Derrek Lee is warming up to the idea of being traded

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Most of the civilized baseball world is traveling home from Anaheim today, so there aren’t a ton of leaks and whispers out there.  As a result, those truly determined to get a news nugget are beating the bushes hard.  Take this latest one from Rosenthal and Morosi:

Derrek Lee has remained noncommittal on the issue of his no-trade clause. But some friends of the Cubs first baseman said this week that they believe he would accept a deal to the right team.

“Some friends.”  I like to try to picture how these conversations go down.  I get this image of Morosi hanging back at a bar where Lee and some people are having a beer. Lee goes home, Morosi walks over, and the conversation begins something like “So, you’re friends of Derrek Lee, right? Well, I can be a friend to you . . .”

Or maybe not.  The point here is that Rosenthal and Morosi are probably right in their analysis of Lee being a good fit with the Angels, if for no other reason than he’s a free agent next year and the Angels have said they’re looking for a rental.  I think Lance Berkman may be a better fit because he’s a better hitter, but last we heard he still wanted anyone willing to trade for him to pick up his 2011 option, and that’s simply not happening.

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.