The Cincinnati Reds announced that Derek Johnson, the teams current pitching coach, will also now be the Director of Pitching. If that role sounds familiar to you, that is the job that Kyle Boddy had before leaving the organization near the end of the 2021 minor league season.

The Reds press release notes that Johnson will be responsible for the development and communication of pitching philosophy and initiatives throughout the entire organization.

Along with the new job and responsibilities, Derek Johnson is also getting a contract extension. He had already been under contract through the 2022 season, but he’ll be around longer than that. General Manager Nick Krall, however, did not specify how long the extension was for.

As for the job itself…. this is where it’s probably about more than just Derek Johnson. As noted, the role was previously held by Kyle Boddy, who left the organization two months ago. For the most part, the Director of Pitching gig is about the minor leagues. Johnson was always going to be in charge of what was happening with the pitchers at the big league level. Johnson also had some input as to how things were happening in the minors, too. But now he’s going to be fully in charge of setting the direction for all of that from the top to the bottom of the organization.

Now if you are wondering if there is going to be too much on the plate for Derek Johnson now with an additional set of responsibilities, you probably aren’t alone. It’s a fair question. With that said, and this is simply me talking out loud here, there will probably be plenty of help. My expectation is that for Johnson, much of the Director of Pitching stuff that’s related to the minor leagues is stuff that will take place during the offseason. Setting the plan, the direction, the initiatives that he believes is where things need to go. Generally speaking – those things aren’t likely going to be changing during the year. I would expect that during the season he will be involved, still, but that the day-to-day kind of stuff is going to fall to the pitching coordinator while Johnson focuses on the big league pitching staff.

There will still be some meetings to discuss what’s going on during the season that he will most certainly be involved in, but it’s less likely that this is something that he will be dealing with every single day during the baseball season.

That brings us to the actual minor league side of things. Kyle Boddy had the job previously. And under him was a pitching coordinator, Bryan Conger, who will be returning next season. Boddy’s job is now Derek Johnson’s. I also don’t believe that Johnson is going to do the same job as Boddy did. Not that he won’t be good at it, or anything of that nature. I believe that the responsibilities are going to be different. The Reds are adding, at least according to the job posting that they had two weeks ago, a second minor league pitching coordinator.

What that suggests to me is that they understand that there is a need to spread out all of these responsibilities in the organization. The day-to-day stuff that Kyle Boddy was doing simply couldn’t be done by Derek Johnson while he was also going to be the big league pitching coach. There’s simply not enough time in the day for that to happen and for anyone to be good at the jobs.

There is going to be plenty of thoughts out there that the Reds are being cheap and simply adding a job and responsibilities to another person’s job – in this case, Derek Johnson’s gig, to not have to replace someone in the organization that left/was let go. Given that they are adding a second minor league pitching coordinator, though, kind of throws that idea out the window.

One quote from Nick Krall’s initial statement on the move really stood out to me.

We think our pitchers and player development staff are going to be very receptive to his vision because he isn’t afraid to merge old school methods with new school analytics and ideas.

There are a few reasons why this particular statement stood out. When Kyle Boddy and minor league hitting coordinator C.J. Gillman left the organization late in the season, both made comments that the organization was heading in a different direction than the one that they believed in. Many took that as being a direction that was away from being analytical.

No organization is truly going to go away from analytics in today’s game. Some teams are absolutely going to be ahead of the curve in these areas, but no team is returning to the 1970’s with regards to their analytical approach. Derek Johnson is considered to be very forward thinking with regards to analytics and pitching approach. So this should help alleviate the fears, at least in some ways, of the direction of the organization when it comes to the “running away from analytics” crowd.

But what really made this blending of old school and new school quote stick out was something that Chris Welsh mentioned on the Reds Alert Podcast with Steven Offenbaker. He had mentioned that the organization may want to get back to having former big leaguers in these roles.

On the surface, the philosophical differences between Derek Johnson and Kyle Boddy don’t really seem to be there. Perhaps there was something unspoken from one or the other that we simply haven’t heard about. But from all of the things that we do know, they are pretty similar in what they believe in.

When I first read the quote my mind went to the idea that whoever, if the speculation is true that someone in the organization wants “experienced big leaguers” being in these roles, that having Derek Johnson take over the role will silence that voice because while he hasn’t been a big leaguer, his resume is one that can’t be argued against at this point. But by-and-large, the ideas and approach seem to remain similar as they were before.

Of course, there’s a lot of speculation there on my part. But that’s how I read the situation when it was presented. Your mileage my vary.

40 Responses

  1. LDS

    It’s been interesting comparing other organizations addressing their issues, e.g., StL, SD, Mil, etc. with the Reds doubling down on the same leadership. Overall, does anyone really think the Reds pitching lived up to their abilities last year?

  2. Woodrow

    Listened to a podcast with Kyle Boddy recently – he did note a difference in leadership after Williams’ departure. In context, he focused on the end of his contract and the successes of minor leaguers in 2021 – and seemed genuinely positive overall about the experience. I was left thinking the differences may have been the next go-around dollar offer and title / responsibility … it will be interesting to see where Kyle lands next and in what role. I’m betting something bigger and more global to that organization.

  3. Rut

    Based on Phillies canning their Driveline folks too, I would say the public not really aware of the actual reasons behind the Reds previous move.

    Perhaps MLB teams are realizing they need professional advisors who have actual baseball knowledge, not just fat guys who are good at math and like to burn random folks on Twitter who disagree with them.

    • Doug Gray

      That’s certainly one way to look at it.

      CJ Gillman was also let go by the Reds. He was a professional baseball player (minors) before he was a college baseball coach.

      As for the Phillies thing…. the initial report that they were letting all of those guys go was refuted by the organization later that day. The two “Driveline guys” they were “letting go” were both former college players as well as college coaches, one of which had been a college coach for 21 years before joining the Phillies.

      This was also later added to the report from The Athletic:
      The Phillies’ agreement with Driveline will soon expire, according to sources, and it will not be renewed.

      But Driveline was not the main problem, some inside the organization insist. It was a symptom of a larger issue: The Phillies had no identity in player development because they were trying to be everything while not doing anything well.

      But sure, it’s real easy to just say Kyle was fat and never played baseball and feel like you know something.

      • Woodorw

        Didn’t Gilman leave prior to the end of his contract a few weeks later? Was he let go or could not reach mutual agreement on a new contract?

      • Doug Gray

        Gillman and Boddy both left the organization on the same day.

    • Rut

      Haha, touched a sore point there huh?

      Let’s just say I am not in the camp that hopes the Reds look to self appointed internet know it alls to help with the scouting!

      Maybe we can get Steve Mancuso as the GM? Sure seems like he thinks he is deserving, so why shouldn’t we have Charlie Scrabbles as head scout? Or does Doug have someone else in mind, hmmm…

      At the same time, I am also in the camp that thinks anointing Dick Williams was akin to hiring Chad Dotson as the president and chief ops officer of the Reds, so don’t have such a thin skin — enjoy the pond ya have!

      • Doug Gray

        Yes, uninformed people spouting things they don’t know much about is a sore point for me.

      • Corey

        Please make sure to list all the camps you are in when making rude comments about other people online.

      • 2020ball

        What I dont understand is why him having a sore spot is your sore spot. This is the internet bubs, people will disagree with you and likely come at your weak points regularly. Thats just part of the game around here. I guess we all react to it differently, but I would never consider that thin skin. I’m more skeptical of whatever you’d call your response to it.

  4. MK

    With Johnson in charge everybody will be on the same page.

    The part of the quote above I like is “merge old school methods with new school analytics and ideas” a concept I agree with 100% and was a concept totally lacking in the Boddy regime, as it went completely against his Driveline model. He taught them how to throw not to pitch, a concept that works in the low minors but not so much up the line.

    I do hope one of the new assistants has some bullpen expertise. The development department was greatly served with that before Tony Fossas retired.

    I recommend the book: STATE OF PLAY: THE OLD SCHOOL GUIDE TO NEW SCHOOL BASEBALL, by Billy Ripken .

  5. Mark Moore

    We shall see what happens. As Doug noted, it’s more than a one-person job. The Boddy time is water under the bridge, so revisiting that doesn’t make any sense to me. And I still wonder if the crack-down on the “spin stuff” played any roll in it all.

    • Doug Gray

      Literally every organization alive had a large amount of guys using pine tar or something else. No one got fired or let go or their job questioned over it.

  6. Optimist

    This is qualified good news. Namely, recognizes D Johnson and the role he’s playing, doesn’t diminish the analytics/Driveline approach, and recognizes the need to fill in the remaining spots. Fine if they fill the remaining spots with MLB experienced staff, which sounds like what Philly is attempting as well, so it may come down to who they choose from the MLB experienced staff available.

    Any mention of C Cotham in Philly? Didn’t he go there, and is he remaining?

  7. RedFuture

    A year from now this move will be hailed as one of genius if the pitchers perform well, otherwise it will be called cheap and dumb. It makes sense though to me to have the identical philosophy driven from top to bottom. After all the Reds had to use minor league reinforcements to the tune of 32 pitchers last year. To have them reading from the exact same playbook should be beneficial. So here’s to good years from:



    • Corey

      Interesting. How long would it take to see the results of a change in leadership like this?

  8. Stock

    Fantastic move. I was worried that Johnson would leave after next season for a better deal somewhere else. It seems to me Derek Johnson in this role is perfect.

    The Reds hit a home run. I loved the move to obtain Boddy. But this is better. Johnson creates careers or turns them around. Miley was done prior to joining Johnson in Milwaukee. Gray was struggling with NY. But Johnson turned his career back around in Cincinnati. Disco lowered his ERA by more than a point. Mahle’s ERA prior to Johnson was about 5.

    Maybe I am wrong. Maybe Boddy deserves the credit for Joe Boyle, Bryce Bonnin, Thomas Farr or others. My thought is the system is better off with Johnson on top than Boddy.

    • TR

      I see this as good news that Derek Johnson is staying with the Reds and he’s the the leader from top to bottom in the pitching department. One top-dog is better than two.

      • Stock

        I agree TR and I also feel they chose the better dog.

      • TR

        A little humor in the long offseason goes a long way.

  9. Klugo

    Wonder if he’ll make his salary and Boddy’s combined. Just like hiring Krall as the GM, this just seems like the Reds being cheap. Unless, they’re gonna turn around and use their savings on players. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • Doug Gray

      I mean they are hiring a second pitching coordinator, which isn’t going to be free. Tough to claim this is them being cheap when they aren’t cutting a job, they are just handing out different job titles.

  10. LDS

    I see the Padres hired Melvin away from the A’s. I was just sure SD would come for Bell. No one knows baseball like Bell. No one.

  11. Redsvol

    that’s a very good report Doug. I’m a big believer in DJ. I’m also a big believer in consistency in development staff and front office. I don’t think its any secret that the reason teams like the Rays, Athletics, Braves Cardinals and Giants succeed is they don’t constantly turn over their development and front office staffs. We Reds fans need to stop wishing for the next shiny object and instead desire a long run by the development and front office staff so consistent winning can become possible.

  12. VegasRed

    I really don’t see consistent winning as a reasonable hope for the Reds’ FO. Krall and tinker are just yes men/puppets for castellini and his cronies Jocketty and papa Bell.

    Let’s face it: Dick Williams had a little window to try his hand at creating a winner in Cincy. He hired some FA’s, spent some money, hired outside the box thinking development guys and went pretty much all in.

    Blame it on COVID or castellini or some combo of the two but ownership pulled the rug out from Williams and ran him off. No telling if his plan would have worked but at least the reds are now a .500 club the last 2 years instead
    of 90+ a year losers.

    Now castellini is cutting payroll, letting talent walk with little to no return, and seemingly looking only at the bottom line. And a lot of fans, even on this board, seem to be ok with ownership’ retreat to the crying poor mantra of its 16 year history despite promising championship baseball. Which castellini wouldn’t recognize even if it bit his backside.

    I personally don’t believe Bob has a clue how to win, and is not interested in hiring someone who does know how to win. I think he’s plenty happy “tinkering” with his hobby business, which regardless whether it wins just keeps increasing in market value.

    MLB is a monopoly folks, the owners can’t lose financially in the long run. There are only 30 teams after all and unless baseball’s appeal to the fans falls off a cliff, it’s more and more money in the bank. Even if the owners don’t care so much about winning games and championships.

    I don’t see much changing or any urgency to win in the Reds near future under this ownership group.

    • 2020ball

      “And a lot of fans, even on this board, seem to be ok with ownership’ retreat to the crying poor mantra of its 16 year history despite promising championship baseball.”

      This is the only part of your comment I took exception with, I think a lot of this board are definitely not okay with it. Myself personally I think its the biggest problem with the team. I’ve often wondered if ownership uses the “small market” label to profit more, perhaps by keeping the team within the revenue sharing threshold. This is just a random internet guy thinking things about things he doesnt understand, but I think it nonetheless.

  13. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I can understand the sabers and analytics stuff very well.

    However, I always felt that was more (not entirely) of a product of good development, good mechanics, and all-out physical talent/ability.

    I mean, I would use stats as a tool, of course. But not “the only tool”. You can’t and shouldn’t do that.

    For instance, one might try to argue that the most successful pitchers have an arm angle release of 45 degrees (or whatever it may be). If one successful pitcher has an arm angle lower than that, that stat would make the trainers start to try to increase the arm angle, “You could even be more successful if you increase this angle.”

    But, the higher the arm gets, it gets into a physically weaker position actually. That player, that person, may simply not be able to make that adjustment. It may even be detrimental to their career.

    I’m not saying there shouldn’t be corrections to mechanics, either. You have to take everything with a grain of salt, then ultimately make a “gut call”.

  14. Max BRAGG

    As REDS fans we ALL know that the TOP of this organization doesn’t have WINNING as the priority. Shogo is still valued in his OLD league,so why is he still in REDS uniform(can’t catch up with major league FASTBALL!

    • TR

      Except for Castellanos eagerly awaited opt in or out decision, I don’t expect much meaningful action from the front office until January.

      • RememberTheCoop

        Nothing to see here. I’d be shocked if he didn’t opt out. Look, he’s coming off a platform year, what a great opportunity for Nick.

  15. SultanofSwaff

    Boddy’s twitter thread yesterday was interesting. In short he was talking about how everyone has to buy into the program for it to work…that you can’t have even one coach doing his own thing. Pairing that with his comment a couple weeks ago about how change can be difficult when ex-players are drinking buddies with the decision makers doesn’t instill confidence. I mean, we’ve all suspected that the old school fraternity had a lot of pull with ownership….this seems to confirm that narrative. All together unsurprising, and it doesn’t mean teams can’t be successful with this approach as many have insular cultures, but you’d like to think a billion dollar business isn’t being run like the local mom and pop store.

  16. DataDumpster

    This is all interesting speculation since the “director of pitching” leaving the club has a lot of angles reaching into other teams, Driveline and MLB itself. But, didn’t David Bell conjure up a similar scenario on the hitting side? He fired the current hitting coach upon appt. and then fired Turner Ward after one year. He then hired his old buddy Alan Zinter and the results worsened in 2020. Meanwhile, a “director of hitting” was hired, Donnie Ecker?, who then left the organization after one year with little fanfare and was not replaced. Then, Williams leaves, Boddy, Cotham and so on. Am I the only one seeing a recurring pattern here? Who do you think controls most of this activity, doesn’t most of this disfunction revolve around David Bell himself? Besides, making someone a “director” of something is just a silly title anyway to increase his power and sway over the organization while Bell at least gets two more years to tinker away.

  17. Jim Walker

    I agree with Doug that DoP is essentially a strategic planning and infrastructure building job. The co-coordinators will have the task of overseeing the operation of those plans.

    I’ll guess perhaps the length of DJ’s contract extension was not revealed because when he is wearing his pitching coach hat, he is now under contract beyond the term of his boss (David Bell) in that role.