Archive for November, 2011

Tragedy in Netherlands

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Seattle prospect Greg Halman was stabbed to death in the Netherlands.  He had just finished a tour of Europe with a number of major leaguers including Prince Fielder meeting with kids to promote the game of baseball.  After Netherlands gold medal winning performance in Panama the tour was well received by kids in Italy, Netherlands and the Czech Republic.

His 22 year old brother has been arrested for the stabbing.  The stabbing occurred at a home in the port city of Rotterdam early Monday morning.  The police and paramedics were unable to revive him.  Details on the stabbing are being held until a thorough investigation can be completed.

Greg Halman had made his major league debut last year playing outfield for the Seattle Mariners.  He was only 24 years old with a full life ahead of him.  Baseball America had rated him as the Seattle Mariners top minor league prospect in 2009.

At 16 years old he had played for the Dutch team the Corendon Kinheim.  His father and younger brother also played for the Dutch national team.  His sister plays college basketball in the United States.  The Mariners signed him in the summer of 2004 after his Dutch debut.  You can see his minor league numbers here: http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=halman001gre

Sometimes it is tough to figure out why these events happen, especially after the Netherlands had so much to celebrate after their gold medal winning performance in October.  Now the Netherlands and the baseball community will have to mourn the passing of a player who had so much passion for the game.  Rest in peace Greg Halman.

Argentina Wins South American Games

Monday, November 21st, 2011

http://ibaf.org/en/news/2011/11/21/argentina-wins-x-south-american-championship/43d6c715-5bb0-43fb-b87f-24383508c6f0 reports that Argentina defeated Ecuador 5-0 to win the X South American games.  Federico Tanco pitched a complete game shutout to get the victory and Jacinto Cipriota had a 2-run triple to key the offense.

Brazil took third place, dominanting Chile for the second time 10-0.  Peru had defeated Bolivia for fifth place 5-2.  The next South American championship is set for Chile in 2012.

Asian Series - Adventure Two

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Myworld survived the World Cup in Panama without too many major complications.  In a couple days we are ready to fly to Taiwan to witness the Asian series.  It used to be called the Konami Cup and was played in Japan until the sponsor could not make a profit and decided to stop funding it.  One year they limited the competetion to a one game championship between the Korean champion and the Japanese champion.  Taiwan was not too pleased to be excluded.

To date, all the events have been won by the Japanese team.  All the events have also been held in Japan.  The one big diferrence with this year’s event is the lack of participation of China.  In year’s past they did not send their champion, but sent an All star team instead.  In their place will be the champion of the newly formed Australian league champion the Perth Heat.

This event is a bit more of a World Series than the United States event.  There had been talk of having the NPB champion play against the United States champion but a lot of that talk has quieted.  It will be interesting to see if the collective bargaining agreement mentions a possible future championship series against other nations.  This year it would have been the St. Louis Cardinals againt the Softbank Hawks.  It would have been interesting to see how the Cardinal bats would do against the Hawk pitching staff that limited the Dragons to two runs or less in all seven games they played them.  It would be easy for people to assume that the Cardinal bats would maul the Cardinal arms, but no one has been prepared to see Japan win the last two WBCs and the best that the United States has to offer of their major leaguers could not even make the final four.

Myworld will be bringing a few Washington Nationals hats to the event and will be giving them away to anyone that happens to come up to us and mention myworldofbaseball.  I’ve got a pink hat, a St. Patty’s day green hat, all sorts of different variations.  For those not familiar with the Nationals hats, they have the curly “W”.  The curly “W” can stand for:

Win

Washington or

Wang as in Chien Ming

This year’s event will see the following teams compete:

Perth Heat - Australia

Softbank Hawks - Japan

Uni-President Seven Eleven Lions - Taiwan

Samsung Lions - Korea

It sounds like a lot of fun.  Myworld will depart on Tuesday and reporting on our experience.

United States Juniors Rout Argentina

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The 18 and under junior team pummeled Argentina 16-2 to improve their record to 3-0 in Cartegena, Colombia.  Chase DeJong got credit for the victory, working five innings and only giving up one run.  Albert Almora was the big bat, getting two hits, a double and triple to drive in four runs.  The score was 1-1 after two innings, but the U.S. exploded for four runs in the fourth and eight in the sixth to run away with the game.

The United States team banged out 13 hits, drew 10 walks and swiped 11 bases to dominate the game.  You can see more on the game here: http://web.usabaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20111119&content_id=26011796&vkey=news_usab&gid=

Canada did not play.  They will play the Netherlands Antilles on Monday.  The United States next game will be against Puerto Rico on Sunday.

Rakuten Eagles Mining Mexico for Players

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The Rakuten Eagles had already signed Mexican Winter League homerun champ Luis Garcia in mid season.  He went on to hit .261 with eight homeruns in 88 games.  His slugging average of .383 was a huge disappointment, but coming during the middle of the season probably took some adjusting.

That did not deter the Eagles from giving Mexican Summer League MVP Luis Terrero a tryout.  As reported by http://yakyubaka.com/2011/11/20/nikkan-sports-luis-enrique-terrero-passes-tryout-with-rakuten-eagles/ he passed after just seven minutes of swinging the bat.  Terrero slugged 38 homeruns in 97 games in the Mexican League in 2011, batting .390 with a .485 OBA and .775 slugging percentage.  He also stole 30 bases in 40 attempts.  In 2010 Terrero played in the Cincinnati Reds minor league system.  Having both Terrero and Garcia on the team should make the adjustment to Japanese life much easier for the two.

It is unclear whether the Eagles have come to contract terms with Terrero, but at 32 in 2012 he is young enough to contribute offensively to the team.  They will probably lose pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma to free agency, but they can replace his loss by improving their offensive production.

Hawks Shut Down Dragons for NPB Series Win

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The Softbank Hawks won the first home game of the Nippon Series and it was enough to give them the NPB title.  Toshiya Sugiuchi quieted the Dragon bats on three hits for seven innings of work to lead the Hawks to a 3-0 victory.  A bases loaded walk in the third inning scored the first run, while RBI singles from Katsuki Yamazaki in the fourth and an RBI single from Seiichi Uchikawa in the seventh drove in the three runs.

Brian Falkenborg came on to pitch the eighth and after striking out the side he was greeted in the ninth by a Hirokazu Ibata line drive off his elbow that drove him from the game.  The Hawk bullpen depth shined through as Masahiko Morifuku and Tadashi Settsu shared the ninth inning work, with Settsu striking out the last batter to pick up the save.

Tony Blanco had two of the four hits for the Dragons.  Motonobu Tanishige was 0 for Nippon Series, breaking the record for going hitless in 23 at bats, striking out all three times he was up.  Motonobu went 0 for playoffs, going 43 plate appearances without getting a hit.  Myworld can’t imagine the backup being worse than that.  Motonobu must call a pretty good game to put an automatic out in the lineup, though to be fair during the regular season he hit over .256 and the man has been playing in the NBP for 23 years.  The 41 year old has to have developed some pretty good game calling skills to be in the game that long.

You can see a summary of the game at: http://yakyubaka.com/2011/11/20/ns-chunichi-dragons-vs-fukuoka-softbank-hawks-november-20-2011/

The Hawks will now prepare to go to Taiwan where they will play the Perth Heat (Australia), Uni-President Lions (Taiwan) and the Samsung Lions (Korea) in the Asian series.  Myworld will be there to report the games, our second little baseball adventure in two months.

Edit: Manager Koji Akiyama was tossed in the air by his players eight times and 40 year old Horoki Kokubu became the oldest played to be voted an NPB MVP.  The previous record holder had been the then 37 year old, now tossed eight times Akiyama.

Philippines Wins the SEA Games Gold

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

The Philippines won the Southeast Asian games baseball gold medal with a 2-0 victory over host Indonesia.  The Philippines had defeated Indonesia earlier in pool play 4-0.

Darwin dela Calzada shut down the Indonesian bats, while the Indonesian gloves, or lack thereof allowed the Philippine team to score their first run.  A dropped fly in the sixth inning gave the Philippines the opportunity to score first to take a 1-0 lead and gave Calzada all the runs he needed.  Jonash Ponce drove in the second run in the eighth with a line drive single to give the Philippines a cushion to work with.  They were able to reclaim the title they lost to Thailand in 2007.

The gold medal win was in no thanks to the Philippines Sports Commission, who preferred to fund individual athletes rather than spend more for teams that could only bring in one medal.  The team had to travel to Indonesia under the sponsorship of business man Marty Eizmendi.

The Philippines had won the gold medal in 2005, but Thailand took the medal in 2007.  Baseball was not played when the Southeast Asian games were played in Laos in 2009.

Thailand took the bronze medal with a 12-4 win over Viet Nam.

Top Orioles Prospects

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

From this pair of eyes the Orioles top prospects do not look as promising as the Nationals.  After the first two names, the rest of the players might not even make many other team’s top ten list, including the Nationals.  It could have been one of the factors that went into Andy McPhail deciding to call it quits after the 2011 season.  Rather than admit he screwed up and focused too much on arms, and now that those arms are not panning out, it is time to start all over again.  It would be better to let someone else take over the reigns and spin it that they are just tweaking rather than trying to fix up the mess.  I’m not confident that Dan Duquette can be that man, but it appears that many non-GMs who interviewed for the job decided to wait until something better came along, rather than take the GM equivalent position of the Orioles.  Oriole fans have to hope that last year was just an aberration and the arms of Matusz, Arrieta, Tillman and Erbe will bounce back.  The cavalry has made a slight retreat.  It doesn’t mean that the fight is over.

1. Manny Machado SS - He could fit as a top prospect on many of the other teams top ten lists.  He plays defense well and he can hit.  Those two combinations are rare in shortstops.  Troy Tulowitski comes to mind.  The Orioles have to do their best not to rush him and let the development process take its course.  The only criticism one can make of Machado at this point is that he has had nagging injuries that have forced him to miss small chunks of the season.  The same can be said of Troy Tulowitski.  The only tool that he is not above average in is his speed.  He hit .257 with 11 homeruns and a .756 OPS at Delmarva and Frederick.  Those numbers are a bit disappointing when you consider the hype, but you also have to remember he won’t turn 20 until July of next year and he could be playing AA ball by then.

2. Dylan Bundy RHP - He was the Orioles first round pick in 2011, the fourth overall pick in the draft.  Teams have to take advantage of those high picks, not go out on a limb to select financially safe players like Matt Hobgood who will sign for below slot money, but is projected to have impressive tools with a little sprinkle of magic fairy dust to assist in developing those tools.  His brother Robert Bundy already plays in the Orioles system, moving as high as AA in 2011.  There is really no comparison between the two brothers.  Robert is a borderline prospect who relies on soft stuff to get hitters out.  Dylan throws heat, with a fastball already in the mid-90s.  He was considered the best high school arm in the draft.  Now the Orioles have to hope that he pans out and doesn’t flame out like previous number ones Brian Matusz, Matt Hobgood and non pitchers Bill Rowell and Brandon Snyder.

3. Xavier Avery OF - He has a lot of speed and can cover a lot of ground in the outfield.  The one big question myworld has is whether he can hit enough to stay in the major leagues.  Eugene Kingsale was once known for his speed and now he is playing in the Netherlands.  Avery only hit .259 in AA with 36 stolen bases in 50 attempts.  After a slow start he did seem to turn up the juice in the AFL, raising his average up to .288 after it had been below the Mendoza line for much of the fall.  He also stole nine bases in 10 attempts.  With Adam Jones currently patroling centerfield and Avery only 22 next year, there is no real reason to rush him.  He will probably repeat AA.

4. Jonathan Schoop 2B - Speaking of the Netherlands, an injury to Vince Rooi provided a lot of playing time at third base for Schoop in the Netherlands gold medal run in the baseball world cup in Panama.  The native of Curaca was orignally drafted as a shortstop, but with Manny Machado slated for that position he was moved to second base.  At worst he could end up a utility player.  Like Machado, Schoop played at both Delmarva and Frederick, combining for a .290 average with 13 homeruns and a .781 OPS, better numbers than Machado.  His power is expected to increase as he matures.  Jonathan has an older brother Sharlon that plays for the Giants.

5. Mychal Givens SS - He was the number two pick in 2009, but like Schoop he will eventually have to move from shortstop to accomodate Machado.  Despite being older than Machado and drafted earlier he is playing one level below him.  A late sign prevented him from playing after getting drafted and injuries in 2010 limited him to just 23 games.  In 2011 he struggled at Delmarva, hitting only .195.  He does have a strong arm, throwing in the mid-90s as a pitcher in high school, so putting him at second seems to be a waste of an arm, but he won’t have the power bat to be a good fit at third base.  He needs to improve his jumps as he was only successful on 20 of 31 attempted steals.

Unfortunately, those are the only players that myworld has any confidence in that could be successful major leaguers.  Rather than just make it a top five, below are some players where the jury is still out and injuries or poor performance knocked them off the prospect ladder.  A good 2012 can put them back on it.

Joseph Mahoney 1B - He was a smooth fielding first baseman with deceptive speed when we watched him play in 2010.  Injuries seemed to plague him in 2011.  His fielding was not as smooth and his swing seemed more mechanical.  Good lefthanders could tie him up inside and he fouled back the mistake pitches rather than taking them deep.  While he did make four errors in his AFL debut game, he recovered to committ only three more the rest of the season, still an alarmingly high total.  He did hit .289 with 11 homeruns and a .502 slugging average at Bowie and followed that up with a .325 average and .542 slugging in the AFL, so the power is still there.

Brandon Erbe RHP - Most felt that he did not have the command and the stamina to make it as a starter, but the Orioles worked him in the starting rotation to give him innings.  Brandon was projected to be their closer of the future.  His velocity dropped from the mid-90s to the low 90s and then he had to have Tommy John, missing a good chunk of the 2010 season and almost all of 2011, except for a couple rehab outings at the lower levels of the minor leagues.  The 2012 season will be a big step for him.  If Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmerman can make it back then Brandon Erbe should also recover.  Unfortunately, since Erbe was drafted out of college he will be 25 next year.

Luis Lebron RHP - Another hard thrower that the Orioles worked out of the bullpen.  He was the AA closer, but did not pitch in 2010 and much of 2011 because of Tommy John surgery.  The Orioles removed him from the 40 man roster and no team picked him up.  He will be 27 next year so the odds are not in his favor.

Matt Hobgood RHP - The heavier he got the thinner his velocity got.  He also had difficulty finding the plate.  The Orioles drafted him as a below slot bargain so it is up to Hobgood to prove that he is no Walmart special that will break down with the blink of an eye.

Greg Miclat 2B - He didn’t have a bad year and wasn’t injured.  This is a player who over performed, but myworld does not think he has the tools to succeed as he moves to the higher levels.  We felt the same way about Greg Gagne and he had a pretty successful major league career.  This Greg doesn’t really have the arm to play shortstop on an extended basis and lacks blazing speed, despite his 50 stolen bases in 53 attempts.  His bat lacks juice and he appers to be destined for the .250 to .270 range.  That does not offer a lot.

Dan Klein RHP - We thought the Orioles had something when they drafted Klein in the third round of the 2010 draft.  He was the closer for UCLA.  A shoulder injury and subsequent surgery has now put his career in jeopardy.  Pitchers do not recover as quickly or effectively after shoulder surgery.

L.J.Hoes LF - We like him as a secondbaseman, but for some reason the Orioles used him more out in left field.  Miclat was their second baseman.  Hoes will not have the power to play left field, though he may hit .300.  His defense was also a little shaky, but we attribute that to just getting used to the position.  His arm is nothing to brag about for an outfielder, but left field is where you put players with weak arms.

Salt River Wins AFL Championship

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

They were the two new kids on the block.  Last year the Rafters were called the Surprise Rafters but they moved to Salt River Fields near Scottsdale and changed their name to Salt Lake.  Ironically, they played the Surprise Saguaros, who last year used to be called the Peoria Saguaros, one of two teams that played in Peoria, but they took over the Surprise facilities when the Rafters moved to Salt Lake.  The two teams battled it out and it was the old Surprise, now Salt Lake that came out on top, beating the new Surprise.

The Surprise Sagauros had broken the record for the best winning percentage by an AFL team, matching the career homerun total of Babe Ruth with a winning percentage of .714.  Salt Lake was not intimidated by the record and their bats turned up the juice with a big five spot in the seventh inning to break a close 3-2 Surprise lead that turned the game into a rout.  Jeremy Jeffress was the victim of the barrage, though he only gave up two hits and a walk.  One run scored on a fielder’s choice and the other on a wild pitch.  It was a David Nick with the bases loaded triple that was the key hit of the inning, and that was off Dan Jennings.  Jeffress was still credited with four runs given up.

AFL MVP Nolan Arenado had a big solo homerun in the third to give the Rafters a 3-0 lead and his walk in the seventh extended the inning to give Nick an opportunity to get the big hit.  Christian Bethancourt had a 2-run homer in the bottom of the third for the Saguaros to close the gap to 3-2.

Charles Brewer went four innings, giving up two runs to pick up the win.  Alex Sanabia got rocked for three runs in his four plus innings of work to take the loss.

For the Rafters it was their third AFL championship, having won titles in 1993 and 2000.  For the box score you can go here: http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?sid=l119&t=g_box&gid=2011_11_19_srrwin_surwin_1

Dragons Stay Alive to Force a Game Seven

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

It was the fourth 2-1 victory and the sixth straight game won by the visiting team in the first six games of the Nippon Series.  This time it was the Chunichi Dragons pulling it out with two runs in the opening frame, all of the runs brought in on a 2-run triple from Kazuhiro Wada.  Kazuki Yoshimi did the rest, working seven plus innings to get the victory, giving up one run on five hits.  The lone run for the Hawks was scored on a Yuichi Honda triple and a Seiichi Uchikawa RBI single.

Hitoki Iwase got the last out of the eighth, then yielded to Takuya Asao to get the last out of the ninth and pick up the save.  Tsuyoshi Wada went five innings for the Hawks and took the loss.  The Dragons have yet to score more than two runs in this series, but still have managed to battle the Hawks to a 3-3 tie.

You can see a summary of the game at http://yakyubaka.com/2011/11/19/ns-chunichi-dragons-vs-fukuoka-softbank-hawks-november-19-2011/. Game seven for all the marbles will see the Dragons throw Daisuke Yamai (3-3, 4.34) while the Hawks will go with Toshiya Sugiuchi (8-7, 1.94).  I can’t see the Hawks losing another home game so myworld’s bold prediction is the Hawks will take game seven.