The resurgent campaigns of Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir played a significant part in why the Indians won 92 games and made it to the American League Wild Card game, but the club will likely have some rotation holes to fill this winter. Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that “little progress” has been made in negotiations with either pitcher and believes that they will find better offers elsewhere.
Jimenez already declined his part of an $8 million mutual option with the Indians and is expected to turn down a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer before Monday’s deadline. The 29-year-old right-hander was a mess during most of his time in Cleveland, but he’s understandably looking to cash in after some mechanical changes resulted in a 1.82 ERA and 100/27 K/BB ratio in 84 innings after the All-Star break.
Kazmir was one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 season, returning from obscurity to post a 4.04 ERA and 162/47 K/BB ratio over 158 innings while showing his best fastball velocity since he was a member of the Rays. He doesn’t turn 30 until January and hopes to parlay his bounce-back season into a multi-year deal. Meanwhile, the Indians don’t want to go beyond one year.
There could also be some changes in Cleveland’s bullpen, as Hoynes speculates that relievers Joe Smith and Matt Albers are unlikely to return in 2014.
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.