Ed. Note: Why, yes! We do realize the irony of running this piece on the same day and directly next to Jacob Roy’s latest Anatomy Of An Inning, which opens with an impassioned plea to stop the Bloom wars. Life sure is funny sometimes!
Luis Urías could be a nice player for the Red Sox. I’ve always liked him, and he was Chaim Bloom’s main trade deadline addition, very much in the Bloom style: The Brewers wanted to be rid of him despite his potential, and the Sox were there, waiting, for that very moment. Another step forward for the Bloom regime.
The inevitable step back happened over the weekend, where the Sox didn’t just get swept by the Blue Jays, but embarrassed by them. (To be fair, they also embarrassed themselves.) There was also the traditional parsing of Bloom’s post-deadline comments, in which he called the Sox “underdogs,” and a Jared Carrabis report that ownership might not be thrilled with Bloom’s stationary approach around August 1st. Which, I mean, yeah. If Don Draper is right, and “new” creates and itch, there’s not a lot of itching right now. There’s just complacency that could, in the wrong light, be seen as arrogance or obliviousness or even, to be fair, prudence.
As I’ve written before, Bloom chose this. As I’ve also written, and Bloom is finally now all but confirming, the Sox are on a five-year plan. What Bloom might do if the team is a little better come trade deadline is a hot enough topic that even Ken Rosenthal is digging into it. It sure seems that Bloom’s stance toward deadline deals is a fairly firm “no,” but people can change, and maybe he will. I sure hope to get to the point where we have to choose.
Meanwhile, stuff like this is happening on the west coast:
Leading to preposterous stats like this:
Mookie Betts entered play with 61.4 rWAR, 28th most through any position player’s first 10 seasons. With this grand slam today, he’ll moved ahead of 27 on that list, Rickey Henderson (61.5). Betts has the potential to be a top 10 position player ever when it’s all said and done. pic.twitter.com/SlRS4xPi8V— Louis Addeo-Weiss (@addeo_louis00) August 7, 2023
Here’s a rule of thumb: If you are better than Rickey Henderson on any sort of cumulative level, you’re doing things right. Bill James once famously and correctly said that Henderson’s stats, when divided in two, would make two Hall of Fame players... and Betts is better than that. Meanwhile, the main guy he was traded for just pissed off the whole organization after they couldn’t trade him and is currently sitting on the bench. It’s as much a travesty today as it was when the deal went down, if not moreso.
I will never get over it. Ever. And Bloom’s total lack of urgency only underlines how bad it was for the whole organization, especially given his erratic movements in relation to the luxury tax. He had to trade Betts to avoid it, but he kept J.D. Martinez last year and went over? Doesn’t make any sense. Of course, Bloom is and was lying about why he did the Mookie trade — John Henry plainly demanded it — but that’s par for the course. He has no trouble lying to anyone’s face as long as he continues his slow-growth project.
When does it end? Does it ever end? Yes, in the same way investing in mutual funds is the best use of your investment cash, slow growth is good for a baseball organization’s body politic. But the goal of a team isn’t to grow, slowly, forever. It’s to produce the best possible return. Bloom’s tenure has been defined by: Good enough, good enough, good enough, and just trust him after that.
And I sort of do. The health of the organization, from top to bottom, is quite good on the talent side. My problem is that these things aren’t measured from top to bottom, but from the top down. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that the team I think the Sox are most emulating is not the Rays but the Braves, and Bloom is waiting for his prospects to mature so he can give them under-market long-term deals when they’re still wet behind the ears and let the whole operation work on autopilot. It’s a great blueprint, but there are many, many people who can read great blueprints — implementing them is a whole ‘nother ballgame.
For now, we’re stuck in a time loop of decidedly mid additions while arguably the best position player the Sox developed since Ted Williams puts up historic numbers across the country. Yes, Carl Yastrzemski was amazing, but Betts is right there with him. Can you imagine the Sox have trading Yaz in his prime? You can’t, because they wouldn’t have, because no one would have, and no one but Bloom would have traded Betts. He did it for the right to trade for Luis Urías at the trade deadline and run his mouth about his team, the one he put together, not being good enough to bolster this year. To put it mildly, that’s not a trade I’d make. I hope it works out for him. I’m just increasingly doubtful that it will.