Derek Holland is playing the “nobody believes in us” card

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Derek Holland pitches for the two-time defending American League champions. A team which won its division by ten games last season and which signed the most sought-after pitcher on the market in Yu Darvish.

When 2012 season previews start appearing soon, you’ll see many people pick the Rangers to win the AL West.  Most gambling websites have the Rangers as one of the best bets in baseball, listing them at 10/1 to win the World Series, behind the Yankees, Tigers and Angels (the Angels are at 13/2). By any measure, therefore, the Rangers are considered to be a strong contender. A good team that, if things break right, could be great.

Yet, for some reason, Holland thinks everyone is counting the Rangers out. Here he was in the radio yesterday:

The thing that kills me is that we’re being ruled out again. Nobody realizes what we’ve done. We’ve got the same team as we did last year, and it’s like we don’t have a chance to go anywhere. It’s like they’re ruling us out from even making the playoffs.

Sure, maybe it stinks that the gambling websites like the Angels more (or at least think that favoring them will separate gamblers from their money more easily), but I defy Holland or anyone else to find me an example of someone “ruling the Rangers out from even making the playoffs.” I bet there isn’t one reputable commentator who does so this year.

But hey, if it makes Holland feel better to think that, more power to him.

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.