Look, it’s no debate that the tenure of Chaim Bloom has been tenuous, fraught with ups and downs. One year, we’re in the ALCS, the next, we’re in the basement of the division. One move is called smart, shrewd, an absolute steal. The next becomes an absolute tire fire.
This season, something feels different.
To many, this was a prove-it year, not just for many players on the team, but for Bloom himself. What kind of GM was he and what kind of team could he make the Red Sox? The Masataka Yoshida signing was debated left and right, some calling it under the radar advanced scouting, many calling it an overpayment. The Kenley Jansen deal pleases some but scratches the heads of others. The Trevor Story injury was...unanticipated, but it maybe it shouldn’t have been. The Adalberto Mondesi injury saga has become a fiasco, without a doubt.
But everything, every little fault the 2023 Red Sox have, seems to come back on Bloom and it’s causing a rift as long as the Green Monster in the fanbase. If you’re anti-Bloom, you point fingers at the other side and say they hate the Red Sox because the Red Sox stand for winning no matter what, and these Red Sox do not win no matter what. You live with failure and it’s unacceptable; Chaim Bloom is a sleeper agent for the Rays specifically designed to bring the Red Sox down. If you’re for Bloom, you get on your soap box and proudly proclaim that he is building a sleeping giant and those who don’t share in his wisdom are ignorant to his successes and your opponents harp on a recent past with more humps than a camel. The 2010s, while filled with amazing teams and two World Series titles, also had its fair share of drama (chicken and beer, Bobby V, more last-place finishes) and contentious general managers in Ben Cherington and Dave Dombrowski. Chaim Bloom is either your ultimate scapegoat or your ultimate hero.
The argument is pervasive on every medium, and it’s time to settle it once and for all. What can we really blame Bloom for? What can we really praise Bloom for? Is it possible give him credit for some things and blame for others without turning it into a tribal debate? Let’s just look at the actual moves themselves.
There are three big pillars to the Chaim Bloom debate, and even subsets of these arguments, but let’s start on the macro scale:
Let’s go back and look at the players mentioned above. Masataka Yoshida has turned into a potential Rookie of the Year contender, an OBP machine who is proving many naysayers wrong about his skills and ability to translate immediately to American baseball. Kenley Jansen was the only All-Star on the roster and is as stable a closer as the Red Sox could ask for right now, even with minor ups and downs. Trevor Story frankly hasn’t told his story as a Red Sox yet, and neither has Adalberto Mondesi. So far, so good, right? Snagging Garrett Whitlock in the Rule 5 draft in 2020 has to easily be one of the most shrewd pickups of Bloom’s career, turning a castoff into a major part of the pitching staff.
Then, he has to take his lumps.
Keeping Ryan Brasier in the bullpen as long as he did with how much he struggled the last season and a half is an absolute sin. Happy for Brasier to find a home in LA, but it speaks terribly to Bloom’s biggest weakness in finding reliable pitching.
But what, you just mentioned Garrett Whitlock? Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Letting Nathan Eovaldi and/or Eduardo Rodriguez walk were egregious considering the lack of true replacements. Eovaldi’s 2.69 ERA currently is third lowest in the Majors, lowest in the AL, and he was looking like a Cy Young candidate prior to his arm acting up. E-Rod, despite personal issues last season, has a sub-3.00 ERA this season as well. Who did Bloom replace them with? Corey Kluber, who turned out to be pretty much an automatic loss and is still hurt, and arms who either aren’t ready or are hurt. Tanner Houck was throwing pretty well and it’s bad luck he got hurt, I’m excited to hear he’s rehabbing and should be back soon. Brayan Bello is certainly rounding out into a front-of-staff arm...but it was Dave Dombrowski who brought him into the organization as an international signing (ditto for Houck from the draft). Michael Wacha was awesome last season, so credit goes to Bloom there, but the blame shifts right back letting him walk too.
Chris Sale isn’t Bloom’s fault, but the lack of insurance behind a guy who hasn’t been able to pitch a full season since 2018 speaks volumes.
Justin Turner has been fantastic at getting on base and driving in runs, so has J.D. Martinez in LA. That’s a win-win for both the players and the organizations. Letting Jarren Duran and Triston Casas have roster spots to develop has worked in Bloom’s favor as both are looking like true roster mainstays. Adam Duvall has been solid enough, too.
Onto the truly earth-shattering moves.
The Mookie Betts trade starts with ownership but certainly falls on Bloom for the return he was able to negotiate. Connor Wong is looking like a solid MLB catcher, platooning nicely with Reese McGuire. Jeter Downs is no longer with the organization or any Major League team. Alex Verdugo is such a polarizing player, another one of those “prove it season” members and has has both immense highs and disappointing lows. Mookie Betts is still a superstar, and now a multiple-time World Series champion.
Not signing Xander Bogaerts to what the San Diego Padres signed him for was smart enough, it’s certainly eye-opening the money AJ Preller threw not just at Bogey, but at seemingly every available starin an attempt to vanquish their big brother Dodgers. Not signing Xander Bogaerts to an extension well before free agency when you had control of his market, though, was a disaster. The Andrew Benintendi trade turned out to be a wash for both sides, as Benny didn’t stick in KC and Franchy Cordero didn’t in Boston. Slight edge to Boston for getting Josh Winckowski, but even he’s been inconsistent in both usage and performance. Signing Rafael Devers at his age to his mammoth contract makes much more baseball sense, and Bloom must have known there was a risk of American Revolution-style tarring and feathering if he didn’t invest in one of these homegrown talents.
So where do we end up here in total? It’s a wash. We look at every move Bloom makes in a micro-bubble, like it’s the end of the world if it doesn’t work out or he’s the next Moneyball wizard for finding hidden gems. All in all, the team is good, but flawed. There are individual pieces that work well, but it’s not dominant as a whole, by far.
I don’t even know why I’m writing about this. Of course, it’s Bloom’s roster to put onto the field. But it’s up to Alex Cora and his staff to use them wisely and frankly, there’s a lot of head-scratching.
Let’s start with defense. If Carlos Febles is still responsible for infield defense, I have no idea why he hasn’t been canned or reassigned roles. Whoever is responsible for infield defense should be fired, quite frankly.
I intentionally left out mentioning Kiké Hernandez until now. One moment, a literal god amongst the pantheon, not missing any ball with the barrel of his bat and playing Gold Glove defense...in the outfield. It’s 100% Bloom’s responsibility to have made the choice to bring Kiké into the infield when Story went down, opting for Adam Duvall and Jarren Duran in center field. It’s an immense failure of coaching to see mistake after mistake after mistake, routine balls booted, throwing and fielding errors galore.
How about overall terrible team defense? Devers has always been a shaky defender but has clearly regressed from last season, where he looked so much more comfortable with Bogaerts next to him. The 2023 Red Sox have the worst at team defense in ALL OF BASEBALL. At this point, it’s on the coaching staff for not cleaning this up.
How about base running? Jarren Duran can run anywhere he wants because he has the speed to. But the amount of runs lost due to blowing through signs is outrageous. The double plays due to not reading balls correctly? Disgraceful. Reese McGuire ending a game last week because he thought a fly ball was going to scrape the Monster when it was caught a foot in front of it and then McGuire getting thrown out by a mile at second base? Embarrassing, and that’s on Cora and crew.
Pitching usage falls on Bloom, Cora, and Dave Bush, collectively. I get you need to be careful with Brayan Bello’s workload. But to not let him face one more batter Monday night and get out of a jam up 2-0 is a really bad look. Both bad replacements and bad injury luck have forced the Red Sox to effectively use two-and-a-half starters and two bullpen games a week. The pen must be DOG tired. To keep this charade going for as long as it has, failing to pick up a decent arm to give the bullpen a break, falls on Bloom. Winckowski and Bernardino look completely gassed after both being extremely effective pitchers earlier in the season. Then it falls onto Chris Murphy and John Schreiber if you can get there. Schreiber was a phenomenal pick-up by Bloom, but injury and usage have made him a shell of his dominant self. Martin has done very well for the most part.
So yes, the holes in this roster fall on Bloom for not fixing both in the short and long term. But on the field? Those mistakes fall on Cora and the coaching staff.
The Farm System
Bloom haters, avert your eyes or skip to the ending. I honestly don’t have any faults with how Bloom has rejuvenated the Minor League system. When he took over, the system was ranked dead last in baseball by Baseball America. Now? Some have it as high as third. There are certainly some shining stars amongst the crowd, even with Bello and Casas graduating from prospects to rookies. It was a godsend Marcelo Mayer dropped to fourth in the 2021 draft, and he’s developing into what could be the shortstop of the future. Ceddanne Rafaela, while a Dombrowski signing, frankly could be on the roster over Alex Verdugo right now with how he’s tearing up Worcester. Wilyer Abreyu and Enmanuel Valdez were solid pickups from the Christian Vazquez trade. Even in the last month, Kyle Teel was drafted and is already with High A Greenville. How about Blaze Jordan, who is still flying under the radar as he approaches the upper minors? One thing Bloom has been right about from the start is that you don’t see long-term success without a strong farm system. You trade from it, you use your best talents to be able to spend in other areas, and you win with them.
Look at the Astros. Cheaters? Sure, but not really anymore. Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, you have a case, but Jeremy Peña, Kyle Tucker, Framber Valdez, Christian Javier, Yordan Alvarez (via trade) were drafted or signed internationally and developed in their system.
Look at the Braves then. Ronald Acuña Jr., Ozzie Albies, Spencer Strider, Max Fried (via trade), A.J. Minter, Austin Riley, Michael Harris II, Vaughn Grissom, it’s the same deal.
The Orioles, with Adley Rutchman, Gunnar Henderson, John Means, Ryan Mountcastle, Austin Hays, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander, another example.
Look at how I didn’t even mention the Rays, the team synonymous with drafting well and picking up bottom-of-the-barrel players and turning them into reliable cogs in an ever-changing system led very competently by Kevin Cash.
The Padres can’t trade for Juan Soto if they don’t have the pieces to send to Washington. The Dodgers can’t trade for Manny Machado if they don’t have the pieces to send to Baltimore. Dean Kremer is now a rotation piece for the O’s because of this. As stupid as the trade was, the Cardinals don’t get Nolan Arenado without a ton of minor-league pieces. The same goes for their trade for Paul Goldschmidt from the Diamondbacks. Would it be nice to spend like the Dodgers, Padres, Yankees, Mets, and now somehow Texas Rangers do? Absolutely, it’s what the Red Sox are known for, whether it works out or not (AHEM Pablo Sandoval). Even still, you don’t get anywhere without developing pieces on your own and Bloom has most certainly set the future of the Red Sox up for success in that regard.
So where does that leave us? Frankly, with a lot more questions still. Did Bloom’s lack of moves at the trade deadline piss a lot of people off? For sure, and with good reason. His comments about being “underdogs” also did him no favors. But the season isn’t over yet. Reinforcement are on the way and fast. Whether it makes any difference now is up to Cora to use everyone as wisely as possible. Is Bloom the best GM in baseball? Far from it. Is he the worst? Also far from it. Is he in a tough situation with what feels like an absolute lack of transparency from John Henry and FSG, who only show up when it’s convenient? Absolutely.
Bloom’s legacy certainly won’t be decided now. Whether the 2023 Red Sox make the playoff or not, is this Bloom’s swan song? Who knows. If it is, let this show as only a partial obituary on his tenure. With the big league roster, he’s made both amazing deals and trash signings. He’s found immense talent in odd places and failed to keep the Red Sox as true contenders as the fanbase demands. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t set them up to become those contenders not too far down the road. It also doesn’t mean that he has.
If you’ve made it this far, congrats. I hope my argument hasn’t fallen on deaf ears. In the end, we’re all Red Sox fans and we want this team to win. It’s just been appalling to read day in and day out how much one guy people pin so much praise and/or blame on. Let’s go Sox, and let’s see what the next two months bring.
Where do you stand on Chaim Bloom?
This poll is closed
I’m with Chaim and his plan for the future
Chaim is laying good groundwork but can easily forget the current team
Chaim will be remembered long after he departs the organization, mostly not for the better
Chaim should be fired into the sun immediately and the baseball would would be better for it