The Seattle Mariners and Tacoma Rainiers announced on Tuesday that Pat Listach will be the new Tacoma manager for 2015.
This marks the second year in a row that the Mariners have gone outside of the organization to hire a Triple-A manager. They did the same thing last year, hiring Rich Donnelly to manage the Rainiers – only to have plans change during spring training, with Donnelly ending up was the major league third base coach and Roy Howell taking over Tacoma.
Howell managed the Rainiers to a 74-70 record last year – and he’ll stay in the Mariners organization. He was supposed to be the Double-A hitting coach last year before the dominoes fell during spring training, and he ended up doing a fine job as Tacoma manager. I suspect he’ll go back to his prior role as hitting coach – possibly at Double-A Jackson, where he was expected to be last season.
Rainiers fans should be excited about Listach running the club.
Listach last managed in the Pacific Coast League in 2008, leading the Iowa Cubs to an 83-59 record and a first-place finish in the American-North (they lost to Oklahoma in the American Conference playoffs, three games to two). Listach was named the PCL Manager of the Year for his efforts.
At that time, Listach was considered to be a strong major league manager prospect. Lou Piniella was the Chicago Cubs manager, and he recommended Listach for a big league coaching job in Washington. Listach served as a third base coach for the Washington Nationals and manager Jim Riggleman for two seasons, 2009-2010.
Listach left the Nationals to take an opportunity as the Chicago Cubs bench coach under then-manager Mike Quade (bench coach is considered a better job than third base coach for aspiring managers). Listach survived two tumultuous and ultimately very Cub-like seasons in Chicago before being let go after the 2012 season.
The Dodgers hired Listach to work with their minor league infielders during the 2013 season, and then he returned to the big leagues as Houston Astros third base coach in 2014. That lasted one season, as the Astros manager and staff were flushed out, and now Listach will be managing in Tacoma.
That’s a lot of stops over a short period in the big leagues, but a theme can be seen: Listach has been a coach for three poor teams that had no chance of winning right away, and twice when changes were made he was one of the guys looking for a new job. That’s the way it goes on the big league coaching carousel.
The revolving door of managers and coaches is exactly how Listach got his first managerial opportunity: he was serving as the Iowa Cubs hitting coach in 2002 and had never managed before. The Chicago Cubs made a mid-season move, firing manager Don Baylor and promoting Iowa manager Bruce Kimm to big league skipper. They asked Listach to stay with Iowa and manage the rest of the season – and he went 27-28 the rest of the way, decided he liked it, and a few years later was managing at the Double-A level in the Cubs system.
Listach is only 47 years old, and he still has a chance to be a major league manager. Being in charge for another season – even if it is at the Triple-A level – can get him back on that path.
The remainder of the 2015 Rainiers coaching staff will be announced soon – but as a preview, I’m not expecting any changes. In the meantime, let’s welcome Pat Listach to the Tacoma Rainiers family!
- We’ll start with the The News Tribune’s story on the Pat Listach hire. Included is a list of all Tacoma managers since the city fielded a PCL team in 1960.
- Listach was a finalist for the Texas Rangers third base coach job, but when that didn’t work out he accepted the Mariners offer.
- Like all Tacoma managers, Listach will also coach third base. This 2009 story from the Washington Post details his strategy.
- Listach has a reputation as a terrific coach of infielders. When Listach was let go by the Chicago Cubs, second baseman Darwin Barney gave Listach a lot of credit for his record-setting errorless streak.
- As a player, Listach is most known for winning the 1992 American League Rookie of the Year award. As detailed in this story, he was given an unexpected opportunity due to an injury, and he took advantage of it. The story includes some personal details on Listach.
- Thursday is a big day in the off-season maneuverings of MLB teams: it’s the deadline to set the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 Draft. Bob Dutton has a look at the Mariners players who may need to be protected.
- Ryan Divish thinks that Braves outfielder Justin Upton may be available via trade, and he notes that the Mariners could be in play this time around.
- Sad news: a historic stadium in the Dominican Republic was destroyed by fire. This is the home of Aguilas Cibaenas – currently Mariners Minor League Co-Player of the Year Jordy Lara is playing for this team.
- Here’s an interesting story on the struggles top prospects are facing when they make the jump from Triple-A to the major leagues. The takeaway: video scouting seems to favor the pitchers when a hitter first reaches the majors.
- They are putting together the broadcast team for the 2015 Chamber’s Bay US Open. I guess this thing really is going to happen, eh?
Our next blog update will come on Friday.