The Red Sox are a professional organization. We know this; they’re a multi-billion dollar entity with billionaire owners and millionaire players and their own brand of hot dogs. Nothing about all that is new. What is relatively new is that they’re acting like one. They’re not just professional. They’re professional.
This was the idea behind the hiring of Chaim Bloom and the ousting of Dave Dombrowski, more or less explicitly. It was less about the results than the process. Dombrowski’s results are second to none, literally, in Red Sox history, yet he was sent packing for an Ivy League guy who traded the team’s star player on arrival to get the team under the luxury tax. It is not hard to draw a straight line from the Mookie Betts deal—which was obviously an ownership priority, or at least blessed by the billionaire John Henry—to Dombrowski’s surprise ouster, given Dombo’s preference for acquiring and keeping the best players in baseball.
Bloom recognized that he could do more with less, trading Betts and David Price to the Dodgers in a talent-losing deal. It’s still immoral and bad, but I’ve never blamed Bloom, and the fruits of his labor have never been as delicious as they are right now. Not only can both things be true, both of them are true. It was a messy situation that has resolved in a first-place team, but it’s about more than that. It’s about stability.
The trade deadline is coming up, and in most cases I’d expect the Sox to do some serious adding to their already-impressive lineup, but I don’t think it’s for certain this year. I think it’s possible, and from hearing Bloom tell it they’re into players who aren’t simply rentals, because rentals aren’t part of the process. Which is to say the process is probably healthier now than it was under Dombrowski. Bloom has, in short order, created a team where all the obvious midseason moves can be capably filled by an internal option. That’s good on several fronts, one of which is that it allows more (ahem) flexibility to get done any external moves, such as trading Bobby Dalbec and friends for Carlos Santana and a reliever, which I humbly suggest, but anything similar would do nicely.
Of course this is only true because of the work of Dombrowski and even his predecessors, because the team stays the team even during leadership changes. Chris Sale might be the huge midseason addition, but it’s all because Dombo traded for him all those years ago. Jarren Duran was drafted in the seventh round in 2018 under Dombrowski, and, of course, Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers predate even his reign. Bloom hasn’t done it alone and I don’t think he’d claim to have done so.
But he’s done it so well it’s impossible to ignore, given the results. Virtually no one expected the Sox to be in first place, right now, least of all me, and I think the professional bent of the Bloom era has helped (as has Alex Cora). Something as simple as holding Duran and Tanner Houck back until after the All-Star break, often in favor of underperforming veterans, shows the organization’s commitment to letting said veterans work through their struggles in a professional environment. You don’t need to look beyond Kiké Hernández’s resurgence to see the upside of this approach, and with the second half finally here Duran and Houck have arrived to clear out the downside.
The long and short of it? The Sox are not being run by the seat of anyone’s pants, and we are all better for it, even if we had to go a few steps backward to first go forward. I’m not sure even Bloom expected us to be in this spot at this point, but he gets a huge amount of credit for it, full stop, and most importantly, I know he’s prepared for whatever’s next. That’s all we can hope for, and all we need.