The ears of the baseball world perked up around 8:45 p.m. ET this evening when Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News — and other Rangers beat writers — announced that majority owner Chuck Greenberg was going to be hosting a conference call at 9 p.m. ET. A Lee announcement? Something big?
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Anthony Andro was passing along notes as Greenberg spoke. Unfortunately, there weren’t many notes to pass along.
The call started a couple minutes late and Greenberg revealed next to nothing. The Rangers have made a couple of different offers to Cliff Lee, but they’re not going to talk about details with the media.
Greenberg called the proposal a “substantial commitment in years and dollars” and said that Lee is now “weighing his options.” That’s something called front office-speak.
All of this seems a little fishy. Greenberg and Co. flew down to the left-hander’s Arkansas home this afternoon with a “we want an answer” attitude, but now they’re playing coy.
Nick Nelson, Twins blogger and Rotoworld contributor, opined on Twitter that the conference call was meant as a smoke screen. Nelson might be right. The Rangers can now tell their fans “hey, we tried” when Lee is cracking a grin and buttoning up a pinstriped uniform in a couple of days. It’ll be Lee’s fault, or the Yankees’ fault, not the fault of a limited payroll.
The Yankees have made a seven-year offer worth about $23 million annually and the Rangers were hoping to keep him at five years when this all began. Even if the conference call wasn’t a front, the Red Sox created a YES Network-fueled monster when they signed Carl Crawford to that seven-year, $142 million contract yesterday. The Yanks are pissed off and ready to spend.
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.