Tim Lincecum has had a rough couple of years, posting a 4.76 ERA dating back to the start of the 2012 season. While some reported the right-hander was seeking a longer-term deal, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports disagrees. Heyman writes that Lincecum already turned down a two-year deal from the Giants and could be seeking a contract elsewhere that lasts only one or two years, which would allow him to prove himself as a top-end starter. If he does, it could be a windfall compared to what he would otherwise get.
While it’s possible Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young winner and two-time World Champion with the Giants, could end up elsewhere and maybe even with a longer deal, people familiar with the team’s negotiations suggest the pitcher seemed more interested in a short deal in his dealings with the Giants, for either one or two years.
That wouldn’t be inconsistent with how Lincecum has handled things in the past, turning down longer deals for shorter ones. He is said to have a belief that he’s on the verge of regaining his past form, and unusually interested in short deals at this time, a la Roger Clemens (the Clemens at the end of his career, anyway).
From 2007-11, Lincecum’s fastball averaged 91-94 MPH. It has averaged just over 90 MPH over the last two seasons, one reason why his ability to generate swings and misses declined. His control also went haywire, but to his credit, during the 2013 season, he issued fewer walks. The other big problem was his propensity to the home run. He allowed a total of 44 over the last two seasons, including 18 at home. Moving to a more hitter-friendly park could be risky.
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.