SPRINGFIELD — Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom remains confident about the direction of the Red Sox.
But during Friday evening’s town hall meeting that kicked off Winter Weekend at the Mass Mutual Center, fans strongly disagreed.
Both Bloom and owner John Henry heard boos from fans when they were introduced to the disgruntled crowd.
“Hang on,” Bloom pleaded to the dismayed fans who wouldn’t allow the Sox leader to complete his thoughts on the state of the organization.
Bloom then paused, allowing the crowd to air some of their complaints. After the boos subsided, Bloom went into the archives in an effort to explain his perspective.
“So where was the organization three years ago?” Bloom rhetorically asked fans. “The organization was coming off an 84-win season. That team in 2019 had good players, but the team wasn’t good enough. There wasn’t a whole heck of a lot of coming. You guys know that. You follow the organization. You know, there wasn’t a whole lot. We could have kept going. We could have driven right off that cliff. You guys have seen big market teams do it before and end up rebuilding for half a decade. That’s not acceptable.”
Bloom referenced the Mookie Betts trade, saying that the team wasn’t ready to make that big a bet from an organizational standpoint.
“Those bets are much better up front,” Bloom said when explaining the Betts deal. “We know that every team knows that when they’re making those bets. When you want to make that type of bet, you better be ready to back it up. You better be ready to surround that bet with a whole lot of talent, a whole lot of young talent, or you’re not going to win.”
Bloom then tied in the Rafael Devers extension, using it as proof the Sox are now in a better position than they were in 2019.
“We’re going to be ready to back up that bet,” said Bloom.
It landed flat, however. Red Sox fans weren’t buying.
Henry noted that sometimes you need to make the difficult decision to let players walk, citing former Sox’ leader Theo Epsteins’s infamous quote, “I feel like the loneliest person in New England,” after he traded Nomar Garciaparra.
That didn’t go over well, either.
The fans are valid in questioning this roster from the pitching staff to the position players. Prior to the town hall meeting, manager Alex Cora intimated that Kiké Hernández will play shortstop with Christian Arroyo at second base.
With Trevor Story set to miss significant time with an elbow injury, the pairing of Hernández and Arroyo was a true possibility. The acquisition of outfielder Adam Duvall, though not official, allows Hernández to vacate center field and command shortstop.
“He’s excited about it,” Cora said. “I do believe he can do it. His arm plays. His first step is amazing. His instinct are great. He’s very excited about it.”
Excitement aside, however, Hernández only played in 93 games last year after undergoing hip surgery. He’s made just 64 career starts at shortstop. Despite his talent and instincts for the position, it’s reasonable to ask if Hernández can hold up with the wear and tear that comes with playing shortstop, and Cora noted they will have to take care of him early on.
The health questions with Arroyo linger even more as he’s dealt with a plethora of injuries throughout his career, playing in just 87 games last year and 57 the year before.
“Christian is going to play a lot,” Cora said. “This is a guy that I know there’s a lot of red flags as it pertains to the physical part of it with injuries. But when he’s on the field, he’s a pretty good one. The way he played second base in 2021 was solid.”
Bloom reiterated that the Sox still want to add talent up the middle.
The starting pitching remains a question mark, too. But the team reaffirmed that Chris Sale is a full-go for spring training, adding that he threw off a mound a couple of days ago, and that both Tanner Houck and Garrett Whitlock have made encouraging strides both health-wise and developmentally.
But that’s all lip-service. The fans made that clear.
“I’m from Philly,” said Bloom. “I get it.”