Tomase: Red Sox players losing faith in Chaim Bloom as deadline nears originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The question to Christian Vazquez was simple, as was his answer. But the space in between was damning.
After what could’ve been his final home game in a Red Sox uniform on Sunday, Vazquez addressed trade rumors. He said the players are fighting for each other like family and he hoped to still be here come Tuesday’s trade deadline.
“Do you think Chaim (Bloom) believes in the team?” he was asked, a reference to the chief baseball officer who appears ready to shed any number of pending free agents, Vazquez included.
“I don’t know,” he said.
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While it’s easy to say their dismal performance this month forced Bloom’s hand, there’s frustration in the clubhouse that nothing was done to address obvious holes, per multiple sources. That’s most glaring at first base, where the Mariners acquired veteran change-of-scenery candidate Carlos Santana from the Royals in late June and promptly won 17 of 18 to climb from seven games below .500 to second in the wild card standings.
The switch hitter is hitting just .179 in Seattle, but he can catch the ball at a spot where porous defense has directly contributed to numerous Red Sox losses. And taking action could’ve bought clubhouse goodwill.
Instead, July has brought a parade of Triple-A players who aren’t ready for the big stage, whether it’s infielder Jeter Downs, who struck out in 21 of his 41 plate appearances, Franchy Cordero, who has committed eight errors in 45 games at first, or a parade of arms that simply couldn’t buttress the rotation for a month with Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Sale, Michael Wacha, and Rich Hill variously injured.
Even when things were going well in June, the possibility of being traded at the deadline hung over a number of veterans. It’s part of the reason the front office took the rare step of assuring All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts that he wouldn’t be dealt.
But trust that the front office cares as much about 2022 as 2025 has been eroded, which was reflected in Vazquez’s answer.
It’s safe to say Vazquez spoke for the room when he questioned how much his boss cares about this season.
With the Red Sox a game under .500 and fading in the American League playoff race, he’s not the only standout whose days could be numbered. DH JD Martinez, Eovaldi, Wacha, and Hill could also be on the move, and a natural question they might have is why.
Vazquez sees a team still capable of contending. Martinez wonders what the Red Sox might look like at full strength. Neither sounded particularly confident Bloom will give them a chance to find out.
“We’re still here,” Vazquez said. “We control what we can control. We’re here fighting together. We are family and we’re going to continue until we see what happens in these couple of days. We’re still here with this uniform and I hope we can stay here.”
“I don’t know (about Bloom),” Vazquez added. “But I know on this club, in these walls, we believe in each other and know we can do this together. We did it before and we need to be together in this way.”
Martinez has insisted since spring training that he’d love to stay in Boston, but the Red Sox are the 12-year veteran’s fourth organization, and with his 35th birthday looming in three weeks, he long ago surrendered to the game’s mercenary realities.
“I’m not blind,” he said of his current predicament.
That didn’t stop him from delaying his postgame comments so he could pull on his Red Sox hat, perhaps for the last time. He said it meant memories of a first-class organization.
“As far as I know I’m here,” he said. “I’m not going to think anything otherwise. I want to make it as hard on Chaim as I can. If we keep winning I think we can do that. I feel like the pressure has been like that since we came back from the All-Star break. Everybody feels like you’re fighting for your life type stuff, fighting to keep the band together.”
On that front, they have clearly failed. The Red Sox opened July 10 games over .500 and leading the AL wild card race. They ended it in last place after a disastrous 8-19 month that left them looking up at seven teams in the wild card.
Bloom recently said he wouldn’t let clubhouse reaction influence his decision-making if he thought a move made baseball sense. He’s about to put that belief to the test, because it’s safe to say Vazquez spoke for the room when he questioned how much his boss cares about this season.