Is Big Papi poised to break out?

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David Ortiz has a six-game hitting streak. It’s modest as these things
go — he’s 7 for 25 with a double and a homer that someone described to
me as a cheapie — but .280 over six games is nothing to sneeze at when
you’re having the kind of year Ortiz is.

Now comes someone — specifically Will Moller at The Yankee Dollar blog — suggesting that maybe Ortiz is about to turn the corner due to the fact that his BABIP is way, way lower than one would expect given how many line drives he’s hitting:

If Ortiz was .030 above or below his expected BABIP, I’d be inclined
to view it as mostly statistical noise. .100 is absurd. He’s still
making contact, and he’s putting balls in play, hard . . . A deeper
analysis would probably uncover that Ortiz has a bigtime hole in his
swing that didn’t exist before, that is being exploited by opposing
pitchers. But it’s bizarre to see a player suddenly hitting a ton more
line drives, walking less, and striking out more . . . Long story
short: Big Papi is going to stop being the butt of so many jokes before
the year is out.

I’m savvy enough to understand that flukey-strange BABIP numbers like
that are often signs that bad luck is afoot, but going much further
than that is above my pay grade. And the increased strikeouts/fewer
walks Moller notices could be evidence that Papi is just being
challenged way more than most players now, and that his guesses are
simply getting slightly better.

It continues to strike me, however, that Ortiz can’t keep this
April-May performance up forever and that some sort of improvement has
to happen. Perhaps what Moller noticed here is evidence that that
improvement is already occurring, even if we haven’t really seen it
reflected in the box score as of yet.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.