Buster Olney runs down how Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, while not having terrible seasons, are off their typical pace. With respect to Jeter, Olney offers the following:
And for Jeter, there is more at stake here beyond the Yankees’ dream of
winning back to back championships. Jeter’s 10-year contract is set to
expire at the end of this year, and a significant diminishment of
production will ultimately be read as the inevitable manifestation of
time, and could have a great impact on the offer he gets from the
Yankees. Right now, his OPS is 128 points lower than his career average,
and if that stands, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees offering him a
four- or five-year deal at one of the highest salaries in the majors.
I think it will be the press who reads a bad 2010 for Derek Jeter as “the inevitable manifestation of time” and it will be the press who suggests that his contract should/could be lower as a result. The Yankees themselves will probably acknowledge the manifestation privately, conclude that it is irrelevant in the case of Derek Jeter and offer him a top contract regardless.
It has been said so often that it approaches cliche, but Jeter really is different. I think the Yankees will gladly overpay as an investment in fan loyalty, marketing, historical continuity and all manner of things like that.
I was a tad skeptical of that, actually, but then I saw the whole Ken Griffey thing go down in Seattle. As soon as people started going after him a couple of weeks ago Mariners fans came out of the woodwork to defend the guy and attack anyone who dared to suggest that he didn’t deserve to still be on the team. Even if Jeter suffers a production decline like Griffey’s, the army supporting him will be 100 times larger and more ferocious.
The Yankees don’t want any part of angering that crowd. They’ll give Jeter his contract. If and when he becomes a Griffey-size millstone, they’ll figure it out then. For now, however, his millions are safe.
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.