There was a lot of talk this offseason about how the Red Sox need to have a great season for Chaim Bloom to keep his job. I do not think this is true.
This theory makes sense on the surface, given how bad the team was last year, but I have doubts. The conventional wisdom is that anything less than a playoff push will force John Henry’s hand or pull at his emotional levers, and while I acknowledge both are possible, I think, barring disaster, it’s not the case.
A big part of me, the lion’s share of me — the increasingly fat middle of me — thinks this because I firmly believe that Bloom was hired in 2019 on the strength of a five-year plan and Henry, having whipsawed between approaches in his more hands-on ownership years in the early 2000’s, has decided to let the franchise stabilize a little bit. In theory, at least. While going from the ALCS in 2021 to last place in 2022 isn’t the model of consistency, both results are well within the expectations of a Bloom-run team in its early years and can, until now, be explained away. Given that he’s still around, I think hiring Chaim was never never about 2021 or 2022, but instead 2023 and 2024, and now mostly just the latter. 2024, and not this year, is when the rubber really hits the road.
If this wasn’t true I think Bloom would have been fired already. Henry seems to have relaxed a bit in oversight of the ways his baseball ops guy operates, for better or worse, and in that sense I think Bloom has more freedom than Theo Epstein, Ben Cherington or Dave Dombrowski before him at this stage of his tenure. He is plainly a long-term project, and Bloom has always been focused to these ends, even in the face of apathy and bile.
Some of that was from me, but I expect good things this year. Yesterday’s 10-9 loss was as encouraging as what seemed liked a straightforward Opening Day failure can get. Corey Kluber didn’t have it and Ryan Brasier got shelled and the Sox only still came up just short after a commendable comeback. In the event this team’s pitching does anything whatsoever, the playoffs are easily within reach.
My theory is that they’ll get close enough, and that this team will easily be plucky or good enough to push Bloom’s tenure into an all-or-nothing 2024. Only a total bottoming out can stop that now, and there’s nothing better to do right now than sit back and enjoy the rise.