By Ian Browne
When the Yankees came to Fenway for a two-game series this week, it was a reminder for many Red Sox fans of the circle that was put on the calendar when the schedule came out.
Surely, these games would have implications for the American League East or at least the Wild Card standings.
Sadly, for the Red Sox, the season has fallen well below expectations and the series had meaning in the standings only for one team.
As chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom stood on the field during batting practice prior to Tuesday night’s game against the Yankees, he took some time with me to share his current state of mind on his underperforming club.
MLB.com: What’s the feeling like knowing that these last 19 games aren’t going to mean what you thought they would?
Bloom: It’s not a good feeling, and it’s not a good feeling waking up and knowing that and having the standings flood back in your head when you open your eyes in the morning. But at the same time, I like how our club has continued to compete. There’s a lot of value in doing that. Alex [Cora] and the staff have them playing hard every day and I would be shocked if we don’t see that every day going forward.
I’m sure you would rather look ahead than back right now. But looking back, are there things that stick out to you, approach-wise, that might have been off the mark heading into the 2022 season?
Every season has lessons. I think when you have a good season, it’s harder to learn the lesson sometimes. Obviously when you don’t, it’s easier. I think the big thing is sorting out the difference between injuries, bad luck, the baseball gods not having your back, which does happen, and the things that we might have done differently. There’s definitely some things that we’re going to look at, and as we break them down more, [we’ll] feel like we should have done them differently. That’s the case in every season. But they stand out when you’re not where you want to be.
The thing you’ve been criticized about most is the bullpen. The general feeling was that not enough was done to upgrade the ‘pen prior to the season and there was more criticism from fans and media when nothing was done to add to the relief crew at the Aug. 2 Trade Deadline. Is that fair?
I think they are fair questions. Obviously, you look at the results and I think they are very fair questions to ask. There are situations where you have fewer proven aspects of your team that can go either way. In this case, a lot of those situations didn’t go our way.
We have to look at why that is and what else we could have done to get more out of some of these guys. I do think that with the guys we have had in that group, the ability has been there to have better results than we’ve gotten. Not everybody has been able to deliver those results and we have to look at what we’re doing as a staff, as an organization, to help put our players in better positions to succeed.
What are you evaluating over these final 19 games?
You may see guys deployed a little bit differently. Just being realistic about where guys are physically and where we are in the standings, but the effort, the energy, the competition every day in the big leagues is precious. That’s something that you really get talking to people on this team, talking to Alex and his staff. There is a ton of value in just bringing everything we have to the game every day. That’s the No. 1 thing I’m looking for.
I’m confident we’re going to see that. Beyond that, I’m excited that there’s a lot of players on this club that do have a lot to prove, that want to make a statement going into next year and they’re going to have a chance to do that.
As we learned with Dustin Pedroia and other players over the years, it’s silly to evaluate a top prospect based on statistics in the first month or two in the Major Leagues. That said, what are you looking for from Triston Casas as you watch him get his feet wet?
One of the things that we expected to see and hoped to see is the quality of his at-bats. I heard Tony [Massarotti] calling him Full-Count Casas on the broadcast the other day. That’s the hitter that we know he is. The ability to work an at-bat has always been there. You never know for sure if that’s going to translate to the highest level, and so far it has. If that’s the case, I think we are going to see some really good things from this kid in the future.
Last winter, we spent a lot of time discussing the debate of which roles the club would use Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock in. They were both used as starters and relievers at different times this season. It seems like this question is still unanswered and it will again be a topic of conversation this winter. Is that correct?
Obviously the injury bug for both of them has kind of thrown a wrinkle into things that we need to get our arms around first. We’ll see where that takes us. The good thing is we know both these guys are going to be major contributors to winning in the future and we’re glad they’re in our foxhole.
By now, we’ve all heard about the ‘promise.’ Kiké Hernández told the media after he signed his contract extension earlier this month that you ‘promised’ to him that the team would be better next season. Anything you want to add to that?
It’s all there for us to put together a really good team and have a really good year next season. I feel really confident we’re going to do that.