Brian Bannister sings Andrew Bailey's praises
Before you are besieged by the merits of Andrew Bailey upon his official introduction as the Red Sox' pitching coach, we give you an opportunity to get out ahead of the conversation.
That's thanks to a person who has worked side by side with Bailey for the past three seasons in San Francisco - Brian Bannister.
The current senior pitching advisor for the White Sox appeared on the 'Baseball Isn't Boring' podcast to offer great insight into what Bailey will be delivering to the position in Boston.
"He’s one of my favorite people in baseball," said Bannister, who worked with Bailey with the Giants in each of the three seasons the former Red Sox served as San Francisco's pitching coach. "Just a genuine human. Very playful and extroverted. But the thing that impressed me the most is the way he leverages the strength of other people. Whether it’s the medical departments. The strength and conditioning departments. The analysts. The roster management. The game management. He knows how to go to people every single day and he’s a machine at it and get the most out of them and really make them feel empowered and part of the process. He’s a great delegator. He’s a high EQ guy. He can walk around with anybody and joke around and not take things too serious even though he is extremely serious being the best in the league as far as his pitching staff. He’s a great leader.
"When he came to San Francisco he had only been the video guy and the bullpen coach for the Angels. I got paired with him. Craig Breslow, of all people, had actually recommended him to the San Francisco Giants for the pitching coach role. I’m so glad he was the one hired. It was great to be in the trenches with him for four years. I’m a little more analytical, technical by nature. We complemented each other very, very well. I brought what I learned from Boston along with my style. Just the combination of how we work together along with Ethan Katz in 2020 and J.P. Martinez the last three years was really powerful. We did some really cool things with our pitching staff. We were always near the top of the league in most categories."
Bannister added, "What I think he will bring to the Red Sox is the ability to not be too technical or too analytical but have a great feel. I think he will be able to unite all the departments because I know the size of the departments scaled greatly under Chaim Bloom. I think he will be able to leverage all those skill-sets along with his great personalities and great delegation. Work alongside Alex Cora. Just like his Yankees interview, Bailey could be a bench coach. He could perform very, very well in another role that is a little more classic if he got away from the pure pitching stuff. But I think he brings the qualities of a manager and a bench coach to the pitching coach role and everybody who works alongside him and underneath him is going to feel special and valued. He is going to bring a lot of knowledge with what we did with the San Francisco Giants’ pitchers to the table. I think there were some elements that were missing with the Red Sox staff the last couple of years, even though I have the utmost respect for Dave Bush and I think he did a great job, along the people who are still there. Just what they have shared with me there are a couple of things where Andrew will step up a notch and get people involved and get new concepts involved that will take the Red Sox pitching to the next level."
(For Bannister's comments on Bailey, go to the 42:10 mark of this podcast)
Bailey's evolution and experience will also serve him well, according to Bannister. After the reliever's retirement in 2018 - having played for the Red Sox in 2013 and '13 - he immediately jumped into the instructor ranks, first serving as a replay coordinator with the Angels before becoming their bullpen coach.
Now, after being immersed in the San Francisco system, Bailey will be immersed into the Red Sox' new way of doing things with his longtime friend, Breslow.
"I think it’s a great hire," Bannister said. "The fact that Craig Breslow was in his wedding. They have been best friends forever. They have been teammates forever. That is a great synergy to have because the boss is going to have a great existing friendship with the pitching coach and the pitching is what needs to thrive in Boston to win a world championship. It think it’s a great hire. I think he will get along great with AC and the rest of the staff. I think Breslow, using what he learned in Chicago on the pitching side of things - he is very analytical himself - Andrew is going to bring a lot of feel to pitching and take everything that is there in Boston and Fenway, unite it and step up the pitching staff.
"Coming from Anaheim where they were really big on four-seam fastballs, adding vert(ical) to fastballs, things like that. I think in San Francisco we developed our own style. When we came in the only pitchers that were available were the sinker-ballers, so we went out and got all the sinkerballers. That was me having worked with Rick Porcello and a couple of guys in Boston, we were comfortable with that type of pitcher when most of the league had shifted to power four-seam guys. So that was what was cheap and available. I think it ended up becoming what we were known for the last four years. We were the sinker guys. The groundball percentage. The high innings pitched guys. We were able to make Kevin Gausman’s splitter better. I think what you will see from Bailey is the ability to handle other styles of pitching that aren’t your classic four-seam guys. We had Tyler Rogers, the submariner. I had Ziegler in Boston. Steven Wright in Boston. We talked about all these other ways to pitch successfully. It just doesn’t have to be power and veto. You can still throw a lot of strikes. Walk very few guys. Keep the ball in the ballpark. And take average pitchers and make them better when they learn to leverage all those attributes of themselves. I think you are going to see a lot more creativity. His ability to handle a wide variety of pitchers. It’s going to give you the Red Sox front office and the analysts there a lot more opportunity and power in acquiring a lot of different styles of pitching. It will make the staff more diverse. They will be able to handle the tough AL East and the different platoon splits and the types of hitters you are going to get and face on a regular basis in that division. He is really going to empower everybody involved in the pitching process."