The Indians and Scott Kazmir have expressed mutual interest in continuing their relationship, reports Chris Assenheimer of the Chronicle-Telegram. Kazmir has been a boon to the Indians’ pitching staff, finishing the season with a 4.04 ERA in 158 innings spanning 29 starts. The lefty averaged about a strikeout per inning pitched and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 3.5 to one.
It is especially impressive that Kazmir was on his way out of baseball, spending the 2012 season with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent league. In 64 innings with the Skeeters, he posted a 5.34 ERA with mediocre strikeout and walk rates.
Kazmir will turn 30 years old in January, which is a bit shocking considering everything he has experienced in his career already. As a top prospect in the Mets’ system, Kazmir was involved in one of the more controversial trades of the 2000’s, going to the Rays in the Victor Zambrano trade. With the Rays, Kazmir had immense success, helping them reach the World Series in 2008, where they lost to the Phillies. From 2005-08, he had a 3.51 ERA. In August 2009, the Rays sent him to the Angels, capitalizing on the lefty’s value before he hit free agency. Kazmir wasn’t the same. From 2009-11, he posted a 5.51 ERA. The Indians are hoping the worst is behind Kazmir and he can provide them a few years of reliable service in the latest chapter of his career.
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.