On a day filled with hitting coaches being let go across baseball Joe Vavra is the latest, although in this case LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins have reassigned him within the organization rather than simply firing him.
Minnesota shaking up the coaching staff following back-to-back miserable seasons is no surprise, and in addition to changing Vavra’s role the Twins also fired longtime bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek and third base coach Steve Liddle.
Pitching has certainly been a much bigger problem than hitting for the Twins, but the organization being very fond of Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky has led to speculation that he’d replace Vavra at some point and the assumption has been that pitching coach Rick Anderson isn’t going anywhere as long as Ron Gardenhire is manager.
Vavra has been the Twins’ hitting coach since 2006, during which time the offense has ranked 10th, 13th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 12th, and 8th in runs scored among the 14 AL teams.
Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.
Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.
Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.
This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.
As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.