Today the Astros finalized their coaching staff for the upcoming 2014 season. According to beat writer Jose de Jesus Ortiz, a number of coaches from within the organization will be taking on new roles. In addition, an exciting new hire has been made.
The most important add, and in my opinion, best hire of the day is first-base coach Pat Listach. In addition to base coaching duties, Listach will be working as the Astros’ infield instructor. The 1992 Rookie of the Year and former shortstop will be working closely with the double-play tandem of Jose Altuve and Jonathan Villar. This is a good thing. His experience as both a coach and a player should be extremely helpful to a young Astros squad.
Listach was the Dodgers’ minor league infield coordinator last season. Prior to that he spent 13 seasons (2 yrs. with Washington & 11 yrs. with the Cubs) coaching at both the big league and minor levels.
It was also announced that Eduardo Perez, who was displaced as bench coach by Dave Trembley, will stay on as third-base coach. Craig Bjornson returns to his familiar role of bullpen coach after spending last season serving as a roving pitching instructor in the minor league system. The new assistant hitting coach will be former minor league hitting coordinator Ralph Dickenson.
The only one of these moves I have second thoughts about is putting Perez in the 3B coaching box. Flip-flopping positions with Trembley certainly looks like a demotion for Perez. Apparently he hasn’t gotten any better offers from other clubs. Perez was quick to admit earlier this month that his heart lies in Cincinnati. I can certainly understand that, especially given his uncertain status with the Astros at the time. I just hope he’s able to focus on his new role and do a good job, even if it is only a springboard for him to move on to bigger and better things.
The third-base coaches box tends to be a position that can draw some heat from time to time. Eduardo drew a little heat last season — from Lucas Harrell. Perez was in charge of infield positioning and Harrell didn’t like the way the overshifts were being used while he was on the mound. In his new role, Perez will need to draw from his success in the winter leagues and international competitions. We’ll just have to hope that experience translates to the big show.