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John Maffei explains why he left Yasiel Puig off his NL ROY ballot

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It’s that time of year again. Every once in a while, we’ll see a member of the BBWAA cast a vote for a hometown player for an award while a more deserving player is snubbed. It happened tonight with the National League Rookie of the Year Award, as John Maffei of the San Diego Union-Tribune was the only voter to leave Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig off his ballot.

Maffei gave a first-place vote to Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who went on to win the award. He then voted Cardinals right-hander Shelby Miller second, citing his performance in a pennant race. Per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, here’s Maffei’s logic behind the decision to go with Padres second baseman Jeff Gyorko over Puig for third place:

Maffei said he realized Puig would finish strongly in the voting. He said his third-place vote was not about rejecting Puig but about rewarding Gyorko.

“A second baseman hit 23 home runs and played great defense,” Maffei said. “Maybe Puig’s antics were in the back of my mind, but I really think the guy [Gyorko] deserved a third-place vote. I just felt he deserved it, not that Puig didn’t.”

Gyorko got two votes for third place, the other from Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona.

You have to love the line about Puig’s “antics.” “Maybe” it was a factor? Say no more.

I can’t say I agree with Maffei’s logic, but at least he isn’t hiding from criticism. Fortunately, his vote didn’t have a significant impact on the outcome.

Mets tell Jay Bruce they plan on having him start in right field

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22:  Jay Bruce #19 of the New York Mets reacts after striking out in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on September 22, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The Mets told Jay Bruce that the club plans on having him open the season as the everyday right fielder, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post reports. This comes as no surprise after the Mets failed to get any bites after dangling Bruce as a trade chip. The Mets reportedly wanted a pair of prospects in exchange for Bruce.

With Bruce in right, Yoenis Cespedes back in left, and Curtis Granderson in center, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out. He’ll either warm the bench or head back to Triple-A Las Vegas for regular at-bats.

Bruce, who turns 30 years old in April, had a rough final two months of the 2016 season after joining the Mets in a trade from the Reds. He hit a paltry .219/.294/.391 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in 187 plate appearances. Bruce, apparently, wanted to go anywhere but in New York.

Angels sign Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 11:  Eric Young Jr. #4 of the Atlanta Braves slides safely into third base on a RBI triple in the fifth inning against the New York Mets during the Braves opening series at Turner Field on April 11, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia.  Andrelton Simmons #19 scored on the triple.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have inked outfielder Eric Young, Jr. to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Young, 31, played in just six games and logged one plate appearance in the majors this past season with the Yankees. He last played regularly in 2014. While Young doesn’t do much with the bat, he could provide value as a pinch-runner. He also offers versatility, having played all three outfield positions along with second base.

The Angels have Ben Revere as their fourth outfielder and Jefry Marte behind him, so Young would need to have a very impressive showing in spring training to find a spot on the Angels’ roster.