Around this time last year, the Boston Red Sox were closing in on the franchise’s fourth World Series title since 2004. This year’s Red Sox club had no such luck. They won just 84 games in what amounted to a disappointing season given the talent and expectations in place. It would be unfair to write that changes are coming in Boston as a result, as they’re already occurring.
Over the past month, the Red Sox have fired president Dave Dombrowski and had high-ranking officials publicly suggest they’re unlikely to retain both Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez due to their desire to trim payroll. (They’ve also announced that ticket prices will increase, for those who were wondering.) Compared to those headliners, Tuesday’s news that the Red Sox were restructuring their coaching staff checks in as a pile of small beans.
According to Julian McWilliams of the Athletic, Boston has reassigned pitching coach Dana LeVangie, assistant pitching coach Brian Bannister, and advanced scouting manager Steve Langone. Assistant hitting coach Andy Barkett, meanwhile, will not return to the organization.
It’s not too surprising that the Red Sox’s focus with those moves is on the pitching side. Boston finished 19th in staff ERA while using 27 pitchers, the second-most in franchise history, due to various injuries and underperformance.
Indeed, the Red Sox had a number of key pitchers check in below their expected levels of production — be it Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi, or … well, practically everyone else called upon to start. Of course, it didn’t help that Chris Sale and David Price were limited to 47 combined starts, or that the Red Sox by and large sat out the offseason as it pertained to their pitching staff, re-signing Eovaldi and doing little else to offset the losses of closer Craig Kimbrel and setup pitcher Joe Kelly.
Bannister’s role reduction — he’ll remain on board as the vice president of pitching development — is perhaps the most notable development here. Bannister is well-regarded around the industry, and was prominently featured in “The MVP Machine” for his ability to blend new-school data and pitching insight. Presumably the Red Sox will continue to lean on his analysis and advice — just, perhaps, in a different way.
The Red Sox are one of several teams to change pitching coaches this winter, joining the Pittsburgh Pirates (Ray Searage), Philadelphia Phillies (Chris Young), Los Angeles Angels (Doug White) and Arizona Diamondbacks (Mike Butcher).