It was considered something of a coup when the Cincinnati Reds landed pitching coach Derek Johnson a few years back, what with his work within the National League Central with Milwaukee and his growing reputation within the game. The former Vanderbilt University pitching coach has long been credited as a soothsayer within the pitching community, and has been directly linked with the rejuvenation and improvements of pitchers both veteran and emerging, his work with the Reds staff over the last trio of seasons speaking for itself.
Keeping him on staff at all was a top priority this winter, therefore, especially as the season wore down and manager David Bell had yet to receive a contract extension beyond 2021. Bell’s deal came, though, and it appeared some continuity was going to be built in to this vital winter for the Reds - then, Director of Pitching Kyle Boddy and the club abruptly parted ways.
Today, we learned firsthand from the Reds that Johnson would both remain as pitching coach and assume the Director of Pitching role, with my loose usage of capital letters in regards to the respective title up for criticism in the comment section.
#Reds GM Nick Krall today announced that pitching coach Derek Johnson will assume the additional role of Director of Pitching, where he will be responsible for the development & communication of pitching philosophy/initiatives throughout the entire organization.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) October 28, 2021
Congrats, DJ! pic.twitter.com/vPGHUqdftT
This certainly seems like a blending of an in-dugout position with an in-front-office position, one that should, in theory, have zero issues during the offeason. That said, I’ve got no clue how Johnson’s going to be tracking pitches in the dugout in Wrigley on a cool May evening and also directing the pitching (no caps this time and I don’t know why) for the entire franchise elsewhere. I suppose there will be a thorough staff inclusion here to help out the entire initiative.
Logistics aside, I think he’s thoroughly qualified to have as much input into the overall direction of the franchise’s pitching, and I’m glad the Reds have that kind of resource. It sure does set up a bit of an interesting subplot in the wake of Boddy leaving, however, since for a time I think a lot of us viewed the two as the collective braintrust of the organization’s pitching philosophy. It would certainly appear on this initial glance that the Reds chose sides here.
Is this a promotion? Is this an organizational Band-Aid? Is this the kind of thing that’s going to end up stretching one vital asset too thin instead of adequately addressing two roles? Tune in to Cincinnati Reds baseball in calendar year 2022 to find out!