Falvey & Co. made their first moves of the offseason by firing two of manager Paul Molitor’s coaches: Hitting coach Tom Brunansky and first-base coach, Butch Davis.
Not sure if Tuesday's biggest surprise was The Trumpster or Neil Allen staying as Twins' pitching coach.
— Patrick Reusse (@1500ESPN_Reusse) November 9, 2016
I can’t offer an opinion on why Davis was let go, but I have mixed feelings about Bruno being shown the door — especially when the team hits 200 home runs, as they did in 2016.
Brunansky, a former slugger for the Twins who hit a career-best 32 home runs for the World Series winning team in 1987, had been the team’s hitting coach the past four seasons. Despite the improved power numbers — 11 Twins hit 10 or more home runs in 2016 — that wasn’t good enough. Brian Dozier also hit 42 dingers to set a new American League record for second baseman, while rookie Max Kepler chipped in with 17. Slugger-in-the-making, Miguel Sano, hit 25 home runs, but probably should have hit more, although I’m not sure you can pin that on Brunansky. Sano dealt with some injuries during the season and also made one trip to the minors.
Clearly, there were problems: The team struck out a lot and had trouble scoring runs, according to MLB.com.
The Twins scored 722 runs last season, finishing 16th in the Majors. Minnesota scored 696 runs in 2015, which was the 13th most in baseball. Minnesota’s best year with Brunansky came in 2014, when the Twins finished seventh in the Majors with 715 runs.
And yet the Twins will keep pitching coach Neil Allen, who fell off the wagon at one point during the season and then resumed his role after about a month’s absence. In the end, Twins pitching wound up the worst in the AL with a team ERA of 5.08. They also were dead last in wins (no pitcher won more than nine games) shutouts, saves, hits, runs, earned runs and home runs in the AL. Yet Allen is set to return for the 2017 season.
Twinkie Town’s theory boils down to this: Brunansky had his chance, while Allen deserves a second chance.
I suppose that if new Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey couldn’t make a change at manager, he was going to flex his muscles on other parts of the coaching staff. After all, Allen was brand new and I bet he wasn’t going to be blamed for just one year when the Twins have a history of poor pitching staffs.
-The Twins apparently have some interest in free-agent catcher Jason Castro of the Houston Astros, according to MLB Trade Rumors, citing a report by Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
Castro, 29, posted a .210/.307/.377 batting line with 11 home runs in 2016 — sub-par production relative to the league-average hitter but right in line with the park-adjusted output of a league-average catcher.