Once upon a time Brandon McCarthy was considered a top pitching prospect and in December of 2006 the White Sox traded him to the Rangers for John Danks and Nick Masset.
That trade didn’t exactly work out well for Texas, in part because of Danks’ emergence as one of the league’s best southpaws and in part because McCarthy’s career has been wrecked by injuries.
He didn’t pitch in the majors at all this season and was limited to just 56 innings at Triple-A because of a stress fracture in his shoulder, but McCarthy pitched well in the minors when healthy, has a 1.96 ERA in four Dominican winter league starts, and is still just 27 years old despite seemingly being around (and more often than not on the disabled list) forever.
Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that McCarthy “has been scouted heavily in recent weeks” by a number of teams, including the Astros, Diamondbacks, Brewers, Padres, Mariners, Tigers, and A’s. Even setting aside his injury history McCarthy often struggled in Texas and Chicago because he’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher and both of those ballparks boost power hitting. San Diego, Seattle, and Oakland would be good fits for him in terms of limiting his weaknesses.
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.