The Cardinals may be getting a look into their future as the Red Sox come to town

The Cardinals are facing off against a former star outfielder this weekend, but it's their own advisor's history with Boston work keeping a close eye on.
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While much of the media coverage this weekend is going to focus on the St. Louis Cardinals going up against their former star outfielder Tyler O'Neill, there's a different name with ties to the Boston Red Sox that may have a greater impact.

His name is Chaim Bloom.

Hired this offseason as Special Advisor to President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak, Bloom's most recent gig as the Chief Baseball Officer in Boston, essentially the same role that Mozeliak fills here in St. Louis. It's no secret that Mozeliak's time with the Cardinals will be ending in the next year or two, and Bloom has been the hot name to look out for according to local and national media.

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Bloom succeded Dave Dombrowski in Boston following a dissapointing 2019 season, fresh off winning the World Series in 2018. The team had multiple young stars like Mookie Betts, Rafael Devers, and Xander Bogaerts, but their pitching had begun to implode, and Bloom was the perfect candidate to come in and turn around that weakness.

Bloom started out his baseball career with the Tampa Bay Rays, working his way up from an intern in 2005 all the way up to Vice President of Baseball Operations. His biggest claim to fame was creating the "Rays Way" player development manual, which he used to execute individualized player development plans that have made the Rays what they are today. He was a pioneer for the expansion of video usage, improved strength, conditioning, and mental training, and improved player evaluation tools. The Rays, who routinely had the lowest payroll in baseball, were able to compete with the best teams in baseball because of the cutting-edge innovations from Bloom.

At the time of Bloom's hire in Boston, the Red Sox had one of the worst farm systems in the game when Bloom took over and had the largest payroll in all of baseball despite coming in third place that season. They had given terrible contracts to David Price, Rick Porcello, and Pablo Sandoval, and the health of other stars like Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi made it difficult to compete at a high level.

Sounds like a problem that someone like Bloom can work with.

Cardinals fans will be evaluating the Bloom era in Boston this weekend

Flash forward to today, and Bloom is now an advisor with St. Louis after being fired by Boston at the end of the 2023 season. Sounds like a guy who got his shot running a club and failed, right? Well, kind of, but the situation in Boston is way more nuanced than that, and there is evidence of Bloom's impact on the club's success this year.

In the same offseason Bloom was brought in to lead baseball operations for Boston, he was tasked with moving on from a former MVP and World Series champion in the middle of his prime, Mookie Betts. Now, maybe Bloom was skeptical about paying Betts the following offseason, but it was clear that ownership drove the decision to move Betts off of their books. They already had the largest payroll in baseball and were a bad team, so how would paying $300+ million to one of their own players help them get better?

While most of us can agree trading Betts was a bad idea, to make matters even worse, David Price was attached to that deal as well. Although the Red Sox had to pay half of the remainder of his salary, moving both Betts and Price in that deal saved the Red Sox $43 million a year and dropped them below the luxury tax. In return, Boston received prospects Alex Verdugo, Jeter Downs, and Connor Wong.

Even at the time of the trade, we all knew it was a bad move for Boston. But when ownership tasks Bloom in his first six months with making a move like that, he's not going to win himself many fans, and he's certainly in no position to say no. Even if Bloom was able to not add Price's money into the deal, it was unlikely any return would satisfy Boston fans, who were losing a generational talent.

During Bloom's four seasons in charge with Boston, the club went 272-274, not exactly an inspiring record. The club did make an ALCS appearance in his second year in charge and developed the club's bottom-feeding farm system into a top-5 pipeline in the game. During Bloom's time there, they cut back from being the highest-spending team in baseball to closer to the middle of the pack, shaving about $50 million in total spending from where they were in 2019 to 2023. Bloom did make some questionable signings like Trevor Story and was reluctant to sign Xander Bogaerts to a long-term deal, although I think the latter decision will prove best in the end.

What might be most encouraging of all is how the club is performing today, specifically on the pitching front. Bloom was able to identify and maximize bullpen arms like Ryan Brasier, Chris Martin, and other relievers, something he has apparently helped the Cardinals do this past offseason. The Red Sox have also seen excellent results from their starting pitching in 2024, with Tanner Houck, Kutter Crawford, Cooper Criswell, and Garrett Whitlock all having sub-3.00 ERAs, while Bryan Bello and Nick Pivetta have been excellent as well.

Bloom did not acquire all of those names during his time with Boston, but outside of Criswell, he was instrumental in helping develop those arms. Boston is now reaping the rewards of systemic changes that turned them into a pitching factory, much like Tampa Bay has been since Bloom's influence on them.

If this sounds like a rather optimistic look at Bloom's time in Boston, it is. There are some who look at his time with the Red Sox and take away more negatives than positives. I tend to think he got dealt a bad hand with the Betts decision, and while he made mistakes along the way, he was a positive influence on the direction of the organization.

It's virtually impossible to run baseball operations for a club and not have blemishes on your record. The two most iconic executives baseball executives in recent Red Sox history, Theo Epstein and Dombrowski, all made major mistakes toward the end of their tenures that send Boston into rebuilds. Epstein went on to transform the Chicago Cubs into a World Series winner and Dombrowski has been the architect of the Philadelphia Phillies. Those guys have some Bloom doesn't, a World Series title, but it's a reminder that almost every executive has their tenure with a club end on sour terms.

As it feels more and more likely that will be the case when Mozeliak steps away from his role with the Cardinals, I am hard-pressed to find another baseball executive who would be better suited to come in and lead a new era of Cardinals baseball. Bloom has his faults and has made his share of mistakes, but his ability to build out a cutting-edge player development system, identify and acquire talent on the margins and then maximize them, and do so without being able to spend $250 million dollars is the exact kind of leader St. Louis needs.

I also believe that St. Louis would be a better market fit for Bloom than Boston was. Although it's fair to criticize the Cardinals for a lack of spending, the organization, almost to a fault, likes retaining its own stars in a way that Boston has not. The one-time St. Louis let their homegrown star walk was Albert Pujols in 2011, and I honestly don't think they'd let that happen again. While Bloom may have to make some tough calls in his early years with St. Louis and their aging stars, I think if he was presented with a Mookie Betts type of situation again, he'd find a way to lock him down long-term.

Questions remain about whether or not Bloom will actually be Mozeliak's successor in St. Louis, but for now, take a long, hard look at the Red Sox this weekend. They may give you a glimpse into the kind of organization St. Louis hopes to become in the next few seasons.