The Astros are on pace to finish 53-109

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It’s simply not fair that the Mariners are suddenly dominating the conversation on terrible teams.  Even after 15 straight losses, they have nothing on the Astros.  Houston is a full 10 games worse than Seattle this season, having gone 33-68 through 101 games.

That puts the Astros on pace to finish with a 53-109 record that would be the worst since the 2004 Diamondbacks went 51-111.

Here’s a list of all the teams since 1996 that failed to win at least 60 games:

2003 Tigers: 43-119
2004 Diamondbacks: 51-111
1996 Tigers: 53-109
1998 Marlins: 54-108
2002 Devil Rays: 55-106
2002 Tigers: 55-106
2002 Brewers: 56-106
2005 Royals: 56-106
2010: Pirates: 57-105
2004 Royals: 58-104
2009 Nationals: 59-103
2008 Nationals: 59-102

Astros fans can take hope that the three worst teams here improved by 29, 26 and 26 games the following year.  However, given the current state of the Astros farm system and the possibility that the team may subtract talent in trades, one can’t help but wonder if the 2011-12 Astros might join the 2008-09 Nationals as repeat offenders.

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.