The Posey and Heyward omitters speak

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Yasushi Kikuchi, the writer who left Buster Posey off his Rookie of the Year ballot, explains himself:

Kikuchi said he left Posey off his ballot because of the late-May promotion. “Obviously it was a tough decision,” Kikuchi said. “To me, Rookie of the Year is the best rookie player throughout the whole season. “On the other hand, I know Buster had a very big impact for the Giants. I know how important his role was to contribute to the Giants winning the championship.”

Like I said before, though I don’t agree with it, I at least understand how someone can have a thought process that goes “the players who were there all season get more credit.”  It’s a crude way to go about things, and in this case I think such an approach steered Kikuchi into the ditch, but I see what happened, and that’s about as much as you can ask.

Dejan Kovacevic is the guy who left Heyward off the ballot.  He did have Posey first, however, so we should probably keep things in perspective.  As for his inclusion of Pirates Neil Walker and Jose Tabata, Dejan has been defending himself on Twitter this afternoon.  Some of his comments, edited slightly for clarity:

Felt very firmly about Posey, thus chose him 1st. Felt Walker/Tabata had strong years, comparable to rest of class . . . Neither Walker nor Tabata is off-the-board choice, as seen from list of NL rookies with 400 PA, ranked by OPS.

At that point Dejan linked to this leaderboard. I guess I understand what he’s saying about Walker and Tabata not being “off the board,” but it’s worth noting that they’re lower on the board in nearly every significant category — including the one he cited, OPS — than Jason Heyward was.  Dejan goes on:

[I] Obviously saw way more of Walker/Tabata than others, but that also gave perspective on them performing at high level in poor lineup/setting . . . Feeling always has been with voting that broadest variety of perspectives bring best results. Few can argue final overall tally, I’d think . . . No one else cast a vote for Walker, an easy-to-make case for a top-three ROY performer. That, to me, underscores importance of local views . . . Local writers will see/appreciate things a player can do that others might not. That counts, for a player’s good facets and bad . . . Felt firmly that my first-hand view of Walker/Tabata merited their ROY votes. I also respect right of anyone to disagree/vote differently.

I appreciate Dejan defending his votes, and — if you look at some of the replies to specific questions to others in his Twitter feed — him being very gracious and polite about it.

Still, while the explanation is welcome, it doesn’t do much to persuade me, to put it lightly. Not that he’s trying to persuade me or anyone else of course. It’s his vote and if he wanted to tell us all to pound salt, he could do so. I disagree with him and think he whiffed badly in this instance, but the same can be said for a lot of these votes, and we’re not entitled to an explanation, even if we want one.

With respect to both Kikuchi and Kovacevic:  the only serious question I ever have when I see an outlier awards vote is whether there was any funny business. Was someone trying to make a political point, or were they not taking their task seriously. While I think Kovacevic saw the vote through black and gold colored glasses, I don’t see any way you can accuse him of funny business here. Same goes for Kikuchi whose vote was principled, even if misguidedly so. In either case, anyone saying silly things like their votes should be taken away (Really Jon?) is off base.

But at the same time, I’m not going to simply wave my hand and say that “everyone is entitled to their opinion.” I mean, they are, but that doesn’t make their opinion unassailable. Opinions can be wrong if they’re based on bad facts and poor reasoning, and in this case, I think Kikuchi and Kovacevic’s were.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.