Commentary

A few complaints about these free-falling Red Sox

Barry Chin/Globe Staff
Chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom has had some hits with his roster moves, but there are holes showing this season.


My apologies if this is even less coherent than usual. Watching the Red Sox get outscored, 67-13, over a five-game losing streak will do that to a person.

The Sox are such a free-falling, neglected disaster that I swear they’re messing with our brains. I actually caught myself saying this to my dad this weekend: Hey, at least the Jays didn’t score 30 on ‘em.

You think you’re making a valid point, and suddenly you realize you’re making about as much sense as Kevin Millar trying to explain doggone quantum physics.

So there’s your warning, folks. This alleged column is assembled from notes scribbled on loose sheets of paper, voice memos with half-formed theories (“Chaim Bloom definitely would have traded David Ortiz at some point”), and a morning email to my editor that said, “I’m not sure what my specific angle is, but I have many gripes.”

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Let’s get to it. Complaints, I have a few …

· Matt Olson, the Braves first baseman, is a fine player. Hits for power. Excellent defender. Seems to be a good character guy. Someone you’d want on your team to complement your true stars. But make no mistake: It is an absolute insult for the Red Sox to offer him as a comparison for Rafael Devers in contract talks.

There are some parallels with their statistics, but Devers is much more talented (he hammers good pitching) and charismatic, is probably a top-10 hitter in baseball now, and is still getting better. Oh, and this is the key point: He’s 2½ years younger.

If the Red Sox were serious about using Olson’s $168 million deal as a benchmark for negotiations, Devers should have laughed in their face and quoted the great philosopher Jon Bon Jovi. “Oh, we’re halfway there …”

Devers gets — and deserves — $350 million, minimum.

· This could be Xander Bogaerts’s last week with the Red Sox. I suspect that it is. Isn’t that sad? He’s done virtually everything right since arriving as 20-year-old in September 2013, switching to third base with a veteran’s poise, and helping the Red Sox win the World Series. (Remember that laser off Max Scherzer in the ALCS? That’s when we knew, wasn’t it?)

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He has become a consistent All-Star and team leader; I remember helping out on the beat a couple of years ago and being immediately impressed with how effortlessly Bogaerts moved among different groups in the clubhouse.

And he wants to be here. There’s extra value in that, whether or not Bloom himself values it. Go back and look at Adrian Gonzalez’s first season with the Red Sox. He put up monster numbers. No one remembers that, because he was such a miserable fit in this market and in that clubhouse.

But I have to admit, I can understand the reluctance to give Bogaerts a long-term extension at the going rate for shortstops of his caliber. He turns 30 in September, his power needs a recharge, and he probably will have to move off shortstop in a couple of years. There was no reason to insult him with the de facto one-year, $30 million extension, but there are plausible concerns about his future.

But the Devers situation just makes no sense. He’s 25, plays with joy, habitually clobbers baseballs, and at his best is reminiscent of a David Ortiz/Adrian Beltre amalgam. He is exactly the kind of player you pay.

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· Is “neglectful” too strong an adjective to describe Bloom and the front office’s offseason approach to roster-building? I don’t think it is, because there was no building done whatsoever outside of stocking up on organizational depth.

I was fine with trading Hunter Renfroe to the Brewers for Jackie Bradley and a couple of mid-level prospects. You know why? I thought they’d find another Renfroe! You know, an undervalued player with at least a couple of valuable skills.

Instead, they have done nothing but give Bradley — clearly at the defensive-replacement phase of his career — 254 at-bats this season while catching some flickers of lightning in a bottle from perennial 26th man Rob Refsnyder. From what I understand, first base also has been a bit of a problem.

· We do know what a Chaim Bloom hit looks like. He has found some swell bargains, from Garrett Whitlock to Nick Pivetta to John Schreiber. Kiké Hernandez, Bloom’s find, was a blast last year, reminiscent of Shane Victorino in ‘13. And Bloom has done good work reloading the farm system.

But until he pays the going rate for a superstar, he must be regarded as someone who only seeks bargains and the maximum bang for the buck. And Trevor Story does not count as a big-ticket item. The Sox got a deal when they signed him compared with the contracts of other big-name shortstops like Corey Seager, and he gave them leverage for Bogaerts.

· Watching Ortiz’s Hall of Fame induction Sunday — the guy can deliver a memorable speech, can’t he? — while the current Sox were getting throttled by the Blue Jays, I found myself thinking about Bloom’s habit of roster churn and how he probably would have moved on from Ortiz around 2009 or ‘10, when injuries seemed to be derailing his career.

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And that got me thinking that if Bloom solved time travel (entirely possible) and found a way to become the Red Sox’ baseball boss at other points throughout their history, he probably would have traded every superstar lifer they’ve ever had other than Ted Williams.

After all, Carl Yastrzemski and Jim Rice were the highest-paid players in baseball at certain points, and that just wouldn’t have been tenable to “Back To The Future” Bloom and his bosses.

Retroactive prediction: He would have traded Rice to the Braves in 1984 for Brad Komminsk, Andres Thomas, and Joe Johnson. I do suppose he would have gotten a better deal for Babe Ruth than the Red Sox actually did, though.

· In a serious sense, are we sure we trust Bloom to get a decent return for Devers or Bogaerts? For the great Mookie Betts, he got Alex Verdugo (fun player, but a league-average outfielder and mistake-prone), Jeter Downs (ceiling: the next Arquimedez Pozo), and Connor Wong (the designated call-up when someone gets COVID). That is an embarrassing return.

· The Red Sox cannot act as though they don’t have an advantage in resources over most MLB teams. It should not be that hard to build a perennial contender here. Spend on the farm system, seek and sign undervalued veterans, and pay superstars who thrive in this market what they’re worth, and maybe just a little bit more than that. Wait, I just described Theo Epstein’s approach, didn’t I?

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