Report: Rangers reach agreement with Webb

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From Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse comes word that the Rangers have reached agreement on a contract with free agent right-hander Brandon Webb.  The deal is only pending a physical.

The Reds, Yankees, Rangers, Cubs and Nationals all showed interest in the 31-year-old this winter, but he chose Texas in the end and should open the 2011 season as the club’s fourth or fifth starter.

Webb comes with plenty of risk.  He hasn’t thrown a pitch in a major league game since the opening week of the 2009 season because of chronic shoulder issues and he did not display good velocity during a couple of late-season throwing sessions earlier this year.  But the Rangers needed a body to fill the massive gap left by Cliff Lee’s departure and Webb was once regarded as a top tier National League starter.

In 2008, he finished with a 3.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over 34 starts, fanning 183 batters over 226.2 frames.  In 2007, he posted a 3.01 ERA and 1.19 WHIP over 236.1 innings.  In 2006, he won the National League Cy Young Award with a 3.10 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and a 178/50 K/BB ratio across 33 starts.

If Webb can get anywhere near that kind of production down in Arlington, the loss of Lee might not sting so badly.  Of course, it’s far from a guarantee that he will have enough stamina to last the entire season.

UPDATE: ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark says the deal is for one year.  As expected.

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.”