Adam LaRoche fails at being a team leader

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Adam LaRoche and other Pirates’ players are not happy about the Nate McLouth deal:

“There ain’t a guy in here who ain’t pissed off about it. They might
be trying to hide it or whatever, but . . . hey, you get a guy’s loved
by everybody, not just in this clubhouse but in the community, who does
everything you could want a guy to do, a perfect guy to be a leader . .
. It’s kind of like being with your platoon in a battle, and guys keep
dropping around you. You keep hanging on, hanging on, and you’ve got to
figure: How much longer till you sink?”

An anonymous Pirate veteran was critical of the haul the Pirates got in
return, saying “You make a deal for a player like that, and you’d
better get at least one elite guy in return. Who’s the guy in this
trade? Who is that player?”

The article notes how Adam LaRoche had declared himself a team
leader earlier in the season. It strikes me, however, that if you’re
going to be a team leader, you have to do things that a team leader
does such as ensure that this sort of discontent is not aired in
public, both from yourself and from the teammates you purport to lead.
That’s especially true when the discontent involves specific criticism
of the guys that are coming to join your team. Lamenting the loss of a
friend and valuable veteran is fine, but this kind of thing isn’t
helpful to anyone. Not the fans, who don’t want to hear one of the
team’s best players suggest that the team is sinking or giving up, not
Gorkys Hernandez, Charlie Morton or Jeff Locke, who have now been told
that they suck even before arriving in Pittsburgh, and last but not
least, not Andrew McCutchen, who represents the future of the Pirates’
organization whether LaRoche and his veteran friends like it or not.

Maybe this was not the best haul Pittsburgh could have gotten for
McLouth, but it’s not a lay-down trade by any stretch. The difference
between the Pirates being good and the Pirates being bad is more than
Nate McLouth, and any trade that brings them some needed organizational
depth and creates an opportunity for a guy like McCutchen to play has
much to recommend it. A team leader would recognize that or, at the
very least, keep such criticisms in-house rather than publicly sow this
sort of discontent.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.