Wow, Bruce, wow

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How can you have spent the last 12 years covering the NL and believe that Brad Hawpe is a legitimate center fielder capable of pushing Kosuke Fukudome to right field?
I actually think Bruce Miles is one of the Cubs’ best beat writers, but that’s an ugly error. It’s not like Hawpe is a newcomer. He’s spent five-plus years in the big leagues, he’s averaged a 900 OPS in the last four and he even went to an All-Star Game this year.
Hawpe, though, has never played a game in center field and for good reason. He’s a natural first baseman who moved to the outfield because of Todd Helton’s presence. After doing a respectable job his first few years in the league, he’s declined to the point at which his defense has nullified much of his value on offense.
There’s a good chance that Hawpe will be traded this winter. The Rockies have Carlos Gonzalez to plug into right field on a full-time basis and they should be fine in center with Dexter Fowler and in left with a combination of Seth Smith, Ryan Spilborghs and maybe Eric Young Jr.
It is teams with holes at first base and DH that should be looking at Hawpe, though. He’ll be of more use there than he is as a liability in a corner outfield spot.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

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.