Coaching staff decisions imminent.

With the interview stage apparently complete, the Rangers are reportedly close to making a decision between Jackie Moore and John McLaren to fill the bench coach position, and between Perry Hill and the organization’s minor league field coordinator, Dave Anderson, to serve as infield instructor.  If Hill prevails, he would presumably coach first base, with Gary Pettis sliding over to third; if Anderson gets the job, he would coach third.

Andy Hawkins is still considered the frontrunner for bullpen coach, while pitching coach, the most important of the vacancies, remains the least predictable.  Rick Peterson and Dave Wallace have interviewed, and there continues to be speculation that Texas is interested in talking to Milwaukee pitching coach Mike Maddux.  

The Brewers would like to bring Maddux back but haven’t hired a manager, and there could be managerial candidates who would have pitching coach sidekicks they’d want to bring with them.  The club has already decided that hitting coach Jim Skaalen won’t return in 2009, but there’s no clarity yet on Maddux.

Interestingly — and surprisingly — Buck Showalter’s name has been mentioned as a Brewers possibility (though not as prominently as Willie Randolph, Ken Macha, or Bob Brenly’s).  The two pitching coaches Showalter had in Texas — Orel Hershiser and Mark Connor — are not employed by any organization at the moment.

It may be that the uncertainty of Maddux’s situation will linger too long for Jon Daniels, who has said he’d like to have Ron Washington’s staff in place this week.

Once the coaching staff is set, presumably the roster moves back to the front burner.  Sean McAdam wrote this in yesterday’s Boston Herald: “Allard Baird, a special assistant to [Red Sox general manager Theo] Epstein, spent a portion of this season scouting potential replacements for [catcher Jason] Varitek and found little.  The Sox have zeroed in on Texas because they have two young catchers with potential in Taylor Teagarden and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.  The Sox, in fact, made an offer for Teagarden at the trade deadline, only to have it rejected.”

Sure is nice to be taking calls rather than having to make them.

It’s a fascinating scenario.  Theoretically, you could line up four Texas catchers on one side (Teagarden, Saltalamacchia, Gerald Laird, Max Ramirez) and four Boston pitchers on the other (Clay Buchholz, Justin Masterson, Michael Bowden, Daniel Bard) — with Ramirez and Bard fairly clearly on a slightly lower tier than the others — and imagine a number of different scenarios, some of which will favor Texas slightly and others giving Boston an edge.  Even if this is the direction that Daniels and Epstein want to go — that is, zeroing in on each other as the preferred trade partner to accomplish what they want — there’s still one heck of a negotiation ahead as the two of them try to get their guy without having to give up whomever they consider closest to untouchable.

The bad news is that there are a number of teams with catching depth to trade.  The good news is that there are several teams hunting for a catcher.  The better news is that of the teams with catchers to trade, nobody has better ones right now than Texas.

Outfielder Julio Borbon (.229/.357/.286, seven walks and 10 strikeouts in 35 at-bats, two stolen bases in three tries) and righthander John Bannister (0-1, 2.70, six hits and five walks in 6.2 innings, six strikeouts) were chosen to play in Friday’s Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game.  Rosters were chosen based on input from scouting and minor league directors from every organization, and not every team was awarded multiple selections — there’s a gathering buzz about how well the 24-year-old (and Rule 5-eligible) Bannister is throwing.  

Seattle never asked for permission to interview John Hart for its general manager vacancy, according to at least one story out of Washington.  The finalists for the job are reportedly Diamondbacks director of player personnel Jerry Dipoto, Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng, Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava, and Brewers special assistant to the general manager Jack Zduriencik.  

The frontrunner appears to be DiPoto, whom Texas was interested in offering a front office position to three winters ago after he’d transitioned from his post as Colorado’s director of professional scouting to a role in the club’s television booth.  DiPoto instead went to Arizona to become its director of professional scouting, reuniting with general manager Josh Byrnes, with whom he’d worked in both Boston and Colorado.  

Chris Davis finished 11th in Baseball America’s ranking of baseball’s top 20 rookies in 2008.  No other Rangers earned mention.

Rick Knapp, whom Detroit just hired to be the Tigers’ new pitching coach, was a minor league pitching coach for Texas in the mid-’90s.  

The White Sox outrighted utility man Jason Bourgeois.  

Bidding for the two autographed copies of Josh Hamilton’s book, “Beyond Belief,” closes at 5 p.m. tomorrow.  The leading bids at the moment are $500 and $300.

 

You can read more from Jamey Newberg at www.NewbergReport.com.

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