Aramis Ramirez is on fire

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No one had a worse April and Maya than Aramis Ramirez has, but after taking most of June off on the DL, his July has been something else.  The Cubs’ third baseman is hitting .383/.406/.950 this month, with nine homers and 24 RBI. Last night was the jewel in this month’s crown, as Ramirez went 3 for 5 with three homers and seven RBI.

One of the scarier things staring the Cubs in the face these past few months has been the fact that Ramirez has a player option for 2011 to the tune of $14.6 million.  It’s still not going to be joyful to pay that when the team probably needs to be tearing down and rebuilding, but at least an effective Ramirez will make that a bit easier.  And until this month, there was much reason to believe that the Cubs would be seeing such a thing again.

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.”