In this day and age it is almost impossible to find something that, upon being criticized, doesn’t find itself with at least some defenders. The urge to be contrarian can be almost overwhelming for some people — Slate has built its entire reputation on it — and thus you can be assured that even the most loathsome figures will inspire some “hey, they’re not as bad as you think” sentiment.
Still waiting for that with Jeffrey Loria and the Marlins ownership group. The knives have been out for them for weeks now, and it shows no sign of stopping. Even the people who once supported them so strongly that they gave them hundreds of millions of dollars are slamming them. For example, here’s former Miami-Dade County commissioner Javier Souto — who voted in favor of funding Marlins Park back in the day, but who now excoriates Loria — speaking to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald:
“This ownership group is a disgrace. I regret supporting it … This was a convoluted, complicated deal that [former county manager George] Burgess concocted and only he understood. He promised us it was the best deal…. Now, we’re close to a total boycott of the team. The best thing that could happen is for this ownership group to get the hell out of here for the good of the community.”
That’s nice and all — and, not coincidentally, a quite expedient position for a politician in Miami to have these days, but would that Souto and his friends have been as critical of Loria and his plans before giving tax dollars to him against the taxpayers’ will as part of a deal he now admits he didn’t even understand.
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.