Why Red Sox may be targeting Rays exec Chaim Bloom

Rob Bradford
October 25, 2019 - 9:33 am
Categories: 

The conversation with a baseball executive took place in the final days of the 2019 season, with all attention shifted away from what was happening on the field and toward the idea of who might replace Dave Dombrowski.

Some candidates' names were surfaced, with the exec bringing up Tampa Bay decision-makers Chaim Bloom and Erik Neander.

"Those guys," he said, "just don't care about what people think."

And it is that analysis that should be remembered as the Red Sox are seemingly on the precipice of reeling in Bloom.

There is a long list of reasons why the 36-year-old is a logical fit for the Red Sox job. (And the fact he majored in the classics at Yale really isn't one of them.) Bloom has experienced a wide array of responsibilities with an organization that has figured out how to do a lot with little. He learned under the guidance of Andrew Friedman, who was universally identified as the perfect guy for this position before re-upping with the Dodgers. And when it comes to baseball's constant quest of getting out ahead of the curve, the Philadelphia native has been part of the group that everyone seems to be chasing.

But it is the trait brought up in the waning days of the Red Sox' seasons which jumps to the top of the list in this situation.

Red Sox principal owner John Henry put a specific decision-making process in place when he hired Dombrowski. There was going to be no room for interpretation when it came to who made the call on baseball decisions, leaving the confusing power structure involving Ben Cherington/Larry Lucchino/Henry and Tom Werner behind. That worked well until it didn't.

Henry clearly didn't agree with Dombrowski's approach toward building the 2019 roster and beyond, a notion that first surfaced when speaking to WEEI.com in London on the final day of June.

"My take is that maybe it isn’t the best thing in the world to bring back the same team in its entirety every time," he said. "You don’t want to break a team down. But maybe a few changes wouldn’t hurt. But the feeling is always different after you win, apparently."

It was a notion that was confirmed when the Sox owner told the media just days before the end of the regular season that he and Dombrowski had immediate disagreements on how to proceed into 2019. Still, Henry seemingly always defaulted to Dombrowski's judgement.

This has left the Red Sox with a boatload of even more difficult decisions, many which are going to lead to the kind of discomfort not signing World Series hero Nathan Eovaldi or re-upping Chris Sale would have elicited from some a year ago.

The Rays just do things and don't look back. Henry and Co. know that approach will be a huge necessity this time around. Maybe more so than ever before.

Listening to Bloom on MLB.com's excellent podcast "Executive Access" with Mark Feinsand, one would never surmise this was the kind of executive we are talking about. He talks about the difficulty that comes with informing players they are no longer in the team's plans, admitting that human interactions actually do take place between the athletes and executives. Bloom also identifies the ability to build relationships as one of the key elements in building success.

"I would say, and I hope other people would say about me, is that I care about people," Bloom said when asked what he believed were some of his biggest strengths. "I listen to them and I'm thoughtful and I also have a degree of humility of what I don't know."

This doesn't scream someone with the kind of impersonal mentality so many execs like Bloom are being labeled as.

But that doesn't mean the Rays' approach was remotely based in the kind of sentimentality that gets organizations in trouble. For evidence just remember when they traded their cornerstone superstar Evan Longoria to San Francisco. That is just one of many examples. In fact, besides the analytics and forward-thinking model put in place, one of the Tampa Bay front office's biggest resume-builders has been its ability to get out ahead of bad contracts just in time to rebuild a competitive team with the majors' lowest payroll. 

There are plenty of other examples ...

Sure, Bloom and his co-workers with the Rays always had a safety net built of apathy, low expectations and no money. None of those exist in Boston. And there can't always be an apples-to-apples approach when bringing over everything from Tampa Bay.

There will be, however, the need to make some unpopular decisions that are rooted in a vision few others can see. That happened with the Rays and it's about to take place in the coming months with the Red Sox. It worked out for one, not we're about to find out how it might translate to Jersey St.