Dusty Baker denies asking the Reds for contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reported earlier this week that “Reds manager Dusty Baker asked management about a contract extension … but evidently the team is not yet ready to decide upon his future.”
Baker was asked about the report yesterday and responded: “I haven’t talked to them. I don’t know where he heard that. It’s going to come when it comes. If it doesn’t come, what can you do? You still have to keep living, still keep doing your job.”
Rosenthal is among baseball’s most plugged-in reporters and if Baker’s agent did the talking for him the “I haven’t talked to them” line could technically still be true. Either way, he’s clearly on the hot seat. And deservedly so.
Baker built up a strong reputation while managing the Giants when Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent were the best one-two punch in the world, but had a losing record in his final two seasons with the Cubs and his first two seasons with the Reds. Right now Cincinnati is 9-11 and it looks like finishing above .500 for the first time since 2004 may be a struggle for the 61-year-old skipper.
Toss in his reputation for shredding young arms and his proudly eschewing on-base percentage for speedy athletes who can’t hit, and it’d be tough to blame for the Reds for wanting to go in a different direction after this season. Since leaving the Giants in 2002 his record is 483-509.

Yankees to hire Josh Bard as their new bench coach

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Aaron Boone has no experience as a coach or a manager at any level. As such, some have speculated that he’d hire a more seasoned hand as his bench coach as he begins his first season as Yankees manager. Someone like, say, Eric Wedge, who was a candidate for the job Boone got and who once managed Boone in Cleveland.

Nope. According to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand, he’s going with Josh Bard.

Bard, 39, was a teammate of Boone’s with the Indians in 2005. He’s not without coaching experience, having spent the last two seasons as the Dodgers’ bullpen coach, but he’s not that Gene Lamont/Don Zimmer-type we often see in the bench coach role.

Which is fine because different managers want different things from their bench coach. Some are strategy guys, helping with in-game decision making. Others are relationship guys who help managers understand all of the dynamics of the clubhouse while they’re worrying more about lineups and stuff. Others are trust guys, who can serve as the manager’s sounding board, among other things. Some are combinations of all of these things. As Feinsand notes in his story, Boone said at his introductory press conference that he’s looking for this:

“I want smart sitting next to me. I want confidence sitting next to me. I want a guy who can walk out into that room and as I talk about relationships I expect to have with my players, I expect that even to be more so with my coaching staff. Whether that is a guy with all kinds of experience or little experience. I am not concerned about that.”