Josh Beckett: friend to the ocelot

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You can take away Josh Beckett’s beer and chicken. But don’t you touch his 7,000 acre hunting ranch. Or the ocelots that may or may not live there:

How did a pro baseball pitcher (Josh Beckett of the L.A. Dodgers), ocelots and a natural gas pipeline builder make it into the same news headline? They’re all part of a lawsuit filed by Beckett after the company used eminent domain to clear land on his 7,000-acre hunting ranch in south Texas.

Beckett says the gas pipeline takes too much of his land and threatens ocelot habitat that is protected by the Endangered Species Act. The gas pipeline builder says Beckett is really just trying to extract more money for the use of the land and is using the Endangered Species Act as leverage.

Obviously a story like this isn’t going to have all the details in it to know the truth. I will say, though, that based on my past life as a litigator who sometimes dealt with oil and gas pipeline matters, it is really common for landowners to cynically use the Endangered Species Act to hold up projects and/or get more money for oil and gas rights and/or rights of way.

Of course it’s entirely possible that Beckett truly does care about the ocelots. Just look at his tufted ears!

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.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.