He’s not Griffey or Jeter, but to Rockies fans Todd Helton is close in terms of importance and stature. Which is why I was rather shocked to see this today from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post:
Rather than pick up a piece of lumber
from the bat rack, Todd Helton should grab some pine on the bench. Is it baseball blasphemy to suggest the Rockies should sit down the
best player in franchise history?
At age 36, he’s not Beltin’ Helton anymore.
Of course, Kiszla suggests that it should be the 39 year-old Jason Giambi who should take Helton’s job, so he ain’t exactly thinking long term here.
Helton is getting base at a more-than-healthy .393 clip. The problem is his power, which is non-existent. It would be one thing if the Rockies had some monster first base prospect hanging around, but they don’t. They have Jason Giambi who, however useful he has been off the bench, is not going to help anyone starting at first base every day. Putting Giambi in that role does not solve any problems. It just angers the fans and the guy the Rockies are paying $16 million a year to be the franchise.
Maybe Helton shouldn’t be hitting in the middle of the order anymore, but he’s not going to the bench. Nor should he.
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.
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.