Although Chaim Bloom’s path leads to prosperity, there is pain first


Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom (right), pictured with mental skills boss Rey Fuentes, has a busy few days ahead of him as Tuesday night’s MLB trade deadline approaches . Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff


Fenway Park needed no help feeling mournful as Sunday’s first pitch approached, but the death of Bill Russell – the audible gasps when the Red Sox called a moment of silence making it clear just how the news was fresh – dove even deeper.

Shock gave way to gratitude for a life incredibly well lived. (Also, to borrow from Bob Cousy, “At 88, I guess we expect it.”) The Red Sox, on the last day of a truly dreadful month, did an old-fashioned doubles play-off and beat Milwaukee in their last home. match before the August 2 trade deadline.

A little comfort is better than none. A 3-7 homestand is better than 2-8, an 8-19 month is better than 7-20, and a July win by a starting pitcher is better than nothing.

Does this change the path of the franchise? A game shouldn’t, and I don’t think this one did either. Jim Bowden, former MLB general manager tweeted Sunday night that “buyers and sellers” best describes the Red Sox mindset; we’ll see what that translates to the next day and a half.

They are just 3.5 games shy of a wildcard with 59 remaining, but would have to skip four teams to get there. (Fangraphs playoff odds put Boston ninth in a race for six spots in the American League.) Their needs start with a first baseman and help from a bullpen, but realistically include an outfielder. and rotational support.

That’s a pretty big ask for a shot at a three-game road series. This roster was built for a best-case-scenario season like the one produced in 2021. Suffice it to say, he didn’t get it and the results did nothing to ask him to continue to do so. to chase.

The most compelling reason to “keep the group together” (in the words of JD Martinez) might be how little his players could bring in. Martinez’s two doubles on Sunday were Nos. 31 and 32, two shy of the AL lead, but he has nine homers and a backhand on Aug. 1.

Nate Eovaldi, who begins his departure Monday in Houston, has not had the same speed since his five weeks out with injury. Christian Vázquez is eternally underrated, but he’s also a defensively regressing receiver who has lasted for 32 years. What is it really worth?

Of course, if you’re Chaim Bloom and you’re not planning on picking up these guys this winter, all you have to beat in a comeback is an offsetting draft pick. Which brings the other elephant into this room.

In their statement saluting Russell, the team concluded that “the fire that burned so strongly within him will continue to inspire us at Fenway Park”. Insofar as anyone even noticed, it should age like milk if Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi really met in a Yankees-Dodgers World Series, and if Xander Bogaerts joined them this winter as a homegrown star. deceased.

He wants to be here. Martinez wants to be here, going as far as this weekend to suggest old Jon Lester dreams of returning even if he’s traded at the deadline. Lester was and didn’t. Martinez probably won’t either.

And it is difficult to reconcile the logic of the decisions made by Bloom with the relative pain of this evolution. Both from the current roster and the franchise as a whole.

When the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series, it struck me that we had risen to the top as team watchers. A fourth title in 15 years, via a 119-win season, was going to be awfully hard to beat for the rest of our lives. It was more prescient than I could have ever understood.

Three months later, John Henry (who owns Boston Globe Media Partners, including first told a wide audience that the team had gone over budget, and first uttered the infamous line about ” how much money are you willing to lose? In September, Dave Dombrowski was fired. Bloom traded Betts about three months into his tenure as a replacement.

It’s all been a long goodbye since October 28, 2018, until Monday or Tuesday or this winter, when that list of titles seems truly, entirely gone. Our worlds changed after 2004, when we – and, more importantly, the players – were finally able to lift the weight of eight decades of failure on every series.

Fourteen years later, we’ve had enough success to last a lifetime. The kind that the Torontos and the Milwaukees and the San Diegos chase a bit if they go all-in in the next few hours.

The easy slag is to joke that team ownership has taken this cliché of success at face value, but I don’t think that’s quite fair.

Last week, his colleague Chad Finn smartly pointed out that Bloom’s style would have likely meant that David Ortiz ended his career in something other than a Red Sox uniform, and that Bloom “probably would have traded all the superstars in perpetuity that they’ve ever had other than Ted Williams.”

You can win that way, of course (and spare me the “Tampa never won the big one” dreck that ignores teams that make the playoffs every year and win a lot more titles than those that don’t. ). Return a flawed Hunter Renfroe after a hot season. Sell ​​a year too early before a year too late. Stay flexible. Build from within.

But at some point you have to build around something that we can hold on to. Winning is hard no matter how you do it. Heavily dependent on luck, as the past two years have reminded us. When things go awry, as they did in July and most of this year, it’s nice to have names you know to lean on. Local talent and longtime stalwarts that are unmistakably yours.

It’s a dangerous road: The Phillies, for their part, held their core 2008 titles too close, too long, and it was the start of a decade without a playoff spot. But these are all dangerous paths, and one of the luxuries of being in a big market is the ability to spend to avoid the occasional big mistake.

I’m not about to say the Boston Red Sox, with an opening day payroll of $206.5 million, are out of that big business. But there are big things going on in the sport, whether it’s Juan Soto or Shohei Ohtani, and they feel like spectators in the discussion.

It’s not a good feeling. And it feels like we still haven’t seen how bad it’s going to be.


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