The Diamondbacks made an excellent hire with Jeff Bannister as their new Bench Coach
The Diamondbacks have been in deep need of some fresh voices in Torey Lovullo’s ear. Hence Mr. Bannister. Even as a fan, one could tell that the air was growing stale as the same coaches informed Torey of various plays, players, and other information that Torey took and made decisions with. Thus, it feels right that the team decided that it was time to perhaps put a different voice in the coaching room that would differ from Torey. After all, you don’t just want “yes men”. So, they hired Jeff Bannister. They’re going to get exactly what they want and more!
Thus, who is Jeff Bannister? Why am I saying he’s a smart hire by the team? Well, there are lots of reasons that I shall cover below. First off, Torey is an “experienced manager,” but his best seasons as a manager were when he had another experienced manager as his bench coach. In 2017, he had one of the best in Ron Gardenhire. Then, in 2018-19, he had Jerry Narron. It can’t be overlooked that as soon as he lost that veteran manager voice, the coaching changed. That’s what Bannister will bring as he has coached in the MLB for decades and was the Texas Rangers manager from 2015-2018.
Jeff was the Pirates bench coach from 2010-14 under Clint Hurdle where he helped lead and grow a very young team into playoff contenders every year. He did the same with the Texas Rangers where he won two division titles and the American League Manager of the Year award in 2015.
While in the early 2010s, he gained a stigma of being into analytics and knowing how to put players in the best spots to exceed. In the book, “Big Data Baseball”, he was extensively written about. The book was about the Pirates 2013 run, and it helped grow the belief in analytics. Furthermore, Jeff has worked with the Diamondbacks’ assistant GM/ research and development director Mike Fitzgerald when they both were with the Pirates. Jeff will not have any adjusting when he starts.
Besides his traditional bench coach duties, essentially being the 2nd manager on the team, he will be taking over Robby Hammock’s job as the catchers’ coach. He’s a former catcher and is known for helping catchers improve their defense extensively. It’s exciting to think we are going to have a much more seasoned voice to question Torey now.
Of course, that’s what Torey wanted. Torey, and our fans, know that he can be rather silent during games and monotonous. He never seems to bring a ton of excitement or energy during games. Instead, it always seems like he’s uber-focused on what’s going on, perhaps even overthinking things. Perhaps that’s why they wanted Jeff.
He’s the opposite. Jeff will hold players accountable while establishing deep trust. He’s exciting and full of energy. Of course, Torey would do this too, but he’s much more stoic and leads differently than Jeff. Interestingly, it will be fun to watch the dynamic between the two and see how they get used to working together.
Jeff was previously working at the University of Northern Colorado as their head director of baseball player development. Although, he had only been there for a season or two. I’m thankful the team decided to go with a steady, experienced, veteran voice, and one that has the respect of many players. Of course, it helps he knows analytics too.
May the Force be with You…