The Boston Red Sox made headlines last week following the firing of Chaim Bloom, their Chief of Baseball Operations. It was a move that puzzled some and excited others but definitively demonstrated a new direction for the Red Sox. Bloom will always be a controversial topic amongst Boston fans with his legacy tied to the Mookie Betts trade in 2020 and his failure to re-sign players with expiring contracts. Despite this, I think his firing was premature, and he was directing the franchise in the right direction.
To preface where I’m coming from, I’d be lying if I said I thought Bloom was doing an amazing job and the firing was unprompted. Under Bloom’s regime, the Red Sox made the playoffs once in four seasons but otherwise struggled to field a competitive team at the major league level. Despite this, he did do a lot of positive things for this team.
It is common knowledge that the Red Sox aimed to build up their farm system and maintain a payroll underneath the luxury tax. This doesn’t give you much wiggle room to work with, so Chaim Bloom had to get creative to produce a winning Major League team. Hunter Renfroe was an important piece to Boston’s postseason run in 2021 and was brought in by Bloom, smashing 31 home runs and driving in 96 RBIs. Even looking at this season, relievers Kenley Jansen (128 ERA+) and Chris Martin (424 ERA+ in 49.1 IP) have been great options for manager Alex Cora. The same goes for designated hitter Justin Turner (119 OPS+), one of the most clutch batters in baseball.
Whoever takes over for Bloom is coming into a very manageable situation. Dave Dombrowski left Bloom a depleted farm system, one that he was able to rebuild into a top-15 system in just a few seasons. Boston has four top-100 prospects on MLB.com: Marcelo Mayer (11), Roman Anthony (35), Ceddane Rafaela (72) and Kyle Teel (82). Chaim Bloom’s scouting team brought everyone but Rafaela into the system. If Masataka Yoshida and Trevor Story can stay healthy, they’ll provide great production in the middle of the lineup for years. Wilyer Abreu and Enmanuel Valdez, who Boston got back in the Vazquez trade, have looked really impressive in their short stints on the MLB team this season. There are plenty of positives around this team, but someone needs to come in and improve the pitching while securing Triston Casas and Brayan Bello to long-term team-friendly deals.
While he has hit on some moves, he has missed badly plenty of times. Names like Corey Kluber, Matt Andriese, Garrett Richards and Austin Davis haunt Red Sox fans’ nightmares and were all acquisitions made under Bloom. Pitching and defense at the Major League level really struggled under him and was one of his biggest flaws. In every season under Bloom, the Red Sox have had a below-average fielding percentage, finishing three seasons in the bottom three of the entire league. Pitching tells the same story as the Red Sox have only had one season where they were below league average for earned runs (2021) in his four years as chief of baseball operations.
Small market moves, roster turnover and the inability to retain good players will be the legacy many think Chaim is leaving behind. Players like Bogaerts, Nathan Eovaldi and J.D. Martinez were able to walk in free agency while they traded cornerstones Betts, Benintendi and Christian Vazquez. The Red Sox were finally able to secure one of their stars long-term with Rafael Devers signing for 13 years this past offseason, but too many fans were hurt by the prior moves to really embrace it.
While there’s a lot to both sides of the argument on whether Bloom was good or not, I think the firing represents an ongoing issue within the Red Sox organization. To those who have followed the team for a while, you’ll know that this will be the front office’s fifth head in the last 20 years.. It started with Theo Epstein in 2002, followed by Ben Cherington taking over in 2012, then Dave Dombrowski in 2015 and finally Chaim Bloom from 2019 to now. Considering that three of those names had won a World Series with the team, I feel people should pay more attention to this issue.
When you agree to let someone run your team, you usually give them the ability to build a team that they envision. The leadership turnover has led to a lot of mixing and mashing of ideals, and you usually have to clean up the mess from the other person. For example, Dombrowski had to deal with the Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez contracts Cherington signed, and Bloom had to deal with the David Price and Chris Sale contracts Dombrowski signed. Leadership wants to bring in their own guys, whether that’s trading, free agency or drafting. It’s basically a soft reset and creates more roster turnover, being Boston’s main criticism under Bloom.
The question that I’d want to know the answer to: why would you want to join an organization that has this many turnovers in leadership?
It seems as if the front office grows impatient rather quickly with their leadership, and their way of fixing it is to fire you and bring someone else in. That doesn’t sound like an appealing gig, in my opinion, but because Boston is such a big market, there will be plenty of great baseball minds going for the new job.