The shake-up in the Boston Red Sox framework continues as it was announced today that Dana LeVangie will not return as the team’s pitching coach.
Another day another bit of news coming out of Fenway Park as it was announced that Dana LeVangie will no longer be the pitching coach for the Red Sox. I want to say I’m surprised by the news but then again this year brought just an onslaught of awful pitching from Boston. Granted it wasn’t LeVangie on the mound but it was his job to figure out why the pitching was so awful.
Much like the firing of Dave Dombrowski, removing LeVangie as the pitching coach is a double-edged sword. When the Red Sox were on top of the world in 2018 a major factor in their success was the effectiveness of the pitching staff.
When the world was crashing down around them in 2019, it was also thanks in most part to the pitching. You have to take the good with the bad and unfortunately for Dana, things were bad enough to cost him his job, sort of.
The Red Sox aren’t totally cutting ties with LeVangie as he will be returning to a role he previously owned as a pro scout. LeVangie has been with Boston for nearly three decades and will continue his tenure with the organization but with a much less public role. He is just another casualty in the wake of an embarrassing season from the Sox.
Boston faced a myriad of issues with their pitching staff this season ranging from injuries, blown saves, to lack of effectiveness, and just too many questions with zero answers. It’s the job of the pitching coach to analyze the work of the staff and breakdown the issues to formulate solutions. It never felt like he had a grasp on what was going wrong with his staff. Granted, I’m not sure some of the issues he faced could’ve been solved by coaching sessions.
Just how healthy were Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi when they signed their new contracts this winter? It wouldn’t be the first time a team was elusive with just how healthy their players were and their performances this year should be a red flag. Sale never quite got things cooking and would be shut down with weeks left in the season. Eovaldi spent much of the year on the IL after getting surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs.
If the Red Sox wanted to rush an extension to Sale and a new deal to Eovaldi that’s fine, but it didn’t feel like enough was done to ensure both were healthy to earn the checks they were getting. That doesn’t fall on LeVangie even though he’s the one that had to job to the mound to counsel the pitchers when the water got rough.
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With that said, it’s still his job to right the wrongs and course correct the ship. Most of the Red Sox pitching staff flat out stunk this past season and it was Dana’s task to get them back on track. As we saw throughout the season that just never happened. We all knew that some heads were going to roll after the Red Sox missed the playoffs less than a year after winning it all, so this isn’t a shock.
We saw this staff from damn near the top to bottom walk more guys than they typically do. We also saw guys handing out dingers like candy on Halloween. Yet nothing seemed to change from Opening Day to the final out at Fenway Park. There were some glimmers that maybe LeVangie and his staff were able to correct what was amiss in Boston but those would fade as fast as they’d arrived.
With Sam Kennedy doubling down that Alex Cora would be returning as manager next season it had to be his comrades that would be led to the gallows. I’m not surprised that LeVangie was taken out of his current role as the poor pitching was the common narrative from 2019. Boston’s offense was on par and in some cases better than the championship squad of a year ago, the pitching couldn’t keep up though.
The pitchers aren’t going to be fired due to their poor performances. Sure, some may be traded or sent back to Pawtucket, but when all is said and done, It’s LeVangie that needed to get them back to their peak form. He wasn’t able to accomplish that and it’s understandable why FSG would want to go in a different direction.
It’s never a good day when someone loses their job. Though Dana LeVangie will remain with the Red Sox organization in a scouting capacity he will no longer the pitching coach. It feels like there may still be some rough waters ahead for Boston as they try and navigate back to their winning ways.