We’ve been rough on Nyjer Morgan here at HBT, criticizing the Nationals outfielder for various on-field altercations, horrendous base-stealing, and his overall ineptitude last season.
I’m sure annoying bloggers isn’t a particularly big concern for Morgan, but now Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals may be getting sick of him too.
According to Kilgore the Nationals may go with Rick Ankiel as their starting center fielder, using Roger Bernadina as his backup, and option Morgan to Triple-A, where he hasn’t played since mid-2008.
Kilgore calls that “only speculation” and it would certainly be a bold move, because whatever you think of Morgan’s value at this point Ankiel is hardly a good everyday option in center field offensively or defensively. He’s hit just .232 with a .686 OPS during the past two seasons and Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as 8.7 runs below average per 150 games in center field.
In other words, if the Nationals are even giving serious thought to starting Ankiel in center field they must really be disillusioned with Morgan. Quite a fall for a guy who hit .351 in 49 games after coming over in a midseason deal two years ago.
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.