Archive for September, 2013

Top Ten After Ten - Giants

Monday, September 30th, 2013

This was about the time the Giants still had Barry Bonds and were not too concerned about developing their farm system.  Their focus was on keeping talent at the major league level to give Bonds a World Series.  This was also before all the steroid focus and Bonds becoming a villain.  He had just come off a season of hitting 46 homeruns after hitting a major league record 73 in 2001.  The team had also won their first NL championship since 1989 but they again failed to win a World Series.  Bonds batted .471 with 4 homeruns in the World Series, hitting eight of his total nine playoff homeruns in 2002 for the seven years he has made a playoff appearance.  Below are the top ten Giants prospects from 2003 as selected by Baseball America.

1. Jesse Foppert RHP - Jesse started 21 games in 2003, but his ERA was 5.03.  He only got four more appearances the following two years before his major league career ended.  He toiled in the Giants minor league system until 2009 before calling it a career.

2. Kurt Ainsworth RHP - Elbow injuries limited his career.  He was a first round pick in 1999.  He shared 22 major league starts between the Giants and Orioles between 2001 to 2004 but a 5.19 ERA and ailing arm ended his career.

3. Jerome Williams RHP - Jerome was also a first round pick in 1999.  He looked like a superstar after his rookie season when he went 7-5 with a 3.30 ERA in 2003.  He struggled for four years after that and then dropped out of the major league radar, pitching in Independent Leagues and going to Taiwan to pitch for the Uni-President Lions in 2010.  The Angels found him again in 2011 and brought him back to the major leagues after a four year absence.  He has yet to repeat the numbers from his rookie season, but his second spin through the majors has been better than the first.

4. Francisco Liriano LHP - The Giants included him with Joe Nathan and Boof Bonser in the A.J. Pierzynski trade in 2003 with Minnesota.  A.J. played for the Giants for only one year while Nathan and Liriano turned into pretty good pitchers.  Like Williams, the best year for Liriano was his rookie year when he went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA, making his only All star team and finishing third in the rookie of the year voting.  This year he signed a free agent contract with the Pirates and has been excellent (16-8, 3.02) leading them to their first winning season and playoff appearance in 20 years.

5. Todd Linden OF - The Giants made Todd their first round pick in 2001.  He was a fourth outfielder type for four years with the Giants and one with the Marlins.  After 2007 he went to Japan to play two years for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.  He attempted to return to the Giants in 2012 without success.

6. Boof Bonser RHP - He was the one player in the A.J. Pierzynske trade who did not have an impact in the major leagues.  Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan were the two others.  Boof got 60 starts with the Twins between 2006 and 2008 with little success.  His ERA kept getting worse with each subsequent year until the third year when it was at 5.92.  In 2010 he tried to salvage his career with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics but his 6.12 ERA was the worst of his career.  He signed a minor league contract with the Cleveland Indians in 2013.

7.  Fred Lewis OF - A player with lots of tools who could never string them together.  He spent seven years as a fourth outfielder type that would get opportunities to start when injuries hit.  For all his speed he never stole more than 21 bases or hit in double digits in homeruns.  In 2013 he left for Japan to play for the Hiroshima Carp.

8. Ryan Hannaman LHP - Ryan never got past A ball in his five year minor league career.

9. Lance Niekro 1B/3B - The son of Joe and the uncle of Phil, he chose the bat to make his major league identity.  That bat only saw 535 major league plate appearances between 2003 and 2007, finishing with OBPs at less than .300.  In 2008 he tried to make a comeback as a knuckle ball pitcher but his ship had sailed and it lasted just one year.

10. Erick Threets LHP - He hit 103 miles per hour with his fastball in instructional league but a lack of command and declining velocity on his fastball led to only 21 major league appearances, all in relief.  He currently plays for the Long Island Ducks.

Other prospects who made a significant impact in the major leagues.

11. Matt Cain RHP - His career was overshadowed by two time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.  When Lincecum began to struggle Cain turned into their ace.  He has made three All Star teams and has had 30 or more starts eight years in a row.  The 2013 season was one of his worse when he saw his ERA creep up to 4.00 after a 16-5, 2.79 2012 season.

28. Cody Ransom SS - He has had a nice 11 year major league career as a utility player.  The most plate appearances he has had in one year has been 282, much more than his .213 career average. 

NR Kevin Correia RHP - Never considered much of a prospect because of an inability to light up the radar Kevin has put in 11 major league seasons as a starter.  In his last five seasons he has had at least 26 or more games started.  His highest win total has been three 12 win seasons.

NR Clay Hensley RHP - He had a 2006 season with the Padres where he got 29 starts and 11 wins and two seasons after that where he appeared in 60 or more games.  For the 2013 season he has signed a minor league contract with the Reds to be released and signing another minor league contract with the Brewers.

2003 draft picks who had a significant impact in the major leagues.

They had three first round picks, gave one away by signing free agent Ray Durham and had success for their pick David Aarsma for losing Jeff Kent to free agency.  Aardsma gave the Giants only 11 games of relief before he was traded with Jerome Williams to the Cubs for LaTroy Hawkins in 2005.  Aardsma pitched for the Mets in relief in 2013.  The other first round pick Craig Whitaker never saw the major leagues.  Second round pick Nate Schierholtz played six years for the Giants as a fourth outfielder before bolting for the Cubs in 2013 and playing in a career high 137 games.  He hit .251, 21, 68 that year.  Their 24th round pick Brian Wilson became their closer, playing in three All Star games and leading the Giants to a World Series victory in 2010.  An arm injury forced him to miss the 2012 Giants World Series celebration, but he recently signed with the Dodgers and hopes to lead them to victory.  Doug Fister was a 49th round pick but not signed.  He has had some good seasons pitching for the Detroit Tigers.   

German Playoffs to Game Five

Monday, September 30th, 2013

The German playoffs will go to a game five with the Buchbinder Legionaere’s 3-1 win over the Solingen Alligators.  It was a pitcher’s duel between Buchbinder’s Justin Kuehn and the Alligators Nick Renault.  Buchbinder scored two in the eighth to take away the victory.  Two walks, a bunt single and a ground ball that got past the second baseman allowed the two go ahead runs to score.  The final game five will be played on Thursday.

Solingen had won a dramatic game four to take a 2-1 series lead, scoring three runs in the bottom of the ninth to steal the victory.  Dustin Hughes hit the 2-run walk off single.

Buchbinder has won the German championships for the last three years.  The Alligators last won a championship in 2006.

Shutout Streak

Monday, September 30th, 2013

Chapter 36

Shutout Streak

September 5 – It is estimated over 100,000 people protested in the streets of Iran yesterday. Since Iran has prohibited reporters from entering the area it is difficult to corroborate the facts, but numerous videos have been posted on the social web sites showing massive demonstrations inside the city of Teheran. These protests have happened before in Iran but failed to achieve results in changing leadership. The head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard has blamed the United States and European powers for fomenting these protests. If the protests are not ended soon the government will have to begin making arrests to restore order.

The 55 inning shutout streak was filling the sports pages. Besides Oriole fans, general baseball fans and those fans from China, a new interest in Jason was being generated from others who didn’t follow baseball but who wanted to know who Jason Woo was based on the reporting of his 55 inning shutout streak and the thunder following each appearance. People from all the media centers that had nothing to do with sports did their best to try to get an interview with him to complete their story. Jason could spend a life time talking in front of microphones allowing September 6 to pass right on by without him starting the game and completing the shutout streak if he honored all the requests. So he honored none, which is what Larvell wanted anyway.

Linda Murphy was there with the national telecast. She tried to greet Kevin as if they had been friends for life. The one interview at the Future’s Game was the last time he had seen her. It was the last interview Jason had done. Linda wanted another interview with Jason. Kevin hated to turn her down, but Jason had no interest and Kevin had his marching orders from Larvell. No distractions for Jason. No distractions for Kevin. Larvell did not allow it. There would be no interviews.

He hated seeing the sad frown on her pixie face when he told her they couldn’t do an interview without her first getting permission from Larvell Blanks. Both knew that this not going to happen. It was probably best. Jason needed to focus on the game. Not talk about the game.

Rolling Stone magazine, People, talk shows of all walks of life wanted an interview. Reality television shows wanted to film the life of Jason Woo up until he completed his major league pitching assignment. They drooled of the ratings he would bring, especially from television sets in China. They were all declined their opportunity.

Shu was also putting pressure on Kevin. She was anxious for him to return. She couldn’t buy her dress for the dinner with the President until he went with her to see her in it. She had narrowed her choices to three dresses, but he had to choose which one he liked best before she bought it. For Kevin the three choices would be worse than deciding what pitch to throw. It was easier choosing between a fastball, curveball or change than the red, black or purple dress. “Wear the purple one.” That was her favorite color.

“You not even see it.”

“You’d look good in anything. Purple is your favorite color.”

“I not choose until you see dress.”

He also had to be fitted for a tuxedo. Jason too. The invitation said black tie. Kevin hated those invitations, not that he got a lot of them. There would be no rest when their minor league season ended and they returned to Maryland. Fortunately, they did not have to report to the Orioles until September 11 so there would be five days to take care of all this stuff Shu needed them to complete in preparation for the Presidential dinner.

Shu also told him the betting line in China for whether Jason would surpass the shutout streak. Not that Shu liked to gamble. Her father did. He had bet his money Jason would surpass the streak. Kevin learned Asians liked to gamble. Or maybe he was being too critical. It was Shu’s father who told her over a billion dollars had been wagered in China alone on whether Jason would break the consecutive shutout innings streak.

“Are the odds in Jason’s favor?”

“I not know that stuff. I think father say it three to one Jason break record. I not know what that mean.” Kevin did not see a need to explain.

Shortly after his talk with Shu, Kevin received an email message from a Chengdu Sports Pub with many square boxes associated with it telling him his software could not translate the Chinese characters. This sports pub was offering Kevin one million dollars if he ensured Jason gave up a run before he broke the consecutive inning shutout record. “This is serious offer. It is not like we are asking you to lose game. Just give up one run. If you have any interest respond back and we can agree on meeting place. We have representatives in United States who can meet you at moment’s notice. Must receive your response soonest. We are willing to give you one hundred thousand cash prior to game to show our sincerity with offer.”

This was not the sort of email Kevin was used to seeing. He had read once where in Taiwan a couple pitchers were suspended from baseball for life for agreeing with bookies to purposefully walk a hitter in the first inning. They did not have to win or lose the game. Just create an outcome. In Taiwan there are odds on a number of outcomes people can bet will or will not occur in a game and what inning, not just who wins or who loses.

Kevin wondered if he should report this email to Moose. This would just complicate his life even further. Someone would want to set up a sting operation to identify the individuals involved. He would have to be involved in this sting operation. He pictured all the police shows he watched on cable. They would wire him using Kevin as the guinea pig in order to listen in on the deal. Once all the details were agreed upon the police would swoop in, guns drawn and arrest the suspects. That didn’t sound like a safe outcome for Kevin.

There was no certainty if there was an arrest it would be the right person. This could further complicate his life, perhaps even create a danger to Shu and Jasmine if the leader of this organization wanted to seek revenge against Kevin for his failure to cooperate. Kevin felt the best course of action was to treat it like all the Nigerian emails he got promising him millions of dollars after the death of an individual he never met but had all this money abandoned in a bank account with no heirs to claim it and somehow he been selected to help them get these unclaimed riches out of Nigeria. He deleted the email.

Orioles Rally for Win on Last Day of Season - Davis Bobblehead Day

Monday, September 30th, 2013

It was the last game of the 2013 season.  The Red Sox had clinched home field advantage for the playoffs while the O’s were sitting this playoff season out.  There was not a lot to play for, with many of the stars sitting the bench.  It was also Chris Davis bobblehead day, with the gates opening at 11:30, two hours before game time to accommodate the large crowd.  Chris Davis only lasted into the fourth inning, getting one at bat before spraining his wrist and forced to leave the game.  His replacement, Ryan Flaherty would drive in two runs with a double and a single to lead the Orioles to a 7-6 win over the Red Sox.

The game did not start well for the Orioles.  Chris Tillman was hit hard in the first two innings.  Jacoby Ellsbury led the game off by rocketing a 2-1 89 mile per hour fastball into the right field bleachers.  Mike Napoli would scorch another pedestrian fastball to one hop the center field fence to advance David Ortiz to third.  He would score when Mike Carp bounced one up the middle that Tillman could not field.  J.J. Hardy got the out but Ortiz scored the second run.

In the second inning Quintin Berry upped his batting average to .800 with a 2-run homer over the scoreboard and onto the porch in right field.  That gave the Red Sox a 4-0 lead.  They added a single run in the fourth after a bad throw by catcher Steve Clevenger went inside the first base bag, forcing Chris Davis to reach for it.  Ellsbury ran into the glove hand of Davis, flinging the glove down the right field line.  The errant throw allowed a run to score and forced Davis to leave the game after only one at bat, a walk.

With a 5-0 deficit and both Chris Davis and Adam Jones now out of the lineup things did not look good.  Allan Webster had walked the bases loaded in the first inning but left the game after three innings with a no hitter.  Felix Doubront kept the no hitter alive after the fourth inning.

In the fifth Steve Clevenger ended the no-no with a leadoff single.  Jonathan Schoop followed with a single.  After a strikeout to Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis drew a walk to load the bases.  J.J. Hardy drove the first pitch from Doubront into the right centerfield gap where the ball bounced over the fence to score two runs.

Ryan Flaherty got the first of his two hits, a bloop single over shortstop Xander Boegart’s glove to drive in the third run.  Another walk loaded the bases.  The manager left Doubront in to face the lefty Nate McLouth but he lined a double down the right field line to score two runs to tie the game.  The Red Sox brought in Rubby de la Rosa to retire the next two batters on groundouts, stranding the go ahead run at third.

The Orioles scored two runs in the sixth, Jonathan Schoop starting the rally with a single.  Brian Roberts doubled to advance Schoop to third.  The first pitch to Nick Markakis skipped past the catcher to allow Schoop to score the go ahead run.  After two weak ground outs held Roberts at third, Ryan Flaherty came through big with a line drive double into the right field corner.  That insurance run proved crucial as the game progressed.

Jim Johnson came on to pitch the ninth.  After striking out the leadoff hitter Xander Boegarts, he gave up three straight hits to David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Mike Carp to score one run and put runners on first and third with one out.  Will Middlebrooks hit a grounder to Danny Valencia who turned two to give the Orioles a 7-6 win.

Game Notes: Jim Johnson became only the second major league pitcher to achieve back to back 50 save seasons.  The other was Eric Gagne, who is now the coach of the French national team…It was Chris Davis bobblehead day.  The Orioles opened the gates at 11:30 and made six lines that stretched out to the streets.  If it were the normal number of lines the people would have stretched out to Ravens stadium…Chris Davis was honored before the game for hitting more homeruns than any previous Oriole for a season.  He ended the season first in homeruns with 53 and first in RBIs with 138…A woman wore an orange shirt that stated “I have a crush on Davis.”…Xander Boegarts struck out three times, walked and popped to first as he started at shortstop.  There were no balls hit to him that proved to be a challenge…Koji Uehara gets a lot of swings and misses mixing in his 82 mile per hour split fastball that drops down and his 89 mile per hour fastball that stays up.  His season numbers are amazing, with a 1.09 ERA, giving up only 33 hits in 74 innings with 101 strikeouts.  He has only walked nine to put his WHIP at 0.57…T.J. McFarland loaded the bases in the sixth on a bunt single and two walks.  He got David Ortiz to ground to first to end the inning…Myworld’s next baseball games will have to wait until November when Myworld plans on being in Arizona to catch a few days of the Arizona Fall League.     

Top Left Handed Pitching Prospects

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

Lefthanders are coveted because there are so few of them, especially those who throw in the mid-90s.  Somebody needs to get those lefthanded sluggers out.  Below is a list of myworld’s top lefthanded pitching prospects.

These players have graduated from the prospect list because of their appearances in the major leagues will no longer qualify them as rookies in 2014.

Hyun-Jin Ryu (Dodgers) - He had a lot of success in Korea for a team that finished in last place the last two years.  He was as soft and pudgy as the Pillsbury doughboy and he didn’t have a fastball to crack 90 on the speed gun.  What has made him a success in the major leagues is that change up, which makes his pedestrian fastball look like it is cracking the plate in the mid-90s.  The Dodgers would have trouble winning the NL West without his 14-7, 2.97 contribution.

Alex Wood (Braves) - He was a second round draft pick in 2012 but he has been a contributor to the Braves first place run in the NL East.  After putting up a 1.26 ERA in 10 starts in AA the Braves promoted him to AAA where he only got one start before being promoted to the major leagues because of injuries to the Braves starting rotation.  He also has an excellent change, but his fastball hits the low 90s.

Tony Cingrani (Reds) - The Reds starting rotation was set, but injuries allowed Cingrani to work his way into the rotation.  He has allowed a .196 opposition average in the major leagues with a 2.97 ERA with 120 K’s in just over 100 innings of work.  His fastball is in the low 90s, but it is his intensity on the mound that makes him stand out. 

Top Lefthanded Prospects

1. Henry Owens (Red Sox) - Henry had a monster year, limiting the opposition to a .177 batting average.  He struck out 169 hitters in 135 innings pitched.  At 6′6″ he hits the mid-90s with his fastball.  He does have some trouble finding his command, walking just short of one hitter every two innings.

2. Enny Romero (Rays) - The Rays never seem short of pitching.  Enny could replace David Price as the lefthanded starter in their rotation in 2015.  His upper 90s fastball limited AA hitters to a .215 average.  He doesn’t strike out enough batters for the velocity on his fastball (112 K’s in 142 innings), but his outings were enough to allow him to make his major league debut, giving up one hit on no runs in four plus innings.

3. Andrew Heaney (Marlins) - The Marlins being the Marlins low balled him when negotiating his first round bonus signing.  They paid him the same as the pick behind him and less than the second pick behind him.  He throws a fastball that can hit 93 giving him a 0.83 ERA in 12 starts in the Florida State League.  His promotion to AA was not quite as successful (2.94 ERA) with a 9/23 walk to K ratio in 33 innings.

4. Justin Nicolino (Marlins) - Back to back Marlins and the third straight lefthander on this list.  He was drafted by the Blue Jays in the second round of the 2010 draft and included in the offseason trade that brought the Blue Jays Josh Johnson and Jose Reyes.  Justin had some success in the Florida State League (2.23) in 18 starts but when promoted to AA struggled (4.96) in nine starts.  AA opponents hit him at a .341 clip.  Justin throws a good fastball in the low 90s.

5. Jessie Biddle (Phillies) - There is a lot of waiting when Jessie pitches.  His 82/154 walk to whiff ratio in 138 innings indicates an inability to get the ball over the plate, but wicked swing and miss stuff when he does.  The opposition hit him at a .210 clip.  He has a low 90s fastball but a curveball that gets a lot of swings and misses.

6. Max Fried (Padres) - Numbers wise the seventh overall pick in 2012 did not impress.  His ERA was high (3.49), he lost one more than he won (6-7) and his opposition average was .249.  Lucas Giolito was supposed to be the best pitcher out of his high school, but an injury put Fried nine picks ahead of him.  His fastball is low 90s with an excellent curve but his 6′4″ frame point to a fastball that will eventually hit the mid-90s eventually.

7. Trey Ball (Red Sox) - Trey was the Red Sox first round pick in 2013.  Many scouts considered him as a hitter, but with his 6′6″ frame and mid-90s fastball the Red Sox thought it was a no brainer to make him a pitcher.  He struggled in the Gulf Coast League with a 6.43 ERA in five starts lasting seven innings, walking one more (6) than he struck out (5).

8. Onelki Garcia (Dodgers) - Yasiel Puig is not the only Cuban signing to make an impact, though Onelki has made his in the minor leagues.  Onelki was unable to buy a house in Haiti to establish foreign residency so was forced to be eligible for the draft, selected by the Dodgers in the third round.  His agent wanted first round money, but settled for $382,000.  Onelki pitched like a first rounder working his way to the major leagues.  His command is still suspect (32 walks in 52 AA innings) which hurt him in the majors when he walked four in just one plus innings, but the opposition only hit him at a .209 clip.  He hits the mid-90s with his fastball, but usually sits in the low 90s.

9. David Holmberg (Diamondbacks) - Like Ryu his fastball sits in the high 80s, but his changeup makes the pitch look that much faster.  He carved up AA hitters for a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts, allowing him to make his major league debut.  Acquired from the White Sox along with Daniel Hudson for Edwin Jackson.

10. Eduardo Rodriguez (Orioles) - It is rare for the Orioles to develop a player from Venezuela.  He pitched well in the Carolina League (2.85) but then struggled when promoted to AA.  He recovered in his last four starts, giving up just one run in 25 innings.  His fastball is low 90s but hit the mid-90s.  He has a fastball/slider combination.

Other lefthanders to watch

Julio Urias (Dodgers) - The Dodgers signed him from the Diablos of Mexico City.  He turned 17 years old this year but managed 18 starts this year in an A League.  Most Americans his age are still trying to impress their high school coach.  At 5′11″ he is not tall, but his fastball already hits the low 90s.

Danny Hultzen (Mariners) - Arm injuries limited him to just seven minor league starts.  He had a 2.02 ERA with a .168 opposition average but only worked 35 innings.  When healthy his fastball can hit the mid-90s.

James Paxton (Mariners) - A future rotation mate of Hultzen, he was hit pretty hard in AAA (4.45), the Pacific Coast League hitting him at a 2.77 clip.  He did have success in the major leagues in four starts (1.50) limiting major leaguers to a .172 average.  He throws a fastball in the high 90s, but it usually sits in the mid-90s.  He has a good curveball but lacks an effective third pitch, which should be the change.

Luiz Gohara (Mariners) - He pitched well for Brazil in the WBC.  He also turned 17 this year but got six starts in the rookie league (4.15).  he struck out 27 in 21 plus innings of pitching.  At 6′3″ and 220 he already throws his fastball in the mid-90s, but it mostly sits between high 80s and low 90s.  His secondary stuff still needs a lot of work.

Tyler Skaggs (Diamondbacks) - He hasn’t had a lot of success in the major leagues, putting up an ERA above 5.00 for the second year in a row.  He also pitched in two hitters leagues (California and Pacific) and putting up 4.60 ERAs.  He seems to make contact with the bat too much resulting in an opposition average of .274.  His curveball is his best pitch while his fastball sits in the low 90s. 

Mike Montgomery (Rays) - He bombed with the Royals and was traded to the Rays in the Scott Shields trade.  His first year with the Rays he didn’t put up good numbers (4.83) but the Rays have a way of developing pitchers.

Kyle Lobstein (Tigers) - He was a Rule V pick the Dodgers liked so much they traded a decent catcher Curt Casila to the Rays to send him down to the minors.  Kyle combined for a 3.27 ERA in 28 starts between AA and AAA.  He doesn’t throw hard, but he uses his secondary pitches to hold hitters off balance.

Edwin Escobar (Giants) - He has excellent command of his pitches, combining for a 2.80 ERA between High A and AA.  He throws in the low 90s limiting the opposition to a .228 opposition average.  He had his break out season last year (2.96) in low A and continued that success at the higher levels.

Sam Selman (Royals) - A second round 2012 pick he got 27 starts in the Carolina League putting together a 11-9, 3.38 numbers.  he had more than one whiff per innings pitched (128 whiffs in 125 innings pitched).  Sam has a fastball/slider combination, with the fastball having the ability to hit the high 90s, but more comfortable in the low 90s.     

Cuba to Allow Players to Play in Foreign Leagues

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Cuba has given permission to their professional baseball players that they will now be allowed to play in foreign professional leagues.  For major league fans start scouring the Cuban professional rosters to find the best players there are conditions for this participation.  Major league teams schedule and current United States law would still prevent Cuba professionals from playing in the United States.

What are some of the conditions?  The main one is that Cuban players must still committ to play in the Nacional Series.  That league runs from November to April.  This would prevent major league teams from having Cuban players participate in spring training and if their team makes the playoffs miss the first part of the season.  Cuba would have to reallign their season to accomodate the major league’s professional season.  Most foreign leagues begin their seasons in April, except for the winter leagues which run concurrently with the Cuban professional league.

Another big obstacle would be that the Cuban player would have to pay taxes to Cuba on any salary they earn from these foreign professional leagues.  This would require them to continue their Cuban residency.  One of the requirements for Cubans to participate in the major leagues is a requirement that they establish foreign or United States residency.  The Foreign Assets Control (FAC) wants to ensure that no remuneration for their participation in professional sports is sent back to Cuba to assist the Cuban economy financially, a violation of the trading with the enemies act.  A major league club that allows salary to be sent back to Cuba as taxes would be in violation of the United States law.  The major league teams can always petetion to the FAC to exempt them from this requirement like the WBC and Olympics do when they hold events that consist of Cuban athletes, but those are one time events that occur every four years.  The FAC would be unlikely to approve a working relationship to occur that brings back millions of dollars to Cuba.

The Cubans still have an opportunity to play in professional leagues in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Mexico and Europe.  Cuban ballplayers only get about $20 per game.  Even playing in the European Leagues may give them greater compensation.  Based on the article below Cuban athletes will see an increase in that payment, as well as an extra $41 payment if a player is a league leader in a significant category.  Players who win a championship will split $2,700.  When you compare that to the six figure payments given to major leaguers for winning their championships you can see why most Cubans want to play in the United States.

You can read an article about the policy change here: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/cuba-to-allow-athletes-to-compete-in-foreign-leagues-092713

Next Stop - The Show (cont - 5) - end

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

Shu was already excited when she answered the phone. Kevin wondered if she had already been told about his promotion. That would seem a little too quick. “You seem pretty happy. Jasmine isn’t walking already? Or did she say her first complete sentence?”

“You mean you not know?”

“Not know about what?” Kevin still couldn’t believe Shu would have heard about his promotion before him.

“The dinner invitation.”

“That’s nice. I hope it is for after the season ends.” Kevin couldn’t understand why Shu would be so excited over a dinner invitation. Maybe he needed to take her out more.

“It in September. Your season usually over by September?”

“Usually. Perhaps not this year.” He paused for effect. “Shu. I got promoted to the major leagues.”

He heard the shriek from the other end of the phone. He only wished he could be there to watch Shu bounce up and down. This was the first time he had witnessed her getting excited about major league baseball. “Oh – I so happy for you. You always be talking about that since I meet you.” He could sense she was starting to well up in tears. It was causing him to stream more tears. “Does that mean you play in September?”

“I don’t know if I’ll be playing, but I’ll be on the team. Jason got promoted too. So when he is pitching I may be catching for him.”

“That so exciting. You and Jason in major league. Together. It look like he also got same dinner invitation.”

Back to that dinner invitation. Why was she so focused on a dinner invitation? “We may not be able to make that dinner.”

“I think your team make exception.” Shu seemed to have a strange sense of confidence in her voice.

“Unless it is from the President of the United States I don’t think the Orioles will allow us to skip a game to attend a dinner. So unless we have an off day or a day game and are in town-“

Before he could finish she interrupted him with, “It is.”

“It is what?”

“An invitation for dinner with President of United States. We cordially invited to dinner with the President of the United States as he welcomes Chinese Premier Li Jiabo.” She was reading from the invitation and stumbled over the word cordially. “Jason got same letter but I not open it.”

“Shu, are you being serious?” Shu never joked like this. If she was pulling a prank she was doing a pretty good job.

“Serious. It look pretty official to me. It black tie, so you need tux. I also need to find something more formal to wear than what in closet.”

Kevin hated formal dress. “You’d look good in a garbage bag. Wow. Dinner with the President. I thought my promotion was pretty big stuff but dinner with the President? That is icing on the cake.”

“It never bad thing to have lots of good things happen to you.”

“I guess you’re right. I thought marrying you was the best thing that could have happened to me.”

“It still best thing?”

It was a loaded question. Kevin didn’t know if she was being serious. Larvell would know how to answer that question, regardless of the truth, but for Kevin honesty was important. Shu could read him if he was not being honest. “It still is. But you have to admit, getting a promotion to the major leagues and getting an invitation to have dinner with the President on the same day is a pretty close second.”

“What about Jasmine?”

“Shu! Why do you have to make things so complicated? Let’s just say it’s in the top five behind our marriage, the birth of Jasmine and anything else I may be forgetting.” She seemed satisfied with that response.

When Kevin told Jason about the invitation to have dinner with the President Jason’s response was “I thought you not know the President.”

“I don’t.”

“Why he invite you to din-ah?”

“He invited you too.”

“I not know the President.”

“My point exactly. Neither of us knows the President but he is inviting both of us for dinner with the Premier of China. I think you have more to do with this dinner invitation than I.”

Jason went into deep thought for a second. “Now you have to buy lottery ticket.”

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“That is what you tell me when we first drive to Va-gin-ya. You said the odds of you meeting the President are about as great as winning the lottery.”

“Jason. You are my lottery ticket.”

Next Stop - The Show (cont - 4)

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Kevin had enjoyed working at Wuxi the year he went down there to meet Shu. It didn’t take him long to think about it. “That could be a possibility. I enjoyed it when I was there a couple years ago. That is where I met my wife. Well, actually I met her before Wuxi and that was the main reason I went over there. It would give Shu an opportunity to spend some time with her parents and it is only a 45 minute train ride from Shanghai. I’d have to check with Shu to see what she has on my schedule. She’s like a mad woman making up my schedule for our trip to China after the season. I can’t believe what people are willing to pay just to have me appear somewhere.”

“Proof of what I was telling you. Your skills are better utilized leading. Not playing. We could use some coaching help in the minor leagues. You live in the area and I can see some openings coming up at Bowie. If you have any interest I’d like to talk to you about managing at Bowie?”

“What about Joe Palmer. I’d feel bad taking over his job.”

“You don’t have to worry about Joe Palmer. We’re bumping him up to Norfolk. Wendell Parson has told me this will be his last year. His knees are bothering him and he wants to rest to spend more time with his family.”

“Good for him. He never looked happy at Norfolk.”

Larvell drained the cup dry, went over to the water cooler to refill it. “Glug, glug, glug” came the sound from the water cooler. “So do you think we have an agreement in principle for you to lead a contingent we send to Wuxi for training and when that is done possibly manage at Bowie? We can discuss the terms after the season. I just want to gauge your interest.”

“I’d like to talk to Shu first to see what she has on my schedule. It would depend on the time frame, but I think we have an agreement in principle if everything works right on the schedule.”

Larvell drained the cup dry a second time. He let out a sigh. “When the owner of the Cubs offered me a future position with the team he bought me a number of drinks. I feel kind of bad the only beverage I can offer you is water. Stale water to boot.” He brought out an empty cup from the box of cups sitting on the counter. “Drink?”

“No thanks. You can get me next time.”

“Jason’s got five more innings to break the shutout streak. A lot of people are pretty excited about the streak. He always seems to do something to amaze me. If he’s not striking out five hitters in an inning he’s pitching seven innings of a perfect game. Now 55 innings of shutout ball. The kid is amazing. He is on a roll right now. You think he’s got five more innings of shutout ball left in him to break the streak?”

“I think he’s got a lot more innings of shutout ball in that arm of his. If he stays focused no one can touch him. Five more innings will be a cake walk.”

“You keep him focused then.” Larvell walked across the table to extend his hand toward Kevin. “I prefer to keep a young man like you in the organization. We’ll talk again after the season.”

Kevin got up from his chair and grasped Larvell’s hand as they shook. “Appreciate the opportunity Mr. Blanks. That’s it?” The talk had lasted longer than Kevin had expected. Kevin only now realized Jason was in the locker room waiting for him. There was a sudden urgency to depart now, while things were ending well. The fear of release still hung in the air.

“That’s it.”

Kevin turned to open the door. Just as he reached the knob Larvell spoke again. “There is one more thing I forgot to tell you.” Kevin turned his head to look at Larvell. He saw a smile on his face. It was not a smile a general manager would give if he was releasing a player. “I want you to report to the Orioles on September 11th. You’ll be catching for Jason. We’ll get you that one at bat in the major leagues.”

Kevin’s hand stayed frozen to the door knob. “You serious?” A flood of emotions surged through him. He almost felt like he would collapse to the ground. He did his best to keep his eyes from getting moist from the tears and kept his legs firm to the ground to keep them from collapsing underneath him.

“I’m serious. You deserve it. Welcome to the big leagues Kevin Beamer.”

“Thank you.” Kevin wanted to rush over to hug Larvell, but his hand stayed glued to the door knob as he fumbled to pry it open. He needed to get out of the room before Larvell saw him get too emotional. When he walked out the door he did not have any purpose to his steps. He forgot the direction he was walking towards. He stopped, looked around. He did his best to stop from letting out a scream of joy. “Got to stay calm,” he kept repeating to himself, wiping his eyes from the moisture dripping from his ducts.

The locker room was empty now but he still felt a need to keep his emotions in check. He couldn’t get too excited. That is the way he played the game. That is the way he lived his life. Still, he had never felt so happy, not since his wedding to Shu.

Only Jason was left in the locker room among the players. Jason must have seen the smirk on Kevin’s face. He was fully dressed sitting on a stool banging his fingers on his phone playing some video game. If he had been gone an hour Jason would be in the same position. “So? That not look of we-leased play-ah.”

“I’m going to the major leagues. You and I appear to have some more pitch and catch to do.” Jason jumped up from the stool to reach for Kevin’s hand to congratulate him. Kevin grabbed Jason with a big bear hug, trying to wrap his arms around him. They collided awkwardly. Kevin couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. They were rolling down his cheeks like a river. ‘I am going to the show.” Kevin broke suddenly from Jason’s grasp. ‘I’ve got to call Shu.” He felt a little embarrassed with the tears and began wiping them away with his hands. “She will be excited to hear the news.”

>>>>

Tanaka Gets a Save - Rakuten Gets First Pennant

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Masahiro Tanaka picked up a save to add to his impressive credentials, pitching the ninth inning to give the Rakuten Eagles a 4-3 win over the Seibu Lions.  He did put the tying and winning runs on second and third with one out, but as he has always done when faced with tough situations he struck out the number 3 and 4 hitters to preserve the victory.  The reports from the Japanese press state this relief appearance ends his streak of 15 straight wins after 15 starts, but myworld doesn’t see that since this game was pitched in relief.  Tanaka is 22-0 with a 1.22 ERA.

Andrew Jones hit a 3-run double in the seventh to drive in the go ahead runs, erasing a 3-1 deficit. 

JABA Assess Punishment on Japanese Player Signed by Dodgers

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

The Japan Amateur Baseball Association has assessed a lifetime ban on Takumi Numata from playing baseball in Japan.  They have also assessed a six month suspension on the director of the industrial team for handling the situation poorly.  Numata signed a contract with the Dodgers negotiated by his father.  No reports on the amount of money involved, but the opportunity to play in the major leagues probably weighed heavily in the decision.  

The JABA will also request the NPB issue a letter to major league baseball notifying them of the protocol for signing amateur players. 

Numata is planning on attending the Dodgers instructional league in Arizona in October.