WASHINGTON — History tells us that the Red Sox can’t go wrong when they hire a young Jewish man from Yale to run the baseball operation.
Theo Epstein broke the mold 17 years ago when — just a few years out of Yale — he took over as the youngest general manager in baseball history. Theo won a World Series two years later. He was the first of a new generation of baseball executives — analytics-driven students of the game who did not play baseball at a high level. Baseball’s annual Winter Meetings today are overrun with bright job seekers well-versed in the topics at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. Everybody wants to be the next Theo Epstein.
Say hello to 36-year-old Chaim Bloom, new chief baseball officer of your Boston Red Sox.
Bloom takes over for Dave Dombrowski, who was fired in September, less than a year after winning the World Series. Dombrowski took over for Ben Cherington, who was knifed in the back less than two years after winning the 2013 World Series. Cherington succeeded Epstein, who ignited this whole geek craze back in 2002 when he was named general manager of the Red Sox at the age of 28.
Reached via text from the World Series last night, Theo had nothing but good things to say about Bloom, who is destined to be compared with Epstein in the days, months, and years to come.
“Chaim is really sharp and has a deserved reputation in the game,’’ Epstein stated. “He is a great guy to boot. I’m excited for him and the Red Sox.’’
The Sox can’t say anything official just yet. MLB rules stipulate that you can not make any big announcements on game days during the World Series. That’s why you saw Joe Maddon formally announced as new manager of the Angels during the off day Thursday. There is no World Series game scheduled for Monday, which means that is the day the Sox will likely unveil their new baseball boss.
Bloom graduated from Yale with a degree in classics in 2004 and was hired as an intern with the Rays by Andrew Friedman, who today is president of baseball operations of the Dodgers. According to our Alex Speier, Bloom with the Rays “became steeped in the organizational culture, which emphasized creativity, thorough processes, extensive quality control and feedback, and cross-departmental collaboration.’’ Bloom rose to vice president of baseball operations and this year guided a team that finished 12 games ahead of the Red Sox with only one-third of the payroll.
Mike DeBartolo, assistant GM of the NL champion Nationals, came into baseball with as background similar to Bloom’s and had this to say about Bloom before Friday’s Game 3.
“I’ve gone back and forth with him on some things and he is a really bright guy,’’ said DeBartolo, a Bedford native with an MBA from Columbia, who stalked the Winter Meetings to get his first job. “He’s well respected, super smart, and really personable. All my interactions with him have been great. He’s really down to earth for somebody who’s so smart.’’
DeBartolo’s boss, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, echoed the sentiment.
“I’ve only dealt with him a few times, but he’s very intelligent,’’ said Rizzo, an old-school GM who was a scout with the Red Sox under Dan Duquette. “I’ve had good conversations with him.’’
Former Mets general manager Jim Duquette (Dan’s cousin) is another old-schooler who became familiar with Bloom when Bloom interviewed for the Met’s GM opening last year.
“What he and [Rays GM Erik] Neander have done with one of the smallest payrolls is amazing,’’ said Duquette. “They’re creative. They’re not afraid to think beyond outside the box. I think that’s why they’ve been so successful. He’s analytically driven. What’s good news for the Red Sox is that he’s been able to have an unbelievable amount of success with so little revenue. Now he’s got money.
“Some guys with money, they spend like drunken sailors when they get money and they make a lot of mistakes. But [Bloom] will still show discipline, which is hard to do when you have that kind of dough.
“I think it’s an unbelievably good hire. He went through the interview process last year with the Mets and I thought he probably should have gotten the job. I think that probably helped prepare him for whatever was going to come forward. It’s a little bit of a surprise because [the Red Sox] were so quiet doing it. But if they were going to pick somebody out there and they couldn’t get [Braves GM Alex] Anthopoulos or [Cleveland president Chris] Antonetti, like this is the next bright young guy.’’
At the end of our conversation, Duquette made a not-so-veiled reference to the deposed Dombrowski, who came off as increasingly arrogant and isolated during his tenure in Boston.
“[Bloom] is very realistic about his own self and he’s a collaborate guy, which I think the [Red Sox] organization wants,’’ said Duquette. “He’s a good baseball guy. He’s very humble. He will get along very well with everyone — almost the opposite of what was just there.’’
Chaim Bloom. Young, smart, works well with others. Hopefully a latter-day Theo Epstein.
Dan Shaughnessy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org