Arredondo goes from 10-2 with 1.62 ERA to Triple-A

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Jose Arredondo began last season in the minors, but quickly joined the
Angels’ bullpen and went 10-2 with a 1.62 ERA and .190 opponents’
batting average in 61 innings while gradually moving past Scot Shields
to become Francisco Rodriguez’s primary setup man.

Rather than turn to Arredondo as their new closer when Rodriguez
departed as a free agent this offseason, the Angels signed Brian
Fuentes to take over ninth-inning duties and left Arredondo in a setup
role … where he’s posted a 5.55 ERA in 25 appearances.

Arredondo was demoted to Triple-A this morning, with manager Mike Scioscia explaining
that he “needs to work some things out” and “has obviously taken a
small step backwards.” There’s no getting around the fact that
Arredondo has allowed far more hits and runs than last year, but
delving a little deeper into his performance reveals some interesting
things.

While certainly very good, his 57/22 K/BB ratio in 61 innings last
season wouldn’t normally produce a 1.62 ERA or .190 opponents’ batting
average. Arredondo was extremely fortunate in terms of his balls in
play being converted into outs, which the Angels’ defense accomplished
an astounding 76 percent of the time compared to the AL average of 69
percent.

The opposite has been true this year, as his 27/12 K/BB ratio in 24
innings is much better than his 5.55 ERA–and not far from his 2008
rates–but the Angels’ defense has turned his balls in play into outs
just 60 percent of the time. Scioscia is no doubt right that he could
stand to work on some things and his increased line-drive rate has also
played a part in the ball-in-play numbers, but the biggest difference
between last year’s 1.62 ERA and this year’s 5.55 ERA basically boils
down to luck.

Last season Arredondo struck out 23 percent of the batters he faced,
walked 9 percent of the batters he faced, induced 51 percent ground
balls, and served up two homers in 244 plate appearances. This season
Arredondo has struck out 25 percent of his batters faced, walked 9
percent of his batters faced, induced 49 percent ground balls, and
served up zero homers in 110 plate appearances.

The nuts and bolts of his performance really haven’t changed much at
all, and in fact in some ways have actually improved. As usual focusing
on ERA fails to tell the whole story, particularly for relief pitchers,
and a deeper look at Arredondo’s numbers suggests that he would have
turned things around soon enough. However, the guy with a 1.62 ERA from
last season likely isn’t coming back because he never really existed
outside of a world where the defense behind him is played by four Ozzie
Smiths and three Willie Mayses.

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)
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.