July 2007

The “Big Bat” Myth

If you were inclined to believe the cranks on fan boards, the fearmongers hosting sports talk shows and certain newspaper columnists, the Angels season is over because Bill Stoneman failed to flush the farm system — along with young major league talent such as Casey Kotchman, Howie Kendrick and Joe Saunders — for the mythic “big bat”.

Lost in all the hysteria has been one basic fact check — just how often has a team loaded with “big bats” actually won a World Series?

The stats show that it really doesn’t seem to matter much.

In fact, you can find some World Champions who were amongst the worst offenses in their league.

The first example that comes to mind is the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1980s. The Redbirds went to the World Series in 1982, 1985 and 1987. They beat the Brewers in seven games in 1982, then lost to the Royals in seven games in 1985 and the Twins in seven games in 1987.

In 1982, the Brewers had the #1 slugging percentage of all 26 major league teams at .455. The Cardinals were #21 (#8 in the NL) at .364. The Brewers were #1 in homers with 216. The Cardinals were last among all 26 teams with only 67. Yet if you look at runs scored, the Brewers were #1 at 891 but the Cardinals were #14 (#5 in the NL) at 685. How did the Redbirds score runs? They were #2 among all teams in stolen bases with 200, and had the second fewest strikeouts in the NL with 805 (the Dodgers were #1 at 804).

In other words … the Cardinals played Contactball, the Angels’ style of play.

In 1985, the Royals were the #8 SLG (.401) out of all 26 teams (#8 in the AL) and #8 in HR (154) out of 26 teams (#8 in the AL).  The Cardinals had the #20 SLG (.379) in the majors (#6 in the NL) and were #25 in HR (87) in the majors (#11 in the NL).

In 1987, the Twins were #6 in SLG (.430) in the majors (#4 in the AL) and #7 in HR (196) in the majors (#5 in the AL).  The Cardinals were #24 in SLG (.378) in the majors (#10 in the NL) and were last in the majors in HR (94).

So in a six-year span, the Cardinals went to three World Series, won one and took the other two to Game Seven. Not bad for a team lacking "big bats."

Let’s take a look at the World Series participants in this decade and see how they ranked in their leagues each year.  The world champion is in bold.

YEAR AL TEAM SLG (Rank) HR (Rank) NL TEAM SLG (Rank) HR (Rank)
2006 Tigers .449 (#5) 203 (#3) Cardinals .431 (#8) 184 (#5)
2005 White Sox .425 (#7) 200 (#4) Astros .408 (#11) 161 (#9)
2004 Red Sox .472 (#1) 222 (#4) Cardinals .460 (#1) 214 (#3)
2003 Yankees .453 (#4) 230 (#3) Marlins .421 (#6) 157 (#11)
2002 Angels .433 (#6) 152 (#10) Giants .442 (#1) 198 (#2)
2001 Yankees .435 (#7) 203 (#4) Diamondbacks .442 (#4) 208 (#4)
2000 Yankees .450 (#6) 205 (#6) Mets .430 (#8) 198 (#6)

As of this writing, the Angels are #8 in the AL in SLG (.414) and #13 in HR (72).

Would the Angels be better off if their offense generated more runs?  Of course.  But they’re already #3 in the AL in runs scored (532), behind the Tigers (615) and the Yankees (612).  The Angels just swept the Tigers by a large margin, and the Yankees are desperately trying to stay in the post-season race.

More importantly, they have the #3 ERA in the AL, behind the Red Sox (3.73) and the A’s (3.82).

If the Angels have a healthy Garret Anderson and Casey Kotchman for the rest of the season, their offensive productivity should improve.  Eventually Vlad Guerrero will come out of his home run slump.  Hopefully Howie Kendrick will return soon, and Mike Napoli will add more power when he returns from the disabled list.  And who knows, maybe Juan Rivera will return in September to contribute some more pop.  Of course, a catastrophic injury to a key player will cripple the offense, but that’s true of every team in the majors so that’s not a real argument to flush the farm system.

The facts show that the "big bat" by no means guarantees a World Series appearance, much less a championship.  The post-season is a crapshoot, as evidenced by the mediocre (83-78) St. Louis Cardinals winning the 2006 World Series.

In my opinion, the real key is the back end of the Angels’ rotation.  They need a reliable #4 and #5 starter.  Maybe it boils down to whether Bartolo Colon can come back and do a reasonable impersonation of his 2005 Cy Young Award performance.

But all this "big bat" nonsense is just spin to create controversy where there is none.  Or at least there shouldn’t be.

UPDATE August 2, 2007 6:30 AM PDTLos Angeles Times sports columnist Bill Plaschke published a column today writing that the Dodgers were wise not to trade the future for the present. Plaschke wrote:

… Today’s titles cannot be bought by tossing down a wad of sweaty bills at last call.

Today’s titles are not won today, or last week, or this season.

Today’s titles are not won by instant roster changes, they are won by slow organizational upheavals, restocking and reworking and resisting every impulse to scream.

Chances are, if you are desperate enough to trade top prospects for one big name, you are not good enough to win with him.

UPDATE August 2, 2007 8:45 PM PDT — An article on MLB.com offers one theory for the Angels’ preference for Contactball over longball. Orlando Cabrera suggests the thick marine layer during night games contributes to cutting down long fly balls, thereby encouraging hitters to go for line drives.

Your Nearest Affiliate

var zcode = ” ”


It’s time for another poll.

Which Angels affiliate is closest to you?

The options are to the right.

The results of the last poll … Whose year has been the most pleasant surprise?

  • Chris Pettit 32%
  • Brok Butcher 25%
  • Greg Porter 15%
  • Nathan Haynes 13%
  • Mark Trumbo 10%
  • Tim Schoeninger 3%
  • Warner Madrigal 2%
  • Ben Johnson 1%

There were 375 votes cast.

This ‘N That

Ryan Budde is the likely callup after Mike Napoli was injured Friday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Really busy, so not much time to write.

After the Orem and Tempe trips, I’m waaaay backed up on processing photos. I’m working on the Orem photos and will then do Tempe. I still have photos from Arkansas, Salt Lake and Rancho Cucamonga to do. There’s also a nice little stack of video tapes here next to the computer waiting for me to compile highlight clips of various players.

Those of you who were around last year know that FutureAngels.com went into hibernation because I was about to lose my job and could no longer afford to lose the $2,000/year it costs to travel for the photo/video trips. My new job is stable and pays a bit more, so I can afford some losses, but unlike my old job I don’t have flexibility in hours so I don’t have as much free time as before.

For those of you new to FutureAngels.com, a reminder that I pay for all this out of my own pocket. The Angels don’t support the operation, and the deal I have with the minor league teams is that they can use my photos for free in exchange for granting access. The recent trips to Orem and Tempe easily cost $500 each, adding up travel, hotel and meal costs. Those trips are important, because for most of those players it’s their first season as a pro, and therefore the first time they’ll have photos and video taken of them in a professional’s uniform. With Tempe, there’s no media coverage at all except for the MinorLeagueBaseball.com box scores, so FutureAngels.com is the only place on Planet Earth where you’ll see photos and videos, and hear interviews, of the Tempe Angels.

FutureAngels.com doesn’t have ads, because I don’t want to assault you with pop-ups and other annoyances such as mandatory subscriptions to get to the site’s content. That means it’s up to you to help keep the site afloat through a voluntary subscription or donation. Click Here to learn how you can help. Just remember, what some sites charge you to see, you get on FutureAngels.com for free. But if you want the site to survive, you need to do your part.

Some brief observations around the system …

Mike Napoli strained a hamstring last night sliding into second base. The Los Angeles Times believes that Ryan Budde is the likely candidate to give Jeff Mathis backup. Budde, who turns 28 on August 15, was lost by the Angels to the Phillies last December in the Rule 5 draft. Rule 5 requires the drafting team to keep the player in the majors for the year, or offer him back to his old team. The rule makes an exception for injuries, so when Ryan got hurt in spring training the Phillies disabled him and then assigned him to Clearwater in the Class-A Florida State League for rehab, but eventually returned him to the Angels. Since then, he’s been back at Salt Lake. Ryan is one of the “good guys”, a real class act, and is a superb defensive catcher so he should fill in just fine.

Congrats to the Arkansas Travelers, who won their tenth straight game last night to put the team right in the middle of the pennant race. When I visited the team in mid-May, their record was poor but their spirits were high and they looked like they were just a bit away from turning it around. They’ve gone through the usual mid-season personnel turnover typical of minor league ball, but guys like Freddy Sandoval, Adam Morrissey, Brad Coon and Corey Myers have carried the offense. On the mound, Miguel Gonzalez has quietly become one of the best starters in the Texas League. After last night’s win, he now has a record as a starter of 6-2, 2.71 ERA, and an average against of .255. He’s not a strikeout pitcher — his strikeout-to-walk ratio is 42:24 in 83.0 IP as a starter — but he’s getting the job done.

Lots more I want to say, but I need to get back to processing photos … If you want to see and hear more, remember to make a donation to keep the site afloat.

And don’t forget to send your contribution to the Mike Coolbaugh Memorial Fund. Minor league baseball is one big family, so we need to do our part to help the Coolbaugh family.

Pleasant Surprise

var zcode = ” ”


It’s time for another poll.

Whose year has been the most pleasant surprise?

The options are to the right.

The results of the last poll … Who is your favorite Angels minor league mascot?

  • Tremor (Rancho Cucamonga) 46%
  • Hootz (Orem) 18%
  • Mr. Shucks (Orem) 16%
  • Bumble (Salt Lake) 15%
  • Shelly (Arkansas) 5%

There were 147 votes cast.

In Memory of Mike Coolbaugh

Tulsa Drillers hitting coach Mike Coolbaugh was killed last night by a line drive foul while coaching first base against the Arkansas Travelers at Dickey-Stephens Park.

The Drillers have created a memorial fund for Coolbaugh’s family. Click Here to learn how you can contribute.

Tonight’s Travs home game against Springfield has been postponed, as has Tulsa’s game against Wichita.

Angels Trade Jose Molina

Jose Molina poses for a photo at Salt Lake in April 2001.

As most of you know by now, the Angels yesterday traded catcher Jose Molina to the Yankees for Double-A reliever Jeff Kennard. You can read all about it on the MLB.com site.

Jose would have been a free agent at season’s end and turned 32 in June. It’s unlikely that a Jose Molina season in 2008 would be much different than a Jeff Mathis season. Jose would have asked for — and deserved — more money. He probably would have asked for a multi-year contract as did his brother Bengie. So Angels GM Bill Stoneman moved Jose while he could get something for him.

Already making the rounds on the fan sites is the news that Kennard was suspended for 15 games in 2005 for a first-time violation of Major League Baseball’s minor-league drug policy.

According to an article in the June 29, 2005 edition of the St. Petersburg Times, Kennard blamed an over-the-counter substance.

"I experienced one of my baseball highlights in the All-Star Game before 5,000 fans, then two days later I’m notified of the suspension," Kennard said. "Glutomine is an over-the-counter product I got at GNC (General Nutrition Center). It contained an andro (androstenedione) derivative, a banned substance, and that’s why I got busted.

"I’ve taken it since I’ve been in pro ball. It accelerates my recovery time. As a set-up man, I pitch a lot of innings, sometimes three days straight.

"I’m slightly embarrassed because they publicized my name. It’s out there and automatically people think it’s a steroid."

It’s water under the bridge as far as I’m concerned, because there are plenty other guys running around in the minor leagues — including the Angels’ organization — who have been dinged for one-time suspensions due to over-the-counter substances. But already on some Angels boards we’re seeing people who claim to be Angels fans using this as another excuse to bash Stoneman. These people really need to get a life.

More importantly, it means that the Angels have committed to Mike Napoli and Jeff Mathis for the balance of the season, for better or for worse. That’s a big decision in a pennant race. Napoli has 158 games in the majors, and Mathis 35. I’ve always been high on Jeff (he was the #3 prospect on last November’s annual FutureAngels.com Top 10 Prospects list despite ranking lower on other lists), but as his bat still failed to return this year at Triple-A Salt Lake I began to wonder if at age 24 we were never going to see Jeff’s offense catch up to his defense. As I’ve pointed out many times, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek didn’t even play regularly for Boston until he was 26 — Varitek was 23 when he was drafted — so Jeff still has time but that time was running out.

It may be that Napoli and Mathis evolve into the modern equivalent of the Dodgers’ catching combo of Joe Ferguson and Steve Yeager in the 1970s — one better with the bat, one better with the glove. It certainly worked well enough for the Dodgers, who were perennial contenders in that era and appeared in several World Series.

Behind them are Ryan Budde and Bobby Wilson. Wilson is on the 40-man roster. Budde is not. But Ryan was plucked away by the Phillies last December in the Rule 5 Draft, and they would have had to keep him on the parent club roster all year if they wanted to retain him. Ryan suffered an injury in spring training and was eventually returned to the Angels. Wilson began 2007 in Double-A and moved up to Triple-A Salt Lake in early July. Budde should be the next callup if something happened to Napoli or Mathis, but that would require a 40-man roster move.

As for Kennard, he’ll report to Double-A Arkansas. The Travs have been hot as of late and are positioning themselves for a possible wild-card slot in the post-season, so Kennard should help their bullpen. In 31 relief appearances (52.2 IP), Jeff had a 2.73 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 47:17 SO:BB ratio. He’s allowed only 3 HR which is a good sign, although he turns 26 on July 26. The age factor doesn’t seem to matter as much when it comes to setup relievers.

Meanwhile, the fan boards are still aflame with demands for the “big bat,” never mind that there are 29 other GMs out there who have yet to find a “big bat” on the market either. That fact seems to have escaped the people demanding yet again for Bill Stoneman to be fired because the Magic Wand has not yet been invented.

With the Tempe Angels – Day Three

Clay Fuller steals second base in the bottom of the third of Sunday’s game.

First off, apologies to Clay Fuller.

Clay had a homer, single and stolen base today to help the Tempe Angels to a 3-2 win over the Peoria Padres.

I should have been filming video when Clay homered in the bottom of the fifth, but I was on the sidelines yakking with a couple pitchers. So you’ll have to take the word of the official scorer that Clay homered. It was a prodigious blow to left field.

Anthony Norman also had a standout game, with three hits in four at-bats and two stolen bases.

Starter Manuel Flores gave up two unearned runs in the first inning but settled down to pitch into the 7th. He was relieved by Leo Calderon, and then in the ninth Eddie McKiernan struck out the side to get his second save of the young season.

Fuller and McKiernan were two of the players I discussed yesterday with Tempe manager Ty Boykin. Click Here to listen to the Boykin interview.

Mike Anton, another pitcher I discussed with Boykin, has an intriguing backstory — which was what I was talking about when Clay Fuller hit his dinger. But rather than telling that story second-hand, I’m going to try to record an interview with Mike over the phone when I return home tomorrow.

Padres center fielder Yefri Carvajal makes a spectacular catch in the third inning.

He’s not one of ours, but a nod to Padres center fielder Yefri Carvajal who made a spectacular catch in the third to preserve the Padres’ lead. The 18-year old hit third for Peoria, and in 100 AB has an AVG/OBP/SLG of .340/.404/.500. That’s all I know about him, but he looked like he might be a legit prospect for San Diego.

Speaking of prospects, Matt Bush was nowhere to be seen. The Padres recently converted their 2004 first-round draft pick shortstop to the mound, but he was shut down July 5 with a sore shoulder.

Before the game, I recorded a lengthy interview with the Angels’ roving catching instructor Tom Gregorio. Click Here to listen to the interview. Tom began with the Angels as a 27th round pick in the June 1999 draft, and started his career with Tom Kotchman’s Boise Hawks. He played in 12 games for the Angels in September 2003 after Bengie and Jose Molina were both injured. Gregorio ended his career last year in the Rangers system, then retired to take the roving catching job with the Angels. Tom offers a lot of insights into the Angels’ development of catchers, and discusses what he experienced with the A’s, Mariners and Rangers after he moved on from the Angels system. Of course, we also talk about all the catcher prospects in the organization.

The first topic we talked about was yesterday’s trade of Jose Molina to the Yankees for minor league pitcher Jeff Kennard. More about that in another blog.

Eddie McKiernan struck out the side in the 9th to earn the save. Tempe manager Ty Boykin compares him to Scot Shields.

Some family members were in attendance for today’s game. Hank Conger’s parents made the drive yesterday from Huntington Beach. Ryan Mount had family here, and Chris Garcia’s parents have been here since Friday.

One player approached me to ask if I’d shoot some posed photos he could e-mail to his mom, and I gladly obliged. After all, that’s one big reason why FutureAngels.com exists, to preserve memories. Seeing Tom Gregorio and Brandon Emanuel here as coaches really brought back memories for me of when I met them for the first time. Seeing them evolve from players to coaches says something about how the Angels operate as a family.

As for video, I don’t think I’ll get the opportunity to edit anything tonight as we’re leaving VERY early in the morning to drive home. (The idea is to watch the sun rise from the middle of the remote desert.) I do want to get on-line for you video of Mike Anton and Eddie McKiernan, so I’ll try to make those a priority.

With the Tempe Angels – Day Two

Mike Anton struck out nine in six innings Saturday against the Phoenix A’s.

The Cedar Rapids Kernels of Tempe took the field today but couldn’t muster the offense to defeat the Phoenix A’s, who triumphed 3-0.

Kernels fans will be delighted to know that Peter Bourjos, Hank Conger and Ryan Mount were all in the lineup today as part of their rehab assignments, suggesting you’ll see them back in Cedar Rapids within a couple days. None of them hit safely though. Bourjos and Conger were 0-for-4, and Mount was 0-for-3. Conger struck out three times — but keep in mind this was his first game in a couple months.

I shot video but won’t have the time to post highlight clips tonight. Besides, there really wasn’t much to highlight on the Angels side. Tempe managed only three singles.

The one positive was LHP Mike Anton, who started for the Angels. He struck out nine in six innings, allowing one run on two hits and two walks. At age 22, he’s old for this league, and according to manager Ty Boykin he hasn’t pitched in a couple years. Drafted in the 12th round by the Angels, I was pleasantly surprised to see his stuff. His fastball — which according to Boykin is high 80s/low 90s — has a wrinkle in it and he seems comfortable pitching high in the zone with it. Anton also has an effective curve, although from my uninformed perspective it looked like he’d drop his arm at times when throwing it.

The changeup, though, was the plus pitch Boykin mentioned in our interview (see below). Ty said it’s actually a screwball he throws to right-handed batters.

Former Angels shortstop **** Schofield is the Tempe hitting coach.

I shot video of Anton striking out the side in the second inning. I’ll post it when I can.

After the game, I recorded interviews with Boykin, hitting coach **** Schofield and first-round draft pick Jon Bachanov. The interviews are on the FutureAngels.com web site home page.

Boykin talks about a typical day here at Tempe Diablo. With games starting at 10:30 AM, early work can begin before 6:00 AM! He talks about Anton as well as a few other players I named.

If you’ve been following my site in recent months, you know I’ve been recording interviews with former Angels minor league players about their time in the system. Before today’s game, I interviewed **** Schofield, best known to Angels fans as the slick-fielding shortstop of the 1980s. We talked about his minor league years, 1981-1983, when conditions were far more primitive than they are now. Among the interesting tidbits is that his first manager when he reported to Idaho Falls in June 1981 was … Joe Maddon, currently the Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager.

Bachanov signed a little over a week ago. He said it’ll be about a month before he’s in game condition. If you listen to the interview, it sounds like Tom Kotchman really sold him on the Angels before the draft. A Tampa Bay scout told him they’d select him in the 2nd round; Jon then told Kotch, who I’m sure passed that along to Eddie Bane. So the Angels got him and Tampa Bay didn’t.

Anyway, time to crawl into bed. These 100+ degree games take a lot of you when you’re 50 years old. And we do it again tomorrow.

With the Tempe Angels – Day One

Robin Molina got the start Friday for the Tempe Angels.

"How hot was it?!"

Audience question frequently posed to Johnny Carson during his monologue

It wasn’t as hot as expected, thanks to an overcast that kept the temperature in the high 80s for the first few innings. But the clouds vaporized by mid-game, so at game’s end it was in the mid-90s.

The game in Peoria between the Mariners and the Tempe Angels was a battle between the top two teams in the Arizona League, with the Angels one-half game behind the Mariners, and the contest was as tight as anticipated. I shot video in the latter innings. Click Here to watch the video clip; you need Windows Media Player and a broadband Internet connection (cable modem, DSL).

Robin Molina, who turned 20 on June 29, made his sixth start of the summer season and allowed two runs on four hits in six innings, striking out only one while walking four. Robin retired 12 ground outs while allowing only three fly outs. The first clip in the video shows the three outs recorded by Robin (no, he’s not related to the catching Molina family) in the first inning. It was shot from a platform behind home plate where pitchers from both teams go to chart and film video of their pitchers, so you hear their chatter on the tape. (I was down the left field line shooting still photos at the time. Yes, it’s a pain to run all this by myself.)

Peoria scratched out single runs in the bottom of the 4th and 6th to take a 2-0 lead, but the Angels have a number of come-from-behind wins this summer so it was no surprise when they put a run on the board in the top of the 7th and tied it in the top of the 9th. You’ll see those clips too. What you don’t see is a bonehead play typical of rookie league. The Angels had LF Anthony Norman on 2nd and DH Justin Bass on 1st with two out in the top of the 9th. Mariners catcher Juan Fuentes made a pickoff throw down to first trying to pick off Bass — so Norman took third. It didn’t matter, because Peoria got the final out anyway.

The Mariners scored in the bottom of the 9th to win, 3-2, taking all the fun out of the rally.

Trevor Reckling made his professional debut in the 8th inning Friday.

Eighteen-year old LHP Trevor Reckling from New Jersey made his professional debut, striking out two in the bottom of the 8th without allowing a runner.

A little about the Peoria Sports Complex. It’s a facility jointly operated by the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres. Today’s game was played on "Mariners 1" (presumably there’s a "Padres 1") behind the major league spring training stadium. The field has no lights and no scoreboard. I was here a few years ago for a Mesa Angels road night game; that contest was on "Mariners 2" which has lights (but no scoreboard). The dimensions are 340′ down the lines, 385′ to the alleys and 410′ to center. Most fields in the Arizona League have deep dimensions because the ball carries so well in the heat and dry air.

As is normal for these summer league contests, a few parents and girl friends attended on both sides. For most of them, it’s their first exposure to professional baseball as a parent instead of a fan, so it’s eye-opening for them as well as their sons.

Several familiar faces (for me, anyway) are with Tempe.

Manager Ty Boykin came up in the Angels system as an outfielder in the early 1990s; he was a Palm Springs Angel. When he retired, he was assigned in 1997 to be the hitting coach for the Lake Elsinore Storm. He’s managed in the system at Cedar Rapids, Arkansas and Rancho Cucamonga, which gives him a connection to the Angels’ last three California League affiliates.

You may recall last May when I was in Cedar Rapids that the Kernels’ pitching coach Pedro Borbon Jr. resigned the last day I was there. He was replaced by Dan Ricabal, who was slated to be the Tempe pitching coach and was in extended spring training when he was promoted.

To replace Ricabal, the Angels hired recently retired Brandon Emanuel, who was originally drafted by the Angels in the second round of the June 1998 draft. He began his career, as most Angels do, playing for Tom Kotchman back when the Angels were still in Boise. His last year in the Angels system was 2004, splitting time between Arkansas and Salt Lake. After brief stints with the Padres and Cubs, Emanuel turned 31 last April and was at home when the Angels gave him the call in mid-May to offer him the Tempe coaching job.

Also in town is Tom Gregorio, the roving catching instructor. Tom was drafted by the Angels in 1999 and made it to the parent club for twelve games in 2003 when both Molinas were injured. Sent to the A’s in a minor league trade in 2005, he spent time with the Mariners and Rangers organizations before calling it quits to succeed Todd Takayoshi (now the roving hitting instructor) as the catching rover.

It’s a little weird to see these kids you knew as players now in a coaching role, but it’s pretty neat that the Angels choose to groom their own. One advantage is that they already know the organization’s player development philosophy, so there’s no need to familiarize them with "the Angels way."

Tempe’s hitting coach is **** Schofield, who was the Angels’ ace shortstop from 1984 through 1991. He was the Angels’ first-round pick in the June 1981 draft, selected #3 overall. This is a different kind of weird — someone you remember watching at Anaheim Stadium many times over the years is now just another one of the guys teaching the young charges here where it all begins. Media rumors suggest that Tim Salmon, who lives here in Phoenix, may eventually assume a role with Tempe but we’ll see.

I’ll try to record interviews before I go, although at these lowest levels everything runs on a tight clock to help instill discipline in these young players so that has to be respected. Tomorrow we’re at home against the Phoenix A’s, and then on Sunday against the Peoria Padres.

My wife flies in tomorrow afternoon after the game so my spare time to blog will be limited except for when she’s off looting the local Dillard’s department stores. We don’t have them in SoCal so when I come to Phoenix for baseball she goes pirating.

Jon Bachanov’s Agent

A story on the web site SportsNetwork.com reported that recently signed #1 pick Jon Bachanov was represented by Scott Boras in his negotiations. That led one blogger to criticize Bachanov, claiming that Jon fell in the draft because Boras was his agent and he wound up receiving less money as a result.

The problem with that is it’s not true.

Two sources have already confirmed for me that Bachanov’s agent is the Beverly Hills Sports Council, not Boras.

Here’s a news story in the June 7 issue of the San Diego County paper North County Times which confirms Bachanov was represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council:

Bachanov, who’s represented by the Beverly Hills Sports Council, said he’d step into any role the Angels had for him.

I’ve no idea what are the credentials for the person who wrote the original article on SportsNetwork.com, but this is the danger inherent in the proliferation of news outlets on the Internet — which is a main source of information for bloggers. A lot of the folk writing out there simply aren’t trained professional journalists. They’re not held to as high a standard as the reporters at mainstream papers such as the Los Angeles Times and Riverside Press-Enterprise. Baseball America built its reputation on being the trade paper of the baseball industry, so they have to put an extra effort into getting it right by establishing working relationships with the people in the business.

I make no pretense that I’m a professional journalist — I see myself more as an amateur historian — but I do try to get it right.

And that’s what’s wrong with so many of these fan sites. They’re held to no standard, so they try to attract attention with sensationalist articles that have a loose relationship with reality.

Sure, once in a while the mainstream media gets it wrong. They’re human. And occasionally the bloggers scoop the media. But as the saying goes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while.

Jon is on my wish list for interviews this weekend in Tempe, although I’ve no idea whether he’s available or he’ll even be there. In any case, that’s one big reason why I’ve recorded so many interviews and video over the years, which are available in the FutureAngels.com Audio and Video Galleries. You get to hear it directly from the source, you get to watch with your own two eyes, and so you can make an informed decision on your own without being told by some blogger or unqualified journalist what to think.

My guess is that the SportsNetwork.com writer confused Bachanov with third-round pick Matt Harvey, who really is represented by Scott Boras. I don’t think Bachanov was ever considered to be the cream of the crop in the draft; Baseball America didn’t have him in their mock first-round draft, and their review of him cited both pluses and minuses. So supplemental first-round seems about right to me. And that’s still pretty darn good. I’ll take $550,000, wouldn’t you?

At the same time, I think some of the blame for disinformation lies with the Media Relations departments for the major league organizations and MLB itself. Some are more open to the bloggers than others, and the reality is that we live in a world where more and more people — scratch that, CUSTOMERS — get their news from the Internet, for better or worse.

The Media Relations folk are used to working with the mainstream media, and I think they fear the independence of bloggers and other non-mainstream sites because those people have nothing to lose. So rather than work with them, Media Relations ignores them.

And yet the mainstream media regularly peruse these fan sites looking for any little chestnut they might have overlooked. I know of several journalists who regularly read FutureAngels.com, and occasionally there will be a little dustup because an innocent remark on my site gets interpreted as a “leak” by the Angels. I try to avoid that, because I’m not in the “scoop” business, but it does happen because the Internet is an oracle to the world — and it’s not going away.

Anyway, this is just my own personal rant reminding everyone to question what you read on-line, including here, unless the source has a pretty good track record for getting it right.