the big league team or be traded away in packages for established stars.
What I’ve seen the past few years is Bloom being patient while guys like Triston Casas, Jarren Duran, Brayan Bello, and Cedanne Rafaela have blossomed into players that look like they will be stalwarts for successful Red Sox teams in the future. Now I’ll admit that Bloom did not draft these guys, but he also didn’t dish off any of the promising players Dave Dombrowski drafted in order ot make room for his guys. No, Bloom held onto each of them, moving them up the minor league ladder and ensuring their development right alongside his own acquisitions. Acquisitions whose names Dave O’Brien and Joe Castiglione will be rattling off for years to come. Names like Masataka Yoshida, Josh Winckowski, Enmannuel Valdez, Wilyer Abreu, Marcelo Mayer, Blaze Jordan, Miguel Bleis, Mikey Romero, and Roman Anthony.
The tough part about building from within is that you can’t see fruit from the seeds you’ve planted for several years. I can only assume that Bloom was under the impression that Fenway Sports Group would be patient enough to wait for that fruit to ripen. FSG has always been rather quick to pull the trigger on axing executive decisionmakers based on public sentiment though, so Bloom should not be that surprised. I shouldn’t be either.
I really thought Henry and Werner had grown up a bit. I thought they saw the writing on the wall with the blueprint that was created by the best teams in Major League Baseball. I thought they saw what happened to the Boston Red Sox in 2019 and had grown fed up with the played out pattern of short championship windows followed by rebuilding on the fly for three years. I thought they had decided to let Chaim Bloom do the hard work of rebuilding the right way; prioritizing success over the next decade while doing his best to compete now.
Call me crazy, but I thought he did a damn good job at that.
There’s no doubt that Bloom has turned the Red Sox farm system from the absolute worst in the sport into one of the best. They are stocked with talent in the minors right now, even with so many prospects being promoted to The Show this season. Some of the assets that remain on the farm will undoubtedly contribute on the big league roster, while others will be shipped out for bigger fish.
There’s also no doubt that Bloom acquired a handful of veterans prior to this season that have played huge roles. Justin Turner, Chris Martin, Kenley Jansen, and Adam Duvall have been among the best players on the team. Turner is my offensive MVP, and you could make the argument that Martin has been the best pitcher on the entire roster.
Bloom’s failures at the big league level have largely been on the starting pitching side of things. But again, I thought ownership understood what he was doing.
With established starting pitchers leaguewide getting huge guaranteed contracts and then dropping like flies with UCL tears, young pitching is the key to sustained success. When you have guys like Bello, Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, and Garrett Whitlock in your organization, the team is far better served giving them every chance to prove themselves as weapons for the future rather than committing long-term dollars to older flamethrowers who are playing Russian Roulette with every fastball they throw.
Bello already looks like a star, and Crawford has what it takes to be a good middle-of-the-rotation piece moving forward. Tanner Houck is great virtually every start until his third time through the order, which will improve with time as his sinker grows more dynamic. That’s three-fifths of a solid rotation already in place.
Corey Kluber was an ill-advised acquisition that I hated it from the beginning, and Bloom is entirely to blame for banking the depth of this rotation on him. When Kluber was signed, I said that it would only be a matter of time before he was or demoted to the bullpen due to ineffectiveness or lost due to injury. Turns out, he was demoted to the bullpen for ineffectiveness and then lost due to injury. That’s a failure that Chaim Bloom has to wear, and I will never argue to the contrary.
Garrett Whitlock is another key foul-up for which Bloom has nobody to blame but himself. Whitlock was a sensational reliever in 2021, and I thought the Red Sox had found their new closer to replace the walking debacle that was Matt Barnes. But Bloom insisted on forcing Whitlock, a Rule 5 pick from the Yankees who had already undergone Tommy John surgery before the Red Sox obtained him, into the starting rotation because his stuff was too good to be confined to the bullpen. To the surprise of no one and despite all different types of innings and pitch restrictions, Whitlock has suffered repeated injuries while attempting to bear the workload of a starting pitcher. Who knows how much more durable he could have been just pitching the ninth inning all this time. Whitlock is another huge black eye for Bloom.
But the biggest crime that befell this pitching staff happened back in early 2019, when Chris Sale was signed to a five-year, $145 million contract extension despite breaking down in his first two years with the team. For the length of that deal (which kicked in at the start of the 2020 season), Sale has pitched in 53 games, logging a total of 282.1 innings while earning $117.5 million. That’s $1 million for every 2.4 innings pitched. Bloom had nothing to do with that deal, a deal which the Red Sox are stuck with due to Sale being utterly untradeable.
Given the MLB starting pitching landscape, specifically the innumerable injuries taking place across the league, I 100% agreed with Bloom’s policy of playing out his hand with the young pitchers that were already in the organization before making the decision to pony up big guaranteed bucks for older pitchers.
I laugh in the faces of every Red Sox fan who blames him for not re-signing Michael Wacha or Nathan Eovaldi, who have each missed two months this season, or Max Scherzer, who will now miss the rest of September.
Zach Eflin would have been a nice addition to the rotation, but this is a guy with a 4.30 career ERA. Based on the outcry from Red Sox fans, you’d think Bloom missed out on a young Bob Gibson. Plus Bloom made the guy a good offer that Eflin asked his hometown Tampa Bay Rays to match, which they did. Does anybody really think that Zach Eflin is the type of talent that the Red Sox should have blown away with a long-term offer that the Rays had no chance of matching? This isn’t Spencer Strider or Gerrit Cole we’re talking about.
What Could Have Been
Chaim Bloom has left behind a good team that is two pieces … that’s right, two pieces short of championship contention. They have a top five lineup in baseball, the entirety of which is slated to return except for Turner (player option) and Duvall (free agency), who could easily be re-signed in the offseason. They have a fantastic bullpen that has admittedly blown up due to the excessive workload that has been placed on them all year because of the lack of starting pitching. I can’t deny that the domino effect that has hurt the pitching staff in 2023 is a direct result of Bloom’s failure to add quality starting pitching.
But this is an issue that can easily be solved during this coming offseason. Now that the offense and bullpen are in great shape for the future, starting pitching is the far and away, indisputable area of need for the Boston Red Sox. It’s no longer a matter of determining where the Red Sox need to allocate their resources. They don’t need to break the bank on a first baseman or a shortstop or an outfielder. They have short and long-term answers, not to mention redundancy, at each of those positions. And yes, I do include Trevor Story in those areas of strength. He’s in Boston for four more years, and he still has all the tools that he had as a former MVP-candidate in Colorado. Give him a healthy body and a full offseason to prepare, and just watch what he does in 2024.
I was 100% sure that Bloom planned to fully address that dire area of need in free agency. And considering the enormous amount of financial flexibility and attractive assets in this team’s war chest, there is no reason to believe he would not succeed in doing so.
Who knows if Bloom planned to follow the path I recently ironed out for this offseason? But I guarantee you that he planned to target players similar to the ones I named. Had Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Mitch Keller been the pitchers he acquired, this team would be in the playoffs in 2024 with Bloom at the helm.
Additionally, this team would never be left in the position that Dave Dombrowski left them in at the end of 2019 as long as Bloom was running the show. Regardless of their level of success, Bloom would never leave the team with a mediocre team, a maxed out payroll, nothing left in the cupboard to replenish the team for the next three years, and no way to even begin the rebuilding process without trading away a future Hall-of-Famer.
And that may be the dirtiest part of this entire process. Chaim Bloom is going to be scapegoated for the loss of Mookie Betts, a move that everyone in the Red Sox organization and every fan with a brain in his/her head knew had to be made for the Red Sox to escape the disastrous state that Dave Dombrowski left them in. Bloom saved the future of this organization from his rubble, and FSG will leave him holding the bag for it all.
So what are Red Sox fans left with now?
A very good team that needs two starting pitchers that has a lot of money to spend and a lot of assets to trade. This is the greatest job opening imaginable for an executive, and the Red Sox will have seasoned applicants with successful backgrounds kicking their door down for interviews.
And that may be what this was always about. Moving onto the next phase of the Boston Red Sox.
Did Henry and Werner always plan to hire Bloom merely to do the dirty work of re-tooling the organization? Did they intend all along to let Chaim cook until they were flush with assets again only to hand the job off to some Dombrowski clone that’s good at writing checks and selling off pieces? I was so sure that they had moved on from that pattern. I was so sure that they wanted more for us.
I used to look at the Atlanta Braves roster and think this could be us! I used to look at the San Diego Padres roster and think thank God our guy isn’t this lazy and dumb!
Now, I’m not so sure what to expect.
I do expect the Red Sox to wage an all-out war on the rest of the league in free agency and trade some minor leaguers for established players. And I admit that it will be a very exciting offseason for us.
However, I also expect that some of the decisions made during this free agency period will be shortsighted and foolhardy. And that will be scary.
I expect that my dream of seeing a Red Sox team compete for championships for a decade has been murdered at the expense of silencing a vocal minority of fans that just want to win one right now!
I expect that 2024 and 2025 will be fun, attendance will go back up, and Red Sox Fever will be alive and well. That vocal minority will still be crying malfeasance after each and every loss, but they won’t be quite as loud as they were yesterday.
And I expect that we will all be right back in this same place once again in 2026. With me still marveling at what the Braves and Astros have built, and the vocal minority once again asking why the Red Sox can’t just go out and get a bunch of great players despite a weak farm simply because Red Sox fans should never have to wait on anything.
There are no shortcuts in life. Unless, of course, you ask a Red Sox fan.