Pittsburgh writer leaves Heyward off Rookie of the Year ballot, includes two Pirates

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UPDATE: We now know who the voters who left Buster Posey and Jason Heyward off their Rookie of the Year ballots were: Yasushi Kikuchi of the Kyodo News (He’s a member of the L.A.-Anaheim BBWAA Chapter) was the only one to omit Posey. He had Gaby Sanchez first, Heyward second and Jaime Garcia third. The voter to omit Jason Heyward was Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He had Posey first, and two Pirates — Neil Walker and Jose Tabata — second and third.

I can almost see Kikuchi’s vote if you assume that he’s a total hardass about playing time.  Still ridiculous to leave Posey off because his production more than outweighed his lost time, but at least there’s a potential philosophical thread to hold onto there.  Dejan, though? Dude, that’s just nuts.  The Pittsburgh guy voting for two Pirates, neither of whom were considered top rookies by really anyone this year, is sketchy.  I hope Dejan writes a column explaining his votes, because absent any other explanation, it smells like rank homerism. I like and respect Kovacevic’s work, so I want there to be a better reason than that.

2:33 P.M.: Like I said, I don’t take issue with Buster Posey taking the NL Rookie of the Year Award. Strong season, definitely deserving, even if I would have gone with Heyward. They were excruciatingly close in my mind once you controlled for Heyward playing in more games, but I don’t for the life of me presume to know how to value Posey’s defensive contributions and they may have made up for it.  You’ll never hear me complain about Heyward not winning.

But I can complain about this: one writer left Buster Posey off his ballot entirely. One writer left Jason Heyward off.  That is simply unreasonable.

Check out the voting yourself:there are 32 voters. Each one gets to name three players on their ballot.  Both Posey and Heyward were named on only 31 ballots. I don’t care if you have Posey first or Heyward first, but how do you not have one of them either first, second or third?

Can this be explained by Gaby Sanchez’s two inexplicable first place votes?  Is there a Florida insurgency? Did Sanchez’s flying clothesline of Nyjer Morgan not only catapult him higher in the rankings than he deserves, but also knock out votes for Posey and Heyward?

Inquiring minds want to know . . .

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.