Mariano Rivera would prefer Dustin Pedroia as his second baseman over Robinson Cano

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It’s moot because (a) Mariano Rivera doesn’t play baseball for a living anymore; and (b) even if he did, Robinson Cano doesn’t play for the Yankees anymore. But if you think those two little facts are going to get in the way of these quotes from Rivera’s new book blowing up big, you’re not familiar with the Red Sox-Yankees Industrial Complex.

First, his thoughts on Cano, excerpted by the New York Daily News:

“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start . . . There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”

Then, on Dustin Pedroia:

“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see. If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”

Others in and around the Yankees have questioned Cano’s motivation and effort in the past and Pedroia has long been praised for his passion and intensity and all of that. Obviously they’re both great players, each has proven that if they’re your starting second baseman you can win a World Series and debates will rage for years about who was better. Personally, I’d take Cano’s durability and production over Pedroia’s, I’d take Pedroia’s contract over Cano’s and if I had one game to pick only one to be in there I’d wonder how in the hell that set of impossible and hypothetical circumstances came to be.

But such nuances are lost when it comes to this sort of thing. I expect reporters to try to put both Cano and Pedroia on the spot about this. I expect it to be portrayed as a big controversy as opposed to some mildly interesting comments in the course of a long book and I expect at least one sort of outraged and ridiculous column to come of it assassinating one of the three principles’ character in all of this. Maybe two.

Put simply: I expect this to go like every other silly Yankees-Red Sox dustup. Which is OK, because those are kind of fun.

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.