Bloom labels defensive deficiencies a concern

June 29th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Ian Browne’s Red Sox Beat newsletter. Molly Burkhardt is filling in for Browne. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

BOSTON -- Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the Marlins was Boston’s 81st game of 2023. Sitting at 40-41, the first half of the Red Sox’s season is in the rear view. I sat down with chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom this week to discuss the club’s position as it enters the second half.

MLB.COM: How would you assess where the team is halfway through the season?

BLOOM: You look at the win-loss and you look at where we are on the scoreboard and nobody is happy with that. Individually, there’s a lot of really good things that have gone on as far as some of the core players here that we're counting on to take a step forward. We obviously need to put the pieces all together a little more in the second half to get where we want to go. But you look around the roster, there’s a lot of things to be excited about, despite some of the lumps we’ve taken injury-wise and otherwise.

MLB.COM: Have there been any surprises?

BLOOM: I don’t know if there’s anything necessarily that I would point to as a surprise, because a lot of these guys, what they’re doing are things that we thought they were capable of. It’s just nice to see them showing that to us on a regular basis. Like, I would begin by talking about our young starting pitchers. With [Brayan] Bello and, obviously before he went down, Tanner [Houck], Garrett [Whitlock] and Kutter [Crawford], now that he’s back in the rotation, you could put him in that group, too. These guys all have had something to prove as far as being able to take the ball every fifth, sixth day and do this at this level. I think they understand who they are, they’re pitching with a lot of confidence and that is so important. Both for 2023 and everything beyond.

MLB.COM: Is the club leaning toward buying or selling at the Deadline?

BLOOM: I think we’re going to need more time before the Deadline to see exactly what makes sense for us to do. We understand the reality of the division. It’s probably the best division in the history of baseball, but it’s where we play. We’re hoping to put the pieces together a little bit better than we did in the first half, have a lot of those individual bright spots add up to more team wins and put ourselves in a position to make the postseason. Obviously, we’ll need to see how we play between now and then and we can figure out where to go from there.

MLB.COM: So at the moment, there’s no, ‘We’re buying,’ or ‘We’re selling?'

BLOOM: I think realistically we try to stay in touch with all 29 clubs at all times and see what people are thinking. We know that the bulk of the action on the trade front is going to happen after the Draft. That’s not to say we aren’t having some conversations. We are, because you always want to understand what all of your competitors are trying to do, and get a sense of the different possibilities available to us. What the demand is for some of our players, but as far as that taking specific shape … Look, there’s always moves that could happen early, but the bulk of the action usually happens a lot closer to the end of July.

MLB.COM: Is there any one area you feel the focus needs to go to in the second half?

BLOOM: If there’s one area where we need to be more consistent it’s defensively. Our pitching, since the first month of the season, our pitching has really, really picked up the pace. Again, it hasn’t reflected itself in wins and losses as much as we would have thought, but our pitching has been damn good for a while now. Hopefully they continue doing that, continue throwing strikes. The offense, for the most part, has been really good. We’ve gone through some down periods where that big hit has eluded us, but on the whole, it’s been a really good unit. And we have a lot of confidence it’s going to continue to be. Defensively is where we need to tighten up the most, that’s no secret.