At the Mariners media event last week I had a chance to pull aside Director of Player Development Chris Gwynn and ask him about new Tacoma Rainiers manager Pat Listach.
Gwynn was more than happy to discuss the hiring of Listach, which he perceives as a coup for the Mariners organization.
“His resume, his experience – he was in the big leagues five of the last six years,” said Gwynn. “Our players (in Triple-A) need to be finished before they show up to the big leagues, and I thought it was a great fit.”
Listach was previously a minor league manager in the Chicago Cubs system, most recently in 2008 when he piloted the Iowa Cubs to an 83-59 record and won the PCL Manager of the Year award.
Since then he has worked on major league staffs, mostly as a third base coach but also as a bench coach. His name has been mentioned as a potential major league manager.
Listach was the Houston Astros third base coach in 2014. When manager Bo Porter was let go, it meant the new skipper would select his own coaching staff. That made Listach a free agent, and he was considered for several MLB coaching positions before committing to the Mariners.
“I was keeping my fingers crossed that he would still be available, because there was so much movement at the big league level,” said Gwynn. “I’m happy that it worked out the way it did.”
One concern for Gwynn was how Listach would handle a return to managing in Triple-A after getting accustomed to the major league coach role.
“We had long talks,” said Gwynn. “We wanted to make sure that we were all on the same page. He’s excited and ready to go. He’s going to be hungry; he’s going to push our kids. That’s exactly what we are looking for.”
From his post as a coach with an American League West team last year, Listach saw the Mariners young talent – including some players who might be with the Rainiers this season. Gwynn has talked to him about other players he’ll be working with.
“He knows what we have, because he was with the Astros last year as third base coach he knows the young kids that came up,” said Gwynn. “He can’t wait to put his hands on (Ketel) Marte and some of the other players we have down there. I think it’s the right fit at the right time.
Listach won’t be coming to Tacoma until he arrives with the entire team on April 16th – the night before the Rainiers home opener. Tacoma starts the season on the road in El Paso, and the team will fly directly from spring training in Arizona to Texas.
It’s likely that Listach has not been to Cheney Stadium since 2005, which was his final year as the Iowa Cubs hitting coach. In 2008 (the year he managed Iowa) the I-Cubs did not visit Tacoma.
Hopefully nobody told him that the stadium has been renovated – that would be funny!
- Looks like Tacoma will probably have Endy Chavez and Franklin Gutierrez in the outfield, according to numerous reports. Bob Dutton mentions it in this Mariners notebook.
- Ryan Divish has a post from Fanfest with the Endy & Franklin news, and also some tidbits from players he talked to at the event.
- Hall Of Famer Ernie Banks passed away at age 83 – here is his New York Times obituary. The front page of the Chicago Tribune was something to see. For some fun footage, the Banks vs. Mickey Mantle episode of Home Run Derby (1960) is available on YouTube. Larry Stone resuscitated a 2002 column about a phone call with Banks and it is a fun read.
- We can cross Humberto Quintero off the list of veteran catchers the Mariners could sign – he inked a deal with the Red Sox, according to Baseball America’s minor league transactions.
- Jeff Sullivan compared Jesus Montero to the volcano that created Crater Lake. Read it if you dare.
- Some Houston Astros met a penguin.
- Russell Wilson‘s minor league managers are rooting for the Seahawks.
- Tony Blengino of Fangraphs has a preview of the AL West. If you don’t like all of math at the top of the story, scroll down to his team-by-team write-ups.
- New Commissioner Rob Manfred is willing to look at a lot of options to modernize and speed up the game.
- Later this spring a new book is coming out on the strike season of 1981. Tacoma native Ron Cey used the break in the season to appear in a horror movie.
Check back Wednesday when we preview the 2015 Tacoma Rainiers middle infield situation.