Independent league baseball is awesome

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A story in the Chicago Sun-Times a couple of days ago — just coming to my attention via a fun thread over at Baseball Think Factory — is seven shades of awesome. I’ll let you read it for yourself, but the critical components are as follows:

  • Former Blue Jays manager Tim Johnson quitting before a game and having half of his roster quit with him;
  • Pitchers playing as position players;
  • Position players pitching;
  • One of those position players being 47-year-old Jose Canseco;
  • Kevin Costner: cheapskate?
  • Everyone being released or traded the next day and, presumably, Bugs Bunny or an elephant or something covering the rest of the season’s games.

Make sure you go over to the BTF thread too, as the sharpshooters over there offer lots of good random information about players in the story and the independent leagues in general.

And Dodgers fans: this probably puts your team’s financial difficulties into a more comfy perspective.

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.