Early on Thursday we learned that Carl Willis had accepted a job with the Indians to join Terry Francona and become Cleveland’s new pitching coach. Apparently, that was not the only coaching news for Boston on the day. Joining Willis on their way out the door are Brian Butterfield and Chili Davis, the Red Sox’ third base coach (and infield instructor) and their hitting coach. Both are headed to the Cubs and both will stay in their same positions.
#Cubs today named Chili Davis as hitting coach and Brian Butterfield third base coach. Andy Haines was promoted to assistant hitting coach.— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) October 26, 2017
It’s not really a big surprise to see a mass exodus in coaches when the manager was just fired and a new manager from the outside was brought in. It makes sense that the old guard would see this as an opportunity to bolt and it also makes sense that Alex Cora would like to build his own staff. All of that being said, these two losses in Butterfield and Davis — as well as Willis, though that was already covered in its own post — hurt.
Butterfield is the most concerning, as he was a beloved member of the clubhouse (at least that’s the impression I got from the outside) who also played a huge role on the field. His skills as a third base coach could be questioned, particularly in this year that featured so many outs on the bases. However, he was a genius when it came to coaching up infielders and that would have been incredibly valuable to keep around. This is particularly true with Rafael Devers getting ready for his first full season. Whoever replaces him should be able to help some, but it’s hard to see them bringing in an instructor as well respected and effective as Butterfield.
As for Davis, obviously the Red Sox aren’t coming off a great year at the plate. That point to the hitting coach being an issue, right? Well, no, not really. I just have no idea how to judge hitting coaches from the outside, and all I can go off is how others seem to perceive him. Davis has had multiple jobs in this league and has been talked about as a potential future manager. Clearly, he is highly thought of around the league. Maybe the Red Sox needed a new direction in this area, but Davis still seems like a loss for this team. It should also be noted that Davis’ assistant, Victor Rodriguez, is interviewing for the hitting coach job in San Francisco.
More Red Sox coaching news: per source, Asst. hitting coach Victor Rodriguez interviewing for Giants hitting coach job— Rob Bradford (@bradfo) October 26, 2017
Cora will have his hands full replenishing this coaching staff, but this is what he signed up for. Butterfield, Davis and Willis will be missed for sure, but for now we have to have faith that Cora and Dave Dombrowski can team up to find strong replacements.