CHICAGO — Like most teams, the Red Sox do not reveal what their executives are paid. It’s a state secret.
But it’s safe to assume Chaim Bloom is handsomely compensated to be president of baseball operations.
It’s time for him to earn his money. The Red Sox need righthanded relievers and they need them now, not closer to the Aug. 2 trade deadline.
Friday afternoon’s 6-5 loss against the Chicago Cubs was brutal, one of the worst of the season. The Sox led, 4-0, through four innings before giving the game away.
Five Sox pitchers combined on 10 walks. Four of the Cubs who walked came around to score. There also was a bases-loaded walk.
“Today was a bad day for the pitching department,” manager Alex Cora said. “We walked a lot of people today. You keep giving them at-bats and at-bats with men on, that’s going to happen.”
The 10 walks were the most for the Sox in a nine-inning game since April 24, 2014, when they issued 12 free passes in a 14-5 loss against the Yankees.
Mike Carp pitched the ninth inning and had five of those walks. At least he had an excuse, he was a first baseman pitching for the first time since high school.
The Red Sox catcher that day was David Ross, who is now the Cubs manager.
Friday wasn’t all that surprising. Outside of Tanner Houck, John Schreiber, and (usually) Ryan Brasier, Cora lacks righthanded relief options when the game is close in the middle innings.
Hansel Robles started the sixth inning charged with protecting a 5-3 lead and got two outs before putting the next five batters on base.
It started when Robles walked Andrelton Simmons, a .176 hitter who is notorious for swinging at anything in the same area code. He had walked four times in his previous 74 plate appearances this season.
Robles then left a slider over the plate that Christopher Morel sent 436 feet into the bleachers.
A walk, a double, and another walk followed before Jake Diekman was finally ready to come in and his wild pitch gave the Cubs another run.
The crowd of 34,931 at Wrigley Field included a good percentage of Red Sox fans and they were booing louder than the Cubs fans were cheering.
Robles declined comment after the game. But what is there to say? He has allowed 10 earned runs on 12 hits and 10 walks over 4⅔ innings in his last seven outings.
This is on Bloom for not having a deep enough group of righthanders in the bullpen to start the season.
Diekman and Matt Strahm are capable of getting righthanded hitters out. But that’s not a solution. The Sox need at least two more righties Cora can trust in a tight spot.
Robles, Tyler Danish, and Hirokazu Sawamura are best suited for low-leverage situations, not close games on the road.
“People have to step up, right?” Cora said. “Not every day [the starter] is going to go seven innings.”
With Major League Baseball now limiting teams to 13 pitchers, a team with playoff aspirations needs to have quality depth in its bullpen.
“You can’t only rely on certain guys,” Cora said. “That was a game that we had the lead but it was the middle of the game. We’ve got to get people out in the middle of the game.”
The Sox are discussing using Garrett Whitlock in the bullpen when he returns from the injured list. That should be with the proviso that Whitlock returns to the rotation next season.
But Whitlock is not enough. Bloom needs to work the trade market and get the Sox some help. One option should be acquiring Cubs closer David Roberston, who retired the Sox in order on eight pitches in the ninth inning.
Robertson has a 1.80 earned run average in 27 appearances. He also has the personality and experience to handle a pennant race after playing nine years with the Yankees.
Who fits best is up to Bloom to figure out. He is a product of the Tampa Bay front office, a group historically adept at finding overlooked or undervalued relievers who flourish in a new setting.
The calendar says he has a month. The scoreboard at Wrigley Field on Friday said it has to happen a lot sooner than that.