Max Ramirez signs with Astros after being let go by Rangers, Red Sox, and Cubs

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Not so long ago Max Ramirez was headed to the Red Sox for Mike Lowell, but Lowell’s injuries squashed that trade and Ramirez’s stock has been in a free fall ever since.

This winter the Red Sox claimed him off waivers from the Rangers only to lose him on waivers to the Cubs a couple weeks later, and the Cubs outright released Ramirez last week. Today the Astros signed him to a minor-league deal.

That’s quite a fall for a catcher who hit .347 with power between Double-A and Triple-A in 2008 and is still just 26 years old, but Ramirez was never considered an asset defensively behind the plate and he’s missed time with injuries while failing to produce offensively since then. Still, not a bad low-cost, no-risk pickup for the Astros.

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.”