Len Kasper signs five-year extension to stay Cubs’ announcer

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Len Kasper will be the Cubs’ television play-by-play announcer through at least 2016 after signing a five-year contract extension, according to Barry Rozner of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Kasper has been paired with Bob Brenly on Cubs games since 2005 and they’re among my favorite duos. They have a very friendly, natural on-air rapport that suggests they might actually like each other away from the microphones, and in addition to being a good play-by-play guy Kasper is also one of the few announcers who successfully incorporates some sabermetric insights into the broadcast.

Brenly’s deal is up after the 2012 season and Rozner speculates that the Cubs will try to sign him long term next.

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.