Heading into the trade deadline, we knew the Red Sox would make some sort of deal, but that was about all we knew. Coming out of it, a much clearer picture emerges, not just for this year, obviously, but moving forward.
The trades Chaim Bloom made—for Kyle Schwarber and two relievers—were defined by their cost. Bloom plainly wanted to make relatively cheap trades, and he did precisely that, swooping into the Nationals’s DMs after their blockbuster Max Scherzer/Trea Turner deal and plucking Schwarbs for Aldo Ramirez. The two latter deals for relievers were so small they’re barely worth mentioning unless Hansel Robles can revert to some flashes of yore and make an impact, which would of course be nice.
The five-game losing streak that followed hard upon the relative deadline inaction went a long way toward stoking anger over Bloom’s strategy. Should the Sox have done more? Maybe, but that’s a value judgment that was made two years ago, not by Bloom, but by John Henry. Put another way, Bloom did was he was hired to do.
You don’t have to look too far to the southwest to see the opposite strategy in action, where, in Philadelphia, Bloom’s predecessor played to form just as Bloom did. Dave Dombrowski traded Spencer Howard, Philly’s top pitching prospect, for Texas’s Kyle Gibson and Ian Kennedy, in a deal so note-perfect Dombo that if it was a blind item you’d be able to identify him just by the smell of the whole thing.
Of course you don’t need to go that far down I-95 to see a more active team; you don’t even need to switch leagues or divisions. The Yankees added Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, two very good players, while retaining their most prized prospects. North of the border the Blue Jays did them one better, trading two of their prized prospects for Minnesota’s José Berríos.
The contrast with the Sox’s approach was striking in all three cases, but there was one not so teeny-tiny factor that made them all different. Those teams are on the playoff periphery, whereas Boston was firmly in the picture. They had to make big moves to get back in the game. Well maybe Philly didn’t, but a Tiger can’t change his stripes, and Dombrowski’s gonna Dombrowski.
Longtime readers of this column will perhaps remember the author’s fondness for Dombo’s methods. It’s the Flags Fly Forever approach, and it’s one that the Sox could have taken this year to make themselves as strong as possible in what figures to be a bruising final two months without much complaint. Longtime readers of this column will also know I love to complain, and if I did whine toward Bloom’s approach this trade deadline I’d have a lot of company. A good number of Sox fans think the team didn’t do enough, a group that, yes, includes me.
But I’m not going to complain. Now that the deadline has passed and Bloom has played to type I realize he was always going to play to type, and it’s why he has the job. This is what John Henry and co. wanted, and it’s what they got. Just as you wouldn’t sign Steph Curry to shoot elbow jumpers, ownership signed Bloom specifically for the long-term vision the latter impressed was his focus in the dark days following the deadline. Everyone’s cards are on the table now. There isn’t much mystery about Bloom’s approach—neither about this year, not about what type of tack he’ll take in the future.
This isn’t an endorsement or a criticism; it’s kinda just how it is. If the Sox come up a little short—like Bloom’s former employer has traditionally done, whether that’s fair to point out or not now that’s he’s in a big market—the questions will ask themselves. And given that it’s the most likely result even in the best of years, the questions are already queueing up. Long story short, I don’t blame Bloom for being Bloom. This is just who the Sox are right now, until their owners decides to change directions in another five years, as they have been wont to do in the past. It was merely the first disappointing deadline day. It won’t be the last.