Archive for February, 2013

Manny Could Play in Taiwan in 2013

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

If a major league team does not sign Manny Ramirez to a contract by March 7, Manny Ramirez will take his gloves and bats to play with the recently bought franchise the E-Da Rhinos in Taiwan.  The Rhinos used to be the Sinon Bulls.  Of course, with Manny being Manny there is always the chance he will change his mind once March 7 arrives and choose to retire.

Taiwan Downs Monkeys

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

In front of 13,680 to watch an exhibition game, the fans saw the Taiwan WBC team defeat the Lamiga Monkeys 6-4.  Chien Ming Wang got the start and went just under five innings.  He gave up three runs on three hits, victimized by Chin-feng Chen who Dodger fans may remember as the first Taiwan player to ever make the major leagues.  Chen hit a 2-run triple off Wang and then scored the third run on an error.  Hong-chih Kuo made an appearance, pitching one inning and striking out all three hitters he faced.

You can read an account of the game here: http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aSPT&ID=201302240019

Tigers Shutout Team Samurai; Buffaloes Trounce Brazil

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

The Japanese Team Samurai team is having trouble generating an offense.  Other than erupting for 10 runs against Australia the offense has been pretty quiet.  Yesterday the Hanshin Tigers shutout Team Samurai 1-0.  Randy Messenger got the start for the Tigers and gave up two hits.  The bullpen came on and only gave up one hit the final six innings, retiring the last 13 hitters in a row.

At least the pitching staff did their job.  Tetsuya Utsimi got the start and went three innings, giving up just one hit.  The Tigers got an RBI single in the fifth off Hayata Ito off Hideaki Wakui to score the only run.

The Orix Buffaloes had an easier time with their WBC opponent, whipping Team Brazil 6-2.  Brazil’s pitchers walked 14 and the Buffaloes were able to steal five bases off them.  Rafael Fernandes got the start for Brazil and walked two.  Daniel Matsumoto and Taigo Magalhaes got RBI singles for Brazil in the fifth giving them a short 2-1 lead.  The Buffaloes bunched together two doubles, a triple four walks and a wild pitch to score four runs in the sixth to take a 5-2 lead.

You can get the box score or the scoring summary here: http://yakyubaka.com/.  The line score for the Brazil game shows 9-2 but myworld could only count six runs.

The Breaking News Story (cont - 3)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Spring training was about done. Larvell gathered Moose, Pablo and Rigo into the office again to go over the roster assignments for the various levels of the minor leagues and the major league team to see if anything needed to change. The team had a decent spring. They only lost one more game than they won. However, no one remembers your spring training won/loss record once the regular season starts. It is the won/loss record of the regular season that counts.

The big buzz was still Jason’s appearance against the Yankees. Ruben was a bit disappointed Jason did not make another appearance to fill the park in Sarasota, though some people went to the games anyway in the hope of seeing Jason pitch. It never happened.

The games at the minor league park saw a lot of visitors. Ruben had said they should start charging admission to the minor league facilities to earn more revenue. Larvell had to remind him they shared those facilities with the city of Sarasota. There were also little league and soccer fields in the area. It was not practical to charge admission to the minor league facilities without any controlled entrances and exits.

The request for press passes from the Chinese doubled after Jason’s success. Many of the U.S. sports writers were making it a point to visit the minor league facilities as well, especially when Jason was scheduled to pitch in a game. Curious Asian vacationers and true baseball fans all wanted to get a glimpse of Jason Woo throw in the minor league park. They ran out of temporary bleachers to accommodate all the people visiting the minor league park so most of the fans had to stand to get a glimpse of the legend being talked about in the press and over the internet.

The only person from China who had left spring training was Kathy Li. There were no more sightings of her and her two effeminate assistants after the interview was concluded. This created more parking spaces now that her giant motor home was gone. They needed all that space to accommodate the onslaught of writers and fans visiting the minor league camp to get a glimpse of Jason Woo pitch.

Larvell got hounded by many of the writers for an interview with Jason. When he told them it was not possible they would ultimately bring up the Kathy Li interview. Larvell wondered how they knew about the interview with Kathy since it had yet to be televised.

Rigo calculated Jason’s minor league numbers as a point of fascination with the group. “20 innings pitched, two hits, one walk, 35 strikeouts and a 0.00 ERA,” he announced with a groupies affection to his tone. “The opposition hit him at a .032 clip. If you add in his major league spring training numbers it is even more impressive. His ERA stays at zero and he has 42 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. The opposition average though would rise to .042. That’s still pretty good.”

Larvell smiled at the sarcasm. Rigo was learning. “Last time we met there was some resistance about starting Jason at Delmarva. Any second thoughts?”

“Put him in the major leagues,” Moose shouted. “I’m serious. There isn’t a pitcher on our major league team that has better stuff than him.”

Larvell appreciated the optimism Moose showed in Jason, but he wasn’t about to start Jason in the major leagues, not with the current cast of characters they had on their roster. He thought the roster still had some poisoned personalities he wanted to cleanse from the team before he exposed someone like Jason to this group. Once they were traded away or released he would not have quite as much resistance. He also didn’t see any point in rushing Jason when it was clear from the talent they had on the major league roster they were not going to make the playoffs even if Jason pitched every fifth day. Why waste one of his free years to start his arbitration clock running early.

“Any other thoughts?” Larvell was hoping to get some debate to counter Moose.

“The kid is definitely talented.” Larvell noticed Pablo was almost as dark as Rigo. The Florida sun had lathered him the color of maple syrup. “I would still like to see him start in Delmarva. We can still move him up quickly once he has had success there.”

“When has he not had success? He struck out seven Yankees. In a row.” Moose pointed to the Yankee logo printed on his arm. “That is a championship caliber team. You saw him in the Dominican. He was pretty dominant there and they have some pretty good hitters in that league. It is borderline AA/AAA. He will not be challenged at Delmarva.”

“He has looked impressive,” Pablo agreed. “The Yankees were just an exhibition game and that was the first time they were seeing the kid. In the Dominican, there have been plenty of pitchers who have had success down there, but done squat once given the opportunity to pitch in the major leagues. The game is so much faster here. Let’s first start with baby steps. When it looks like he can walk we’ll bump him up and keep bumping him up until he can show us a record breaking 100 yard dash.”

“You have anything you want to add Rigo?”

“First of all, I’m a numbers guy. I can’t look at a guy’s motion and immediately say that he is going to be a success. Jason doesn’t have enough numbers for me to make any conclusions. But he is the first guy I have watched who I can say grades far above any other players I’ve watched. His fastball is explosive and his curve just drops off the table. He is the real deal. But what is the down side with starting him at Delmarva to get his feet wet?”

At that point Ruben came barging through the door. Larvell had felt the buzzer on his cell phone constantly vibrate, but because they were engaged in discussion he never thought to pick it up to look to see who was buzzing. After Jason’s performance against the Yankees his phone seemed to be on constant buzz mode. He did not have Jackie stationed in front of his door to warn him about any unexpected intruders like he did in Baltimore. Ruben was able to bust right in without any warning.

“We have a major crisis,” Ruben blurted out, almost out of breathe, sweat pouring down his forehead and rolling down his cheeks. “It appears Kathy has a news story that is disparaging to Jason. It’s all over the television.”

Upton with the Bomb in Braves Win

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Justin Upton hit one of the longest homeruns myworld has witnessed, bashing one high and far over the grassy berm at Champion Stadium in Orlando to give the Braves their first spring training win, 7-6 over the Marlins.  Only 3,105 were excited enough to see the Marlins play on a Monday.  Jeff Loria has more apologizing to do to win the forgiveness of the Marlins fans.  Actions speak louder than words and since the Marlins are one of the lowest spenders in the international market we’re still not thinking this apology was sincere.

The homerun by Upton was the second of back to back, the first a line shot into the wind over the right field fence by Jason Hayward.  The back to back shots gave the Braves a 2-1 lead.  One out later B.J. Upton doubled into the left centerfield gap, stole third and scampered home on a wild pitch from Scott Maine to score the third run of the inning.

Matt Pagnozzi poked a 3-run double in the sixth to give the Braves a 7-1 lead.  Zach Phillips couldn’t get an out, giving up four hits and a walk to his first five hitters.  The only out was the result of B.J. Upton getting thrown out trying to steal second.  Tyler Pastornicky ended the inning with a line drive double play that got Pagnozzi leaning too far off second.

The Marlins made the game close strafing Yohan Flande for five runs.  Jake Marisnick smashed a triple over the head of right fielder Jordan Schafer to drive in one run and Christian Yelich drove him in with a single to finish off the scoring.  At least the young kids shined at the end.

Game notes: Arquimedes Caminero came in throwing 95 but his pitches were far off the plate.  He walked his first hitter, hit his second and gave up a single to Pastornicky.  His curveball had very little break and his arm action on the change was much slower than his fastball.  Caminero was fortunate the Braves tried to send Jordan Schafer home on the Pastornicky single.  Jordan was thrown out by ten feet by Giancarlo StantonCraig Kimbrel pitched a bit better in his second appearance.  He gave up a run, didn’t strike out a batter, but he had more command of his pitches, still hitting the mid-90s…Dan Uggla looks atrocious at second base early in the season.  He made another error at second and had a couple other poor fielding plays, but he was still able to get an out to prevent an error.  If he doesn’t hit his defense will be a liability at second base…Kyle Skipworth got the start at catcher.  With the injury to Jeff Mathis he could get the call as the backup.  He went 0 for 2, grounding into a double play.  His bat is slow.  Don’t know what he can do to speed it up.

Beavers Sweep Aztecs

Monday, February 25th, 2013

It wasn’t pretty.  After sweeping their cross state rivals the San Diego Toreros at their new park the Aztecs went to their park to host the Oregon State Beavers.  The Beavers returned the favor, turning out to be just as ungracious of guests as the Aztecs had been to the Toreros.

San Diego State scored only two runs in the four game series against the number six ranked Beavers after scoring 17 runs in their three game sweep against the Toreros.  In the opener with the score 2-1 after six innings the Aztecs went to their bullpen after Michael Cederoth walked five.  The Beavers bunched together five hits against the Aztec bullpen and a crucial error helped the Beavers to plate five runs, Tyler Smith stroking a critical 2-run double.  Dan Child got his second win of the season, giving up just one run in five plus innings of work.

The Beavers got back to back shutouts, with Matt Boyd outdueling Philip Walby in the second game, a 2-0 Beaver victory.  Boyd was two outs away from pitching a complete game shutout, striking out nine and giving up just five hits.  Danny Hayes and Dylan Davis stroked RBI singles in the eighth inning to end the goose eggs.  Andrew Moore was also just two outs from a complete game shutout in game three, but he only allowed two hits and the Beaver offense provided him five runs in their 5-0 win.  The Beavers collected four hits in the sixth to jump out front 4-0.

The Beavers completed the four game sweep with a 7-1 pasting of the Aztecs.  Brandon Jackson and Scott Schultz combined for seven plus innings of shutout relief.  Jeff Hendrix, Kavin Keyes and Andy Peterson each drove in two runs to key the offense in the victory.

Gators Embarrassed by Eagles

The Florida Gulf Coast Eagles swept a three game series against the 13th ranked Gators.  The Eagles Ricky Knapp threw a complete game victory in the 8-2 opener.  Brooks Beisner slugged a 3-run homer in the sixth, the first hit for the Eagles in the game, to give them a 3-1 lead.  For Beisner it was his third homerun of the young season.  Jonathan Crawford had not given up a hit when he was removed in the sixth inning, but he had walked a batter and hit another to put two runners on with one out.  Zack Tillery put the game away in the eighth with a 3-run double as the Eagles scored five in the inning.

In the second game the Eagles knocked the Gators under .500 with an 8-3 shellacking.  Michael Suchey started the two run fifth inning with a single that put the Eagles up 2-1 and then hit a 3-run homer in the sixth to start the rout.

The Gators battled in the third game but Brooks Beisner struck again with a 2-run homer in the seventh to tie the game at 4-4.  Harrison Cooney threw the last five innings of shutout relief to get credit for the victory once Sean Dwyer hit his first homerun of the year in the eleventh, a 3-run blast to give the Eagles a 7-4 win.  Dwyer finished the game with four hits.

Titans Sweep Struggling Horned Frogs

After being swept in a 3-game series to Ole Miss the Horned Frogs were swept by the Cal State Fullerton Titans in their home park to begin the season 0-6.  No more top twenty rankings until they can win a few games to get back over .500.  The games were not competetive.

Thomas Eshelman threw five plus innings of shutout ball in the opener as the Titans cruised 7-2.  They scored three runs in the ninth to pull away in the game.  Carlos Lopez and Michael Lorenzen each drove in two runs.

Jake Jeffries was a one man wrecking crew in the second game slugging a grand slam homerun in the eighth inning to give the Titans a 6-0 lead in a 6-2 win.  Jeffries finished the game with five runs batted in.  His father Greg was the Bryce Harper of his day, but didn’t live up to the hype.  Justin Garza went seven plus innings to get the win.

Grahamm Wiest threw seven plus innings of four hit shutout ball as the Titans completed the sweep with the 7-0 win.  Austin Diemer crossed the plate three times, stealing two bases and Matt Chapman slapped three singles to drive in two runs to lead the offense.

Japan Stomps Australia in Exhibition

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Japan won their second exhibition game over Australia with a 10-3 shellacking.  Kazuo Matsui had a big 3-run triple in the fourth inning to give the Japanese the lead for good.  He ended up driving in four runs for the game.  Seiichi Uchikawa slapped three singles to drive in three runs.  Kenta Maeda got the start and worked three innings, giving up the only homerun in the game to Luke Hughes to drive in all three runs.  The reports are his velocity was back to normal.

The only offense generated by Australia was a 3-run homer by Luke Hughes in the third inning giving them a brief 3-2 lead.  The 3-run triple from Matsui in the top of the fourth ended the brief lead.  Australia committed four errors in the game to allow five unearned runs to cross the plate.

You can see the box score from the game here: http://yakyubaka.com/2013/02/24/samurai-japan-australia-3-japan-10-february-24-2013/#more-95224

The Breaking News Story (cont - 2)

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Jason had a couple dates with Emily. Kevin was the chaperone on the first date, so that one didn’t really count as a date. Jason didn’t want to be alone with her so he insisted Kevin join them. Besides, they needed a car and Emily didn’t have one. She greeted them at the front door of her apartment complex, streaks of pink running through her black hair. She also wore a loose fitting blouse hanging down from her shoulders, exposing the straps of a pink bra matching the color of her streaks. The more the blouse hung down her shoulder the greater the view of the inked dragon breathing fire from her shoulder into her neck. She also wore white tinker bell boots with black jeans. The black jeans were shredded along her thighs exposing her chalk white stick figure legs painted with other varieties of tattoos inked to her legs. She was a fashionista, with every piece of clothing stating a purpose. Kevin wondered how this fashion taste would mix with Jason and his sweat shirt, jeans and tennis shoe collection, though he was wearing the same button down shirt he wore when doing the interview with Kathy Li on this first date.

Emily adorned her face with multiple piercings, one above the left eye, one attached to the right side of her lip and a shiny piece of jewelry impaled to the left side of her nose. She had a stud placed in the middle of her tongue. She could light up a metal detector with the metal she wore.

When Emily noticed Kevin was without a date she volunteered to call a friend “to make it even”.

“No. That is not necessary,” Kevin begged her. “With all the Chinese photographers hanging around this town trying to take pictures of Jason the last thing I need is for my wife to see a picture of me with another woman. I don’t care how innocent it is.”

“You mean my name will like appear in the tabloids for being seen with you guys?” Her voice rose with excitement. Kevin was getting used to her adopted English language filled with the “likes” and the “you knows” scattered throughout her sentences.

“Only in China. So unless you know someone in China who can read the tabloids you will never see it. My wife gets all the news from her father. So there is no way I will avoid the scrutiny. A lot of it could even appear on the internet if you knew how to search in Mandarin for the sites. My wife is pretty good at that too.”

“Cool. I don’t think I’ve ever been written about in a Chinese newspaper before.” The way she said it made Kevin wonder if she had ever been written about in a Korean newspaper.

“You’d probably be listed as ‘unidentified woman’ unless one of the photographers knew you,” Jason added in jest.

Emily laughed a hyena like laugh. “So cruel. Somebody would care who I was.” One thing about her is she liked to laugh. Kevin wasn’t sure if it was forced or natural. Whatever it was, after awhile it didn’t sound pleasant to his ears. Jason didn’t seem to be bothered.

The date was routine. They went out to dinner and a movie afterward. Jason asked her how many tattoos she had and she responded “a lot”. She pulled up the right side of her blouse to show a number of stars circling around a planet tattooed along her right waist. In the process of showing her tattoo she also exposed her g-string pink panties matching her pink bra. The hot pink was struggling to escape from her black denim jeans. She also lifted up the front of her blouse to show the tattoo of a face, with her belly button acting as a wide open mouth similar to Munch’s The Scream. She had a piercing in her naval making the tattoo look like it was screaming in pain from the hook dangling from its mouth. She was skinny now, with a flat stomach and very little figure to her waist. She had all the curves of a pencil. Kevin wondered what attracted Jason to this woman.

As she pulled up the left side of her blouse she displayed a tattoo of a fat bellied Buddha. She then allowed Jason to pick inside the shredded portion of her denim jeans to show the details of the tattoos on her legs. She had a story for them all. Kevin had to admit the artistry of the tattoos was impressive, better crafted than the ink stains appearing on the arms of Alexis. They were also not as violent as the tattoos shaping the arms of Victor Murray. The tattoos were very artistically done and had to have taken a big chunk of money out of her paycheck. “I’ve got others, but like they are you know in spots that are not meant to be shown in public,” she said spraying out a hyena laugh. Kevin thought she was a better match for Alexis than Jason. At least with Alexis they could share their tattoo exhibits. Jason had none to display. Kevin counted 10 visible tattoos on Emily.

The dolphin tattoo on her right hand was her first tattoo. It was the least obtrusive of them all. It represented her favorite animal. Her ideal job would be to work at Sea World and be one of those employees who ride the dolphins. The dragon on her right shoulder was her second tattoo. It is her Chinese zodiac symbol. Jason and Emily were born the same year, so they were both dragons. “Is that good?” Kevin asked. “You guys aren’t going to destroy each other while I’m not looking.”

“Dragons are compatible,” Emily responded.

Her father brought her to the States about four years ago, opening up an auto manufacturing plant in Florida. He stayed for two years before returning back to Korea once it was up and running. Emily had turned 18 when he returned to Korea. It was her decision to stay in Florida, getting a student visa to get an education here. There was nothing for her back in Korea. She didn’t get along with her mother, who was not the wife of her father but a mistress who smoked and drank a lot. Her father’s wife forbade him from having Emily stay with them because it reminded her of his lustful spirit. He was supposed to be over that now. So she was better off in the States.

While in the States she didn’t really spend too much time educating herself, choosing to work as a waitress instead to pay for her living expenses, even though her father would send her some money. Last year she was able to get her green card, so she no longer needed the pretense of going to school to stay in the United States. She still didn’t know what she wanted to do for a career. Working with dolphins at Sea World seemed a bit unrealistic now. She definitely did not want to work as a waitress at the Eastern Buffet all her life. “Maybe a musician,” but when Kevin asked she didn’t really play an instrument. “Drums would be pretty cool. You could settle a lot of anger issues pounding on the drums.”

When the date was over Jason walked her to the door of her apartment complex, putting out his hand to give her a goodbye hand shake. She pulled his hand toward her, grabbed him around the waist pulling Jason towards her and gave him a wet smooch across the lips, so quickly Jason did not have time to pucker, then ran to the door of her apartment complex to wave before stepping inside.

“That had to hurt or feel awkward with her piercing still attached to her lips,” Kevin commented.

Jason put his finger to his lips. “I didn’t even feel the metal. Her lips were moist and the kiss felt nice”. He was smitten.

Emboldened after the one date, Jason ventured alone for the second date. That had to have gone well since he got in just before curfew. Kevin worried he may have to send out a search party the closer it got to midnight, but Jason stepped in the door of his room with two minutes to spare. Kevin was listening for him in his room sitting on the couch like a worried mother. Jason figured out the bus routes in the city, or at least the one that took him near Emily’s place.

Over breakfast the next day Kevin asked him what he was going to do once he got assigned to a minor league team. They were still in Group four, which was being run by the Delmarva manager Dusty Rhodes. This seemed to indicate they would be assigned to Salisbury, Maryland to begin their season. The only bus route going from Maryland to Florida was Greyhound and that route was a twenty hour drive. As Kevin expected, Jason didn’t know. He always took life one step at a time.

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Mets and Astros Battle to a 7-7 Tie

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The Astros got a game tying RBI single from George Springer that bounced over the head of second baseman Phillip Evans.  With the bases loaded and one out they could drive in the go ahead run, Brandon Barnes and Brandon Laird grounding out to third for the second and third out to leave it at a 7-7 tie.

The Mets scored first when Jamie Hoffman smoked a ball over the left centerfield fence in the top of the second to take a 1-0 lead.  Fernando Martinez responded with a homerun in the bottom of the second, a line drive shot over the right field fence.  Fernando started his career with the Mets.

In the top of the third Jordany Valdespin went deep against Jose Veras yanking a 2-run homer into right center field to take a 3-1 lead.  After walking Collin Cowgill, Veras bore down and struck out the remaining three hitters.

Recently acquired Brad Peacock came out to pitch in the fourth for the Astros.  He had trouble throwing strikes, walking Jamie Hoffman and Omar QuintanillaJosh Satin roped a double into the right field corner to score two and Cowgill drove in the third run in the inning with a single, Marwin Gonzalez almost making a spectacular play at short to rob him of a hit in the hole.

Down 6-1 the Astros battled back.  Jason Castro lined a homerun into right field off Jeremy Hefner, almost in the same spot as Martinez to get the Mets to within three.  Jeurys Familia came on in the fifth and had trouble with his command.  A walk and a single put runners at second and third with two outs.  Brett Wallace drove in two runs with a clutch single.  After pinchrunner Delino Deshields stole second and advanced to third when the ball was thrown into centerfield, he scored on a wild pitch to tie the game.

The Mets were able to take the lead off Sergio Escalona, getting three straight hits to bring in the go ahead run.  Wilfredo Tovar drove in the go ahead run with a line drive single over the second baseman.

For the Mets Collin Cowgirl had two hits, a single and double in two at bats with one walk and two stolen bases.  He was recently acquired from the Diamondbacks.  Josh Satin stroked two doubles and was hit by a pitch, but also ground into a double play in the eighth with runners on first and third.  Lucas Duda struggled with four whiffs in four at bats and now has six strikeouts in seven at bats for the spring.  He seemed to really have trouble laying off the breaking pitch diving in the dirt, and swinging and missing at pitches above his chest.

For the Astros George Springer walked twice and bounced an RBI single over the second base man’s head to drive in the game tying run.  He has a long swing and has a lot of movement in the top half of his bat as he waits for the pitch.

Nate Frieman made a nice stretch at first base on a ball he had to scoop out of the dirt.  He also singled and beat out a ground ball that appeared to be booted by the second baseman Phillip Evans, but they changed the initial error ruling to a hit.

Game Notes: Marwin Gonzalez started the game almost giving Matt Harvey a facial, ripping a line drive up the middle.  Harvey worked two innings and gave up one run, a homerun to Martinez…Jimmy Paredes made a bad turn on a line drive to right field resulting in a Josh Satin double…Chia-jen Lo looked good in his ninth inning appearance.  He had a nice breaking curveball and good velocity on his fastball.  Myworld sees him making the bullpen for the Astros…It seems everyone now has a race.  For the Astros it is the polar bear race.  Not too sure what that has to do with Houston or baseball, but the three colored bears did not really look like they were racing.  They were high fiving the fans as they raced from the left field area to the first base dugout area…The Astros also broke out their mascot Orbit.  This is the first time myworld remembers seeing a mascot in Kissimmee.  He is a green creature with baseballs for ears…Only 3,048 showed up for the Astros spring home opener, many of them Mets fans.

WBC Prediction - Taiwan Group

Monday, February 25th, 2013

It will be a three team battle in Taiwan between Korea, Taiwan and Netherlands.  Australia is another talented team, but that talent falls a little short when compared to the other three teams.

Netherlands is the defending World Cup Champs, but the Korean team they played in Panama did not have any representatives from the KBO.  The Netherlands team is also more talented than the team that won the World Cup in Panama, with more talented major leaguers and ex-major leaguers and now current NPB players on their roster.

The Netherlands starting pitching will be relying more on Dutch mainlanders than major leaguers to shut down the opposition.  Don’t well them short.  They recently shut down Cuba 5-0, one of the better offenses in the WBC, getting five shutout innings from Diegomar Markwell.  Even though the Cuban lineup was without Alfredo Despaigne the rest of the big bats were there.  Rob Cordemans has an excellent changeup to neutralize offenses.  He has a bit of a vendatta to complete against Taiwan after being released after only half a season in the CPBL.

This Netherlands team should score more runs than the 2009 team with big bats in the outfield in Roger Bernadina and Wladimir Balentien, who led the NPB in homeruns last year.  Their infield is filled with promising prospects in Xander Bogaerts and Jonathan Schoop.  Jurickson Profar chose to instead stay with the Rangers in the spring, but the Netherlands still have Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons to play the position.  The one position the Netherlands may see as their achilles heel is catching.

Korea has lost their top three starters, one to the major leagues and two to injuries.  Hyun-jin Ryu decided to stay with his new team the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Two of their other top pitchers Kwang-hyun Kim and Jung-Keun Bong were not available because of injuries.  They also will not have the big bat of Shin-Soo Choo to supplement a powerful offense.  That is four critical players missing from a roster who could make a significant impact.

It will be a veteran team with the big bats of Dae-ho Lee, Seung-yeop Lee and Tae-kyun Kim.  The problem with the three is for all of them their best position is first base.  At one point Lee and Kim played third base but both would hurt the team defensively if moved there now.

Most expect the host Taiwan team to make the final two.  They seem to be relying a lot on ex-major leaguers Chien-ming Wang and Hong-chih Kuo, but both have not pitched effectively in awhile.  That could prove disasterous in a short series if they continue to be ineffective.

The key game will be the opener when Korea takes on Netherlands.  The winner of that game may end up winning the pool.  Myworld predicts Netherlands will win the Tawian pool with Korea in second.  The home crowd will not be able to push Taiwan into the second round.  Australia will finish in fourth, competetive, but not good enough to win a game.  In the Asian Series the Australian teams still get dominated by the best teams of Korea and Taiwan.