When Dale Sveum took over as the manager of the Chicago Cubs last offseason, he brought in a handful of new coaches with him – bench coach Jamie Quirk and first base/outfield/general-purpose coach Dave McKay, and pitching coach Chris Bosio – and retained three legacy coaches, who were already under contract for 2012: hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, bench coach Pat Listach (who became the third base coach), and bullpen coach Lester Strode.
When it became clear by midseason that philosophical differences could not be overcome with respect to Jaramillo, he was dismissed in favor of interim hitting coach James Rowson, who had been brought in by the new front office as the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator (and who may or may not continue on in that role – he is under review). Strode may yet be retained as the bullpen coach, a job he’s held since 2006, for three different managers. His contract expires this year.
Listach, however, is joining Jaramillo out the door. After yesterday’s final game ended, the Cubs informed Pat Listach that he would not be brought back next year, with his contract expiring after this season.
While the decision could have been tied to Listach’s performance as third base coach (he did make some head-scratching calls throughout the year), I expect that it was more of a philosophical move, not unlike the Jaramillo dismissal. Obviously we aren’t behind those closed doors, but it appears that the decision came from the top of the organization, which suggests Listach was no longer viewed as a fit with what the Cubs are doing going forward. The Cubs will look for a replacement this Winter.
Interestingly, Listach also worked extensively with Darwin Barney over the last two seasons as he transitioned to second base, and evolved into arguably the best defensive second baseman in baseball. If results are the measuring stick, it’s easy to say that, in that area, Listach succeeded.
But he won’t be back in 2013, and the year-long transition period is almost at a close. As we saw with Jaramillo, Listach, and Oneri Fleita, the new men in charge seemed to make a priority of keeping some familiar faces around for a while to preserve institutional memory and relationships. Then, once that information and those relationships had been assimilated by new folks in the organization, and once full, fair, and long evaluations were performed, dismissals followed.
Hard to call it anything but a wise and fair approach.