The path of Red Sox, Chaim Bloom could lead to prosperity. But even then, the pain comes first.

Rey Fuentes and Chaim Bloom talking on the field at Fenway Park
Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom (right), shown with mental skills boss Rey Fuentes, has a busy couple days ahead of him in the run-up to Tuesday evening's MLB trade deadline. Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff


Fenway Park needed no help in feeling funereal as Sunday’s first pitch neared, but Bill Russell’s death — the audible gasps when the Red Sox called for a moment of silence making clear how fresh the news was — cast the pall that much deeper.

The shock of it gave way to gratitude over a life impossibly well lived. (Plus, to borrow from Bob Cousy, “At 88, I suppose we expect it.”) The Red Sox, on the final day of a truly dreadful month, went on an old-fashioned doubles barrage and beat Milwaukee in their final home game before the Aug. 2 trade deadline.


Small solace is better than none. A 3-7 homestand is better than 2-8, a 8-19 month is better than 7-20, and one July win from a starting pitcher is better than none.

Does it change the path of the franchise? One game shouldn’t, and I don’t think this one did either. Former MLB GM Jim Bowden tweeted Sunday night that “buyers and sellers” best described the Red Sox’ mindset; we’ll see what that translates to across the next day and a half.

They are just 3.5 games from a wild-card with 59 to play, but would have to jump four teams to get there. (Fangraphs’ playoff odds have Boston ninth in a race for six American League spots.) Their needs begin with a first baseman and bullpen help, but realistically include an outfielder and rotation support.

That’s a pretty big ask for a shot at a three-game series on the road. This roster was built for a best-case scenario season like the one 2021 produced. Suffice to say, it hasn’t gotten it, and results have done nothing to demand it keep chasing it.

The most compelling reason to “keep the band together” (in J.D. Martinez’s words) might be just how little its players might bring back. Martinez’s two doubles Sunday were Nos. 31 and 32, two off the AL lead, but he has nine home runs and a balky back on Aug. 1.


Nate Eovaldi, going into his Monday start in Houston, hasn’t had the same velocity since his five-week injury absence. Christian Vázquez is perennially underrated, but he’s also a catcher regressing defensively and going on 32 years old. What’s that really worth?

Of course, if you’re Chaim Bloom and you’re not planning on reupping these guys this winter, all you have to beat in a return is a compensation draft pick. Which introduces the other elephant to this room.

In their statement saluting Russell, the team concluded that “the fire that burned so bright in him will continue to inspire us at Fenway Park.” To the degree that anyone even noticed it, that figures to age like milk should Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi really meet in a Yankees-Dodgers World Series, and should Xander Bogaerts join them this winter as a departed homegrown star.

He wants to be here. Martinez wants to be here, going so far this weekend as to suggest that old Jon Lester dream of coming back even if he’s traded at the deadline. Lester was, and didn’t. Martinez probably won’t either.

And it’s hard to reconcile the logic in the decisions Bloom’s making with the relative pain of this evolution. Both of the current roster, and the franchise as a whole.


When the Red Sox won the 2018 World Series, it struck me that we’d reached the pinnacle as observers of the team. A fourth title in 15 years, via a 119-win season, was going to be awful hard to top for the rest of our lives. It was more prescient than even I ever could have understood.

Three months later, John Henry (who owns Boston Globe Media Partners, including first told a wide audience the team had exceeded its budget, and first uttered the infamous phrase about “how much money are you willing to lose?” That September, Dave Dombrowski was fired. Bloom traded Betts about three months into his tenure as the replacement.

It has all been one long goodbye since Oct. 28, 2018, drawing down to Monday or Tuesday or this winter, when that title roster feels truly, entirely gone. Our worlds changed after 2004, when we — and, more importantly, the players — could finally lift the weight of eight decades of failure off every series.

Fourteen years later, we had enough success to last a lifetime. The sort the Torontos and the Milwaukees and the San Diegos are chasing a sliver of if they go all-in in the coming hours.

The easy slag is to quip that team ownership took that success cliché literally, but I don’t think that entirely fair.

Last week, colleague Chad Finn smartly pointed out that Bloom’s style likely would’ve meant David Ortiz finishing his career in something other than a Red Sox uniform, and that Bloom “probably would have traded every superstar lifer they’ve ever had other than Ted Williams.”


You can win that way, of course (and spare me the “Tampa never won the big one” dreck that ignores teams that make the playoffs every year win a lot more titles than the ones that don’t). Flip a flawed Hunter Renfroe after a hot season. Sell a year too early before a year too late. Stay flexible. Build from within.

But at some point, you’ve got to build around something we can hold on to. Winning’s hard, no matter how you do it. Heavily luck reliant, as these last two years have reminded us. When it all goes sideways, as it did in July and it has most of this year, it’s nice to have names you know to fall back on. Homegrown talents and long-time stalwart that are unquestionably yours.

It’s a dangerous path: The Phillies, for one, held their 2008 title core too close, too long, and it was the start of a decade without a playoff berth. But they’re all dangerous paths, and one of the luxuries of being in a big market is the ability to spend out of the occasional big mistake.

I’m not near ready to say the Boston Red Sox, with a $206.5 million payroll on Opening Day, are out of that big business. But there’s big things afoot in the sport, be they Juan Soto or Shohei Ohtani, and they feel like bystanders in the discussion.

It’s not a good feeling. And it feels like we’ve still not seen how bad it’s going to feel.


This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on