Long in the tooth? Giants will come calling

Leave a comment

derosa-091228.jpgLast year the San Francisco Giants signed 33-year-old free agent shortstop Edgar Renteria to a two-year, $18.5 million contract, in theory, to boost their offense.

Renteria, whose rapid decline had already been spotted by everyone except this guy, rewarded general manager Brian Sabean with a .250/.307/.328 line that included his fewest homers (5) since 1998, and the Giants boosted their offense by scoring *17 more runs than in 2009.

*I’m going to chalk this up almost entirely to the emergence of Pablo Sandoval. Quibble with me if you must, but don’t anger the Panda.

On Tuesday, the Giants will announce they are signing free agent Mark DeRosa — who soon turns 35 — to a two-year deal that is reportedly worth $12 million. Compared to the Renteria deal, this will be a bargain.

At this point in his career, DeRosa can play anywhere on the field except shortstop, center field and catcher. He’s coming off a career-best 23-homer season, and his career line at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park (.278/.326/.468) isn’t much different from his overall numbers (.275/.343/.424).

But he also struggled last season after injuring his wrist, and while it will help the defense to put DeRosa at third base and move Sandoval to first, DeRosa is not exactly a stellar defensive player. Versatile, yes. Stellar, no. In fact, he comes in at -6.5 in UZR/150 at third base over his career.

Given DeRosa’s age, his declining defense, and his recent injury struggles, I would expect this signing to come off only slightly better than the Renteria inking, in large part because he is cheaper. A good addition? Certainly. But a move to put the Giants over the top? Doubtful.

But that’s OK, there will be plenty of older, fair-to-mediocre free agents on the market entering the 2011 season, so Sabean can once again quench his thirst for the wiley veteran crowd. Lyle Overbay, anyone?

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a designated 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
Leave a comment

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
2 Comments

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.