The New York Times had a great story about the history and evolution of the bench coach yesterday. It’s not gonna stop me from always lazily assuming that the bench coach is around to have beers with the manager after the game, but it is going to at least realize that when I do so, I am wrong. Mostly.
Fun anecdotes in there a-plenty, but also a pretty good assessment of what the modern bench coach is really all about:
Bench coaches have more responsibilities than ever. With managers diverted to pregame and postgame news conferences and other demands, they must delegate more. “Bench coaches run spring training and do things like schedule batting practice and stretching before games,” Pettini said.
Baseball’s technological and numbers revolution has also expanded the bench coach’s portfolio to include monitoring scouting reports and statistics.
Being a manager is like having any other high-responsibility, high-pressure job. You gotta have an assistant who can make sure you have the stuff you need when you need it and who, when you’re occupied with something else, can think about the things you’re missing.
I’d still want one that would drink beers with me after the game, of course. Just as long as he could also do that other stuff too.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.