Must-Click Link: Phil Coke the janitor, Phil Coke the chimney repairman

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Jonah Keri has a great story up about Phil Coke’s long strange trip through the minors. A trip that included weird odd jobs and no small amount of determination.

The big takeaway here, as Jonah mentions, is just how criminally underpaid most minor league players are. We hear about the big bonuses, but that’s only a handful of guys in the bush leagues. The rest make do on extremely small wages which force most of them to find odd jobs, all the while being expected to keep themselves in top physical condition and to work on their craft.

Coke notes, correctly I assume, that such hardship focuses the mind and drive and helps teams figure out who really wants it bad enough.  But it’s also worth noting that major league teams’ primary motivation here is so save some meager bucks because they can.

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.”