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Meet The New Guy: Craig Breslow

The Red Sox are leaderless no more

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Los Angeles Angels v Boston Red Sox Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Who is he and where did he come from?

He’s Craig Breslow and he hails from the mediocre state of Connecticut. More specially, he comes from Trumbull, Connecticut, which famously interrupted a run of Taiwanese dominance to win the Little League World Series in 1989. Former NHL star Chris Drury was on that team, but Breslow, who was only 9-years-old at the time, was not.

What position is he?

Good question! Isn’t it annoying that we can’t just say “he’s the GM” anymore? For decades we all knew exactly what “GM” meant: the person in charge of organization-wide on-field personnel. Then the era of title inflation began (interestingly enough, I believe it started with Theo Epstein, who was given the title of President of Baseball Operations when he was hired by the Cubs), and now there are seemingly fourteen different titles even though there’s absolutely no practical difference between any of them.

Anyway, it appears that Breslow is going to go by “Chief Baseball Officer,” which is the same title that the Sox gave to Chaim Bloom.

Is he any good?

Another good question! Let’s start with this: everyone seems to think that Craig Breslow is very, very smart. This reputation stems in large part from the fact that he attended Yale. We don’t see a lot of professional athletes come out of the Ivies, so whenever one does, the media obsessively harps on this biographical detail and then treats said athlete like he’s Stephen Hawking with spikes on (see, e.g., Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jeremy Lin, Chris Young, Brad Ausmus, and Mike Mussina, who went to Stanford, not an Ivy, but who was constantly observed doing the New York Times crossword puzzle in the clubhouse, so sportswriters just assumed he was a genius).

I have met and worked with countless Ivy League alums throughout my life. And it goes without saying that, while many of them are very intelligent, many of them are also just kind of average people whose parents went to an Ivy and then were shrewd enough to get their kids into rowing or squash at an early age. Moreover, in light of the fact that a plurality of the world’s war mongers, white collar criminals, con artists, and political demagogues come from institutions like Harvard and Yale, you’d think that we as a society would have learned to stop giving these people ingrained deference by now. But alas, we haven’t.

Having said that, there’s ample evidence beyond his Ivy League pedigree to suggest that Breslow is in fact a really smart dude. For starters, he majored in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry which, with apologies to Theo Epstein’s American Studies, is a real-ass major. Breslow then applied to and was admitted to NYU medical school, deferring admission to follow his dream of becoming a journeyman middle reliever.

So, okay, he’s smart. But does he have what it takes to successfully run a baseball team? After all, the most influential GM of all-time (non-Branch Rickey division) didn’t attend college at all. Moreover, few serious people ever doubted Chaim Bloom’s intelligence (he went to Yale, too, of course). Instead, many of Bloom’s failures seemed to stem not from his brain but from his temperament — since his firing, countless people around the game have pointed to Bloom’s indecisiveness and passivity as the source of his downfall.

This is where things with Breslow are much more opaque. He has held precisely one front office job in his life: he ran the Chicago Cubs pitching development program for the past four years. It looks like he did an outstanding job in that role. As The Athletic’s Chad Jennings points out, Cubs minor league pitchers collectively threw harder than the pitchers of any other organization in 2023 and were graded to have the second-best stuff. Meanwhile, homegrown Cubs pitchers tossed 417.1 innings last year, after totaling just 178.1 innings between 2013 and 2019 combined. It seems like he’s really, really good at running a pitching development program.

But, notably, Breslow’s role appears to have had little to do with roster construction, free agent signings, or trades (though there are reports that he had become part of the Cubs front office “inner circle,” beyond his role in pitching development). In light of the fact that many speculate that Bloom was let go because ownership didn’t think he had what it takes to aggressively pursue the Major League talent required to take the Red Sox to the next level, hiring someone with an indiscernible track record in that area is certainly an interesting choice.

So is he any good? No one knows yet, but let’s hope so.

Show me a cool highlight.

What do front office highlights even look like? I suppose there might be video of him putting together a nicely organized spreadsheet out there somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. Instead, here he is standing in the outfield of a little league diamond and talking about how much he likes Eminem and Counting Crows:

What’s he doing in his picture up there?

Marching back into Fenway like General MacArthur returning to the Philippines. Will he also restore the liberties of Red Sox Nation based upon a foundation of indestructible strength? Time will tell.

What’s his role on the 2024 Red Sox?

Find some damn pitching.