Archive for February, 2013

More International Signings

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Baseball America has identified the significant signings for the National League Central and West.  Myworld identifies those signings from countries other than Dominican Republic or Venezuela.  You can see the full list of signings here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/international-affairs/2013/2614708.html

Australia

Samuel Kennelly SS (Pittsburgh Pirates) - Younger brother of the Kennelly brothers.

Colombia

Oswaldo Garcia C (Arizona Diamondbacks)

Mexico

Julia Urias LHP (Los Angeles Dodgers)

Nicaragua

Ronald Medrano RHP (St. Louis Cardinals)

Panama

Edmundo Sosa SS (St. Louis Cardinals)

The Breaking News Story

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

Chapter 17

The Breaking News Story

March 29 – There were over two thousand protesters in front of the United States embassy in Beijing today. The United States embassy claimed its employees were being spit on as they arrived at the embassy. The security was not doing their job keeping the protesters a safe distance from the embassy employees arriving to work. One employee claimed he had a cup of coffee thrown at him while attempting to enter the embassy. A spokesman from China who preferred to remain nameless commented it is better to be spit on or have coffee thrown at you than having bombs explode near your office. The authorities are doing their best to contain the protesters but the citizens are angry over the lack of security at the China embassy in Washington, D.C.

After their appearance in the spring training game against the Yankees the work outs at the minor league facility lost much of their juice. Kevin had ended the day batting 1.000 but no one really cares about performances in spring training exhibition games, even if your one hit is against a former Cy Young award pitcher who Kevin knew was going to throw him a fastball. The one appearance at a major league spring training game was about as good as it was going to get. The daily grind of minor league drills began all over again, with the sweat and the exertion to get another opportunity to be noticed.

Between Jason’s 7 strikeouts and the already forgotten double hit by Kevin, remembered more only for its confrontation with an MVP Yankee second baseman, Group four had done well at the spring training game. The rest of the Orioles did not do so well after Jason and Kevin left. The Yankees won the game 11-2.

The performance by Jason and the thunder that rumbled afterward only increased the clamor from the press, flaming their interest like gasoline to a fire to find out information on this kid who appeared to have just dropped out from the sky. Now everybody wanted to know the story of Jason Woo. Who was this kid who had struck out seven Yankees with a 100 mile per hour plus fastball? Where did he come from? Why did it thunder once he left the game? The press filled the minor league camp making it look more like a crowded train station in Japan during the five o’clock rush hour than a baseball field. Reporters and photographers were all jostling for position, all trying to capture Jason Woo on frame or get a quote from him. Jason still pretended not to know English to the American reporters. With the Chinese press he just put his head down and crashed through them, following Kevin who led the way rushing through the scrum like a fullback.

The difference between the games played in the minor league camp and those played in the major leagues was extreme. For Jason, the minor league camp could be compared to a gladiator doing battle with kittens, while in the major league camp at least Jason was battling with lions.

Jason dominated the kittens in the three minor league games he pitched. He worked the equivalent of 20 innings because sometimes an inning in minor league camp is more than three outs. Only two players coaxed hits off him, little bleeders finding space between the infielders. There was no instance where the barrel of the bat struck a ball in any of his appearances. He struck out 35. It didn’t seem fair for him to be slaying these kittens in minor league camp. There didn’t seem to be much resistance. Just a meek “Meow!” before they were slain. Kevin kept hoping for another major league appearance, but the call never came.

Alexis, the Beast got his revenge against Jason. Dusty had him hit a round of batting practice against Jason. He was proud to take Jason deep three times. It didn’t matter Jason was announcing his pitches so Alexis knew what was being thrown. Jason also knew where Jason liked them and threw his pitches to that spot. The three he took out were 95 mile per hour fastballs Jason just lobbed toward the plate chest high. Other pitchers only wished they could lob the ball so hard.

Jason didn’t seem to mind the Beast clobbering the ball over the fence or even his dancing around in jubilation after the hit like Godzilla defeating King Kong, talking smack to Jason all during his dance. “See – I told you I would take you deep.” Alexis was his teammate. If it built his confidence to take Jason deep every once in a while only good things could come from the Beast’s perception of his accomplishment. “I still know the holes in his swing if he ever becomes an opponent,” Jason told Kevin as a confident smirk inched across his face.

Kevin was impressed at how well the Beast whacked the curve ball when he knew the pitch was coming. It wasn’t that he couldn’t hit a curveball as the scouting reports had said but that he failed to recognize when a curveball was coming.

Another one of their big players Jorel Putnam, the cleaned up mountain man referred to as Wreckit showed a different skill having nothing to do with smacking the ball a country mile. Inside the locker room, when the players would change into their practice gear, or stand naked in the shower Jorel would show off his skill of making his chest dance to the beat of different music. He had developed some pretty impressive man boobs over the years subsisting on a diet of pizza and beer. He could make the left one bounce and then the right one, choreographed to dance to the beat of the stereo. Kevin didn’t know how those skills would enhance his career once his baseball skills failed him. “Probably none. But the women like it when we have sex. I may not be good in bed but I’m fun in bed.” A job as a male stripper was a possibility.

Kevin wondered how long he could entertain Shu with a dancing chest. That would get old after awhile. She would probably laugh the first time he did it but divorce him after his third dance. Or go sleep in another room. “If you are so fun in bed why did your wife divorce you?”

“I had the tendency to spread the fun around. A little bit too much extra-curricular activity. As a ball player that is tough to control. Women love a man in a uniform. Especially a baseball uniform. She was my third wife, though the second one doesn’t really count. That was a Las Vegas wedding. We divorced the next day, after we got sober. Like an alcoholics anonymous I need to find a spouses anonymous that will prevent me from marrying a fourth time. It is an addiction that is getting too expensive for me. ”

WBC Prediction Japan

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

The four teams playing in Japan are Japan, Cuba, China and Brazil.  Brazil qualified with their upset win in the qualifier while China was fortunate not to have to qualify as a result of their surprising win over Taiwan in the 2009 WBC.  Unless we see a major upset the two teams to advance to the second round will be Japan and Cuba.

Japan has the pitching but will struggle to score runs.  Cuba has the bats but their pitching is rather ordinary as a 20-10 exhibition victory over Taiwan will tell you.

The key for Japan will be the health of Kenta Maeda, who is scheduled to start the second game.  He has yet to pitch with his normal velocity and there is some concern with injury.  Masahiro Tanaka will pitch the opener and Toshiya Sugiuchi is scheduled to follow him.  If Maeda can not go in the second game Japan may turn to Hirokazu Sawamura to replace him.  The big bat on offense may have to come from their catcher and captain Shinnosuke Abe, but this team will for the most part manufacture runs with sacrifice bunts, stolen bases and moving runners over, sacrificing so many outs Billy Bean would cringe.

Cuba is just the opposite of Japan.  They have a big three capable of going deep at any time in Frederich Cepeda, Jose Abreu and Alfredo Despaigne.  In exhibition games Despaigne has hit five homeruns in three games.  Yulieski Gourriel is another bat that can also be dangerous.  So Cuba is not going to have any trouble scoring runs.  Ismel Jimenez will be asked to be their ace.  He has a career winning percentage of over .700.  You look at their pitchers and none of them stand over 6′2″ or throws 95.

The big game will be March 6 when Cuba plays Japan in the finals.  Both teams will enter the game undefeated with the winner becoming the number one seed.  Japan has eliminated Cuba from this tournament in 2006 and 2009.  Their pitching seems to tame the Cuban bats who are used to hitting against what is considered inferior Cuban pitching.  Japan should come out of the first round as the first seed with Cuba being the second seed.

Brazil has lost Yan Gomes their best hitter and only major leaguer to the Cleveland Indian training camp.  Their only hope is for Andre Rienzo to pitch lights out against Cuba in the opener, pull off the upset of the WBC and have Japan beat Cuba on March 6 to advance to back into the second round as the second seed by beating China for their second win.  The chances of that happening are about as likely as the experts thought the Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics would both make the playoffs in 2012.  It would be a nice feel good story if Brazil can advance.

China has had difficulty beating United States junior college teams in exhibition games in Arizona.  They were also manhandled by the Netherlands in exhibition games.  They may be able to hold teams close with their pitching, but their only hope for winning a game would be against Brazil.  They have little chance of generating big scoring opportunities.

Myworld’s predicted order of finish: 1) Japan, 2) Cuba, 3) China, 4) Brazil

Yanks Take Advantage of Braves Miscues

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

It’s only the second day of spring, so the Braves have a chance to work out the kinks in their fielding.  A dropped popup by Chris Johnson, an error by Dan Uggla and a wild pitch in the third inning gave the Yankees an early 4-0 lead in their 8-3 win over the Braves.  Zoilo Almonte drove in the first two runs with a booming shot over the 385 foot marker in left center field.

Robinson Cano also went deep for the Yankees and Austin Romine roped a 2-run single to lead the Yankee offense.  The Yankees trotted out their all prospect outfield in the sixth inning with Ramon Flores in left, Slade Heathcoat in center and Tyler Austin in right.  The three combined to go 0 for 3 with Slade drawing a walk.  They also started their right handed hitting non-roster outfielders with Juan Rivera at DH and Matt Diaz in left.  Juan went 1 for 2 with a walk and Matt went 0 for 3 with a ground in double play.

The Brave offense was triggered by Evan Gatttis, who doubled in the fourth to set up the first run and hit a 2-run homerun in the sixth to drive in the other two runs.  Evan finished the day 2 for 3 with one hit by pitch.  Freddie Freeman also got two hits.

The pitcher with the most velocity today was the Braves propsect J.R. Graham.  He hit 100 on the radar and was in the high 90s for most of his one inning of work.  He walked two hitters and had a three ball count on three of the five hitters he faced so he had a little trouble finding the plate with his heat.  A double play ground out helped him get out of the inning without giving up a run.  His curveball also had very little break, but it is still early in the spring.

Jordan Walden was victimized in the third inning by the poor Brave fielding, but his fastball only hit 92-93.  He gave up the booming homerun to Almonte.  Edwin Nunez also smoked a double off him down the line.  When it was all done he had given up four runs in one inning of work.

The Yankees had Brett Marshall throw two innings.  He gave up one run and a couple hits getting his fastball up to 93.  He got Freddie Freeman to swing and miss for strike three on a nice changeup in the dirt.

Dan Uggla did not look good swinging and missing at three pedestrain fastballs from Mike O’Brien.  He also made some poor fielding plays that included a bad pivot throw to first and an error.  He still has a lot to work on in the spring.

Braves Notes: Like the way Ernesto Mejia looks at the plate and at first base.  He just isn’t going to get a lot of opportunity with Freddie Freeman at first.  He has to hope for an injury or trade to get some playing time.  He has zero speed to move to the outfield…Bill the Bucket won the Home Depot Tools race.  The other tool participant in the race is two bit…Luke Murton is another player who has a lot to haul when he runs.  He’s a big guy who needs to make it as a firstbaseman if he is going to play for the Yankees.  He went 0 for 3 grounding into one double play.

Balls Not a problem in Cuba’s 20-11 Win

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

There was no arguement about what balls to use in Cuba’s 20-11 win over Taiwan.  Alfredo Despaigne slugged three homeruns, giving him five for the three exhibition games.  Alfredo finished with eight RBIs.  Jose Abreu and Yasmani Tomas also went deep for Cuba.

Cuba scored 10 in the second and had a safe 17-2 lead when Taiwan scored nine in the fifth and sixth innings.  Cuba will do battle with the Netherlands on Sunday.

WBC Rosters

Saturday, February 23rd, 2013

The World Baseball Classic rosters have been finalized and you can view them here: http://web.worldbaseballclassic.com/index.jsp.  Over the weekend myworld will provide our predictions of the four teams who will advance out of the Asian brackets.  The only tough choice will be Taiwan, where three strong teams will be fighting for two spots. You can also get a review of each of the teams based on the preliminary rosters, but many of those rosters have changed as players bowed out.

Brazil lost the most when their starting catcher and only major leaguer Yan Gomes bowed out of the games to try to win a job with the Cleveland Indians. Venezuela lost an ace when Felix Hernandez signed a large contract with the Mariners and chose to save his bullets for the major league team. Korea lost out when Hyun-jin Ryu chose to focus on the spring with the Dodgers and two of their better starting pitchers had to pull out because of injuries. The United States can say the same about their multiple losses as some of their better players choose to stay away from the game, but not because of an injury but more because of a lack of interest.

The biggest gain was made by Canada when Joey Votto passed a knee exam and was allowed to play in the WBC. Cincinnati will still monitor him during the spring and can still pull him back if he shows any problems with his knee.

The most loaded team appears to be the United States, but that could also be said in 2006 and 2009 when they didn’t even make it to the finals. Japan will be playing a roster lacking a major league player. They do have one ex-major leaguer in Kazuo Matsui.

First Game of Spring - Tigers Over Braves

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

Myworld was at Disneyworld to watch the opening game between the Atlanta Braves versus the AL champion Detroit Tigers.  There were about 52 players who got an opportunity to play in the game.  The pitchers were ahead of the hitters on this day, with the Tigers winning 2-1.  The first hit by both teams did not happen until a line drive single by Freddie Freeman in the fifth inning.  He was erased quickly when he tried to steal on a strikeout/caught stealing on a slow throw by catcher Brayan Pena.  Fortunately for Pena, Freeman was slower with the feet than Pena was with the throw.

The Tigers got a number of baserunners in the early innings thanks to the wildness of the Braves pitchers.  Craig Kimbrel walked the first two hitters he faced and worked the count to Quintin Berry 3-2 before striking him out.  Craig couldn’t get his breaking pitch to break and was hitting 94-95 with his fastball.  He got Miguel Cabrera to ground out to short on a 3-2 pitch with runners on second and third and two out.

Tiger pitchers retired the first 12 Brave hitters with Rick Porcello pitching the first two innings.  The Tigers were showcasing him early and he was hitting 94-95 with his fastball.

After the regulars left for the Tigers it was the back ups who finally got the first hits.  Braves pitchers had retired ten hitters in a row when Ryan Buchter came on to pitch the eighth inning with a no hitter still alive.  Tyler Collins roped one into the gap to break the no-no, showed good baserunning skills by watching the coach instead of the ball as he rounded second and easily beat the ball to third.  Jeff Kobernus, the Rule V pick from the Nationals smoked another ball into right center, Jordan Parraz lumbering after the ball in right field.  Kobernus slid into third to make it back to back triples and giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.  He scored from third on a line drive to left fielder Todd Cunningham who made a poor throw to home.

The Braves finally got on the board in the bottom of the ninth when Joey Terdoslavich led off the inning with a homerun off Jose Alvarez into left field.  Ramiro Pena followed with a blast that took Kobernus to the fence where his glove reached over the fence to grab the drive.  Todd Cunningham singled with two out and Ernesto Mejia came up with the opportunity to hit a game winning homerun.  He bounced to short to end the game.

Hang a star on that one plays go to Tiger outfielders Tyler Collins and Daniel Fields.  Tyler lumbered after his ball, diving near the right field line to rob Ramiro Pena of a double.  With a man on first and two out Jordan Schafer stroked a ball into the left centerfield gap.  Daniel came out of nowhere to dive for the ball and rob Schafer of an RBI double.

Fastest pitch: Craig Kimbrel of the Braves and Jose Ortega of the Tigers hit 96 on the gun.  The slowest pitch had to go to lefty side armer Dusty Hughes of the Braves who was lucky to hit 85.

Brave Notes:  For those who want shade in the stadium the right field side of the field is the best bet and the section 200 area is in the shade for most of the game…Vendors do not accept tips at the stadium.  They have little buttons on their shirts that notify fans that.  You also won’t find any tatooed ushers.  After all, this is Disney….Temperature for today’s game was in the high 80s, a record high for this time…The left field stands only goes as far as the end of the third base dugout.  After that you have the grass area for the fans along the left field foul line and in left field.  Bring your umbrella if you need shade from the sun…They have a tools race sponsored by Home Depot.  The first race was won by B-Rush (a brush) and there was a hammering Hank (hammer).  I didn’t catch the other two tool names.

On the Road to Florida

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Myworld will be on the road tomorrow cruising along I-95 to Florida for spring training.  Since we will be in Kissimmee our reports will focus on the Braves and the Astros.  The nice thing about driving is you avoid the cost of airline tickets and rental car, which nowadays can be more expensive than the airline ticket.  You don’t avoid the sky rocketing gas prices.

Driving also avoids the wait and hassle in security lines, though I have found if you travel Tuesday through Thursday those security lines are almost non-existent.  The airlines have also seemed to lose their touch for making people feel welcome about choosing air travel over other methods of transportation.  The focus seems to be more on tacking on extra fees for all those services you used to get for free, charging you for food, seat room, checked bags and soon for overhead space, the clothes on your back and oxygen to breath in the cabin.

The bad thing about driving is the 16-18 hours on the road.  It seems more productive to be reading a book on the plane rather than focusing the eyes on thousands of miles of road for 16 hours.  There are some people who seem to have a skill for reading while driving, especially if it involves looking at email.  Others would say they are showing their signs of stupidity.  In the Darwinian world that species will soon to be weeded out from society.  What could be in an email that can’t wait to be read a couple hours later.

Normally, we would say we could see the country while driving, but myworld has been along that same 95 stretch at least 50 times.  We won’t be seeing anything new.  Except for the dead bugs along our windshield.

Our first spring training game will be Friday at the Braves complex.  We will be reporting on these spring training games, providing some opinions of the players we watch.  The Astros are probably a team no one will report on because 100 losses is almost a guarantee.  Myworld has a fascintation with their collection of prospects.  Early in spring is the best time to see teams trot out their prospects.  As it gets later in the spring managers will start playing their veterans to get them at bats and then bring in a player in the eighth or ninth inning that is usually two or three years from making the major league roster.

Depending on how long we are on the road and how tired those eyes are there may be no posting tomorrow.

Korea Downs NC Dinos; Cuba and Taiwan not to be Feared

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

The Koreans beat the NC Dinos in their second exhibition game 6-2.  Ah-seop Son stroked three hits, driving in two runs to lead the Koreans in a nine hit attack.  His 2-run double in the top of the second resulted in a 4-run inning putting the game away.

Also, In-sik Kim, who managed the first two Korean teams in the WBC has stated Tawian and Cuba are not to be feared.  Cuba has poor left handed pitching and gone are the days when you find a Cuban pitching throwing 93 miles per hour.

He did mention Taiwan may be stashing a pitcher other than Chien-ming Wang that they may throw at teams.  None of the Taiwan pitchers are overpowering, all relying on curves and sliders.  Ex-major leaguer Hong-Chih Kuo did throw a couple 90 mile per hour pitches, but for the most part he was under 90.

He did mention the Netherlands may surprise some people at the tournament.  Both the Netherlands and Australia have at least two starters who may be tough to beat.  He didn’t seem to fear the starting pitching that Cuba and Taiwan could throw at the team.

You can read the article here: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/culturesports/2013/02/20/6/0702000000AEN20130220006251315F.HTML

A Third Dutch Victory Over China

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

The Netherlands defeated China for the third straight exhibition game, this time 8-0.  Rob Cordemans got the start and Loek Van Mil the finish in the shutout.  The Dutch threw six pitchers at the Chinese, limiting them to four hits.

Both teams are finished with their Arizona portion of the training.  The Dutch finished their exhibition record at 5-1.  No record for the China team, but myworld is not aware of a victory.  It is only exhibition and the important point is identifying players for the lineup and getting them into baseball shape.  If you look at the spring training records of major league teams those records are not indicative of the season they had when the games count.

You can read more about the game here: http://www.mister-baseball.com/netherlands-shutout-china-taiwan/