In previewing what awaits the Marlins in the second half Juan C. Rodriguez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel writes that there’s “a good chance” closer Leo Nunez “is dealt before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.”
Rodriguez notes that Nunez has one more season of arbitration eligibility, but “it’s doubtful the Marlins will absorb his expected salary hike” from this year’s $3.65 million salary.
What he doesn’t write is that in addition to not wanting to pay Nunez upward of $5 million in 2012 the Marlins would also be smart to cash in a thoroughly mediocre closer for good value if they can.
In three seasons as Florida’s closer Nunez has saved 81 games in 99 chances with a 3.71 ERA and 169/63 K/BB ratio in 175 innings. He’s basically a solid setup man who’s been thrust into the closer role and has converted saves at an 82 percent rate, which is at the low end of acceptable for a closer.
If they can get a solid prospect for him because some other team focuses on his save totals they should jump at the opportunity and spend the second half figuring out which other reliever is capable of stepping into ninth-inning duties with similarly mediocre results. Closers are made, not born, and Nunez is a prime example.
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.