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.
The Cardinals announced on Tuesday that outfielder Dexter Fowler has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left forearm. Outfielder Harrison Bader was recalled from Triple-A Memphis to take Fowler’s spot on the roster.
It’s not clear when Fowler suffered the injury, but he went 0-for-12 since a three-hit performance last Friday. He’s hitting .241/.333/.452 with 14 home runs and 37 RBI in 333 plate appearances this season.
Bader, 23, is the Cardinals’ No. 6 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. This season, with Memphis, Bader hit .297/.354/.517 with 19 home runs and 48 RBI in 381 PA.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network said yesterday that the Detroit Tigers and Chicago Cubs have been engaged in trade talks involving starting pitcher Justin Verlander and catcher Alex Avila. Morosi also noted that the Los Angeles Dodgers have shown interest in Verlander as well. Whether this is idyl chitchatting of serious dispute is unclear, of course. Everything is unclear in the leadup to the deadline.
The veteran right-hander is carrying a 4.50 with a 120/57 K/BB ratio over 124 innings. Verlander impressed last year, finishing second in AL Cy Young Award balloting, but he has fallen back to Earth in 2017. His velocity remains high, however, and it’s not hard to imagine him going on a solid run in a way that could help a contender. He is owed $56 million over the next two seasons, however, and has a $22 million option that could vest for 2020, so negotiations for him could be tough. If the Tigers want talent back, they’ll have to eat salary.
Verlander got an ovation from a Detroit crowd last night which seemed to sense that, yes, it’s possible he pitched his last game for the Tigers. Given that he has 10/5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade, that decision is ultimately up to him. It’s not hard to imagine him accepting a trade to a contender, however.
We wait see.