Cliff Lee phillies throwing

Cliff Lee and the media

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Bob Raissman writes about how really no one in baseball media got the Cliff Lee story right. Fair enough. I can’t remember the last time everyone was this fooled about a big signing. But I think Raissman is a bit unfair with this passage:

In fact, none of the legion of ESPN’s highly promoted, self-decorated baseball reporters, all who appear on the World Wide Leader’s multiple media platforms, knew what the heck was going on with Lee and the Phillies. Since ESPN promotes these baseball reporters as better than the rest of the schlubs on the beat, it should be embarrassed.

No one at ESPN got the story, true, but it should be noted that Jayson Stark was one of the first — and may have been the first — to surmise that the Phillies could be involved (even Heyman, who first reported that a “Mystery Team” was involved didn’t believe it was the Phillies).  Stark got there, not based on actual inside information, but based on his overall read of the situation.  I’m not suggesting that Stark be lauded for breaking anything because he didn’t, but I think that understanding what’s going on based on experience can be just as valuable as actually getting the scoop. In some cases, more valuable. ESPN should not be “embarrassed” for this.

Everyone is wrong sometimes and everyone is right sometimes, but I prefer that the baseball writers I read spend as much time thinking about this stuff as they do checking their Blackberries.  It’s certainly a lesson I’m learning as I dip my toe into the scoop biz more and more.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch 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.