Rivera delivers a pitch against the Orioles in the ninth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Baltimore

The BBWAA honors Bill Conlin; shoots down cool idea for a reliever award

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The Baseball Writers Association of America had their big annual meeting this morning.  Two things of note happened:

  • The writers honored Philly writer Bill Conlin with the J.G. Taylor Spink Award.  This is what people refer to when they say that someone has been elected to the “writer’s wing of the Hall of Fame.”  There is no wing. There’s a plaque. Good for Conlin, but I’d be lying if I said that his baseball writing over the past couple of decades was Hall of Fame worthy. Oh well, not my club.
  • A proposal by Jayson Stark to make an end-of-year award for relief pitchers was rejected.

I hadn’t thought about a reliever award much until I just heard Stark talking about it to someone, but I think it’s a great idea.  The one objection people have offered to it is that it would turn into an award to the saves leader or something, further glorifying an all-too-glorified statistic, but I disagree. Look what the end-of-year award debates have done for pitchers wins.  When there are stakes to it, thinking gets focused and progress is made. At least recently. Just ask Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke and Tim Lincecum.

Oh well. Neat idea, Mr. Stark. I bet it happens eventually. I bet they name it the Mariano Rivera Award.

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)
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.