Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A seventh coach

When Ron Gardenhire's contract extension was announced Monday, Terry Ryan said the six coaches were all "invited," and expected, to return. But a seventh coach is likely to be added, and some duties may be shuffled as a result.

Presumably somebody will be a second, or assistant, hitting coach, a growing trend around the majors. Of course, the Twins have, besides incumbent hitting coach Tom Brunansky, two coaches who have held the hitting coach position already in Joe Vavra and Scott Ullger. Their current job descriptions are infield instructor/third base coach (Vavra) and outfield instructor/first base coach (Ullger). 

The infield defense was much better this year than the previous two years. Trevor Plouffe, while still no threat to win a Gold Glove, was improved at third base. Pedro Florimon committed too many errors but showed impressive skills. And Brian Dozier was a revelation at second base. All of this suggests that Vavra did well at his new assignment.

The outfield defense, on the the other hand, was quite poor, and Ullger's background as a player (primarily first base) never suggested that he was particularly qualified to pass on the nuances of outfield play. 

I can imagine Ullger moving again to hitting coach chores and the new guy, whoever it may be, getting the outfield instruction duties.

However the Twins assign duties, I hope that a priority will be hiring a native Spanish speaker. The Twins had a number of young Latinos on their roster this year with limited grasps of English (Oswaldo Arcia, Florimon, Josmil Pinto) and they have more Latinos on their way up (Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Jose Barrios). These are not bit players. A Spanish-speaker who's in the dugout and dealing with position players (a description that does not apply to bullpen coach Bobby Cuellar) figures to be valuable.

That priority, to be sure, doesn't leave room on the major league staff for some otherwise likely in-house candidates: Paul Molitor, Gene Glynn, Doug Mientkiewicz, Jake Mauer. But it might be a good idea for the Twins to go out of the organization for once anyway. 


  1. Say what you will about him, but would Ozzie Guillen work with Gardy?

    1. Three points about the Guillen notion:

      1) The Twins would still lack a coach with genuine outfield credentials.

      2) He's still getting paid not to manage the Marlins. If that contract works the same as a player contract (it may not), Guillen would have a lot more work with no additional pay.

      3) He may be too big a personality to accept second banana status to the manager.

      I don't rule it out, but I don't expect it either.