Boston Red Sox

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JANUARY 15: Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom looks on during a press conference addressing the departure of Alex Cora as manager of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on January 15, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. A MLB investigation concluded that Cora was involved in the Houston Astros sign stealing operation in 2017 while he was the bench coach. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • OK, so the headline is a little corny. (Maybe a lot.) But if we’re being fair, the biggest story with the Red Sox is not about anyone wearing a uniform.

    It’s about Chaim Bloom.

    Though the season is still (very) young, the surprising Red Sox are a more-than-respectable 21-15, currently in possession of the third and final wildcard playoff spot. Even so, the bigger success is the surge of Chaim Bloom, whose future was the No. 1 storyline entering this season.

    After two last-place finishes in three years, Bloom’s status was very much in doubt entering this season. And while the team’s success obviously will have great bearing on Bloom’s tenure with the team, just as important is the health and productivity of the Red Sox’ player development system, an area we will heretofore refer to as Bloom’s Guys.

    Right now, they’re making a run – and then some.

  • Masataka Yoshida

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 5: Masataka Yoshida #7 of the Boston Red Sox reacts in the top of the third against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 5, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 5: Masataka Yoshida #7 of the Boston Red Sox reacts in the top of the third against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 5, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

    OK, so he’s not a prospect. But Bloom’s biggest signing of the season required a five-year, $90 million investment that many regarded as needlessly high. Now, Yoshida is in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak that yesterday led to him being named the American League Player of the Week. For the year, Yoshida is batting .321 with a .939 OPS, 13 walks and just 11 strikeouts. Last week, he saw 90 pitches – yes, 90 – without a single swing-and-miss.

  • Alex Verdugo

    BOSTON, MA - MAY 1: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox looks toward his dugout as he celebrates his walk-off home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at Fenway Park on May 1, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MAY 1: Alex Verdugo #99 of the Boston Red Sox looks toward his dugout as he celebrates his walk-off home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at Fenway Park on May 1, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    Again, not a prospect. But Verdugo is still just 26 years old and was, of course, the principal acquisition in the Mookie Betts deal. Does that make the trade worth it? Hell no. But Verdugo has been the Red Sox’ most consistent player through the early part of this season, batting .307 with an .883 OPS, 10¬† doubles, five home runs, 18 RBI and 27 runs scored. If he becomes the kind of player that is an All-Star candidate, that changes things.

  • Connor Wong

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 02: Connor Wong #12 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates in front of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays after hitting a home run during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on May 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – MAY 02: Connor Wong #12 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates in front of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 of the Toronto Blue Jays after hitting a home run during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on May 02, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Like Verdugo, Wong was acquired in the Betts trade. Until now, he’s looked like nothing more than a backup catcher. But after last week’s 4-for-4, two-homer performance, the 27-year-old is batting .257 with three home runs, 10 RBI and a .772 OPS. He also has thrown out 8-of-16 base stealers, a whopping 50 percent. Catchers can develop on the later side, of course, and if Wong proves he can be a starter, well, the Betts deal isn’t nearly as horrible.

  • Enmanuel Valdez

    BOSTON, MA - MAY 1: Enmanuel Valdez #47 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates as he rounds the bases after his two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on May 1, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MAY 1: Enmanuel Valdez #47 of the Boston Red Sox celebrates as he rounds the bases after his two-run home run against the Toronto Blue Jays during the sixth inning at Fenway Park on May 1, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

    Admit it: before recently you forgot who he was. Along with Wilyer Abreu, Valdez was acquired in the controversial trade that sent Christian Vazquez to the Houston Astros at last year’s trading deadline. The move was almost universally panned and interpreted as the Red Sox waving the white flag, which it may have been. At least for 2022.

    But this year? The 5-foot-8, 24-year-old Valdez is batting .324 with an .829 OPS, which is nothing to sneeze at. Is he perfect? Hardly. His defense needs work. But a bat is a bat is a bat, and Valdez looks like he can hit.

    Further, 23-year-old outfielder Abreu is batting .315 with three homers and 15 RBI at Triple-A Worcester. On Saturday, he tied the score with a solo homer in the bottom of the ninth inning and looks like yet another pickup who can swing the bat. Last year, Abreu finished with 19 home runs, 73 RBI and an .834 OPS in 129 games at Double-A.

  • Josh Winckowski

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 10: Josh Winckowski #25 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game at Tropicana Field on April 10, 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

    ST. PETERSBURG, FL – APRIL 10: Josh Winckowski #25 of the Boston Red Sox throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during a baseball game at Tropicana Field on April 10, 2023 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

    Acquired in the deal for Andrew Benintendi, Winckowski came to the Red Sox with, among others, Franchy Cordero, whom the Red Sox have since released. But after posting a 5.89 ERA and 1.59 WHIP last season, Winckowski appears to have found a home in the Red Sox bullpen, which is no small thing. In 13 appearances so far, Winckowski is 2-0 with a 1.57 ERA, 18 strikeouts and five walks. His emergence  at least in part, has allowed the Red Sox to keep Tanner Houck in the starting rotation.

    In summation: should you now assume that all of these players will be effective major leaguers going forward? No. But entering this year, Bloom looked like he was riding an interminable 0-fer.

    But this spring, at least, things have been coming up flowers and rainbows.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.