It’s September and the Red Sox are out of it, while Mookie Betts is completing another “inner-circle Hall of Fame season,” and Xander Bogaerts is twisting in the wind with respect to a new contract. And once again, Chaim Bloom is out here saying nothing at all.
Bloom told Enrique Hernández the team will be “much better” next year, but I don’t believe him, because he also said that the “only” way to win “every year” is to have a strong minor league system, and that’s not true either. The way to win every year is to try to win every year. There are several ways to do it.
Naturally I understand that building a solid minor league system is helpful for an organization. My major beef with Bloom is that I don’t much care if the Sox are capable of winning it every year if they don’t try to win it in any given year.
Last year the Sox made it two wins from the World Series and Kyle Schwarber was a great trade deadline pickup, but Bloom got Schwarber because of his price and, frankly, he got lucky. A big part of getting lucky is being in the right place at the right time, so kudos to him for that. But last year was unsustainable and Schwarber just made it more fun.
Obviously, my main ailment is that I simply have never been able to square the goal of being competitive every year with letting Betts leave, which has, as many of you know well by now, poisoned my attitude toward the franchise and the people that run it after a solid two decades of, if not consistent support, a belief that it has operated in good faith.
While Bloom makes sounds and says nothing, at least Sam Kennedy says demonstrably true things, like that fact that he’s sure that the ownership group has confidence in the direction of the franchise, which, like, I don’t think has ever been in doubt. They all want things to be like this because they believe that Bloom can turn the Sox into a souped-up version of the Rays, who don’t spend a lot of money, which they want to save.
In fairness, I think there’s a chance Bloom turns the Sox into the Rays, but critically and painfully obviously, Boston’s advantage is in being able to take risks where Tampa Bay cannot, and Bloom seems terminally unwilling to take these risks.*
* Aaron Judge, past age 30, is perhaps a bad example of such a risk because he’s so not clearly the type of player Bloom wants, which I only mention because people are bringing it up just to have things to write about as the Sox play the Yankees this week. But “big signings” in general certainly apply.
To this end I think that there’s no pretending that the Sox will actually compete for World Series titles every year, at least at the top of the table. There are two teams that do that – the Dodgers and the Astros – and they’re both driven by an urgency, from ownership down, that makes the entire organization run. The Sox plainly do not have this urgency, and have elected to passively compete on a year-to-year basis rather than actively doing so, for now.
From a pure business standpoint, this makes sense. It costs less. From a trying-to-win-baseball-games standpoint, it does not. If the Sox were serious about trying to win every year, they’d still have Betts. They don’t, and Bogaerts is probably next out the door as they bet the farm on process over talent about 10-15 years after that approach was remarkable in any way.
Bloom is paid to make the tough calls, and to this point, he has fallen back on old habits rather than making one. He’s kicked the can for long enough that it’s fair to ask if he can really do anything else. We’ll know by this time next year, that’s for sure, but I have a pretty clear idea of where we’ll be.