Brandon Phillips said yesterday that he’d “love to get an extension” from the Reds, telling John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that “it would be nice to be here for the rest of my career” and “I want to know a guarantee instead of a possibility.”
So why haven’t the two sides worked something out already? General manager Walt Jocketty told Fay that he’s had some communication with Phillips’ agent, but with the second baseman under contract for this season at $11 million and the Reds holding a $12 million option or $1 million buyout on him for 2012 there’s really no huge rush to get a new deal done.
Presumably any long-term extension would likely start at $11-$12 million per season and the Reds may not be so keen on keeping Phillips at that price after opening up their wallet for some younger building blocks this offseason.
In five seasons with the Reds he’s averaged 21 homers and 24 steals while playing very good defense at second base, but Phillips’ overall production has been less than spectacular with a .275 batting average, .326 on-base percentage, and .447 slugging percentage. During the past three seasons his .764 OPS ranks tied for 10th among all second basemen with Orlando Hudson, who signed a two-year, $11.5 milllion deal with the Padres this winter.
Hudson is a couple years older than Phillips, so it’s not a perfect comparison, but Phillips-like production can usually be had for significantly less than $12 million per season, not to mention a long-term commitment. Phillips is 30 years old and has slugged just .407 away from the Reds’ hitter-friendly ballpark during the past three seasons. He’s a very good all-around player and has been worth $12 million in most seasons so far, but the Reds may not want to pay him like that into his mid-30s and it would be tough to blame them.
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.