Chipper Jones expects “some dumb (bleep)” to leave Maddux off his Hall of Fame ballot

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Chipper Jones, who said virtually nothing interesting for the bulk of his playing career, continues to show us that there was some personality underneath all those “yes sirs” and “no sirs”:

 

He’s right of course. Unfortunately, this year, the idiots who don’t think Greg Maddux deserves to be a first-ballot inductee have plausible deniability. Because the ballot is so stocked with worthy candidates, and because Maddux is a shoe-in for induction, there will likely be several people leaving Maddux off for strategic purposes. Specifically, to throw votes to guys who may be at risk of falling below 5% and thus off the ballot. I personally wouldn’t vote that way. Such game theory usually requires others to act rationally in order to be effective and, if we’ve learned anything about the Hall of Fame electorate, it’s a pretty non-rational group of folks. But such a non-vote for Maddux is defensible.

But, unfortunately, it also prevents us from knowing which voters left Maddux off because they believe no one should be a first-ballot inductee if some old timer they liked wasn’t. Which happens every single year.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.