Report: Mark McGwire to become hitting coach for the Dodgers

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Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Mark McGwire has told the Cardinals that he intends to accept an offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers to become their hitting coach. Strauss says the deal is not final, but that it appears to be close to it.

McGwire has been the Cardinals’ hitting coach for three years, and they offered him a contract extension to return, but apparently Los Angeles is where he wants to be.  As Strauss notes, McGwire is from southern California and his offseason home is in Orange County with his wife and children.

It’s hard to say the specific impact a hitting coach has on a team, and I suspect that there is a much stronger correlation between latent talent and offense than there is between a hitting coach’s instruction and offense.  But it is worth noting that the Cardinals have hit the daylights out of the ball while McGwire has been in the fold, so one can presume that he has at least done no harm.

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.