Spring in Bloom?

We have our first guest article here on the Nightly Unwind today. Travis Landes of Gloucester MA is trying his hand at writing some sports news and with his consent, he’s allowing us to post this up on the blog for some exposure (or lack thereof lol). So here you have it, Travis’ first dip in the pool:

Chaim Bloom, Brian O’Halloran and Co. prepare for a very important offseason for Boston, as all eyes of the city are fixed on their next moves

by Travis Landes on November 23rd, 2020

            Letting Mookie go? Check. COVID-19 ruining the 2020 season? Check. Being given the mop to clean up the glasses of red wine Dave Dombrowski spilt all over this world famous baseball club? I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemies. It’s been quite a calendar year for Chaim Bloom, who since becoming the Boston Red Sox GM, has had to make very tough decisions for the club, all while inheriting the Sox’s complicated and airtight financial situation that previous Boston GM Dombrowski left him with to handle.

           Holding onto star outfielder Mookie Betts was an incredible mountain to climb for Bloom. Not only financially, but multiple sources and whispers surfaced that Mookie just plain ol’ didn’t want to play in Boston anymore. In the end it was an inevitable and seemingly mutual divorce that let Mookie lead in bringing a championship to LA, and helped Boston towards staying under the dreaded luxury tax ceiling. The #1 thing on the to-do list was done, and the Mookie-less 2020 season was ready to be witnessed, and although the season was heavily altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the teams overall performance was less than desirable by fans, finishing 24-36, missing the *expanded* playoffs, and dead last in the AL East. Bloom made sure previous World Series winning manager Alex Cora reunited with Boston, which creates much needed optimism for the future. Sox Nations’ 2020 suffering, at least from purely baseball, was over, lots of work to do, but what next for Chaim?

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

         Nobody’s blaming Bloom for Boston’s financial vice grip on itself, and he’s actually managed to bring the Sox $31 million under the tax ceiling to work with this offseason, and despite the dismal 2020 performance, the entire club, front office, and fanbase, must not forget, this team has talent. Top notch talent. Tons of it. 

            Most, if not all of its talent, is in the lineup, which makes the teams’ needs and weaknesses quite obviously being in the pitching department. It’s that simple right? Sign Trevor Bauer, stay under the tax, and right back in contender mode for 2021? Sorry Boston, Mr. Bloom doesn’t work that way. Before he joined Boston’s front office, Bloom was making the playoffs as part of Tampa Bay’s front office with the lowest payroll in the league, at the same time, Dombrowski was running Boston into the ground, missing the playoffs with the highest payroll in the league. Boston didn’t bring Bloom in to take Mr. John Henry’s money and make it rain on free agents. They brought him in for one thing. Money management. Bang for your buck. Not the now famous Moneyball method, but simply not being financially reckless. Little by little, so far, so, well, okay. It’s all about long term right now, but let’s not forget the short term here.

2021 Offseason Outlook

      As stated earlier, there’s not much wrong with the lineup. Devers, Xander and JD are potentially the best lineup core in the league, and regardless how Cora will end up structuring the lineup, there’s plenty of star power as well as solid and sneaky good bats to experiment with. Fan favorite and 2018 World Series hero Jackie Bradley Jr has hit free agency, creating an unfamiliar, yet not irreplaceable hole in center field. Lots of talk in the rumor mill about star outfielder George Springer filling that void, and although that would be a serious cherry on top of an already dangerous lineup, most Sox fans are still hoping Jackie re-signs.

      The pitching, while obviously needing to better 2020s performance, isn’t so simple of a problem to resolve. A big fat $30 million paycheck on a heavily injury prone Chris Sale isn’t helping Sox fans sleep better at night. Though there’s a chance he’s got his old All Star self still in him, history has shown that tall, skinny, lanky pitchers in their 30s coming off a major injury, don’t exactly pan out {Randy Johnson is an exception, but also a freak anomaly in pitching}. Nathan Eovaldi’s seat in the rotation is getting warm, hasn’t been playing up to his contract ($17 million per year for the next two years) or expectations (5.99 ERA in the full 2019 season), but can find success with his electric 4-seam fastball. E-Rod has all the tools to build off his 19 win season in 2019, great combo of top velocity and break to take hold of the top of this rotation. Something’s missing though, it doesn’t have to be an ace or a big name, just reliable. Former Yankee pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, and James Paxton are up for grabs, and specifically Tanaka’s down in the zone style with his arsenal of sliders, splitters and sinkers, could be a decent fit in Fenway’s short, hitter friendly dimensions. Paxton was sought after by Boston before eventually landing in the Bronx in 2019. Big strikeout guy (11.1 K per 9 in 2019) with a wipeout knuckle-curve, though very much a flyball generating type of pitcher, a bit too many of them found the seats (1.5 HR per 9 in 2019).

             Matt Barnes has the closer role reserved for him for now, but the rest of the pen has been a troublesome spot, and theres much desperation for one of them to make the jump to a reliever to lean on. Ryan Brasier proved in the 2018 World Series that he can get the job done in the clutch, and will most likely be the setup man moving forward, as Cora used him in 2018. 2020 Sox manager Ron Roenicke let prospects get their chances in the shortened season, and few impressed, which was most likely just an experiment in depth. Ryan Weber isn’t your conventional reliever (4.40 ERA, 43 IP, 5.7 K per 9 in 2020), Phillips Valdez put up a shabby 1.61 WHIP in the COVID shortened season, and while Austin Brice had an impressive 11.4 K per 9 in 2020, his 5.95 ERA with a tick under 6 walks per 9 innings shows he needs to find the plate

L’Chaim!

          Bloom financially has the Sox on a steady climb from out of the cellar, with plenty of offensive talent and hope for the pitching staff to right the ship, a playoff berth and a successful 2021 campaign isn’t out of the question. This is a guy that, in his first press conference as Sox GM, said he expects 36 year old Dustin Pedroia, derailed with injuries and general decline with age, to be the future at second base. Whether or not that is still the plan, I believe, is up to Alex Cora now. My advice to Bloom if he was looking for any, do what you do best, and let others do what they do best. Make the money right in Boston again, not cheap, just smart. This city had to say goodbye to the best player in baseball, then watched him win a title, with no postseason for themselves. Boston fans know and understand heartbreak, and it’s quite frustrating to have one of the biggest clubs in all of sports, being unable to afford such vital pieces to success. Bloom isn’t here to be the Dodgers of the east coast flashing the Benjamins, he’s here to get the most value out of what Boston has, and what’s available. Rising young star Rafael Devers has been proving his worth, even on school nights, leading the majors in doubles (54) and total bases (359) in 2019 at the mere age of 22. The overall consensus from the City of Boston? Pay this kid. Priority #1. Avoid arbitration. Pay. This. Kid. Bloom is on the right track to do so, and Sox fans should be slowly, yet surely, optimistic of what’s to come.    

The Hot Corner

                     Miscellaneous Facts and Stats Relating to Todays’ Topic 

                       As Well As On This Day In Baseball History

1953 – Los Angeles Dodgers sign Walter Alston to a 1 year deal as manager for 1954; signs 23 one year agreements until 1976

1964 – St. Louis 3rd baseman Ken Boyer voted NL MVP

1976 – Reds’ Joe Morgan wins his 2nd straight NL MVP

1982 – Orioles’ Cal Ripken Jr. wins AL ROY

1986 – St. Louis reliever Todd Worrell wins NL ROY

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Chaim Bloom is a 2004 Yale graduate, where he also met his wife Aliza. They have two sons Isaiah and Judah.

Bloom’ first involvement into baseball was an article writer for Baseball Prospectus in 1997, eventually becoming a baseball operations intern for the San Diego Padres.

Travis Landes can be contacted at travislandes91@gmail.com

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