Marlins “expected to make strong push” for Yoenis Cespedes

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Now that Yoenis Cespedes has established residency in the Dominican Republic his long-awaited free agency should be right around the corner and Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports that the Marlins “are expected to make a strong push” for the Cuban defector.

They’ll have plenty of competition, although Cespedes’ poor showing in the Dominican winter league may have exposed some sizable flaws in the 26-year-old outfielder’s game. He went 5-for-35 (.143) with 10 strikeouts and zero walks before calling it quits.

Cespedes said previously that the Marlins, Cubs, White Sox, Orioles, Tigers, and Indians were the six teams showing the most interest and Frisaro believes Miami’s “strong Cuban community” could help the Marlins’ case. That and a huge contract, of course.

UPDATE: Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com contradicts Frisaro, reporting that Cespedes “has told teams he would prefer not to play in Miami.”

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.”