Bill Conlin's less-than-perfect Hall of Fame ballot

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There will probably be a lot of these today. They’re all kind of fun on some level. Here’s Bill Conlin’s: Blyleven, Morris, Dawson, Alomar, Martinez and McGriff.

Conlin has been on the Morris bandwagon for a while so that’s expected. At least he pairs him up with Blyleven. I’m surprised to see him go for Martinez, but Conlin, for as grumpy as he can be, can also be somewhat unpredictable. Along those lines I’m rather surprised not to see Barry Larkin here. Especially when, earlier in the column, he described Larkin thusly:

First shortstop to join the 30-30 club when he hit 33 homers and stole
36 bases in 1996. A legitimate five-tooler, Barry spent his entire
19-year career with the Reds and went to 12 All-Star Games. A Spalding Guide player, Larkin played short with the same economy and grace that Mike Schmidt displayed at third.

And he doesn’t seem too torn about leaving him out, as he voices some regrets for not voting in Andres Gallaraga for cryin’ out loud, but not Larkin. Either way, I’m struggling to see what in the above quote constitutes an argument against Larkin in Conlin’s mind. And besides, I get the sense that enough people feel differently about him to where he’ll make it in.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.