One year after leaving the Athletics for the Red Sox, pitching coach Curt Young is on his way back to Oakland according to Jon Morosi.
It became clear that this move was going to happen Thursday, when the Red Sox gave Young permission to speak with his old team. I covered Young's contributions (or lack thereof) for the most part yesterday, so I won't bore you with a repeat.
Obviously the hiring of a new pitching coach will have to wait until after Cherington takes control and a new manager is found. Really, though, at this point it wouldn't be unreasonable for Sox fans to be pretty jaded about the whole thing. Their one consistently good pitcher since 2008 has been Jon Lester, with big-name signings falling apart while project signings have provided nothing but grief.
It is, of course, hard to really determine what's the fault of the pitching coach. Is it possible to save the likes of Matsuzaka and Lackey? Were Papelbon and Beckett's seasons the work of Young and, if so, how do we reconcile that with other players falling apart?
The biggest problem to me is that when we actually do try to assign blame and credit, none of the credit comes from the sorts of surprises that other teams seem to dig up. What happened in New York this season? What is it that Dave Duncan does in St. Louis to turn mediocrities into marvels? The closest we seem to have come is with Rich Hill this season, but then he needed Tommy John surgery.
It would be nice, for once, to have the team's pitching be a pleasant surprise--and not one built completely on an ERA that defies peripherals (I'm looking at you, 2008 Daisuke). It's never going to be the most hyped-up position or signing in an offseason, but if a pitching coach really can do more than just make small changes and help guys get out of slumps, finding the right one could be really quite big for this team.