If you're gonna put Joba in the pen, make it count

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Joba.jpgIf the Yankees are hellbent on keeping Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in the pen, David Pinto has a great idea of how to maximize their value:

It strikes me that both in the pen could radically alter the Yankees
roster. The Yankees would only need nine pitchers, maybe ten. The
starting staff is more than capable of going six or seven innings, and
in the case of Sabathia, eight. Joba and Hughes take turns going two
innings when needed, so they build up a decent amount of innings during
the season (both getting over 100). They’re not one-inning setup men,
they’re in for however long it takes to get to the ninth. New York can
then afford to carry a third catcher and two slick fielding
infielders to rest A-Rod and Jeter late in games.

This is an outstanding idea. Sure, I’d like to see Chamberlain get a chance to start without being subject to the Joba Rules, but I’m much more invested in seeing teams break out of La Russian bullpen habits and make the most out of the 25 roster slots they’re given, and this sort of thing would give La Russa a heart attack.

If the Yankees turned Hughes and Chamberlain into a couple of mini-Gossages and were in turn able to add a couple more guys to the bench, the Yankees would be sitting really, really pretty, strategically speaking. And it would be great for Chamberlain and Hughes too. More innings out of the pen would make it much easier for them to transition into starters one day.

The real question is whether it’s the sort of thing Joe Girardi would be capable of managing properly. I have my doubts — Girardi is nothing if not conventional, and this would be fairly unconventional — but if Cashman bought into it, he could dictate it to Girardi.

I like this idea so much that I’m already sad that it probably won’t happen.

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)
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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.