Astros hoping to decide on manager by early next week

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For the past two weeks the Astros have been busy interviewing manager candidates and owner Jim Crane told Brian McTaggart of MLB.com that the team hopes to make a decision late this week or early next week.

“It will really depend on the selection we make, how quickly we announce that based upon where the teams are and the candidates we’re talking to,” Crane said. “If they’re in the playoffs, we might have to wait until the playoffs are over.”

In other words, if the Astros want to give interim manager Tony DeFrancesco the full-time gig they can announce that any time, but if they want to hire Nationals third base coach Bo Porter they may have to wait awhile. And then there’s Red Sox bench coach Tim Bogar and (barring a big comeback) Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, both of whom figure to be available to start new jobs late next week.

All of which basically means that if the hiring process stretches beyond next week signs would point to Porter as the choice.

The Red Sox to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment

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The Boston Red Sox plan to activate Dustin Pedroia from the disabled list today. That’s a big deal. The move they’re making to make room for him on the roster is a big one too: they plan to designate Hanley Ramirez for assignment.

The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier first reported the impending transaction. He was told by a major league source that Ramirez was informed this morning he’ll be moved off the roster. A designation for assignment, of course, means that the Sox have seven days to either trade or release Ramirez.

Ramirez, 34, is experiencing his worst season as a major leaguer thus far, hitting .254/.313/.395 (88 OPS+) in 195 plate appearances as he split time between first base and designated hitter. Given how well Mitch Moreland has hit at first and J.D. Martinez has hit at DH, there is simply no room for Ramirez in the lineup.

Ramirez, a 14-year big league veteran, won the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award and won the NL batting title in 2009. He has been a below average hitter in three of his last four seasons, however, and long removed from his days as a middle infielder, he has little defensive value these days. That said, his fame and the possibility that he could put together a decent run if used wisely will likely get him some looks from other clubs.