- Apr 5, 2014
Change felt inevitable as the year progressed not necessarily because of the results but perhaps more because of the tension that existed between LeVangie’s traditional approach to game-planning – he drew upon his advance scouting background by consuming video tirelessly in search of holes in opposing hitters’ swings – and the team’s desire to embrace the data-driven model used by teams such as the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Indians, Rays, and Twins.
Behind the scenes, there was a sense of an oil-and-water dynamic that never got resolved. Members of the coaching staff experienced a yearlong tension between the way the Red Sox had prepared their pitchers – quite successfully, it should be noted, as recently as 2018 – and how the team now wanted to game-plan for opponents.
There were disagreements about how to attack opposing lineups, arguments that sometimes consumed the coaching staff and led to less actual time being spent coaching the players. While those disagreements were largely walled off from the players – and the failure of the pitching staff was caused foremost by failures of pitch execution – some around the Red Sox felt that the absence of a sustained winning streak reflected the disjointed communication and headbutting that was occurring.
On occasion, LeVangie and other members of the staff found their views running counter to the recommendations of the team’s analytics department. Those disagreements at times consumed the energy of the coaches. According to multiple team sources, the staff spent more time this year hashing out disputes amongst themselves than they did in 2018, with the result that there was less time spent working with players.
Meanwhile, in a year where the pitchers executed poorly – a problem that dwarfed any others related to the team’s pitching performance – and where results were worse than in 2018, tension mounted. What was meant to be a collaboration between the analytics department and the staff sometimes felt adversarial.
Disagreements on how to attack opposing lineups sometimes consumed the coaching staff and led to less actual time spent coaching the players.