Before the season, whenever a radio host asked me to make my division winner picks, I would say something like “if I had to bet my children on the outcome of any race, it’d be the AL Central. The Tigers are a lock.” So far, not good. Sorry Mookie and Carlo, but you’re gonna have to pack your little bags and go live with the nice people at the casino or whatever.
Jim Leyland seems more unhappy about than I am, however (look, my kids can be annoying sometimes). And his ire is directed mostly at his third and fourth starters, who are not getting the job done:
“It has to get better. It’s hard for any bullpen to survive a couple starts like we had the last couple days. Two days in a row and 100 pitches by starting pitchers in the fourth inning? That’s not acceptable.”
But as Leyland notes, sending down either of them is not on the table. There really isn’t anyone else to take the job. This team, to be successful, has to have Scherzer and Porcello eat innings at the very least. To keep them in ballgames. To give the offense a chance and to minimize the amount of innings a flawed bullpen is forced to pitch.
And boy howdy have they not been doing that.
Josh Hamilton is not and never was a key part of the 2017 Texas Rangers plans. He was in camp and under contract and had at least a chance to make the team, but the Rangers fate as a ballclub did not depend on him. It would merely be nice for them if he revealed that he had a bit left in the tank and if he could, like a lot of other superstars in baseball history, give them one last season of decent production in part time play as a matter of depth and flexibility.
As such, this development is more unfortunate for Josh Hamilton and those who root for him than it is for the Rangers as a club, but it is unfortunate all the same:
That’s the fourth surgery he’s had on that knee in less than two years and the 11th knee surgery he’s had overall in his baseball career. It’s sad to say but safe to say that Hamilton’s days in baseball are numbered if not over completely. At some point an athlete’s body can only take so much.
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.