Archive for January, 2012

Escogido Keeps Winning in Dominican Playoffs

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Escogido (5-0) 2 Licey (1-5) 1

Escogido is running away with the second round of the Dominican playoffs, extending their winning streak to five games.  Andy Dirks one out single and stolen base in the bottom of the tenth set up the game winning single from Julio Lugo.  The game started as a pitcher’s duel between Jake Stevens and Jordan Norberto, both pitchers going the first five innings without allowing a run.  Andy Dirks drove in the first run with his single in the sixth and Donell Linares tied it at 1-1 with his RBI single in the seventh.  The vulture Jose Cabrera worked the tenth inning to pick up his third win the the five games.

Gigantes (2-3) 7 Aguilas (3-3) 2

The top two teams of this round robin play a best of nine so Gigantes stayed close with Aguilas with a 7-3 win.  Wilson Betemit, Wilken Ramirez and Robinson Diaz all went deep for Gigantes to lead the offense.  Kevin Pucetas went six innings to pick up the win.  While the homeruns hurt Aguilas committed four errors in the game to allow three unearned runs to score.

You can see the boxscores of the game here:

Some More Cuban Names

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

Trying to find all the Cuban ballplayers that have defected is like trying to find all the marshmellows in a bowl of Lucky Charms cereal.  Sometimes there are just too many of them.  The names Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler seem to be dominating the internet conversations, but there are other players out there.  Below are some other names to keep an eye on in the Cuban free agent (or defector) scenario.

The Industriales team won the Cuban championship in 2010, but apparently there was a lot of strife on the team.  This could have led to the defection of three of the four players listed below.

Gerardo Concepcion LHP - He won the Cuban rookie of the year award after their championship march, so it may take awhile for him to become official.  He is a lefthanded pitcher that throws in the mid 90s.  Major league scouts tend to drool over those tools.  I have not read a lot about his availability or residency status, but he defected while in the Netherlands in July of 2011.

Joan Socarras LHP - He is a soft tosser that stands 6′4″ 185.  He is only 22 years old.  He defected after the Industriales championship season.  His biggest strength is a mixture of pitches and command, but his fastball does not break 90.  Perhaps that will change with better mechanics.

Armando Rivero RHP - He has a mid 90s fastball and has been called a bullpen alternative, but when you look at the variety of pitches he claims to have, i.e. slider, split, change with that mid-90s fastball you think rotation.  He is still fairly young at 23.  Peter Bjarkman voted him the MVP of the 2010 playoffs that the Industriales won.

Leugim Barroso 2B - He is only listed at 5′6″ and he is 26 years old, so he is a real stretch to make an impact.

Players outside of Industriales:

Henry Urrutia OF - Again, Peter Bjarkman voted the Las Tunas outfielder on his all sar team after the 2010 season for his .365/.456/.513 numbers.  The other outfielders voted on the team included Alfredo Despaigne and Alexei Bell.  Not on the team was Yoenis Cespedes, who had his breakout year the following year and seems to have access to an agent with the Scott Boras ability to hype a player’s status.  Urrutia is also a bit older than Cespedes at 25.

Gerald Sanchez OF - 26 years old and played for the Holquin Dogs.  He would probably be no more than minor league filler.

Omar Luis LHP - Only 19 years old, he played recently for the Cuban junior national team and faced some of the more recent number one picks of the major leagues such as Bubba Starling.  He defeated that U.S. junior national team in the 2010 quarter final, throwing a nine inning complete game and striking out five.  You can see the boxscore for that game here:  His fastball is generally in the low 90s and as a 19 year old his secondary stuff is quite raw.

So if your major league team is unable to sign Cespedes or Soler don’t despair.  There are still some marshmellows left in the Lucky Charms box that are still available.  They just might not be so tasty.

The Painted Desert - Diamondbacks

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

The Diamondbacks were the surprise winners of the National League West in 2011.  The last year they were surprise winners of the National League West they bombed the following year.  Myworld does not think they will bomb in 2012, but we think they will fall short of making the playoffs.

General Overview: One thing Kevin Towers is good at building is a bullpen.  So teams should be warned that if he is inquiring about a pitcher they might think twice about trading him to the Diamondbacks.  He turned David Hernandez from a starter to a reliever and had tremendous success with that.  It will be interesting to see how they respond to being defending conference champions.  Their response after winning it in 2007 was a complete collapse in 2008, after starting April 2008 with the best record in baseball.  The collapse won’t be so bad in 2012, but they will still miss the playoffs.

Why They Will Win: Myworld keeps hearing that Justin Upton has the potential to be the best player in the major leagues.  I take a look at his underachieving brother B.J. and Grady Sizemore and see a number of similarities.  If he meets the hype the Diamondbacks have themselves a player.  A .289 average and 31 homeruns is nothing to sneeze at, but myworld still sees 88 RBIs and a .239 average with runners in scoring position.  Paul Goldschmidt has the potential to be a big time run producer.  Miguel Montero is a solid catcher who can hit and play defense.  Jason Kubel will be another productive bat to be added into the lineup.  He also provides protection to the younger Goldschmidt at first base.  That makes gold glover Gerardo Parra a fourth outfielder/defensive replacement, so Kubel will have to hit to make his presence worthwhile.  The bullpen is very strong from the right side with J.J. Putz, David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler protecting leads.

Why They Won’t Win: They went and acquired Trevor Cahill, but he pitched awful the second half of the year.  The Athletics seemed too amenable to giving him away.  Fangraphs has his fastball at 89 which is not the Cahill myworld remembers.  Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson will have trouble matching the years they had last year.  J.J. Putz reminds me more of an effective setup man than closer, though he did an excellent job when healthy as the closer in 2011 with his 45 saves.  Joe Saunders gave them a lot of innings last year, but they seem to be very willing to let him walk, hoping that Josh Collmenter with Cahill can match his innings.  That still leaves them a starter short, which could be the cue for Trevor Bauer if he has a good spring.  The middle infield of Stephen Drew and Aaron Hill seems a bit short of what you want to see from a playoff caliber team.  Chris Young can go get it with the best of them, but his offense sees too many slumps and unproductive at bats for too many long stretches.  It would shock me if Ryan Roberts could repeat his production of 2011.

Prospects to Make the roster:  He throws in the triple digits and it would be ideal if he got some more seasoning in the minors, but Trevor Bauer is definitely talented.  He did reach AA last year but it wasn’t an overwhelming success (7.56 ERA).  Expect him more as a mid-year promotion possibility that being on the opening day roster.  Wade Miley could find himself in the starting rotation or being used as a lefty out of the pen.  Joe Patterson is currently their only legitimate lefty.  Zach Kroenke could be another lefty option out of the pen if Miley makes the starting rotation.  Cole Gillespie has an opportunity to make the team as an extra outfielder, though he would be better served playing in the minors until an injury created a need for his callup.

Long Range Prospects: Ryan Wheeler could take playing time away from Ryan Roberts if Roberts does not repeat his production of last year (originally had Mike Olt here but the Rangers have not traded him).    Tyler Skaggs should work himself in the starting rotation by mid-year.  Most of their top porspects are at the lower levels and would only get September callups at best.

Significant Transactions (as of Jan.4): Their biggest transaction was obtaining Trevor Cahill for the starting rotation and Craig Breslow to assist the bullpen from the left side.  They had to give up potential ace Jarrod Parker, who has been injured the past two years and young outfielder Collin Cowgill along with bullpen help Ryan Cook. Significant free agent signings are Lyle Overbay as protection from a sophmore slump from Paul Goldscmidt, Cody Ransom to help Willie Bloomquist in the utility role and Takashi Saito to strenghten the bullpen.  They also signed from Japan Jonathan Albaladejo, who failed in his job as a closer for the Yomiuri Giants, but may be more comfortable in a setup role.  He pitched in the Yankees bullpen in 2010 and was the player the Nationals traded to get Tyler Clippard.  The Diamondbacks also signed Jason Kubel as an outfielder to add a little more production to the offense in left field.  He can also DH against American League teams and play first base.

Expected Finish: Myworld predicts them to finish behind the Giants and just missing the wild card, which will go to the National League East in 2012.  The rotation is just not strong enough, which may burn out the bullpen and the offense will not generate enough runs to compensate for the runs the starting rotation gives up.  For diamondback fans the 2011 season will seem like a mirage.

Licey Sends Escogido to a Loss

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Licey (2-5) 3 Escogido (5-1) 0

In the battle of the Santo Domingos, Licey came out on top 3-0, led by the six inning, two hit pitching from Francisley Bueno.  As his last name states, his pitching was good.  The Leones started Francisco Liriano, but he was a bit rusty, giving up doubles to Anderson Hernandez and Ronny Paulino.  He reached his pitch count after getting the first two hitters out in the second inning, down 1-0.  Licey made sure he got credit for the loss with two insurance runs in the sixth, both runs scoring after a two out error by Escogido shortstop Pedro LopezDonell Linares made the error costly with his RBI double and Andy Dirks sneaked a single into centerfield to score Linares.  Oneli Perez retired the side in order in the ninth, striking out two to give the Tigers their second victory of the round robin.

Aguilas (3-3) game with the Gigantes (2-3) was postponed.

Caribes Class of Venezuela

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Caribes (2-0) 3 Zulia (0-2) 1

Caribes got solo shots from Gorkys Hernandez and Gustavo Molina to stay undefeated and down Zulia 3-1.  Zulia had scored first in the second inning but Gorkys tied it with his solo shot in the fourth.  He also drove in the third run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh, the same inning that Molina hit his solo homerun.  Andrew Baldwin settled down after the second inning and finished with seven innings before departing for Pedro Rodriguez and Jon Hunton.  For Hunton it was his second save for the second round.

Magallanes (1-1) 3 Arague (0-1) 2

Magallanes scored two runs in the opening frame as their first four hitters got on base via a walk or base hit.  Alberto Callapso and Jesus Flores drove in a run each with a single.  Magallanes scored what proved to be the go ahead run after Wilson Ramos committed an error on an attempted pickoff throw, allowing Mario Lisson to score.  Mario had singled, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a bad throw from Ramos.  Magallanes used seven different pitchers to get the last 11 outs, Jean Machi retiring four hitters he faced to pick up the save.  Machi gave up a run in the ninth but he retired Edgardo Alfonso on a fly out with the tying run at second.

Obregon, Culiacan Continue to Roll

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Obregon (3-0) 9 Guasave (0-3) 8

Obregon won their third straight against Guasave, Alfredo Amezaga going deep twice to lead in the 9-8 victory.  Alfredo had 2-run homeruns in the fifth and sixth inning to help erase what had been an early 5-2 Guasave lead.  The Algodoneros, who had won the second half are now just a game away from elimination.  They got homeruns from Japhet Amador, Daryle Ward and Brad Snyder, but came up one run short.  Neither starting pitcher Marco Carrillo or Francisco Cordoba could last past the fifth inning, with Marco being banged out in the third inning.  Luis Ayala, the eighth reliever in the game for the Yaquis, retired the side in order in the ninth to pick up the save.

Culiacan (3-0) 9 Novojoa (0-3) 4

Culiacan has not had a lot of difficulty with Novojoa, beating them in game 1 16-1.  The third game was a little closer, but a grand slam by Jorge Vazquez in the 5-run sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie and gave the Tomateros the laugher 9-4 victory.  Cory Aldridge and Jeff Frazier also went deep for the Culiacan offense.  Rodrigo Lopez was a bit wild, walking five, but he allowed only two hits and worked six innings to get the victory.

Mexicali (2-1) 7 Hermosillo (1-2) 1

Mexicali rode two early homeruns, a Issmael Salas 2 run homer in the second and a Willis Otanaz 3-run homerun in the third to give them an easy victory over Hermosillo.  Miguel Gonzalez picked up the win, going five plus innings.  He struck out six.  Dan Serafina gave up the two bombs and took the loss.  Hermosillo still has the best losing record of the three teams and could still advance to the next round.

Puerto Rican Playoffs Set

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The Puerto Rican playoffs are set to go with Carolina the only team eliminated from the playoff round.  The first round of the playoffs will be a best of five match between the second and third place teams, Ponce and Mayaguez.  The winner of that match will then play a best of seven affair against the league winner Caguas.  The games begin Saturday January 7.

The winner of the best of seven match will represent Puerto Rico in the Series del Caribe in Santo Domingo.

Mariners Sign Munenori Kawasaki

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

The Mariners are going to like what they see in Munenori Kawasaki, at least from what I saw from him in the Asian Series.  He will not provide any power, but then I don’t see Brendan Ryan banging balls off the walls.  He also has a solid glove and some lead off skills if they should get tired of Ichiro Suzuki and his barely over .300 OBA.  He had five hits in the three games myworld saw him play and was solid defensively.

Next on the agenda for team Japan will be Hisashi Iwakuma.

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay - Giants

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

It seems that when myworld picks the Giants they do not win and when we don’t pick them they do win.  This year we are picking them to win their division on the strength of their pitching.  If history repeats itself they will finish a disappointing second.

General Overview - They are the only team that can rival the Phillies with their rotation.  They just need an offense to score them a few more runs.  They were 28th in the league in hitting, but only the Mariners scored less than the Giants.  On the pitching side only the Phillies had a better ERA.  That translates for the year into a minus 8, or the opponents overall scored eight more runs than the Giants.  That has to change if they want to win this division.

Why They Will Win: Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are as formidable as Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.  Tim also has the perfect haight Ashbury look.  They have to hope that Ryan Vogelsong can come close to his 2011 numbers.  If he does that gives them a solid four with Madison Bumgarner the third starter.  They can only hope that Barry Zito lives up to a portion of his salary.  Buster Posey will be back.  That should give the offense its biggest boost.  Brandon Belt will have a year under his, well, belt, so his offensive numbers should improve as well.  Pablo Sandoval did a credible job at third base defensively and if he can continue to stay in shape that will make first base less crowded.  As is, they will have to decide whether Aubrey Huff or Belt moves to a corner outfield to get that extra bat in the lineup.  Melky Cabrera was a good pickup for the offense and he may end up playing a lot of centerfield if the offensive production of Angel Pagan continues to falter.

Why They Won’t Win: Brian Wilson did a lot of commercials last year and even though he had 36 saves there was a lot of carnage to that 3.11 ERA, almost a run and a half higher than 2010’s 1.81.  He also pitched in 13 less games because of arm soreness.  This year he needs to focus on pitching rather than tacos.  Other than at catcher they are not very strong up the middle.  Angel Pagan is the better defensive player, but his average dropped close to 30 points last year.  Shortstop could be staffed by a number of different youth who have not proven they can hit.  Brandon Crawford would be the favorite to fill the spot opening day.  Freddy Sanchez at second needs to stay healthy.  Barry Zito is the highest paid fifth starter in the history of baseball.  The Giants would love for some team to take over his contract.

Rookies to Make the Roster: Brandon Crawford hopes to stick at short, but he has to move that average higher than .204.  Otherwise Ehire Adrianza is poised to take over the position.  Ehire is the better defensive player.  With a good spring Francisco Peguero could show the Giants that he is a better alternative to Brandon Belt.  Charlie Culberson is just a hot spring or an injury to Sanchez away from starting at second base.

Long Range Prospects: Hector Sanchez hit well in Venezuela.  If his bat continues to impress the Giants may find it better suits their needs to have Buster Posey play first base.  Hector has been one of the better hitters in the Venezuelan winter league.  Justin Christian should see some fourth outfielder play because of his ability to play center field.  Eric Surkamp will be given another opportunity to make the starting rotation.  All he has to do is outperform Barry Zito.

Significant Transactions:The acquistion of Melky Cabrera cost them Jonathan Sanchez, a forgotten piece of their rotation who was replaced by Ryan Vogelsong.  Melky should patrol right field for the Giants, unless Angel Pagan doesn’t produce.  Pagan was acquired from the Mets in a trade of disappointing centerfielders, with the Giants giving up Andre Torres.  Joaquin Arias signed a minor league contract, but he could find a utility role with the Giants.  That is the best they have been able to do on the free agent market.

Expected Finish: They will carry their pitching to the NL West crown.  The offense will produce a little more than last year.  Their park will always be a pitcher’s park, so they should never expect an offense that scores a lot of runs.

Escogido Rallies for Win

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Escogido (6-1) 3 Aguilas (3-4) 2

Miguel Tejeda stroked a single in the top of the ninth inning to give Aguilas a 2-1 lead.  Escogido would not quit.  The veteran Fernando Tatis singled to drive in the tying run and while on first Francisco Pena tried to pick him off and threw the ball into right field, advancing Tatis to third.  Melky Mesa drove a ball far enough in the outfield to drive in the go ahead run to give Escogido a 3-2 win.  Shane Youman and Nelson Figueroa, two of the star pitchers of the Dominican Winter League, were locked in a pitcher’s duel, each only giving up one run in their seven innings of work.  Shane struck out nine.  Fernando Rodney, fresh off his signing with Tampa got the win despite giving up the go ahead run.  Jose Diaz took the loss.

Gigantes (3-3) 3 Licey (2-6) 1

Gigantes moved into second place with the 3-1 win over Licey.  John Halama went five innings to get credit for the win.  He was supported by Alex Casilla, Wilson Valdez and Diory Hernandez, who all drove in one run each.