Myworld will be traveling to Panama tonight after our last day of work. It is unknown whether we will be able to complete any more roster updates. There is an 8 hour layover in Houston, so perhaps during that time I can fit a few in, if the airport has internet access. Once we arrive in Panama it will be to check into the hotel and then travel to the opening day festivities at Rod Carew stadium. There is also a game that night between Panama and Greece at Rod Carew stadium. So the next posting may not be until late October 1, which will be the results of the Panama/Greece outing, thoughts on Panama and the opening day festivities. The last time myworld was in Panama it was a week after the Noriega departure and there were still bullet holes in my hotel room. I’ve been told that a lot has changed since then.
Archive for September, 2011
Outlook - The United States has taken over from Cuba the dominance in the World Cup, winning the last two events. They do that with mainly minor leaguers, while the major leaguers who play in the World Baseball Classic have yet to get to a final four. The United States also has the third best record in World Cup competetion, just behind Japan. Something tells me that they will surpass Japan to move into second place in won/loss record, but fall short to Cuba for the championship. The United States has never won more than three World Cup’s in a row. The last time they won two World Cups was in 1973 and 1974, but Cuba didn’t particpate in those.
World Cup Record - 167-75
Top Three Finishes - 15, though the first world cup there were only two teams and the United States finished second place to Great Britain. The Great Britain team was filled with veteran ball players who learned their skills in Canada, while the United States team was filled with bright eyed 18 year olds. They had no idea this 1938 series would be called the “World Cup” until it was over and Great Britain had beaten the United States at what was touted as their own game. The United States team was under the impression that the first world cup event was just an exhibition series to promote baseball.
Best Player - There have been many great ball players to play in the major leagues, but the legend is still Babe Ruth, even though the Japanese thought he struck out too much when he played a couple exhibition series there.
Roster: The numbers below are their minor league numbers
Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud (Blue Jays, .311, 21, 78), Tuffy Gosewisch (Phillies, .247, 13, 66)
First Base: Matt Clark (Padres, .292, 23, 83),
Middle Infield: Andrew Garcia (White Sox, .218, 10, 63), Tommy Mendonca (Rangers, .278, 25, 87), Jody Mercer (Pirates, .255, 19, 69)
Third Base: Joe Thurston (Marlins, .300, 13, 59 ), Chad Tracy (Rangers, .259, 26, 109)
Outfield: Brett Carroll (Red Sox, .270, 16, 63), Jordan Danks (White Sox, .257, 14, 65), Brett Jackson (Cubs, .274, 10, 58), A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks, .307, 8, 73)
Left handed Pitching: Jeff Beliveau (Cubs, 6-2, 1.57), Drew Smyly (Tigers, 11-6, 2.07), Andy Van Hekken (Astros, 9-6, 3.40), Randy Williams (Red Sox, 1-1, 1.41), Royce Ring (Red Sox, 3-3, 5.30)
Right Handed Pitcher: Pete Andrelczyk (Marlins, 9-3, 2.26), Justin Cassel (White Sox, 0-1, 1.99), Chuckie Fick (Cardinals, 5-3, 2.30), Jeff Marquez (Yankees, 6-5, 3.71), Scott Patterson (Mariners, 4-4, 3.54), Todd Redmond (Braves, 10-8, 2.92), Matt Shoemaker (Angels, 12-7, 3.15)
Players to Watch - Travis d’Arnaud is an All Star catcher and won the MVP of the AA Eastern League. He is a catcher that can play defense and hit. Chad Tracy is a late addition to the roster, but his 109 RBIs will be useful in a lineup that lacks big run producers. Brett Jackson will be the leadoff hitter that will ignite the offense. Expect him to be the starting centerfielder for the Cubs next year. One thing the United States team can’t say is that they lack lefthanded pitching. They have five lefthanders on their roster. There are no real prospects on this roster. Just a number of grizzled veterans who have waged war in the minor leagues. Sometimes that is better than high priced veterans with no motivation when doing battle against the Cubans.
Strange Fact - Andy Van Hekken has a name that makes you think he plays for Netherlands. When he tells you he was born in Holland it makes you do a double take. But he was born in Holland, Michigan. In his first ever major league game against the Cleveland Indians in September 2002 he threw a complete game shutout. It is his only major league victory of his career (1-3, 3.00). The World Cup could get him exposure to Korean, Japanese and Taiwan teams looking for help in their rotations. He is currently 32, a little too ripe to make it back to the major leagues.
A number of Red Sox and Braves fans are in shock after last nights developments. Perhaps the steady dip in the standings over the month of September prepared them for the downfall. Now they have to watch other teams participate in the playoffs and then thaw out over the winter months before hope springs eternal for 2012.
The biggest surprise was the collapse of the Red Sox. After starting the season 0-6, there was some discussion how few teams made the playoffs with that poor a start. The Red Sox turned their season around and even were in first place by a few games over the New York Yankees. Adrian Gonzalez was having an MVP season and the pitching staff was still not a car wreck waiting to happen.
September rolled around and the Red Sox could have been mistaken for a AAA team. Actually, many of their players had to be called up from AAA to take the place of some of their injured regulars. A 7-20 record ensued and a playoff chance eliminated. It doesn’t help that they went 5-18 against the American League East in September, including 2-5 against the last place Orioles.
Many Red Sox fans will blame the Yankees for their playoff absence. Playing a roster of minor leaguers the Yankees jumped ahead of the Rays 7-0 only to lose it in extra innings 8-7. Of course, five of the seven runs the Rays scored were scored on veteran relievers on the 25 man roster, Boone Logan and Luis Ayala. You can’t blame the Yankees for wanting to rest the 41 year old Mariano Rivera for the playoffs. Allowing the Red Sox to back door their way into the playoffs is not the Yankee’s responsibility. They had a chance to win it on their own with a 3-2 lead going into the top of the ninth against the lowly Orioles with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound to protect the save. The pretty reliable 2011 closer turned into the inconsistent 2010 version and blew the save and the Red Sox playoff hope.
And how about those Rays? They also started out 0-6 and things didn’t look too promising for them. They were relying on first baseman Dan Johnson to take the place of departing Carlos Pena and he struggled up to the middle of May with a .115 average. Casey Kotchman took over the first base responsibility and Johnson was banished to the minors where there was some doubt whether he would return. Who needs a slugging firstbaseman that could not slug.
Unlike the Red Sox 0-6 start, the Rays lurched quite a bit out of the playoffs, taking their place as the third best team in their division. Dan Johnson was called to the majors on September 14. They were still a long shot to make the playoffs.
Dan Johnson is the epitomy of the success/failure continuum. Many were wondering why the Rays kept Dan Johnson on the roster after he hits just .198 in 2010 and .192 in 2008 for the Oakland Athletics. In 2009 he tried to play for the Yokahama Bay Stars, but after hitting only .215 they let him go. Dan Johnson shows you that even the most insignificant player or person can make a pretty significant impact in life if given an opportunity. On September 28th with two outs in the ninth and the Rays down 7-6, Dan Johnson and his .115 average was called upon to pinch hit. Do you think many fans had any hope that he would save the Rays season?
The Braves continued to march out ex-Red Sock Derek Lowe to the mound and watched his ERA rise from 0.00 after a shutout in March to a very respectable 3.21 at the end of April to a miserable 5.05 ERA after his last start in September. The Braves lost all five September games that he started.
A 9-17 September didn’t help either, including losing their last five September games. A little three game sweep by the Cardinals in the middle of September certainly added salt to the wound that was beginning to fester.
The St. Louis Cardinals did not have a lot of hope about a playoff appearance coming into September. The Brewers had raced ahead of them in the Central and the Braves were not yet in sight. An 18-8 September allowed them to gain 9 games. About the only player that was hoping for a one game play in was Albert Pujols. He finished the season hitting .299 with 37 homeruns and 99 RBIs. He needed that one game to drive in one run to tie Al Simmons to become the only major leaguer to drive in 100 runs in his first 11 seasons. Only Jimmy Foxx and Alex Rodriguez have had more than 10 consecutive seasons with thirty homeruns and more than 100 RBIs.
Now that the Cardinals have made the playoffs, the bargaining positon of Tony LaRussa becomes more interesting. There are a lot of rumors that he is not happy in St. Louis. The last team he managed prior to the Cardinals were the Chicago White Sox. The management group has expressed regret over the firing of LaRussa. With the departure of Ozzie Guillen to the Marlins they now have a managerial opening. Something tells me that they will wait until the end of the season before they begin negotiating for their new manager.
Baseball. That is why you have to love it.
Outlook - The Netherlands has developed into one of the better teams of Europe. They shocked the Dominican Republic twice in the World Baseball Classic and showed that they could be one of the better teams in the world. They have yet to have a top three finish in the World Baseball Cup, but they are myworld’s favorites to do that this year.
World Cup Record - 56-110
Top Three Finishes - None
Best Player - Bert Blyleven, who was just elected to the Hall of Fame this year. No pitcher in the game of baseball had a better curveball than Blyleven. While he was born in the Netherlands he was raised in California. He also lived briefly in Canada. He is the only player from the Netherlands to win the American League rookie of the year award, winning that as a teenager in 1970. Blyleven could be a little feisty with the press and contributed border line numbers (short of 300 wins, usually a benchmark for a Hall of Famer), one of the reasons it took him so long to be selected.
Roster: The numbers below are their minor league numbers for those that played in the United States:
Catcher: Sidney de Jong (L&D Amsterdam), Shawn Zarraga (Brewers, .272, 4, 35), Bas Nooji (L&D Amsterdam)
First Base: Curt Smith (Independent League),
Middle Infield: Mariekson “Didi” Gregorius (Reds, .289, 7, 44), Sharlon Schoop (Giants, .218, 4, 21), Jonathan Schoop (Orioles, ..290, 13, 71), Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox, .260, 16, 45)
Third Base: Michael Duursma (Vaessen Pioniers), Vince Rooi (L&D Amsterdam)
Outfield: Kalian Sams (Twins, .231, 24, 66), Danny Rombley (UVV), Shaldimar Daantji (DOOR Neptunus), Dwayne Kemp (DOOR Neptunus), Bryan Engelhardt (Corendon Kinheim)
Left handed Pitcher: Diegomar Markwell (DOOR Neptunus)
Right Handed Pitcher: David Bergman (Corendon Kinheim), Leon Boyd (DOOR Neptunus), Rob Cordemans (L&D Amsterdam), Shairon Martis (Nationals, 8-6, 3.05), Orlando Yntema (UVV), Tom Stuifbergen (Twins, 6-9, 4.29), Juan Carlos Sulbaran (Reds, 9-6, 4.60), Barry van Driel (DOOR Neptunus), Nick Stuifbergen (Corendon Kinheim), Arshwin Asjes (DOOR Neptunus)
Players to Watch - The infield will be filled with slick infielders. Gregorius (Didi) is one of the top prospects with the Reds while Schoop should see a top 30 appearance next year for the Orioles. Kemp is a veteran of the 2009 World Baseball Classic as is Vince Rooi, who had an eight year minor league career that began in 1999. The pitching will be the big difference for the Netherlands. Their top starters should be Diegomar Markwell and Rob Cordemans. Shairon Martis has resurrected his career with the Nationals and Juan Carlos Sulbaran shut down Cuba in the Honkball tournament in the Netherlands. The big achilles heel could be the bats and the lack of a lefthander in the bullpen.
Strange Fact - Shairon Martis pitched the first no hitter in the 2006 World Baseball Classic against of all teams, Panama. Martis was also a member of the Curaca team that won the 2002 Senior World Series in Bangor, Maine. Another player on that team was Jair Jurrjens. That team also included Sharlon Schoop and a catcher Kenley Jansen that was converted into a pitcher, taking over the closer job for the Dodgers last year. Arshwin Ashes and Curt Smith also played for that team, but their major league careers have stalled.
Outlook - The Canadian team has always been considered the step child to the United States. Hockey is the main sport of the youths in Canada. It doesn’t thaw out early enough for the kids to have the same kind of season as the American players growing up in California. That hasn’t stopped a few players from excelling. They finished in third last year, their highest finish ever in the World Cup. With a roster full of minor leaguers, and a few veteran major leaguers, they will be one of the many teams fighting for that bronze medal again.
World Cup Record - 71-88
Top Three Finishes - one (2009)
Best Player - Larry Walker, thier hitting and first base coach gets my vote for Canada’s top player ever. He was one of the many Canadian kids that grew up playing hockey and wanting to play in the NHL. The Expos saw him play baseball and offered him more money than he could ever get playing hockey. With a little bit of work, Larry became a five tool player, winning the MVP of the National League in 1997 when he hit .336, 49 homeruns, 130 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. No other Canadian player has won the MVP award in the major leagues. Injuries may have prevented him from being one of the all time greats.
Roster: The numbers below are their minor league numbers:
Catcher: Cole Armstrong (Angels, .284, 9, 30), Chris Robinson (Cubs, .316, 1, 29)
First Base: Emerson Frostad (Astros, .235, 3, 11), Jimmy Van Ostrand (Astros, .306, 11, 48)
Middle Infield: Chris Bisson (Padres, .261, 2, 43), Jonathan Malo (Mets, .226, 3, 16), Skyler Stromsmoe (Giants, .277, 2, 20)
Third Base: Shawn Bowman (Braves, .259, 8, 21)
Outfield: Michael Crouse (Blue Jays, .261, 14, 55), Brock Kjeldgaard (Brewers, .270, 24, 76), Marcus Knecht (Jays, .273, 16, 86), Jamie Romak (Royals, .253, 23, 71), Tim Smith (Royals, .301, 10, 49)
Left handed Pitcher: Andrew Albers (Twins, 8-2, 2.16), Mark Hardy (Padres, 11-10, 2.78), Jay Johnson (Phillies, 1-5, 2.94)
Right Handed Pitcher:Nick Bucci (Brewers, 8-11, 3.84), Jimmy Henderson (Brewers, 7-2, 4.28), Shawn Hill (former National/DNP), Mike Johnson (Former Expo/DNP), Chris Kissock (Phillies, 3-7, 4.82), Kyle Lotzkar (Reds, 3-2, 4.32), Dustin Molleken (Rockies, 4-1, 5.05), Scott Richmond (Blue Jays, 6-9, 7.33)
Players to Watch - The outfield will provide the power with Romak, Knecht and Kjeldgaard. The infield will hopefully provide them with consistent defense because their hitting is weak. There are three veteran arms on the staff with major league experience in Mike Johnson, Scott Richmond and Shawn Hill. Hill played for the 2004 Olympic team and pitched well in four starts for the Marlins last year. Scott Richmond was supposed to play for Canada in the 2008 Olympics but he got called up to the major leagues. Mike Johnson played for the major leagues, but has also played in the professional leagues in Japan, Taiwan and Korea, as well as the Canadian team in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic teams and the World Baseball Classic.
Strange Fact - Larry Walker is not the only MVP of a professional league that is traveling with this team. In 2008, Mike Johnson went 20-2 with a 2.45 ERA pitching in Taiwan for the La New Bears, who now may have the coolest name in baseball (La Minga Monkeys). That performance gave him the MVP in the Taiwan League.
Outlook - They haven’t won in the last two events, which is equivalent to the Yankees missing out on the playoffs for two years in a row. They did finish second to the United States both those years, but that isn’t good enough for Cuban fans. They had won the previous nine World Cups before losing to the United States in 2007. There have been 38 World Cups and Cuba has seen first place in 25 of the events. Not even the Yankees have shown such dominance.
World Cup Record - An impressive 297-34 or a .897 winning percentage
Top Three Finishes - 29 or in almost all the tournaments where they have participated.
Best Player - There have been a number of good players in their history, but it would have been nice to see how Omar Linares would have done against major leaguers. Omar did have three unproductive years in the Japanese professional league with the Chunichi Dragons, but that was after his skills had waned. He made his debut on the Cuban National team as a 17 year old, playing for six world championship teams and two Olympic gold medal winning teams. He is the one player I remember and feared every time he came to the plate. No hitter in the Cuban League has a better average than his .368 or his slugging percentage of .644.
Roster: The numbers below are their Cuban League numbers
Catcher: Ariel Pestano (Villa Clara, .287, 5, 32), Yosvani Alarcon (Las Tunas, .368, 13, 47), Frank Morejon (Industriales, .264, 0, 15)
First Base: Jose Abreu (Cienfuegos, .453, 33, 93), Frederich Cepeda (Sancti Spiritus, .397, 28, 81)
Middle Infield: Hector Olivera (Santiago, .318, 16, 70), Erisbel Arruebarruena (Cienfuegos, .280, 8, 40), Rudy Reyes (Industriales, .295, 11, 54)
Third Base: Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spiritus, .339, 20, 81), Michel Enriquez (Isla Juventad, .401, 13, 42)
Outfield: Alexei Bell (Santiago, .306, 7, 42), Alfredo Despaigne (Granma, .356, 27, 74), Giorvis Duvergel (Guantanamo, .338, 15, 53), Rusney Castillo (Ciego de Avila, .324, 18, 79)
Left handed Pitcher: Norberto Gonzalez (Cienfuegos, 13-2, 2.76), Yulieski Gonzalez (Artemisa/Habana, 9-7, 4.00)
Right Handed Pitcher: Dalier Hinojosa (Guantanamo, 8-4, 3.56), Freddy Alvarez (Villa Clara, 8-4, 1.89), Miguel Lahera (Artemisa/Habana, 4-1, 2.76), Miguel Gonzalez (Artemisa/Habana, 8-5, 3.19), Yadier Pedroso (Artemisa/Habana, 7-4, 3.03), Jonder Martinez (Artemisa/Habana, 5-7, 4.66), Vic Odelin (Camaguey, 9-6, 4.47), Alberto Soto la O (Granma, 7-5, 5.31)
Players to Watch - They have the top four homerun hitters in the Cuban league with Alexei Bell breaking the record first, followed by Yulieski Gourriel, Alfredo Despaigne and Jose Abreu. Alexei has lost his homerun stroke since being beaned by Yunesky Maya. He may have a hard time cracking the starting lineup in the Cuban outfield. Alfredo Despaigne is the best hitter among the group. The offensive numbers tend to be inflated because the hitters feed off the poor pitching of the weaker teams. That doesn’t mean that there are not talented pitchers on this staff. The two aces are lefthander Norberto Gonzalez and righthander Freddy Alvarez. Five of the ten pitchers are from the old La Habana Cowboys team that has changed their name to Artemisa. The closer will probably be Jonder Martinez, who had a poor year last year in the starting rotation, but is still considered one of their better pitchers. He has been used in that role in international events before. The league leader last year in saves, Duniel Ibarra, did not make the team.
Strange Fact - Not really strange, but one of their better hitters, Yoennis Cespedes, who tied with Jose Abreu for the Cuban homerun lead, defected and is now living in the Dominican Republic. He is seeking the big bucks of a major league contract.
Outlook - The good news is that they have more players on the major league roster than at any time in their history. The bad news is that they can not use these players for the World Cup. The roster has enough veteran Australian League players and minor leaguers that they should be competetive. A top three is not in the cards though.
World Cup Record - 39-56
Top Three Finishes - None
Best Player - Dave Nilsson. He had a nice career as a catcher for the Milwaukee Brewers from 1992 to 1999. He is the only Australian ever to appear in a major league All Star game, appearing in 1999, his last year in the major leagues. He retired from the major leagues in order to play for Australia in the Olympics in 2000. He also played for them in 2004 when they won a silver medal. Greame Lloyd is a distant second, but he will be accompanying the team as an assistant coach.
Roster: The numbers below are their Australian League numbers
Catcher: Matthew Kennelly (Perth .306, 2, 24), Joel Naughton (Brisbane, injured - .300, 0, 1), Allan de San Miguel (Perth, .283, 5, 14)
First Base: Justin Huber (Melbourne, .229, 9, 29), Stefan Welch (.201, 7, 25)
Middle Infield:James Beresford (Melbourne, .404, 0, 6), Scott Wearne (Melbourne, .270, 4, 18)
Third Base: Brad Harman (DNP, suspended)
Outfield: Thomas Brice(Adelaide, .314, 7, 26), Mitchell Dening (Sydney, .201, 4, 19), David Kandilas (Sydney, .274, 0, 10), Timothy Kennelly (Perth, .245, 4, 14)
Left Handed Pitcher: Steve Kent (Canberra, 0-3, 10.66), Paul Mildren (Adelaide, 2-6, 4.58), Clayton Tanner (DNP - Reds)
Right Handed Pitcher: Hayden Beard (Canberra, 0-1, 3.12, 2 saves), Justin Erasmus (Brisbane, 0-3, 6.38), Kable Hogben (DNP - Diamondbacks), Chris Oxspring (Sydney, 4-2, 2.23), Andrew Russell (Melbourne/Braves, DNP), Dushan Ruzic (Adelaide, 5-2, 4.07), Ryan Searle (Brisbane, 0-4, 5.77), Todd Van Steensel (Sydney, 0-1, 7.94), Brendan Wise (Perth, 0-0, 0.00, 3 saves)
Players to Watch - Brad Harman is a veteran major leaguer who was suspended for a doping violation in 2010. He played for the Phillies briefly as a utility player. Justin Huber is a slugger who played for the Royals in the major leagues and played briefly in Japan. He should be their big slugger. The ace of the staff should be Chris Oxspring, who almost won the ERA crown in the Australian League. He was second to David Welch. Brendan Wise should be their closer.
Strange Fact - Justin Erasmus played for the South African team in the World Baseball Classic, but he grew up in Australia.
It does appear that we have goofed in our experimenting with technology and deleted all our previous categories and blog posts, but it is a good time to start over. We will start with the World Cup.
Myworld will be in Panama October 1, 2011 to report on the Panama World Cup. We’ve got some work to do to recreate this blog, but you can go to our website at http://myworldofbaseball.com/. That still exits.
The new blog will begin tomorrow. With retirement comes rebirth.