Since letting go of hitting coach Tom Brunansky and first base coach Butch Davis nearly 11 weeks ago, the Twins have been working to build the 2017 Twins coaching staff. We’re happy to report that it now is complete!
After General Manager Thad Levine brought in former Yankees minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson to be the hitting coach, two more coaches officially joined Manager Paul Molitor’s staff on December 21. To replace Davis, the Twins promoted Jeff Smith. Smith has been in the Twins organization for the past 20 years, including the past two as the Fort Myers Miracle Manager. He coached three different minor league teams from 2006 to 2014. In 2009, the Florida State League named him Manager of the Year for helping his team win the division crown. Smith had an eight-year playing career when he was drafted by the Twins in 1995. He was in three organizations, but never reached the major leagues. Besides his first base duties, Smith will handle the catching and base running instructionals next season.
The Twins also announced that assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez won’t be in the dugout next season, making the hiring of Jeff Pickler, who will be on the bench, possible. It is uncertain what Pickler’s role will be but he is listed as a Major League Coach on the Twins website. According to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com, Pickler will be a “conduit between the front office and the coaches to convey analytics to the staff and players.”
For the last two seasons, Pickler has been in the Dodgers front office doing five separate jobs that involved some on-field time. Pickler was busy and thorough there, however the passport that got him hired by the Twins were his analytical skills. When he worked in the scouting department with the Dodgers, Pickler had experience in baseball analytics, which is Falvey’s favorite term these days. Since the maximum number of coaches that can be on the bench is seven, and with Hernandez removed, bench coach Joe Vavra is staying put for now.
Below are the nine coaches that will try to revive our hometown team in 2017. Remember some of these coaches may have more than one role.
Written by: Michael L. Sack