Life is a thankless slog made occasionally bearable for humans by moments of surprising joy and glimpses of baby Yoda.

Those aren’t my words. Werner Herzog’s family and mine get together for Mandalorian Fridays, and these were Werner’s thoughts on the Dave Dombrowski firing when I told him I was writing up the Red Sox. 

I’m confident Chaim Bloom will be just fine in the top job. Will he be as successful as Dombrowski? Tough to say. Pretty high bar. What we can say is Bloom will be less handsy with ownership’s purse strings, which will grant him an extra level of job security. As might his ability to thread the needle between going for the win year over year and building up and protecting the minor league system. 


1. 1B Triston Casas | 20 | A+ | 2022

2. OF Gilberto Jimenez | 19 | A- | 2023

If you’re in a start-up OBP dynasty league, Triston Casas should be squarely on your radar. I wouldn’t run away in batting average leagues by any means; I just think his 80-grade power and hard-won patience (high school kids avoided his strike zone like the plague) will bring a Joey Gallo type peak. Casas is not the athlete Gallo is—there’s no chance we see him in centerfield—but the power, loft, and patience are reminiscent of the Rangers’ rainmaker. 

I have this weird feeling I’ve been talking about Gilberto Jimenez all off-season. I’ve backed off ever so slightly from when I ranked him 41st overall, but I still think he’s a must-own. 


3. 3B Bobby Dalbec | 24 | AAA | May/June 2020

4. LHP Jay Groome | 21 | A | 2022

5. RHP Bryan Mata | 20 | AA | Mid 2021

6. RHP Noah Song | 22 | A- | ????

7. RHP Brayan Bello | 20 | A | 2022

The game is moving in Bobby Dalbec’s direction. Computers (with an assist from humans) are helping demonstrate the win-value of a strong, accurate infield arm. They’re simultaneously predicting batted ball outcomes and lowering the baseline for playable defensive infield range for second basemen, so even though he’s blocked by Rafael Devers, Dalbec has a pretty clear path to playing time across the diamond, be that at second or first with Michael Chavis handling the keystone, an outcome similarly encouraged by the tectonic crawl of time. 

Bryan Mata’s pitches get crazy movement, but I don’t love his delivery. His balance is inconsistent in part because he doesn’t incorporate his base. If anyone could use a winter at Driveline baseball, it’s Mata. That said, he has a feel for spin and could make a leap if he learns to use his legs. 

I almost ranked Groome over Mata due to the extreme quality of the clay in Jay Groome, a 6’6” lefty many thought was the best talent in his draft year. His career has been flirting with disaster like Molly Hatchet, and while a good deal of that has been out of his hands (weird transfer rules that made him ineligible as a high school senior, dad with drug and legal troubles), we make our own luck in life to some extent, and this is a bet on the growing maturity of Groome leading to choices that set him up for better things in the near future. 

Noah Song gets my first question mark estimated time of arrival. I’m not even gonna guesstimate that shizz! Because Why? Because the military industrial complex, that’s why! He’s got a commitment to the Navy that could last two years or could be waived via Song’s application for deferment. If he shakes free of Uncle Sam, he’s a percolating arm with premium topside. If not, he’s a waste of a roster spot. 

Over his final ten starts in A ball as a 20-year-old, Brayan Bello walked nine batters. 

This 54 inning-stretch comprised of 48 hits, 59 strikeouts, three home runs, and a 3.00 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP. 

Stated another way:

A 6.56 K/BB 

2.75 FIP

0.50 HR/9

9.83 K/9

26.8 K%

4.1 BB%

.310 BABIP

73.9 LOB%

.232 OPP AVG 

Look it’s just ten starts at the end of a season, but that’s kind of the point here. This was Bello’s first shot at a full season league, and he got stronger over the course of 117.2 innings. 

I wanted to begin with that home-stretch snapshot for other numerical reasons, as well:

Full-season ERA = 5.43

Full-season FIP = 3.66

Bello’s mini-breakout is well disguised. Might be an underrated arm sizzling toward his boiling point here. 


8. SS Matthew Lugo | 18 | A- | 2024

9. SS Brainer Bonaci | 17 | R | 2024

10. RHP Chih-Jung Liu | 20 | NA | ????

The nephew of Carlos Beltran but a stranger to Seth Lugo, Matthew Lugo was a good get for Dombrowski and Co. late in the second round of this year’s draft. The front office must have liked him because they sent him straight to the Gulf Coast League, where he broke even with a 100 wRC+ in 39 games–no small feat for an 18-year-old at the end of his draft year. 

Didn’t have much feel for where to put Brainer Bonaci. Had to think about it a lot. I mean he’s a teenage shortstop in rookie ball. Only so much can be known.

Will have to think more. 

While I was looking for information about recent signee Chih-Jung Liu, the Boston Globe offered me a six-month subscription for $1. 

I didn’t find much about Liu, who was overworked in high school so stepped away from pitching only to come back throwing 98 miles per hour as a 20-year-old.

But that offer stuck with me. Specifically my reaction to the offer–the insulted instant-no so central to browsing the internet these days. Like, what a ludicrous idea–that I’d pay a buck for six months of a newspaper that’s pulled the curtain back on some historically gross, dangerous corruption. I mean, come on! I need to save that dollar for half a bottle of water! 

I didn’t subscribe, by the way.

I’m no hero.