Some first pitch you tube videos to start out the new year. Sorry they are all Asian, but they tend to make a better show of the first pitch ritual.
Love the mascot in this first pitch video:
Some first pitch you tube videos to start out the new year. Sorry they are all Asian, but they tend to make a better show of the first pitch ritual.
Love the mascot in this first pitch video:
Before Frank McCourt acquired the Dodgers it was a proud franchise. They were one of the first teams to scour the Dominican market for talent. They brought up Jackie Robinson. They had a home grown infield of Ron Cey, Bill Russell, Davey Lopes and Steve Garvey that consistenly won championships. Now they are bankrupt. How could such a vibrant franchise turn stale so quickly?
General Overview: You rarely hear of the Dodgers competing with other teams for talent in the Central and South American market. What players they do acquire they buy for cheap. They are also near the bottom in signing bonuses after the draft, Zach Lee being one of those rare exceptions. In a division that was ripe for domination because of the revenue Los Angeles generates they stumbled, spending their money instead on supporting lavish lifestyles while the core of the team rotted. There doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of hope for this team in the near future, even after they get a new ownership group.
Why They Will Win: They still have the MVP of the National League in Matt Kemp. They were also able to get him to sign a contract extension. As long as he stays away from dating celebrities he should have a good season. They also have the Cy Young winner in Clayton Kershaw. Dee Gordon will provide a lot of excitement from the lead off position, similar to what Rafael Furcal used to do but without the power. Andre Ethier is a solid player that had an off year in 2011. He has too much talent not to rebound. Kenley Jensen throws hard and gets another year of experience to develop some consistency in the closer role.
Why They Won’t Win: The rotation after Kershaw is unimpressive. Signing Hiroki Kuroda could help, but the Dodgers show no interest. They chose instead to sign Chris Capuano. They will rely on youth for the back end of the rotation with Rubby de la Rosa and Nathan Eovoldi responsible for 40 percent of their starts. They have to hope that Ronald Belasario comes back to solidify their bullpen. He has major maturity issues and will have to serve a 25 game suspension for drug issues to begin the season. It is rare when Belasario can even complete a season without enduring at least one suspension. They lack a real impact palyer at catcher, third base and leftfield. James Loney is an atypical firstbaseman. Don’t expect 100 RBIs from him or major homerun production. Mark Ellis and Adam Kennedy will have a hard time holding back Ivan Dejesus for the second base spot.
Prospects to Make the Roster: Nate Eovoldi should not have any problem making the starting rotation based on his success towards the end of the season. The only thing that would hold him back is a poor spring. A good spring by Ivan DeJesus could get him the second base job over Mark Ellis, but by mid season, as the Dodgers try to get younger, the second base job should be his. Tim Federowicz is a noted defensive catcher. He doesn’t have a lot in front of him to prevent him from winning the starting spot, but he needs to show that he can hit.
Long Range Prospects: Zach Lee is their biggest jewel but 2013 may be the earliest Dodger fans will see him. They will give opportunities first to Chris Withrow, Ethan Martin or Allan Webster if injuries or ineffectiveness opens a spot in the rotation. Jerry Sands could be given another opportunity to win the left field job. Only Juan Rivera stands in front of him. If he fails look for Scott Van Slyke to be knocking. If Van Slyke and DeJesus can make the roster that would give them three sons of ex-major leaguers, counting Dee Gordon. They also have Jerry Hairston and Tony Gwynn on the 40 man roster and James Baldwin and Brian Cavazos-Galvez who also have dads who are ex-major leaguers. If genes meant anything this team would be World Series bound.
Significant Transactions: They resigned Juan Rivera to patrol left field and Mark Ellis to be their starting second baseman. Adam Kennedy was also signed and could see a lot of time at third and Matt Treanor was signed as a back up catcher. None of these players are particularly overwhelming. Chris Capuano was signed to be a mid rotation starter and Jerry Hairson was signed to see utility action. The Dodgers have been very active in the free agent market, but among that group are no impact players. There was more discount shpping to fill holes in the lineup rather than spending the dollars to find an impact player. Prince Fielder could add some pop to this team and C.J. Wilson could have bolstered the rotation, but they went for quantity instead of quality. They traded Dana Eveland, a pitcher who could have provided depth for the starting rotation for a couple minor leaguers who appear to lack talent to make the show as starters.
Expected Finish: The Padres obtained Carlos Quentin to bolster their roster, leaving the Dodgers with a very real chance to finish at the basement. They will stay above the last place fray and finish fourth.228a
Mexico doesn’t really have a second round of round robin play that the other three winter leagues have. They play a best of seven among the six teams that qualify and then the losing team with the best record also advances to a final four. Below are the openers.
Mexicali (1-0) 4 Hermosillo (0-1) 1
Mexicali won the first half to qualify for the playoffs, then stumbled in the second half. It appears that they are back on track after their opening day win against Hermosillo. Jorge Campillo went five innings to get the victory, then turned the ball over to four different pitchers who held Hermosillo hitless for the final four innings. Oscar Villareal pitched the last inning to pick up the save. Roman Pena drove in the go ahead run with an RBI single after the first two hitters got on base via a walk and hit batsman. Oscar Robles went 2 for 2 with two doubles and two walks to also lead the Mexicali offense.
Obregon (1-0) 3 Guasave (0-1) 0
Last year’s champion Obregon shutout second half winner Guasave 3-0, getting six innings of shutout pitching from Luis Mendoza. Luis struck out eight. Five different relievers followed Luis, limiting Guasave to just one walk and a hit batsman in the final three innings. Hector Navarro struck out all three hitters he faced and Luis Ayala retired all four hitters he faced to pick up the save. Carlos Valencia hit a solo homerun in the fourth and then added a sacrifice fly in the sixth to drive in two of the three Obregon runs. Sandy Madera also had a sacrifice fly to drive in a run.
Culiacan (1-0) 16 Navojoa (0-1) 1
Culiacan showed no mercy in their game against Navojoa, scoring 12 runs in the first three innings to take care of business. The Tomateros slugged five homeruns, including two solo shots by Ben Guez, one to lead off the game and a 3-run homer from Jeff Frazier in the second inning. Ramiro Pena and Corey Aldridge also went deep while usual sluggers Jorge Vazquez and Luis Cruz went homerless, but each drove in three runs. Ben Guez rapped four hits while Maxwell Leon went 3 for 3 with four runs scored. Azael Alvarez did not get out of the first inning, giving up two blasts before his early showers. Nationals rule V pick Matt Buschmann picked up the victory throwing six innings of shutout ball, giving up just four hits and striking out eight.
China has verbally agreed to particiapte in the 2012 Asian baseball championships, despite the fact that the event will be played in Taiwan in November. China seems to have an aversion about playing in Taiwan, having initially agreed to play in the Asian Series last November and then backing out, giving Australia the opportunity to participate for the first time last year. There is still always time to back out again, but with teams from Japan, Korea, Taiwan and two teams from east and west Asia they would still have five teams without China.
Japan has won the last four Asian championships, with Taiwan taking second place in three of the last four years. China has won the bronze medal in three of the years, sharing it with Korea. In the one year that Korea took second place in 2007 Taiwan and the Philippines shared the bronze medal.
China has not sent a national team to Taiwan since 1997, so this would be an event, if they actually show up. You can read the article here: http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aSPT&ID=201201020030
Oriole fans may find this interview with Tsuyoshi Wada interesting. His biggest concern is going from six days to four days rest between starts and the time zone changes that occur with travel that are not an issue in Japan. He will also be recieving a disk from the Orioles with all the numbers on the hitters in the AL East and probably other divisions so he can study them over the winter. Finally, he looks forward to pitching once more against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has a four games to two edge over him. That is provided the rehab for Daisuke goes well enough that he can pitch in 2012.
Nikkan Sports is reporting that Hisashi Iwakuma is close to signing with Seattle. That would certainly improve the pitching rotation if Iwakuma can adapt to the four days rest without arm fatigue. This would give them three solid pitchers for their rotation in King Felix, Michael Pineda and Iwakuma. Blake Beavan could develop confidence in the back end of the rotation and they hope that Jason Vargas gives them a fifth until Danny Hultzen is ready for the rotation.
The article is in Japanese, but it would not surprise me that Seattle signs him with their Japanese ownership group. He is one of the more popular pitchers in Japan and myworld’s favorite Japanese starter. http://yakyubaka.com/2012/01/01/hisashi-iwakuma-could-be-close-to-signing-a-deal-with-the-seattle-mariners/2670
We really wanted them to pick them to win this division because Troy Tulowitski and Carlos Gonzalez could produce a lot of runs. When we look at their pitching staff we had to rethink that possibility. Plus the fact that Cargo and Tulow have missed significant time over the last two years with minor injuries. They would each have to play over 150 games to give the offense a boost, something neither of them have accomplished in the last two years.
General Overview: The Rockies are not going to have any trouble scoring runs. It is the pitching that worries me. Their rotation is filled with pitchers that are young or coming back from injuries. Those are tough ingredients to make a playoff run. They also seem to be putting a lot in Rafael Betancourt succeeding as their closer, trading off Huston Street for next to nothing. They did a lot of reshuffling of players covering several positions and not achieving major upgrades at those positions.
Why They Will Win: They have two of the more productive offensive bats in the national league in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitski. Both need to stay healthy for 150 plus games for the offense to click on all cylinders. They have also added Michael Cuddyer to upgrade that offensive mix. They can be flexible with Michael, putting him at first, third or either corner outfield. That allows them to still fit Seth Smith in the outfield, if they haven’t traded him before the season starts.
Why They Won’t Win: It appears that Jhoulys Chacin will act as the ace in their rotation, but he just isn’t ace material. They are also hoping that Jorge de la Rosa and Juan Nicasio can come back from injuries that ended their 2011 seasons early. Both will probably not be available until mid 2012 and most of that will be pitching in rehab assignments in the minor leagues. They may also turn the starting catching job to Wilin Rosario, though they have Ramon Hernandez as a backup plan should Wilin need another year. Eliezer Alfonzo appears to have to serve a 100 game drug suspension, though he plans to appeal the finding. Todd Helton’s bat no longer hits for the power that it once did, there is no third baseman if they stick Cuddyer in the outfield and second base will be filled by a rookie. If they move Betancourt to the closer role they will need to find a setup man. Rafael was one of the best when he was setting up for Huston Street. Now he has to see if those skills transfer well as a closer. I’d be more comfortable if he was 27 with 37 career saves than 37 with 27 career saves. Rex Brothers will try to take Betancourt’s setup role.
Prospects to Make the Roster: If Wilin Rosario does not win the starting job outright, Ramon Hernandez will be the starting while Jordan Pacheco and Wil Nieves will serve as backup. Jordan can play a number of positions. If Wilin doesn’t win the starting job he will be sent to AAA for further seasoning. With a good spring Drew Pomeranz will win a job in the back end of the rotation. Hector Gomez has had trouble staying healthy but he has a good glove for second. He’ll have to battle another rookie D.J. LeMahieu for the position.
Long Range Prospects: There is no one stopping Nolan Arenado from taking over third during mid-season. He was voted the MVP in the Arizona Fall League last year. All he needs is a half season of minor league success. Tim Wheeler hit 33 homeruns in AA and if he repeats that feat in AAA he will get an opportunity to see some outfield time. Alex White will see some time in the rotation by mid-year. He had his struggles pitching last year in a late season call-up and appears to need a half a year of seasoning before getting another opportunity. Charlie Blackmon could see some centerfield time if Dexter Fowler continues to struggle with his hitting. Or they could move Gonzalez to center and put Wheeler in left. Edwar Cabrera led all minor league pitchers in strikeouts with 217. If he continues that pace in AA he will at least get a September callup.
Significant Transactions: They traded last year’s starting catcher Chris Ianneta to the Angels for a young starting pitcher Tyler Chatwood. If he thought pitching in Anaheim was rough for his 4.75 ERA wait until he tries Colorado. They signed free agent Ramon Hernandez to take Ianneta’s place, if Rosario does not win the job during spring training. The Rockies also got Kevin Slowey from the Twins, inheriting his 2011 6.67 ERA and career 4.66 ERA. The Rockies traded Huston Street to the Padres for next to nothing and used that savings in salary money to sign Michael Cuddyer. They also traded Casey Weather and Ian Stewart for rookie DJ LeMahieu and Tyler Colvin. The Rockies are hoping that Tyler can forget his 2011 season and replicate 2010. That could win him an outfield job. DJ will fight for the second base job.
Expected Finish: Looking at their trades it was almost like they were doing a major restructuring of their team, getting rid of Huston Street, Chris Ianneta, Ty Wigginton and Ian Stewart for very little and signing free agents to take their place. These are not the moves of a team that is going for it. The Rockes should finish third in 2012, just above .500
Gigantes (1-3) 9 Licey (1-4) 1
The game was relatively close until Jairo Ascencio came in to pitch the ninth in a 4-1 game and could not get any of the four hitters he faced out. The Gigantes scored five runs in the inning to go on to win 9-1. Edinson Volquez got the start for Gigantes but only went two plus innings. While he only gave up one hit he was a bit wild, walking three. None of the runners he faced though crossed the plate. The big bats for Gigantes were Alex Casilla with three hits and two runs scored and Pedro Felix with three hits. John Matulia, Jimmy Paredes and Diory Hernandez each drove in two runs.
Escogido (4-0) 8 Aguilas (3-2) 3
Escogido remianed undefeated with an 8-3 win over Aguilas. Escogido only out hit Aguilas 15-14, but they did a better job of accumulating their runs. Escogido broke a 2-2 ties with three in the fourth, the inning getting started after back to back singles by Mauro Gomez and Denis Phipps. An error by Audy Ciriaco on a bunt attempt scored the tie breaker and Fernando Tatis had an RBI single and Pedro Florimon an RBI ground out to make the score 5-2. Pablo Ozuna, Mauro Gomez and Wilken Castillo each got three hits for the Leones. The victory moved Escogido a game and a half up on second place Aguilas in the round robin.
You can follow the boxscores for the Dominican winter league here: http://mlb.mlb.com/milb/stats/stats.jsp?t=l_sco&sid=l131&y=2010&lid=1311f7e
Obregon (2-0) 8 Guasave (0-2) 7
Alfredo Amezaga trickled a ground ball single into centerfield in the bottom of the tenth inning off Sean Gleason to score Albino Contreras from second to give Obregon an 8-7 win over Guasave. The victory also gives them a commanding two games to zip advantage in the best of seven series. Both starter pitchers Walter Silva for Guasave and Randy Keisler for Obregon were bounced early in this game, with Keisler not even surviving the first inning. He gave up three hits and two walks to give Guasave an opening four spot.
Guasave moved ahead 5-0 on a Jose Rodriguez homerun in the top of the second, but Obregon came storming back against Walter Silva. They scored six runs in the next two innings, Carlos Valencia and Sergio Contreras each driving in two runs to knot the score at 6-6 after three. The bullpens held the bats in check for most of the rest of the game. A Carlos Valencia sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh gave Obregon the lead 7-6, but a Tony Thomas homerun in the top of the eighth tied it at 7-7. Thomas finished the day with three hits.
Luis Ayala got the win by pitching two innings of one hit ball. Sean Gleason took the loss. Hector Navarro again struck out three hitters in his one inning of work, but he did give up the homerun to Tony Thomas. In two appearances covering two innings he has struck out six.
Culiacan (2-0) 5 Navojoa (0-2) 4
Refugio Cervantes clubbed a pinch hit 2-run homerun off Ehren Wassermann in the bottom of the eighth to give the Tomateros the 5-4 lead over Navojoa. The Mayos had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the eighth on a Matt Esquivel solo shot. Matt finished the day with three hits. Rolando Acosta also hit a 2-run homerun for the Mayos in the fourth inning to give them a 3-1 lead. Amauri Sanit pitched a perfect ninth to pick up the save.
Hermosillo (1-1) 5 Mexicali (1-1) 1
Edgar Gonzalez pitched seven innings of one run ball and Karim Garcia mashed a 2-run homer while Mark Hamilton a solo shot to even the series for Hermosillo with their 5-1 win. Sandy Nin got the final out in the eighth with two runners on, then retired the side in the ninth to pick up the save.
Caribes (1-0) 3 Magallanes (0-1) 0
Jared Wells tossed five plus innings of 3-hit shutout ball to lead Caribes to a 3-0 first day victory in the second round of the round robin playoffs. Jared struck out five and did not walk anyone. Six relievers followed to complete the shutout. The offensive stars were the third inning solo shots from Gustavo Molina and Alexi Amarista. Jon Hunton retired the side in order in the ninth to pick up the save.
La Guaria (1-0) 11 Zulia (0-1) 5
The Tiburones blasted four homeruns to trounce Zulia 11-5. Gregor Blanco, Oscar Salazar, Cesar Suarez and Jose Martinez all went deep with Blanco’s shot a 3-run blast in the 8th inning. Les Walrond went five innings to get the victory, giving up only two hits but walking three. The Tiburones rallied for five runs in the fourth off starter Cesar Valdez to take a 5-0 lead. Zulia was never able to recover after that.