Angel Pagan on the Giants: “This is the team to beat”

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After spending the first six years of his career with the Cubs and the Mets, sure, Angel Pagan is entitled to a little optimism. But I tend to think that this is too much optimism. From John Shea’s story about him in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Angel Pagan prides himself as the Giants‘ new leadoff hitter. The No. 1 man. So allow him to be the first to make a bold statement about the 2012 Giants in the National League West:

“I’m very, very confident that this is the team to beat,” Pagan said.

They only finished eight games behind the Diamondbacks and four back of the wild card-winning Cardinals. And the Diamondbacks had so many things go right last year, so it’s totally possible that the teams are closer. And thus, no, it would not be shocking if the Giants’ pitching made them contenders all year.

But “the team to beat?”  Man, I dunno. I’m having trouble going that far with it.

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.