Color me skeptical, but ESPN’s Buster Olney says all of the following starting pitchers have already cleared waivers and are eligible to be traded: Chris Capuano, Bruce Chen, Tom Gorzelanny, Ted Lilly, Rodrigo Lopez, Jason Vargas, Chien-Ming Wang and Carlos Zambrano.
It’s largely Vargas’ presence that causes me to question the list. It’s very hard to believe no one would have put a claim in on a Mariners left-hander who has a 4.01 ERA this year, makes just $2.45 million this season and is under control through 2013. Vargas owed much of his success last year to Safeco, but he actually has a 3.88 ERA in 10 road starts this season. Common sense dictates that several teams would have put a claim in on him.
Capuano, Chen and Gorzelanny were also pretty claimable with their modest salaries and decent records this year. Capuano is 9-10 with a 4.51 ERA for the Mets, Chen is 7-5 with a 4.15 ERA for the Royals and Gorzelanny is 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA for the Nationals. Their salaries this year are $1.5 million, $2 million and $2.1 million, respectively, though Capuano and Chen do have incentives that would have increased a claiming team’s financial responsibilities.
The others did figure to slip through waivers. Zambrano was a given. Lilly, who is in the first year of a three-year, $33 million deal, is 7-12 with a 4.71 ERA. Both Zambrano and Lilly have no-trade protection anyway and thus couldn’t have been given away on waivers without their permission. Wang has allowed 12 runs — six earned — in 15 innings since returning from a two years off due to shoulder problems. Lopez is 3-3 with a 4.78 ERA while splitting time between the rotation and the pen for the Cubs.
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.