I do not consider myself a Chaim Bloom stan, nor do I consider myself a Bloom hater. I’m more of an observer, and my main observation at the moment is that Bloom is extremely easy to predict, insofar as he’s like every good dynasty fantasy baseball player I’ve ever seen.
Bloom is after value, no matter what the payroll, and no matter what the payroll could be, given John Henry’s largesse. He wants to create value as if it’s a non-renewable resource and not, like, just sitting right there:
This is why, after trading Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley Jr. (who costs more than Renfroe) and two prospects, my reaction was, “Well yeah duh.” Team control is the name of the game, because even if Bradley costs more than Renfroe in the short term, the potential value of the prospects coming back clearly, to the predictable Bloom, far outweigh the value of Renfroe to a potentially overmatched 2022 team.
(On the “potentially overmatched” front, I’d like to simply acknowledge the Sox were kinda lucky to get as far as they did last year, a notion to which I think Bloom hews as strongly as I do. The real window for this team probably opens in 2023, though as last year proved, a random run is always possible.)
Before the lockout hit, Bloom made three relatively major free agent signings in addition to the Bradley trade. He brought on Michael Wacha for a year. He brought on Rich Hill for a year. He brought on James Paxton for a year or two or three, depending on how things work out. The umbrella point here is that he didn’t sign anyone for any appreciable length of time or onerous amount of money, likely because financial flexibility really is the end goal of building this team.
I am not complaining. Nor am I cheering. I’m observing, and my observations basically boil down to “wow, this is just like dynasty fantasy baseball.”
For those of you who don’t play, which is probably most of you, dynasty baseball is fantasy baseball in which you keep players forever, at least in theory. In reality you trade like crazy. More importantly to Bloom and our boys, you try to never lose a trade unless you’re really sure you’re trying to win it all, lest you set yourself back a year or two. Ideally you bide your time and then strike.
The major difference with real baseball, of course, is that it’s not real, and “going for it” in dynasty baseball is not a life-defining exercise. If Bloom tried to put the Sox over the top last year and failed, there could be whispers about his strategy. That he skimmed past with Kyle Schwarber and two relievers, a group that nearly won the Sox the ALCS, seems to be a notch in his favor.
I’m not so sure. The Schwarber heist was good, but it was a dealt to supplement a quixotic World Series bid that just so happened to come to life. Now that Schwarber commands something of a premium on an open market, I can’t see Bloom going after him. I can see Bloom targeting someone like Seiya Suzuki because, unlike Schwarber, there’s potential value in a straight free agent deal due to the uncertainties in switching from NPB to MLB. Given the number of clues tying Suzuki to the Sox, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was a done deal the second the lockout is over.
The other real option for Bloom this offseason is Nick Castellanos, a picture-perfect Fenway player who’s far more than just meme fodder. If Bloom signs Casty, it’s a sign I’m wrong about 2022, and Bloom thinks they have a real shot, and I’d love to see it. It would be the first premium deal for a position player during his tenure, and it would tell us that the worm is beginning to turn in favor of a full-on assault on the division and league.
I just don’t expect it, is all. I think we’re in for another season of value creation, and probably another and another after that. Just like a dynasty baseball manager. Which, of course, I am. So maybe I’m just projecting. And if so, so be it, because I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith, as there’s a deep drive into left field by Castellanos and that’ll be a home run. And that’ll make it a 4-0 ballgame.