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The Cardinals Aren’t Waiting For Spring to Bloom

I will forgive you if you stop reading after that.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Boston Red Sox Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

With the hiring of Chaim Bloom, the offseason dots have now been connected.

What do Nick Robertson, Ryan Fernandez, Victor Santos, Andrew Kittredge, and Riley O’Brien all have in common? They now pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals and have some sort of association with Chaim Bloom.

Nick Robertson was acquired by the Bloom-led Red Sox in 2023. Ryan Fernandez also came from the Red Sox and even though he was drafted by the organization when Bloom was still with the Rays, he came up in an organization led by Bloom. Santos was also acquired by the Red Sox under Bloom’s leadership.

And then there’s Andrew Kittredge and Riley O’Brien who were acquired by the Rays via trade (Kittredge) and the draft (O’Brien) during the 40-year-old’s tenure.

The Cardinals may have only announced the hiring of Bloom yesterday but his fingerprints seem to be all over the Cardinals’ acquisitions so far. I have a hunch that Bloom has been a part of the organization for a while now and the team just got around to announcing it yesterday.

Regardless, I was thrilled when I saw the announcement because I think highly of Bloom and was starting to lose hope that the Cardinals would be bringing him into the fold after the initial rumors/reports came out months ago with seemingly no progress until yesterday.

I guess I should have expected it all along.

But here’s the thing about this pickup. It might be the one we look back on in a few years as the most impactful move made by the Cardinals this offseason.

Before I elaborate, I want to say that the title of “advisory role” is ambiguous. We don’t know exactly what Bloom will be advising the organization on, we don’t know how expansive his role will be, and we don’t know how long he’ll even be with the organization.

It’s too early to tell and there are too many unknowns to really have a sense for how impactful this move will end up being. That’s why I qualified my earlier statement with “might”.

Despite that, though, this move signals quite a few good things for the Cardinals going forward.

For starters, it signals that the Cardinals are willing to look externally to add fresh perspectives and new insights. This is something that hasn’t always happened and to see the Cardinals publicly admitting it is certainly a step in the right direction.

Internal mobility is great and having a cohesive organization that pulls in the same direction matters. That doesn’t mean that organizations should be closed off to new perspectives and other potential paths of growth.

I’m not trying to imply that the Cardinals were closed off because that would take a lot of speculation on my part but I love that the Cardinals saw an opportunity to bring a smart and qualified forward-thinker into the organization and seized it.

That’s never a bad thing.

So what does Bloom bring to the table?

For starters, expertise in the matter of pitching development, which is something the Cardinals sorely need.

It’s funny to me that the Bloom hiring was announced on the same day that Baseball America dropped their study on which teams are the best at drafting and developing pitchers.

In case you missed the article or don’t subscribe to Baseball America, J.J. Cooper found that the Cardinals lead the pack. The problem is that the list of pitchers drafted and developed into successful major leaguers by the Cardinals really thins out after 2016.

The organization used to be among the best in the league at this, or even the best in the league, but they have fallen behind the curve in recent years.

Chaim Bloom is perhaps the most qualified person they could have brought in to address this. Not only did Bloom help mastermind the Rays pitching development and evaluation, which remains among the forefront of major league teams, he quite literally wrote the book on player development, called “The Rays Way”.

So while we don’t know exactly what Bloom will be doing with the Cardinals, it feels like a safe bet to say that he’ll be assisting with pitching development and evaluation, among other things.

And that’s exactly what the organization needs right now.

I’ve mentioned it before but part of the problem with this offseason is that the Cardinals had so many innings to fill and no dependable internal options to fill them. If the Cardinals had been able to slot internal options into one or two spots, there’s the potential they could have shot higher with one of the Lynn or Gibson signings.

Signing pitchers to big long term contracts is risky because pitchers themselves are risky. It’s okay if the Cardinals are going to shy away from that strategy.

But that makes it all the more important for the organization to be able to develop its own pitching and that’s something they haven’t had a ton of success with in recent years. In a system that has churned out productive bat after productive bat, the pitching side of things hasn’t followed suit.

And that’s what I’m hoping will change with Bloom being brought into the fold.

So, to get back to my earlier point, why might this move be the most impactful one the Cardinals make this offseason? Well it’s something along the lines of giving a man a fish versus teaching him to fish.

The Cardinals biggest free agent acquisition has been Sonny Gray and he’ll give a huge boost to the rotation for the next 3 years. I don’t want to minimize that. But a better pitching development and pitching evaluation infrastructure has the potential to benefit the team for much longer than 3 years and help the organization catch up to the rest of the league in an area where they have fallen behind.

So how does the saying go? If you give the Cardinals a Sonny Gray it feeds them for a day but if you teach them how to develop Sonny Grays, you feed them for a lifetime.

That’s what I’m hoping comes out of this move.

Besides the pitching development aspect of Bloom’s expertsie, the guy has simply done just about everything in the baseball world, starting as a writer for Baseball Prospectus, joining the Rays as an intern, working his way up in the one of the smartest organizations in the game, and then being the top baseball operations executive in Boston.

So while pitching development is the first thing that popped into my head when the Bloom signing was announced, he can wear more than just one hat. this is somebody who has handled the top job at a big league level and knows what that entails and I wouldn’t be shocked if he now gets a hand in quite a few aspects of the Cardinals organization.

There’s a lot more that can be said about Bloom, his unfortunate tenure with the Red Sox (It must suck to be the guy that follows Dombrowski), and what his role may entail with the Cardinals. I’m stopping here, though, because, quite frankly, I know nothing about what Bloom’s role will officially entail

There hasn’t been much reported. It’s easy to connect the dots, though, and assume the Cardinals hired Bloom because they value his experience and forward thinking and see him adding value to the organization.

So I’m excited about this move with the caveat that, again, I know nothing. I’m really looking forward to seeing how things play out and seeing if there are any noticeable differences that come to the organization from this new, fresh, outside voice.

Thanks for reading, VEB. Have a fantastic Tuesday.