Peter Gammons was interviewed about hot stove stuff and he was asked about what happens at the Winter Meetings:
It’s a lot of lobby wandering. You got everybody there and it’s fun. You see Alderson go into an elevator with (Cubs general manager) Jim Hendry and all of a sudden you start working to see if there is a Cubs- Mets trade being talked about. It goes on like that all day. Usually from Sunday to Monday things are out of control with rumors and stuff.
Last year was my first Winter Meetings and that was my sense of it too. Glad I wasn’t missing anything. My guess is Gammons will get to enjoy the Meetings more this year than he did last year, as this year he won’t be announcing that he’s leaving ESPN, thereby causing every writer in the place to want to come congratulate him. I have no idea how he got any work done last year. Then again, the Meetings were in a cold and snowy Indianapolis last year too, so it’s not like there were many distractions beyond that.
Anyway, I’m going to the Winter Meetings again this year. They’re at Disney World. I’m flying down on Sunday and will be reporting from them all week. For those of you who weren’t HBT readers last year, know this: we update constantly during the Meetings, even more frequently than we currently do. If there is buzz about anything, you can bet that we’ll be among the first if not the first to pass it along. So what I’m saying is that you should probably keep a window open with HBT in it all week long.
This will probably be the best Winter Meetings for a while too. I hear that for the next two years they’ll be in Russia and Qatar.
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.