Valentine a finalist for the Indians' job

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Bobby Valentine is getting a callback interview for the Cleveland Indians’ vacancy.  So too are Manny Acta and former Tigers and Indians third baseman and current Indians single-A manager Travis Fryman.

Interesting list of finalists in that it suggests that, rather than merely trying to find the right man for the job, the Indians don’t yet know exactly which direction the team is really heading.

Given his age and experience, you’d think that Valentine would be better suited to a win-now situation.  Despite his firing in DC, Acta is well-regarded and many believe he’d do much better on a team that was actually on the upswing as opposed to the hopeless situation he faced in Washington.  Fryman is totally green by comparison.  If you go with him, aren’t you saying that the team is totally at the bottom and is starting from scratch?

I actually like all three of those guys, but if Shapiro and Dolan think that the team is rebuilding, Valentine — a man with money, a high price tage, TV prospects and presumably a lot of options —  is probably not the best man for the job.  If, on the other hand, ownership thinks that the team is poised to compete in 2010, they’re probably not well-advised to install Fryman in the manager’s office.  Indeed, if he does have managerial talent, you’d probably want to wait until the team is better positioned in order to give him the best chance to succeed.

A lot can happen in the offseason, but my personal view is that the Indians will be better in 2010 than they were in 2009, but won’t truly contend.  I think that DQs Valentine as a serious choice, leaving Acta and Fryman as the better alternatives.

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.