I've lamented several times about how slow the Cubs have been to add guys to the Marshall/Cotts pile. Now the Cubs add Mike Stanton and Bill White off the scrap heap. White popped up in my LOOGY post. Stanton, now 41, probably had his last good season in 2001.
Both lefties were signed to minor-league deals with invitations to the major league camp in Mesa. Given the severe lack of depth in this area, a couple of veteran relievers who don't cost the Cubs a roster spot or a lot of money make a lot of sense. And these two aren't awful picks, rather good picks, in that context.
Stanton's probably still around since he's (a) left-handed and (b) a veteran of six Fall Classics. That's no reason to let him pitch, though. Marcel pegs Stanton at a FIP of 4.23, which isn't too bad. Hard to say what a projection can tell you about a 41 year old who just took a year off (the Reds punted him early in 2008), and the low reliability score on that Marcel (.41) reflects that.
White is a two-time September call-up (he did sneak in a game in August once) who just turned 30. He's walked 18 in 13.1 innings. In four innings last year, he posted a gnarly 1:11 K:BB ratio. Looking at his projections on Fangraphs, he falls near a FIP of 5.00. However, White's Marcel is even less reliable (.10) than Stanton's.
Using their PITCHf/x data, we can look at their stuff, however.
White throws a fastball, slider and some type of change-up. I'm not certain if he's using a four- or two-seam fastball, but they appear to be of one variety.
His slider is a little unusual - it may actually back-up, based on the spin movement.
Looking at the flight path, I don't really see that has being something a hitter would perceive - it probably looks like it drops straight down.
In a true LOOGY role, White would throw mostly sliders. The change-up, used against righties, isn't very effective, as you'll see below.
White has a problem here - he can't find the zone, but when he does, it's fat. ISZ is pitches in the rule book zone - plate is 17 inches, and the top/bottom are based on each player's average across all PITCHf/x at bats. IWZ takes the plate to 24 inches, which is pretty close to how the game is actually played - in terms of calls and swings. FatIns are pitches on the middle eight inches plus the next four inches in. FIISZ and FIIWZ are just the FatIns per Strike.
White is below league avearage for throwing strikes, by about .070. His FIISZ is nearly .100 above the league average - meaning a higher proportion of his strikes are fat than "normal".
His B:CS rates are not good - especially with the fastball. The slider is actually not bad. White isn't able to get swings out of the zone very often, but seems to get a lot of takes in the zone - again with the fastball in particular.
Here you can see something else about a fastball gets a lot of takes for balls and strikes - .347 swing rate. Again the fastball looks below average, the change-up awful and the slider pretty good. Again, I smell a tendency to make mistakes, but now I'm reading tea leaves.
White walked 11 batters in 2008. He struck out one. We'll see what he can do come Spring, but he has decent enough stuff to merit a look.
If you clicked the thumbnail of Stanton above, you'll have been reminded of his alleged PED use. I guess that makes him younger than 41 - or 42, which is his seasonal age for 2009. Stanton pitched in the majors in 2007 (hence the PITCHf/x data) but was released by Cincinnati on April 8 after one inning of work in A ball.
Stanton is a bit unusual for a reliever - he'll use two breaking pitches, two fastballs and a change-up. That's enough kit to be a starter. Well, in quantity, if not quality.
Stanton's slider doesn't sink too much, may be a smidge towards the slutter/cutter end of the scale.
Stanton's two-seam fastball and change-up are added to the mix against lefties. Lefties see a lot of sliders, and he'll throw the curve just about the same to lefties and righties.
Obviously, Stanton isn't look for called strikes with the change. He's kind of nibbly, except with the slider.
The opposite of White, Stanton gets a lot of swings out of the zone, but not a lot of takes in it. The curveball is the exception, and seems to be universally watched. The two-seamer may be difficult to pick-up, since it is both chased and watched a lot, and that's unusual.
The fastballs, even the two-seamer, get hit HARD. When batters do choose to swing at the curve, they do well with it. Nibble, nibble, mistake. That's my read on Stanton.