Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fired hitting coach Mickey Hatcher. Usually a move like this doesn't make news here in Minnesota, but because Hatcher is a former Minnesota Twins player, the local press picked up on it.
Hatcher appears to be the fall guy for the terrible start Albert Pujols is having with his new team. You can't really blame the Angels for dismissing Hatcher. Somebody's head had to roll, and it surely wasn't going to be Pujols' or manager Mike Scioscia's. Hatcher was a victim of circumstance.
Hatcher's firing made me consider the Twins' hitting coach situation. Joe Vavra has long been questioned by fans for his approach in getting Twins' hitters ready. Vavra never got above Triple-A baseball, and some fans, including myself, wonder how a guy who batted a career .288 in the minor leagues can be trusted with maintaining and leading the best hitters the Twins organization has.
I'd be the first one to say that being an All-Star player doesn't make you a good coach. But it can't hurt to have been an elite player and then bring that experience to the coaching ranks.
In former Twins outfielder Tom Brunansky, the organization has a hitting coach with big league success waiting in the wings, once Vavra is gone. Brunansky, the hitting coach for Triple-A Rochester, was a fan favorite as a player and just his presence in the dugout at Target Field will make fans forget the team's league-worst record at least for a moment or two.
Brunansky had more than 1,500 hits and 271 home runs during his 14-year major league career. The guy knows how to hit major league pitching. He knows how to prepare hitters for the best pitching in the world.
Brunansky and the Red Wings are one of the top hitting teams in their division. Plus, with such an influx of minor leaguers coming to the big league team now and later in the season, the presence of Brunansky could provide some comfort to those young players making their first or second trip to the big show.
Even seasoned veterans like catcher Joe Mauer may benefit from Vavra leaving and Brunansky arriving. Mauer's batting average has dropped 100 points in the past three seasons. Three-time batting champs don't just regress like that without a push in the wrong direction from a coach. Vavra has messed up Mauer's swing and confidence at the plate. Just that alone would and should get the Twins' front office to tell Vavra to pack up his stuff and go home.
Vavra will catch on somewhere else. When you can put two American League MVPs and three Silver Slugger Awards on your resume, another franchise will gladly take a chance on you.
The sooner the Twins dump Vavra and promote Brunansky, the sooner this team can start heading in the right direction.
Blair Reynolds is a lifelong Minnesota Twins fan who once sold tickets at the Metrodome to pay his college tuition.