The Seattle Mariners and Tacoma Rainiers announced the 2016 coaching staff today.
Pat Listach returns for his second year as Rainiers manager. The former major league shortstop and 1992 Rookie of the Year award winner piloted the Rainiers to a 68-76 record in 2015.
In my one year of working with him, it appeared to me that Listach’s strongest attribute is player communication. This is extremely important at the Triple-A level – perhaps more so than at any other level in the game. You have this bizarre mix of young players who are close to the majors for their first time, Triple-A vets who are looking for a shot in the show, and experienced major leaguers who are not happy to be in the minors. Listach seemed to be really good at keeping the guys informed and relaxed.
On the field, Listach’s team stole a lot of bases at a very successful clip. It may have been a losing season (primarily due to talent issues), but at least it was fun to watch all of those steals.
We have new pitching and hitting coaches this year: Lance Painter will be the pitching coach, and as we previously reported Scott Brosius has been hired as the hitting coach.
Painter has worked as a pitching coach in the Mariners system for ten years, including five at Double-A Jackson. In the past I’ve heard some Rainiers pitchers say very positive things about their work with Painter, so that’s a good thing. Painter was a left-handed reliever who spent all or part of ten seasons in the majors, appearing in 314 games and tossing 450 innings. He pitched in the majors for Colorado, St. Louis, Toronto, and Milwaukee.
We wrote about Brosius earlier. The former Yankees third baseman and 1998 World Series MVP coached at his alma mater Linfield College for 16 years before being hired by the Mariners in November. Brosius played for Tacoma from 1990 to 1993.
Tom Newberg returns for his tenth year as Tacoma trainer and… wait for it… his 30th year with the Mariners. Somebody get this man a certificate of participation.
We’ll also have a new “Performance Specialist” – i.e. strength and conditioning guy – in Derek Mendoza. He was at Jackson last year, and did a season in the Dominican Summer League in 2014.
It’s the Friday before the Winter Meetings start, and the Mariners continue to make moves with the 40-man roster.
Today they traded reliever Jose Ramirez to the Atlanta Braves for a player to be named later and cash. Ramirez is the hard-throwing right-hander who was acquired from the Yankees in the Dustin Ackley trade. Despite throwing 99 miles per hour, Ramirez had enormous difficulty getting hitters out when he was with Tacoma last year. He’s also out of minor league options for 2016.
The move creates a spot on the 40-man roster, so maybe Dealin’ Dipoto is on the cusp of another move. He may have eyes on a player in the Rule 5 Draft, which is at the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.
This morning we also learned the left-handed reliever Edgar Olmos was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs. I’m not surprised he was claimed: lefties who throw 95+ are very rare.
The Winter Meetings start on Sunday for some and will be in full bloom by Monday. As always, the Rainiers will be sending a small contingent of front office people.
The PCL will have meetings on various topics, discussing travel, public relations, and marketing. The league’s executive committee will meet to discuss big-picture subjects.
The Mariners always host a gathering for all of their minor league affiliates. This will be the first opportunity for the Rainiers group to meet the new Mariners front office.
Job seekers are crawling all over the meetings. Some years the Rainiers do a little hiring here, other years not so much.
Then there is the massive Baseball Trade Show. This is where you buy things like new seats for your stadium, or new t-shirts to sell in your store, or a man in a chicken suit to dance between innings. Someone always writes a fun article about the trade show and we’ll link to it when it appears.
Next week should be a busy one.