It started with a splash but ended quite quietly. Barry Zito pitched and won for the Giants last night, completing his seven-year contract that, at one time, was considered the worst in baseball history.
Zito gave up two runs — one earned — on four hits over five innings in Wednesday’s win against the Dodgers. As might be expected given his track record in San Francisco, he struck out only one. Contrary to his track record, he didn’t walk a batter. He left between innings and did not therefore force fans to decide to cheer, boo or stand with truly conflicted feelings about how the past seven years have gone.
Zito finishes the year with a record of 5-11 and an ERA of 5.75. He finishes his Giants career with a record of 63-80 and an ERA of 4.62. With the exception of 2011, he basically took the ball every time Bruce Bochy gave it to him, and he rarely complained, and that has to count for something.
And with that, seven years and $126 million is in the rear-view mirror. It’ll be curious to see what the view out of the windshield holds for him, but I bet someone will take a chance on him on a make-good deal next year. He’s left-handed and durable and that’s, like, 65% of pitching value, right?
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.