Tim Lincecum narrowly defeats Cardinals duo for second straight NL Cy Young

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Showing more than ever before that they’re smartly willing to look beyond win-loss records to determine the league’s best pitcher, the Baseball Writers Association of America followed up their selection of 16-game winner Zack Greinke as AL Cy Young by giving 15-game winner Tim Lincecum the NL award.
Lincecum received just 11 of 32 first-place votes, which is actually one fewer than Adam Wainwright, but was second on 12 ballots and third on nine ballots to narrowly defeat runner-up Chris Carpenter. Wainwright finished third, because while a dozen voters were still swayed by his league-leading win total 15 of 32 ballots placed him third.
Javier Jazquez and Dan Haren were the only other pitchers to receive votes on the three-line ballots, both at the expense of Carpenter being absent. Vazquez received a second-place vote and Haren got a third-place nod. Cardinals fans will no doubt be upset about the NL balloting, but Lincecum and Greinke are the rightful choices as the best pitchers in each league and the fact that the BBWAA awarded two guys who combined for just 31 wins is a big step in the right direction.
Lincecum joins Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Denny McLain, and Jim Palmer as back-to-back Cy Young winners, which is pretty amazing company for the 25-year-old Giants ace. Perhaps just as amazing is the BBWAA producing the exact same order, one through five, as my ballot. Actually, so far three of the four major awards have matched my picks, and I’m hopeful that the BBWAA can continue their logical voting next week with Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols as the MVPs.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.

Tigers to give Omar Infante some work in center field this spring

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11:  Omar Infante #4 of the Detroit Tigers follows through on an RBI single scoring Prince Fielder #28 during the eighth inning against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field  on September 11, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
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Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.

Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.

The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”