Tom Ricketts wants Theo Epstein

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Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune has another in what will certainly be a looooong line of stories trying to put Theo Epstein in Chicago as the Cubs next GM.  We saw some of those a couple of weeks ago, and Epstein made it clear that he’s not going to fan those flames while the Red Sox are still playing baseball game. This one, however, is more from the Cubs’ perspective:

Around baseball, there’s a belief Ricketts might hit a home run, possibly even persuading Epstein to leave the Red Sox after nine seasons and two World Series parades. It’s easy to see the downside with an organization that last won it all in 1908, but the perception outside Chicago is different.

“People in baseball talk about it like it’s the Holy Grail right now,’’ one major league executive said. “You have a chance to break a curse that’s longer than the one the Red Sox ended. You can distinguish yourself in ways that aren’t available elsewhere.”

You can’t fault Ricketts for wanting to see if he could land Epstein.  While you have to be wary of monomania in these sorts of things and you can’t fixate on one candidate, it seems pretty shrewd to me to wait Epstein out and see if he won’t bite.  And according to Rogers, “some close to Epstein” think he’s interested.

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.