Olney: the Red Sox are “headed down that path” to trade Kevin Youkilis

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Buster Olney was on WEEI radio this afternoon and, based on his conversations with some anonymous executives, he thinks the Red Sox and Kevin Youkilis will part ways this summer:

“I’ve talked with a number of executives at other teams this week, because this looks like it’s headed down that path.” … Olney said that other general managers have told him that Youkilis is going to have to put about three productive and healthy weeks together in order for them to gauge his trade value.

Obviously Will Middlebrooks’ nice place since his callup is goosing this along.  I’ve not been paying too close attention to how Middlebrooks is perceived locally, but I get the sense that there’s some college football backup quarterback stuff going on there, where he’s seen as a savior while the old guy is taken for granted.

My question: if the Sox do start seriously shopping Youkilis, do the press and fans perceive it as a white flag waving on the 2012 season, or do they view it as making way for Middlebrooks?

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.”