After three straight injured and ineffective seasons derailed what was once a promising career Brad Hawpe has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Pirates.
As recently as 2009 he was an All-Star who hit .285 with 23 homers and a .903 OPS for the Rockies, but Hawpe hasn’t been the same since leaving Colorado. No longer calling Coors Field home is part of it, but the injuries would have wrecked him anyway.
Hawpe was released by the Rangers midway through last season after mediocre production in 35 games at Triple-A following Tommy John elbow surgery. At age 34 he’ll try to snag a bench job in Pittsburgh, but the Pirates are pretty well stocked in first basemen and corner outfielders.
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.”