The Red Sox have now played 87 games. For those of you keeping track at home, that means they are six games past the season’s halfway point. The results have been uninspiring, frustrating, and at times downright infuriating. The team is one game above .500 at 44-43 with a +11 run differential. As far as the playoffs are concerned, they are four games out of the third wildcard spot behind the Blue Jays and Yankees. Those teams have far more star power and surpassing either of them will be an uphill battle. According to FanGraphs the Red Sox have just a 17.7% chance to make the playoffs, everyone else in their division is 57% or higher. I don’t like their odds.
Bloom is the architect of this underachieving group and his fingerprints are deeply embedded across this roster. I wrote a deep dive on his roster moves over his first three seasons as Chief Baseball Officer and my conclusion was that he deserved one more offseason to show the fans and ownership he has what it takes to put a winning team together. His most recent offseason consisted of signing LHP Joely Rodriguez, RHP Chris Martin, RHP Kenley Jansen, OF Masataka Yoshida, 1B Justin Turner, RHP Corey Kluber, OF Adam Duvall, and SS Yu Chang. He also traded for SS Adalberto Mondesi, LHP Richard Bleier, and RHP Wyatt Mills.
Of these above moves only Martin, Jansen, Turner, Yoshida, and Duvall have worked out (and there’s a small sample size caveat on Duvall’s production at this point). The others have been either mostly injured or ineffective. Bloom’s biggest gaff was signing Kluber as the only free agent starting pitcher when there was a clear need for a stable number two starter on the roster. At best Kluber had the skills of a fourth or fifth starter and his skills quickly eroded to the point of being unusable. There were a plethora of options out there including Kodai Senga, Zach Eflin, Chris Bassitt, Andrew Heaney, and many more at the top of the market. Paying $10 million for a washed 37-year-old was a mistake Bloom couldn’t afford to make. This move looks increasingly bad as there are no starting pitchers ready to contribute from the upper minors.
At this point, most of the players on the Red Sox roster were either signed, traded for, or claimed off waivers by Bloom. The only exceptions are Triston Casas, Jarren Duran, Kutter Crawford, Bryan Bello, Chris Sale, Tanner Houck, and Chris Murphy, all of whom are credited to Dave Dombrowski. I will even give him credit for extending Rafael Devers, even though the player predates his tenure. Most of the players not acquired by Bloom have been net positives; the negatives are all his. This is firmly Bloom’s team, flaws and all.
As the team skids towards the All-Star break and the eventual trade deadline, the needs are glaring. They need at least one starter to fit into the rotation, perhaps even two. They especially need stability at the top of the rotation after losing Sale to injury yet again. The team badly needs a shortstop. Trevor Story and Mondesi have yet to play a game this year, Kiké has been the worst shortstop in baseball, and both Pablo Reyes and Chang are on the IL. The instability up the middle has led to the second most errors in baseball at 57 and the worst defensive rating in the game at -21.0. By Outs Above Average, Kiké has the worst mark in the game at -11 OAA. In fact, in the infield, only Turner at first base has graded out positively by OAA.
If Bloom values his job then he would aggressively trade for impact players that can help this team right the ship and make a playoff push. This needs to be done right now, well before the trade deadline, because valuable time is slipping away. The recent injury to Garrett Whitlock leaves the team with just three starting pitchers making this situation even more dire. Bloom has shown nothing in his track record of operating with any sense of urgency, therefore I fully expect him to do nothing. If he does nothing and the team looks like clear sellers, I also don’t trust him to sell his assets and maximize his return. His trade history is murky at best and last year’s debacle of both buying and selling while still ending up over the luxury tax was about as bad as it gets.
The bottom line is that Bloom has had more than enough time to prove that he can handle running a baseball team. All he has to show for it is two last place finishes, one surprise playoff run, and a fourth year where his team is cascading towards another last place finish in the AL East with the help of it’s atrocious defense. The moves that need to be made at the deadline are far too important to leave in his incapable hands and John Henry and co. need to be decisive. With attendance at its lowest point, 32,068 per game (non-Covid), since 2000, the always reactive owner needs to do what he does best and make changes.
Bloom’s defenders might argue that he isn’t actually trying to build a World Series winner right now, and that the team is in an organizational rebuild period. They might add that the work that Bloom is putting in behind the scenes to improve the farm system and build a sustainable operation will eventually start to bear fruit. While those things may be true to some degree, the team certainly hasn’t come out and said that. In fact, Sam Kennedy said the opposite this winter: “We need to compete in October, that’s it. You saw negative fan reaction this offseason. Why? We fell short of our expectations. We had high expectations for the 2022 club coming off of a 2021 where we were two games from going to the World Series. So we fell short.” Does that sound like a team that is rebuilding to you?
At this past winter’s Fan Fest Town Hall Bloom insulted our intelligence as a fanbase by arguing that the farm system is in a much better place than it was when he got here and by giving himself a pat on the back for almost making it to the World Series in 2021. Last I checked, marginally improving the farm system depth or making it to the ALCS are not things that we hang banners on Jersey Street for. And how is that farm system helping the Red Sox win games right now? According to MLB.com when Bloom arrived in 2020 the farm was ranked 25th out of 30 clubs in organizational talent at the minor league level. That improved to 24th in 2021, 14th in 2022, and dropped down to 16th before the start of this year.
Moreover, Marcelo Mayer is still at least a year away and is not necessarily tracking to be the impact bat that the team needs him to be (on a recent episode of the Red Seat Podcast, Baseball America’s Geoff Pontes identified Jeimer Candelario as a realistic projection for Mayer); the team’s upper minors starting pitching has mostly stalled out, and there are no middle infielders ready and able to contribute to the club. Couple that with Bloom’s reticence to actually use prospects as the trade capital that they are and you get this, an underwhelming organization.
Apathy is setting in for fans that have seen mostly misery during Bloom’s tenure. Mookie Betts was traded. Xander Bogaerts signed with San Diego. The team is on its way towards another last place finish in the division. It’s time for ownership to cut their losses and send Bloom on his way.