Still thinking about that Billy Butler homer in the Yankees-Royals game the other night. Joe Torre has admitted that the umpires misapplied the rules. And now Joe Girardi admits he should have protested it. He says he simply took the umps’ word for it that they were properly applying the rules:
“I assumed the rules were right and that’s my fault … Two umpires told me and I believed them. Maybe I don’t need to be so trustworthy anymore.”
To be fair, it’s not just dumb credulity that led Girardi to think the umpires had it right at the time. Umpires blow judgment calls all the time, but they rarely actually misapply the rules, which is what is required for a successful protest. There are only a handful of protested games in recent memory, and none have been successful since a rain-shortened game between St. Louis and Pittsburgh went down in 1986 (the umps didn’t wait long enough between delays to call the game). In fact, Retrosheet’s data shows only 14 successfully-protested and then-resumed games since 1913.
Protests usually fail either because they’re on judgment calls or because the misapplication of the rules ended up not making a difference in the outcome. This one, however, seems like it would have been a pretty cut-and-dried protest case. It was a misapplication of the rules and, given that it was on a homer in a game decided by one run, it’d be hard to argue that the call was irrelevant to the outcome.
So yeah, while I tend to look askance at protests, this is one that had to be made. Even if Girardi tended to believe the umps, you gotta throw that challenge flag, ya know? I mean, it’s not like he hasn’t done it before.
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.