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It happened fast. Very fast and very quietly.
Last week, Chaim Bloom was a respected, relatively anonymous baseball executive with the Tampa Bay Rays. Earlier this week, he was introduced as the Red Sox new chief baseball officer. The 36-year-old is now responsible for all of the team’s baseball operations.
It happened fast because — almost from the start — the Red Sox knew Bloom was the right fit. The team compiled a list of 20 candidates, but only interviewed Bloom.
“In our extensive conversations with Chaim, he really ticked every box that we were hoping he would check out,” said Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner. “He’s thoughtful, innovative, collaborative.”
The feeling was mutual. Bloom mentioned the importance of collaboration more than a dozen times in describing how he wants to lead the Red Sox.
“Collaborative is the word of the day, but I do believe in leading that way,” Bloom said. “I think, for me, a lot of leadership is about lifting others. It’s about taking all the wonderful people in our department and empowering them to do great things for the Boston Red Sox. Now, that doesn’t just mean giving them free reign. It means giving them a lot of rope and it means also challenging them and asking tough questions.”
“Collaborative is the word of the day, but I do believe in leading that way.”Chaim Bloom
Bloom’s collaborative mindset contrasts with the approach of his predecessor Dave Dombrowski. Last season, as president of baseball operations, Dombrowski celebrated a World Series championship. Less than a year later, he was fired. Now, the Red Sox and their fans hope Bloom can return the team to the postseason for years to come.
Bloom's focus on a collaborative workplace would represent a culture change for the Red Sox front office. It’s a byproduct of Bloom’s time with Tampa Bay.
The small-market Rays reached the playoffs this season by doing more with less money than most Major League teams. On opening day, they had a $69 million payroll. The Red Sox? A $213 million payroll, the highest in baseball. That’s one title the Red Sox would gladly surrender.
Ideally, Bloom will bring a small-market sensibility to the Red Sox's spending habits. Next season, owner John Henry wants the team’s payroll under the luxury tax threshold of $208 million.
To get there, Bloom will have some tough roster decisions to make. Should the team sign 2018 American League MVP Mookie Betts to a long-term deal or trade him? Then, there’s designated hitter J.D. Martinez. He can opt out of the remaining three years on his contract. If he does, who replaces him?
When it comes time to make these choices, expect Bloom to be exceptionally well informed.
“When you have information that is organized analytically and you take an analytical mindset to whatever information is available to you — and that doesn’t necessarily mean just numbers — then you can learn,” Bloom said. “You can be evidence-based and you can get better over time. That’s really important in this game where it’s so competitive.”
“In our extensive conversations with Chaim, he really ticked every box that we were hoping he would check out.”Tom Werner
Bloom started as an intern with the Rays in 2005. Back then, baseball was in the midst of the "Moneyball" revolution. Being young, smart, innovative and analytics-savvy certainly didn’t hurt Bloom in the baseball world, even if he did major in Classics at Yale University.
“I wouldn’t necessarily proactively recommend the Classics major to anybody looking to get into baseball, but it worked for me,” Bloom said. “I think what it did do was really taught me how to learn. I think that’s a really valuable skill when you get into a game that forces you to be adaptable and rewards that adaptability.”
How does all of this translate to Boston? How does Bloom bring a more adaptive, innovative, collaborative spirit to the Red Sox baseball operations?
“I don’t think you’ll see us doing trust falls off the Green Monster anytime soon,” he said. “But I think there’s a lot of different ways to do that. Number one, it starts with whatever contribution I can make. I think it starts with living the values that I want us to have. If I want people to be open and honest and vulnerable, then I need to be those things myself.”
So, no trust falls in Bloom’s future. But he sounds ready for a big leap.
This segment aired on October 31, 2019.
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