Thursday, February 28, 2008

Brian Bannister in 2008

My original idea for this entry was to write a column explaining why Brian Bannister's 2007 season was a fluke and that he would regress in 2008. I was going to start with his below league average BABIP and then discuss how his low strikeout rate was an indication that he is not a sub 4.00 ERA pitcher. I was going to conclude that his 12 wins and 3.83 ERA in 2007 was the product of good luck and the Royals should not count on a repeat in 2008. As I was doing the research for the entry I came across an interview with Brian Bannister on where he addresses his BABIP and how he uses it and other sabermetric statistics to evaluate his pitching.

I don't know of another pitcher that has his stat line broken down in as much detail as Bannister. One of the more interesting of Bannister’s breakdowns was his comparison between his fastball and curveball.

Here is a comparison of the batting averages and slugging percentage on my fastball vs. my curveball: Fastball: .246/.404 Curveball: .184/.265

I wonder how many MLB pitchers use this type of information when preparing their pitching game plan.

Bannister’s closing comment was the one that made me forgo my original entry:

My explanation for why I have beat the average so far is that in my career I have been able to get a Major League hitter to put the ball in play in a 1-2 or 0-2 count 155 times, and in a 2-0 or 2-1 count 78 times. That's twice as often in my favor, & I'll take those odds.

I still have concerns about Bannister’s collapse in September and his low strikeout rate but I am not going to rush to judgment because of his low BABIP in 2007. As a Royals fan I was not rooting against Bannister. After reading what Bannister had to say, I am hopeful he might indeed be a solid pitcher for the Royals in 2008 and beyond.

All Royals fans and sabermetric types will enjoy reading the Bannister interview at I high recommend to every baseball fan.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

2B for the Rockies

Today’s topic is Colorado Rockies, my favorite National League team. Some will roll their eyes and accuse me of jumping on the band wagon because of the Rockies’ amazing run to the World Series in 2007. Believe me, I am not a band wagon Rockies fan. Because of MLB’s convoluted territorial restrictions, the Colorado Rockies have been on television here in Utah for years. In the days before the MLB Extra Innings package, the Rockies were the only team I could follow day to day during the season. The primary broadcast team of Drew Goodman and George Frazier an excellent broadcasting team and the Rockies are fun to watch. Even though I can now watch most MLB games on DirecTV, I still watch the Rockies as much as I do the Angels and Royals.

Heading into spring training, there is only one open position in the Rockies lineup. Colorado must find a second baseman to replace Kaz Matsui who signed with the Astros this off season. During the off season there was discussion of moving third base prospect Ian Stewart to second but it now appears Jayson Nix, Brian Giles, Clint Barmes and Jeff Baker will battle for the position.

Rookie Jayson Nix is the front runner for the job and is the best choice for the job. I have seen Nix play several times when Colorado Springs visited Salt Lake City and he is a solid defender. He does a good job of turning the double play and has excellent range. His 2007 range factor of 5.96 for Colorado Springs was impressive considering that no other PCL second baseman had a range factor greater than 5.00. Nix’s fielding statistics confirm what I have observed; Jayson Nix is a solid defensive second baseman. Nix is an inconsistent hitter without much upside, but his glove will more than make up for his lack of offensive production.

It is reported in this morning Rocky Mountain News that Jeff Baker has emerged as Nix’s top competitor. It would be a huge mistake for the Rockies to play Baker at second base. Baker projects to be a better hitter than Nix, but in his entire professional career he has not played a single inning at second base. Second base is not a position where the Rockies should sacrifice defense for hitting. A lineup that features Garrett Atkins, Matt Holiday, Todd Helton, Troy Tulowitzki, Braw Hawp, and Willy Taveras is going to score a lot of runs. Because of the strength of their lineup, the Rockies can afford to carry a below average hitter at second base in exchange for quality defense. This makes Jayson Nix the best choice to man second base for the Rockies in 2008.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Rotisserie Baseball Software

Spring training is under way and for many baseball fans it is the time to begin preparing for the rotisserie/fantasy season. Playing rotisserie baseball has turned into a year around hobby for me and it has enhanced my enjoyment of following the baseball season. Each March, I make the trek to Las Vegas to play in the LV Experts AL and NL leagues. I also play in the Armchair Commissioners League which is a very competitive NL only league. These leagues are for moderate stakes league and they are made up of experienced, top of the line roto players. Since 2005 I have been fortunate to finish in a money position once in the NL and twice in the AL Las Vegas league. I credit part of the success I have enjoyed to Diamond Draft software.

I will begin by stating I have no financial or personal interest in Diamond Draft software. I do not know any of the individuals responsible for this product and I have already paid full price for the 2008 version of the software. I am writing this entry because I am impressed with the product and have found valuable. Before discovering Diamond Draft, I would take a brief case full of spreadsheets and magazines to the auctions. Many times I felt I missed out on a player I could have bought for a bargain price because I was busy checking my notes or trying to find the player’s entry in a magazine. Diamond Draft has eliminated these problems because every piece of information a roto owner needs to have a successful draft is only a mouse click away.

The best introduction to Diamond Draft would be to visit the website at It is free to download the software demo and the cost to purchase the full version is only $13.95. Compared to the cost of some of the other software currently on the market, Diamond Draft is reasonably priced.

Some of the advantages of Diamond Draft:
  • Ease of setup. The individual screens are easy to understand and the icons make it easy to navigate from screen to screen.
  • Diamond Draft can be customized to fit any league. Player pool, scoring categories, and the number of teams in the league are just a few of the areas that can be modified to fit the parameters of an individual league.
  • Frequent updates of player projections and depth charts. I find this to be extremely valuable in preparing for the auctions. The magazines for sale on the newsstands are usually $7.00 and contain a great deal of out of date information. Click the mouse and Diamond Draft updates depth charts, projections, and dollar values.
  • Because Diamond Draft is user friendly, it is easy to use during an intense auction. The software allows the owner to keep track of the available players and the amount of money each owner has left to spend. A key feature is the automatic adjustment of player’s values before and during the auction to account for inflation. This is a valuable feature for owners in a keeper league.
  • A data base that includes hundreds of minor league players plus printable reports that can be customized to fit an owner’s particular needs.
Since I began using the software, Diamond Draft has helped me be more efficient and productive at my roto auctions and I recommend it to all. Good luck to all roto players this year.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nick Adenhart

Spring training is now in full swing and the realization the baseball season has finally arrived brightens the cold, snowy, dreary Utah winter. This will be the first entry of the season about my favorite team, the Salt Lake Bees. I am a passionate fan of Major League baseball and I root for both the Angels and the Royals. But the team I am most interested in is the Salt Lake Bees. I attend 60+ Bees home games each season and I listen to the radio broadcasts of the road games. The Bees open the season on April 3 in Las Vegas and the home opener is Friday, April 11 against the Portland Beavers.

According to a report on, top pitching prospect Nick Adenhart will begin the season here in Salt Lake. Adenhart is regarded as a top prospect and a key part of the Angels future plans. Over the past winter, Adenhart's name was mentioned in several trade rumors. According to Angels owner Arte Moreno, Adenhart was part of an offer the Angels made for Marlins slugger Miguel Cabrera. I was in favor of including Adenhart in the package to obtain Cabrera but the Marlins chose an offer from the Tigers and Adenhart remains part of the Angels organization.

When discussing Adehnart, it is important to keep in mind that he will only be 21 on opening day this year and will not turn 22 until August. Young pitchers working their way from the low minor leagues to the majors will struggle from time to time. The good news is the Angels organization has demonstrated the ability to develop young arms into quality Major League pitchers.

In three minor league seasons, Adenhart has pitched 361 innings with an ERA of 3.12. He has struck out almost 8 hitters per nine innings pitched while walking a little more than 3 batters per nine innings. His career K/BB ratio of 2.44 is solid and Adenhart hasn't given up a lot of homeruns.

Adenhart's 2007 numbers were solid but not overly impressive. He pitched 153 innings for the AA Arkansas Travelers posting a 3.65 ERA. He strikeout rate declined while at the same time he walked more hitters. His 2007 K/BB of 1.78 is not good at all. When it comes to pitchers, I put more weight on the opinion of scouts than statistics. Pitching in the minor leagues is refining process and changes that are made in a young pitcher's approach to hitters or mechanics and cause a decline in his stats. Hopefully, Adenhart's declining numbers in his 2007 AA season were a bump in the road and he will put it all together in 2008.

This blog entry is also posted at is the BEST website for Los Angeles Angels news, opinion, and discussion. I encourage all readers of this blog to check it out.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Angels Shortstop - "none of the above"

Questions began about the Angels 2008 shortstop situation seconds after it was announced that Gold Glove shortstop Orlando Cabrera had been traded to the White Sox. Whether the Cabrera for Garland trade was good for the Angels has been discussed over and over and there is no need to rehash it again. The trade has been made and the Angels now must decide who will man the position in 2008. I don't see Brandon Wood as being a viable candidate for the position out of spring training so the players contending for the position are utility player Maicer Izturis and prospect Eric Aybar. When I began writing this entry I intended to make the case for each player and then give my view of who the starting shortstop should be. After two failed attempts I realized I could not write this entry in that fashion because my preferred choice would be “none of the above”. The shortstop position is a huge hole in the Angels defensive lineup and could keep the Halos from being true World Series contenders.

Maicer Izturis - Izturis has been a valuable player during his time with the Angels but he is a utility player and not a full time shortstop. Of the 306 Major League games he has played, 65 have been at shortstop. He only played 3 games at shortstop in 2007. His .955 career fielding percentage as a shortstop would have been good for 12th place among American League shortstops in 2007. Izturis is a good hitter and solid baserunner, but those skills don't help much in playing one of the most important positions on the field. On a team that is built around pitching, having a weak link at shortstop is going to be a serious deficiency that will be difficult to overcome.

Eric Aybar - Aybar has the reputation of being a good defensive shortstop. That may be true, but he didn't demonstrate it while he played in Salt Lake City. He does not have soft hands or the range of a Major League shortstop. He is average in turning the double play and he doesn't make the routine plays as often as he should. His fielding percentage during the 2006 AAA season was .946. As I said in my entry on catchers, I know defensive statistics are an imperfect measure, but the .946 FP is an indication he struggles defensively. As with Izturis, having Aybar as the everyday shortstop will seriously weaken the Angels defense.

The 2008 Angels should be a team with a realistic chance of making the World Series but it is going to be difficult if shortstop is manned by either Izturis or Aybar. There is one thing the last several World Series champions have in common, a solid shortstop. Julio Lugo, David Eckstein (twice), Juan Uribe, Orlando Cabrera, and Alex Gonzalez were all above average, dependable shortstops. The same cannot be said about Aybar or Izturis. I have no idea whether Izturis or Aybar will emerge as the starting shortstop but, which ever player it is, he will have to play beyond what he has demonstrated in the past for the Angels to be the solid team that can win the World Series in October.