Ruben Amaro denies that the Phillies have considered releasing Ryan Howard

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Yesterday Ryan Howard was benched and rumors sprung up about the Phillies trying to trade him. The day before it was reported that the Phillies were considering simply eating Howard’s contract and releasing him.

Today Ruben Amaro says that’s nonsense. From Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. emphatically shot down reports that the organization is considering releasing struggling slugger Ryan Howard after the season.

“That is not something we are contemplating,” Amaro said Friday morning. “I don’t know where that’s coming from.

Well, the report came from sources who spoke to Salisbury the other day. And, while Amaro may not actually release Howard, how a GM can approach a problem like Ryan Howard without at least considering the idea of releasing him — it’s one of a couple of options obviously available to him — is rather curious. I realize he can’t exactly publicly say that he’s thinking about releasing one of his guys, but it doesn’t seem credible that the conversation hasn’t at least been had.

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.”