The criticism of Boston Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom didn’t stop after a confusing trade deadline. He’s been questioned this week for the recent decision to designate Kevin Plawecki for assignment.
Plawecki batted .217 in 157 at bats for Boston this year, but his value to the Red Sox went beyond the box score. He was one of the key glue guys in a clubhouse looking to build a winning culture.
Bloom joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford for an exclusive interview on Audacy’s “The Bradfo Sho” and talked about the difficult decision to release Kevin Plawecki.
“This is the one thing I think when you do something like this and people might think ‘OK, he is who he is baseball-wise, they don’t know or appreciate or understand what he means to this group.’ We do, and we knew exactly how it would land, and it was something that Alex and I, in particular, talked a lot about,” Bloom said (12:42 in player above). “Ultimately, you have to weigh that against what’s our responsibility to make the right baseball move and you know no one likes where we are, but given where we are, we need to look at those other two guys and, unfortunately, the rules are different now. We only get 28.”
Even if the Red Sox kept Plawecki around in a mentor-type role without playing, they’d have to designate someone else for assignment.
“OK, you can say, well, still keep him around and do that to someone else, but that’s still someone else’s life and career,” Bloom said. “We can designate somebody else and no one says anything, we dodge that incoming, but is that really better? Is that really something that we should feel good about when we look ourselves in the mirror at the end of the day?”
For as much as Plawecki was loved in the clubhouse, having him ride the pine for the last few weeks of the season may have hurt his career. That’s not something that Bloom wanted to do.
“One thing that I think is really important here, we wanted to make sure that at least, in our minds – now, obviously, people can differ on this – that we weren’t going to do anything that was going to harm his career, knowing where he is coming up on free agency,” he said. “I don’t think it’s good for his free agency for him to basically sit on the bench for a couple weeks in case there’s another place for him to play.”
Thinking about Plawecki’s future wasn’t the overriding factor, Bloom said, but it did play a role. Plawecki can’t sign somewhere else until Wednesday afternoon, but the Texas Rangers have reportedly shown interest in the catcher. He may be able to supplant Sam Huff as the backup there.
While Bloom may be known for his love of analytics, he has always valued the role players. “Every good team I’ve been around has had” glue guys like Plawecki, he said. That made this decision even tougher for him.
Bloom reiterated that the Red Sox could’ve made a different move and avoided the Plawecki blowback, but he didn’t think it would’ve been right for the club.
“I understand people can look at this differently … We have to own everything we do, but we have to factor in all those things and it’s great when the thing that feels good and feels right aligns with what you think is best for the organization. That's not always going to be the case and you still have to do what’s best for the organization,” he said. “You just have to be there and be willing to face it and own whatever that might mean for people.”
Plawecki became an important guy in the Red Sox clubhouse and it wasn’t easy to let him go. Given the Red Sox’ disappointing season, Bloom knew that no matter what decision he made at this point there were going to be some consequences.
“You don’t always know when you acquire guys if they’re going to be that. We really liked Plow when we got him, that was one of the first moves we made after I got here. We knew he was a good guy. We knew pitchers liked throwing to him. He was a guy where it was hard to anticipate how important he would become,” he said. “We were just at the point with a couple weeks left that there was no free lunch here. Whatever choice we made was going to have some negative ramifications. Honestly, these ones we probably – between me and Alex – we probably took more on ourselves by doing it, and again maybe it’s easier to hide and do something that’s a little easier to do, but when you don’t really think that’s the right decision, sometimes you gotta grit your teeth and do the right thing.”
Bloom can see both sides of the coin, though, and understands why some fans – and players – may be upset.
“I know this can easily get looked at either it’s the right baseball move and then you sort of accept it and you move on, or it’s something you can be really sad about. I think both are true,” Bloom said.
“Sometimes the right moves are not always the ones that make you feel good, and that was one of them. We knew going in, we knew as we were talking about it it would be like that,” Bloom said, which was the same message that he gave players after the fact. “I just think we need to be able to explain what we’re doing and why… I do think people understand the why, they might just disagree with it, or they might think it’s symbolic of something different or something bigger, and that’s a more important thing I think to address.”
The Red Sox have been in a tough spot since before the trade deadline, but Bloom still needs to plow forward and do what he thinks is right for the team. But he knows he doesn’t have the right to control how people feel.
“This is a very tough game and it’s an emotional game and it’s not my right to tell people how they should or shouldn’t feel,” Bloom said. “That’s not my right.”