Last week Dan Haren got pretty angry when “a source familiar with the team’s thinking” told Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com that the Angels were planning to decline his 2013 option, saying it was “dumb timing” because the story had the possibility of distracting the team down the stretch.
However, after last night’s start against the Mariners in which he allowed five runs in six innings to take the loss Haren sure sounded like someone who expects to be cut loose just like the unnamed source suggested.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times notes that Haren approached reporters by asking “one last time?” and then went on to say:
Definitely, the thought has crossed my mind. Part of me feels a little guilty because of the way this year went. If I would have had my average year, we’d probably be where we want to be. I’m not looking to break the bank, I’m not looking to sign a Zack Greinke deal. I’m looking for whatever is fair. I’ll have to see what happens. Players work hard to get to free agency. I’ve played nine years, and if I become a free agent, it would be stupid not to take advantage of that.
Haren indicated that he’d be open to re-signing with the Angels at a lesser annual salary, but actually hitting the open market and fielding offers from multiple teams has a tendency to make that less appealing for most free agents in his situation.
In past years the Angels choosing a $15.5 million option over a $3.5 million buyout would be a relatively easy decision, but as a 32-year-old with back problems coming off a season in which he posted a 4.33 ERA they may feel that money would be better spent on keeping Zack Greinke long term.
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.