Theo Epstein won’t say whether Dale Sveum will be back as Cubs manager

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Cubs president Theo Epstein was asked yesterday whether manager Dale Sveum will be back next season and declined to answer. So does that mean Sveum’s job is truly in jeopardy as he follows up last season’s 61-101 record by going 63-88 this year?

Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com delved a little deeper into Epstein’s quotes, including:

There’s no alarm bells to ring. But that’s a subject that gets addressed as a matter of process (after) the season. We’ve been very upfront about the fact that we’re not evaluating Dale on wins and losses. Our record is more of a reflection of the roster that we’ve put on the field as a baseball operations department and where we are in this building process. So I don’t hold Dale accountable for the record.

Of course, not being held accountable for the record doesn’t mean he’s not being held accountable for anything, and if the Cubs feel Sveum has struggled with, for instance, developing the young building blocks on the roster that could be a reason to fire him as well.

Mooney notes that Sveum is under contract for next season and the Cubs hold a team option for 2015. Epstein has generally offered plenty of praise for the job Sveum has done, but not replying with a simple “yes” when asked if a manager who’s under contract for 2014 will be back in 2014 is certainly open for interpretation.

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.