Jon Heyman has been a Jack Morris supporter for a long time. And that’s fine. He’s in the majority — the two-thirds majority as of yesterday — in believing that Morris is a Hall of Famer. But he tweeted this a few minutes ago and it rather irks me:
Look, if you like Jack Morris for the Hall of Fame, that’s great. I personally wouldn’t support him, but there are a lot of guys who are in the Hall because of actual fame and presence and things other than the stats and I’m not going to get bent out of shape if Jack Morris makes the Hall of Fame next year. I liked him when I was a kid. I have a weird fetish for reliable, above-average workhorses. I won’t lose any sleep if Morris makes the Hall of Fame.
But let’s leave the “I saw him pitch” appeal to authority out of this. Sure, lots of guys saw him pitch. But they also seem to have completely forgotten or misconstrued what they saw, because the cases that are made for his candidacy often bear no relation whatsoever to his merits as a pitcher. He didn’t “pitch to the score.” He wasn’t, objectively speaking, the best pitcher of the 1980s. His one otherwordly playoff performance was not part of an overall fabulous playoff track record. He was good. Very, very good at times and that may make him a Hall of Famer.
But I can say this much with certainty: the “stat gurus” who are assessing Morris’ career are at least dealing in the world of fact. Not legend. And if the Morris supporters want us to respect their views on his Hall of Fame worthiness, it seems only appropriate that they respect the views of those who think differently about things and not disparage the anti-Morris vote as if they were the members of some cult.
Especially given that it takes far more, oh, let’s just call it “magical thinking” to believe that Morris was as good as guys like Heyman say he was than it takes to believe that his statistics compare unfavorably to other Hall of Fame pitchers.
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.