Leave Matt Holliday alone (and other supplemental observations)

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Matthew and Bob did an excellent job of recapping yesterday’s games, but I have a couple of random observations knocking around my head:

— Look, I know all you Cardinals fans want to kill Matt Holliday right now, but (a) your guys may not have made the postseason without him; (b) he did hit a homer in the game last night; and (c) after the error, in order to lose that game, Ryan Franklin still had to walk Casey Blake, give up a single to Ronnie Belliard, walk Russell Martin, give up a single to Mark Loretta and deal with a passed ball. And it’s worth noting that Tony La Russa let that slow-motion car crash all unfold. Does that absolve Holliday? No. Dude messed up; no gettin’ around that. But rather than make him the biggest goat since Bill Buckner, maybe the allegedly smartest and bestest fans in baseball should acknowledge that last night’s ninth inning collapse was a  team effort.

As Matthew noted, Red Sox Nation is none too happy with the umpiring of last night’s game, particularly as it came from C.B. Bucknor. It’s worth repeating however, that (a) none of those mistakes led directly to Angels runs; and (b) none of those mistakes added any velocity or movement to the 114 John Lackey pitches that the Sox’ batters couldn’t do a damn thing with.  If it was a close game, sure, I’ll listen to some complaints, but you don’t get to moan about umps when you get shut out like this.

Also, from the AP game story:

Despite the Angels’ ominous playoff history against the Red Sox, the noisy Orange County crowd didn’t seem to be anticipating
disappointment while clacking its ThunderStix and easily drowning out
the surprisingly small Boston fan contingent on a slightly chilly night.

Holy crap, they’re still doing the ThunderStix thing out there? I went
to an Angels game in 2003 and it was played out then. Angels fans, take
it from a Braves fan: you don’t want to continue to be identified in the
world by a group cheering thing that, while possibly amusing when it
started, grows more and more ridiculous as time goes on. No,
ThunderStix will probably never be as bad as the Chop, but you don’t
even want to be half as bad as that, OK?

— Finally, congratulations to Cole Hamels on becoming a dad. Yeah, running out of the stadium to head to the maternity ward makes for a stressful day, and yeah, he got roughed up a bit before he ran out, but as a father, I can tell you that no bad day at work can make you feel as bad as a good day with your kids can make you feel good. And even a bad day with your kids is better than a good day at work.  Added bonus:  Hamels now actually has a use for that minivan he’s been driving around in for the past few years.

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.