In a Surprise Move, Twins Fire Brunansky and Davis, Yet Retain Pitching Coach Neil Allen.
Minnesota Twins’ new front office additions, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, conducted an interview with Paul Molitor‘s about his coaching staff. What shook out after this meeting raised a few eyebrows.
Twins made history in 2016 on the field, and not much of it was good. They finished with the worst record ever since coming to Minnesota, and sported their highest team ERA (5.08) in 16 years. They also hit 200 home runs for the first time since 1964.
So, of course, the Twins fired hitting coach Tom Brunansky, along with first base coach Butch Davis, and kept pitching coach Neil Allen. And don’t forget, Allen also was suspended last year for over a month after his DUI arrest in May.
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What’s even more puzzling, is the rise of Twins’ second baseman Brian Dozier as a legitimate power hitter coincides with Brunansky’s rise through the Twins minor league system as a coach.
He served as hitting coach for many of the younger Twins on the roster at his stops at Ft. Myers, New Britain, and Rochester.
Butch Davis was one of Molitor’s hires in December 2012 to fill out his coaching staff after getting his first crack at a managerial position.
In addition to his first base coaching duties, Davis was in charge of teaching the finer points of base-running and outfield defense, including trying to coach up 3rd-baseman-turned-right-fielder, Miguel Sano.
Molitor seems to have survived the coaching purge, along with third base coach Gene Glynn and Allen. The edict handed down after parting ways with longtime GM, Terry Ryan, seems to have been followed by the new regime.
At that time, Twins’ owner Jim Pohlad said that the new person in charge would not be allowed to fire Molitor. Saddled with that restriction, Falvey and Levine pored over the past Twins season to see where coaching improvements could be made.
Instead of calling the coaches in, Falvey and Levine placed phone calls to both Brunansky and Davis. Each were thanked for their service and given their walking papers after five minute conversations.
The lobbying by the lone competent Twins starter, Ervin Santana, must have paid off in the decision to keep Neil Allen. Santana credited Allen for his turnaround from his slow start to this past season.
NOTES: The Hot Stove League is heating up in Arizona this week. New Twins front office attending their first GM meetings and already are being courted by agents. Names being linked to Minnesota are Phillies pitcher Jeremy Hellickson, and Astros catcher Jason Castro.