Jeff Pearlman probably needs to stop writing about the Pirates

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Mere days after writing an article for Sports Illustrated about the Pittsburgh Pirates that he kicked himself over for being “mediocre,” Jeff Pearlman posts about what he feels to be another Pirate misstep: the July 2008 trade of of Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for Daniel McCutchen, Jose Tabata, Jeff Karstens and Ross Ohlendorf:

The Pittsburgh loyalist–an odd breed who gets punched in the head
repeatedly (by his loved one, no less) while screaming, “More! More!
More!” looks at this deal 1 1/2 years later and says, “Not bad.” Nady,
after all, has been injury prone and, when healthy, only moderately
productive. And, before his dazzling World Series showing of two months
ago, Marte was pretty much a Yankee bust–a 5.40 ERA in 25 games last
season, a 9.45 ERA in 21 games this season.

So what did the Pirates receive for two craved medallions? Daniel
McCutcheon, who at best will be a fourth starter for a bad team. Jeff
Karstens, a non-roster invitee for 2010 who will likely wind up in
Triple A for somebody. Ross Ohlendorf, a No. 5 starter or long reliever
for 90 percent of Major League teams (but, in Pittsburgh, a key
component of the rotation). And, last but not least, the mighty Jose
Tabata, a 21-year-old outfielder and the key to the deal for the
Pirates.

This analysis is utterly perplexing to me.  Just days before, in that “mediocre” column, Pearlman took the Pirates to task for allegedly signing expensive, over-the-hill veterans (never mind that they don’t really do that anymore). Now, he’s ripping them for trading older guys who are about to become expensive for young, cheap guys with a lot of upside?

Maybe Jose Tabata doesn’t become the next Manny Ramirez — you never know what will happen with kids like that — but if the Pirates shouldn’t be trading guys they can’t use for promising young players like Tabata, what in Earth should they be doing?

And what’s with the slam on Ross Ohlendorf?  He won 11 games and had a 3.92 ERA — which was above average for the league — for a crappy team. How does that translate to “a No. 5 starter or long reliever
for 90 percent of Major League teams”?  If he was on the Yankees or Dodgers last year he probably would have gotten a postseason start. In fact, I can’t think of a single team that wouldn’t have had a place in their rotation for a guy with an ERA+ of 105 last season.  If the deal was Nady and Marte straight up for Ohlendorf, the Pirates would have won the trade.

Look, I’ve been highly critical of the Pirates over the years for certain things that they do. But one thing they have started to do recently is to acquire guys who, while iffy, are young, cheap and high ceilings. Tabata is one of those guys. So is Lastings Milledge.  It may not work, but it’s the best they can do, and in light of that, it’s pretty smart baseball.

So, two Pirates columns in a week and two whiffs for Jeff Pearlman. Maybe he should cut his losses and start in new with, say, the Royals.

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.