Chaim Bloom's disappointing 2022 season is not a fireable offense

Tomase: Bloom's disappointing season is not a fireable offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

I understand why Chaim Bloom's future would be a topic of discussion in the midst of an unexpected last-place season. Red Sox ownership has proven to be nothing if not reactionary since the departure of Theo Epstein, tiring of general managers/directors of baseball operations/chief baseball officers about as frequently as late-career LeBron James hops teams.

Ben Cherington won a World Series in 2013 and was replaced in the midst of his fourth season two years later. Dave Dombrowski then won it all with a juggernaut in 2018, only to be jettisoned the following September.

But even by those standards, relieving Bloom of his duties now would be rash. He's in the middle of his third season, and he has already reached one American League Championship Series. While there's plenty to criticize this season, John Henry and Co. hired him to settle their payroll and rebuild their farm system, and on both fronts, he is succeeding. Shortstop Marcelo Mayer is a legit top-10 prospect and recent arrivals Brayan Bello, Connor Wong, and Triston Casas should play significant roles in the future. The club could also have around $140 million to spend this winter, albeit in support of a gutted roster.

Ownership knew a reckoning loomed. Dombrowski's mandate before being fired was to slash payroll like Dexter, with Mookie Betts, David Price, and J.D. Martinez on the chopping block. Bloom ended up trading the first two in what amounted to a salary dump with the Dodgers, and the third is only here because he never opted out.

With all of that talent coming off the books, what did ownership expect? A lean year was inevitable, and it's a credit to Bloom and manager Alex Cora that the Red Sox contended in 2021 behind an overachieving roster.

Bloom undid a lot of that good work -- and cost himself most of the resulting goodwill -- by taking a wishy-washy approach to both this offseason and the trade deadline. Trading Hunter Renfroe for Jackie Bradley as a means of buying prospects looked like a big-market move, at least until it became clear that he planned to ride or die with Bradley in right field. The same goes for dinking around with right-hander James Paxton, who signed with 2023 in mind, but at the expense of 2022. The Red Sox will likely get nothing for their $6 million.

The trade deadline brought more confusion, with starting catcher Christian Vazquez not only shipped out, but to the rival Houston Astros, much to the consternation of the clubhouse. But then, rather than commit to a rebuild, Bloom retained pending free agents Nathan Eovaldi and Martinez, adding outfielder Tommy Pham, first baseman Eric Hosmer, and catcher Reese McGuire. Hosmer is injured, but the other two have outperformed their predecessors, not that it matters -- we now know the season went in the toilet sometime in July, its demise hastened by Bloom's inability to acquire bullpen help.

Tomase: No pressure, Casas, but Sox farm system can't afford another whiff

It's fair to question his performance after these recent failures, but they don't rise to the level of costing him his job, at least not yet. No one can rebuild a farm system in three years, injuries wreaked havoc, and this winter will be the first when he's had real money to spend.

Complicating matters is the fact that CEO Sam Kennedy guaranteed that both Bloom and Cora would return in an interview with The Athletic last week. Kennedy's attempt to clarify their future only muddied it, because firing either of them wasn't really on anyone's radar until he said they were safe. Now fans are naturally left to wonder why the topic was broached at all, votes of confidence historically being about 50-50 propositions.

That said, I'm inclined to take Kennedy at his word. Ownership may not be happy with this year's results, but I've heard nothing to suggest they disapprove of the overall direction of the franchise. If we toss out the pandemic-shortened 2020 season as the clusterbleep that it was, then Bloom is effectively 1 for 2 atop the organization.

That's not the kind of average that gets anyone fired, no matter how uneasy fans may feel about the future. It does mean he's officially on the clock, though, and we might be having a very different conversation at this time next year.