The Cubs and Angels had a Dan Haren-for-Carlos Marmol trade all but done. It feel through, however, with many speculating that it was due to issues surrounding Marmol’s no-trade clause or cold feet by one side or something. Many others, however, believe that it fell through because of Haren’s health. David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com has a source telling him that, yes, that’s what happened:
. . . a long-time AL source who has watched Haren over the past several seasons confirmed to me that medical questions were the main reason the trade fell apart, with the Cubs having serious concerns over Haren’s back stiffness that sidelined him for a part of the 2012 season. Also, hip issues and a noticeable drop in his velocity that forced him to pitch differently than when he was a dominant power pitcher.
Haren’s agent yesterday said that Haren is healthy, but those are the words of a guy shopping his free agent client’s services. He did not refute the notion that Haren’s health was the reason the Cubs backed out (and that the Angels declined Haren’s option).
He’ll be an interesting guy to watch on the free agent market this winter. Just know that when you hear that Haren is close to signing with someone, that last step — the medical exam — is nowhere near the formality it is for most free agents.
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.