Archive for May, 2014

Japan Political Agenda - Expand Baseball to Improve Economy

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Yakubaka reports from Sponichi and Rueters that the Liberal Democratic Party has recommendations for improving the Japanese economy.  Some of those recommendations:

1) slash corporate taxes, 2) reform public pensions, and 3) increase the number of professional teams from 12 to 16.

The one monkey wrench in this plan is finding a corporation with deep pockets with the ability to support a baseball team in the areas where the economy needs to be improved.  Those areas were identified as the Shizuoka Prefecture, Hokushinetsu region, Shikoku region and Okinawa.

They cite the success of major league baseball for improving cities when they expanded from 16 to 30 teams.

Perhaps the Republican or Democratic party could put that issue on their agenda.  They could get a lot of support from baseball fans, but they may be better served by focusing on football expansion.  Though for most cities any kind of expansion would require a tax or bond program to be created to finance a $1 billion stadium.

Simon Leads Reds to Series Win Over Nationals

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Alfredo Simon came back from a one hour rain delay to pitch two additional innings in the Reds 2-1 win over the Nationals.  He worked seven innings, gave up five hits and struck out six.  The only blemish of his night was the solo homerun hit by Denard Span on the second pitch from Simon.

Tanner Roark pitched fine for the Nationals the first time he went through the lineup.  In the fourth inning the Reds began mastering the bat on the ball concept in their second at bats.  Zack Cosart started the fourth with a double down the left field line.  Brandon Phillips scored him with a single up the middle.  Devin Mesoraco hit a hard shot to Kevin Fransden that bounced off his chest for an error.  Brayan Pena drove in what proved to be the the winning run with a single.

The Nationals could have put the game away in the second inning, loading the bases with one out.  Tanner Roarke grounded into a 4-6-3 double play.

Game Notes: Myworld left the game after the rain delay.  Todd Frazier had just gotten thrown out at third on a failed stolen base attempt.  The Reds challenged the call, the umps put on their head gear in the middle of the field in the pouring ran and confirmed the call was accurate, calling the players in while they waited for New York to review the play…The Reds won two out of three despite being outscored in the series and playing without Joey Votto, who was placed on the disabled list.  They got back Jay Bruce, who was reactivated after Joey Votto was placed on the disabled list.

Sri Lankan Baseball News

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

If you want to find out a bit about what is happening in baseball in Sri Lanka you can go here:  http://srilankabaseball.lk/?p=1182.  Just click on the Sri Lanka Baseball eshare.

They had the under 19 all island school championships that was won by Nalanda College.  The chief guest at the finals was Kazuhisa Ueda, who was the first Japanese baseball coach from 2002 to 2006.

They also mourned the death of Korean coach Jung-Soo Kim.  He was the first Korean baseball coach to come to Sri Lanka in 2012.

Sri Lanka also had their National Baseball League championships, won by Ranabima Royal Baseball Club.  Krishna Hapuarachchi was selected as the best hitter of the tournament and MVP.  The best pitcher was identified as Saliya Anuradha.

Lastly, two Japanese coaches held a two day baseball clinic.  Koji Goto and Watari Samuda were the two coaches.

Lots of pictures at the link too.

Tanaka Loses

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The last time Masahiro Tanaka lost a regular season game was back in August 19, 2012.  He did lose the sixth game of a playoff series last year to the Yomiuri Giants but got the save in game seven to give the Rakuten Eagles the Japan championship.  He went 42 starts without a loss in regular season outings, going 34-0 until the Chicago Cubs beat him last night 6-1.

Tanaka gave up four runs in his six innings of work, striking out seven and giving up eight hits.  You can view the box score here:  http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=340520116

15 and Under Groupings

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

The groupings for the 15 and under groupings for the tournament in Mexico have been announced.  They are below:

Group A - Brazil, Czech Republic, Italy, Mexico, Taiwan and Tunisia

Group B - Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Panama, South Africa and United States

Group C - Argentina, Australia, Cuba, Hong Kong, Lithuania and Venezuela

Abreu Monthly Salary Increase

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

When Jose Abreu played in the Nacional Series he earned an income of $15 per month, according to Sports Illustrated.  He supplemented his income by reselling clothes and cell phones that a pastor in Florida sent him.  Yasiel Puig was a much less accomplished player than Abreu and he signed a lucrative contract with the Dodgers for what amounted to a figure far beyond Abreu’s monthly Cuban salary.  That had to eat at Abreu.

Before the 2014 season Jose signed a six year, $68 million contract with the White Sox.  That contract put a nice little rise in his monthly income, calculating to a monthly salary of approximately $944,000.  Nice little raise for Jose to put him in an exclusive tax bracket.

The Cuban baseball league is seeing an opportunity to cash in on their players.  A professional league can now sign a Cuban player as long as they return to play in the Nacional Series over the winter.  Frederich Cepeda and Yuleski Gourriel have signed contracts with Japanese teams in the NPB.  It is unclear how much of a percentage the Cuban League is taking from the professional league contract for the Cuban players services.

Frazier Ends Maraton with Two Run Jack

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Todd Frazier hit a 2-run homer off Ross Detwiler in the top of the 15th inning to give the Cincinnati Reds a 4-3 15 inning win over the Washington Nationals.  Myworld could only stay for the first 11 innings, when the public address announcer stated the Metro would be closing.  The choices were to stay and hope the game would last until 4 AM when the Metro would again reopen or to call a cab and pay the high cost of getting home.  Waiting for the Metro to reopen was not an option since myworld had a softball game first thing in the morning.

The Nationals bats were a bit anemic last night.  Stephen Strasburg started and pitched well.  Jayson Werth dropped a ball to open the second inning for a two base error, but Strasburg did not fall apart and pitched out of the inning without allowing a run to score.  He did hit a batter in the fourth and a single by Brayan Pena advanced Todd Frazier to third.  Pena broke for second, Wilson Ramos threw it down getting Pena in a run down.  When Frazier decided to break for the plate the Nationals declined the play and chose to get Pena out.  This was his second attempted steal of second.  On the first steal, the throw to second clearly beat him and he chose to return to first.

The Reds tacked on another run in the next inning with another hit batsman.  A bunt moved Zack Cozart to second, Billy Hamilton hit a slow roller infield single and Skip Schumaker laced a hit and run single to score the second run.

The Reds almost went up 3-0.  Billy Hamilton hit a one out single, stole second and advanced to third on a ground out.  With Strasburg straddling the mound and looking at the sign from Ramos, Billy Hamilton broke for home.  From the mound Strasburg casually made the throw home.  I suppose Brandon Phillips could have tried to hit the “pitch”, but he took it, Hamilton got caught up into a rundown and was eventually thrown out.  The Reds tried to argue Strasburg did not go into his complete windup and should have been called for a balk.  The umpires did not agree.

The Nationals finally got on the scoreboard off Mike Leake with a Nate McLouth rare single.  A wild pitch moved him to second and Denard Span drove him in with a single, ending the day for Leake.  In the ninth against Aroldis Chapman, Danny Espinosa led the inning off by pulling a 99 mile per hour fastball into the left field corner.  Two deep flies to left field scored him, pinch hitter Scott Hairston lifting the game tying sac fly.  The game went into extra innings.

Game Notes: Denard Span started the game off by taking all five pitches for a strikeout…Brayan Pena played first base and is not a very accomplished defensive player at that position.  He dropped one throw that was ruled a single and let a one hop throw from Todd Frazier skip past him…It was dollar hot dog night.  Smother your dog in mustard, relish and onions and you will cancel the taste of the dog…Myworld hates writing a summary of a game we watched almost more than 24 hours ago, so we will end it here as we listed to the Nationals maul the Reds 9-3.

Minor League Pitchers Looking at the Show

Monday, May 19th, 2014

This week myworld takes a look at the AAA and AA leagues to see what pitchers are putting up the numbers to give major league teams pause to act.  With all the Tommy John elbow surgeries there are a lot of openings coming up on major league rosters.  These pitchers are ready to fill them.

International League

Taylor Hill RHP (Nationals) - Hill is third in the league in ERA (1.99).  He is 5-1 in eight starts with two complete games and one shutout.  The opposition is hitting him at a .209 pace and he is showing excellent command with a 7/41 walk to whiff ratio in his 50 innings of work.  Hill was selected by the Nationals in the 6th round of the 2011 draft.  In 2012 only one National minor leaguer won more than the nine games Taylor won as he rose up three levels.  With Gio Gonzalez on the DL the Nationals could be giving him a look.

Pacific Coast League

Jimmy Nelson RHP (Brewers) - The top prospect with the Brewers is also 5-1 and third in the league in ERA (1.71).  He has nine starts with a 17/58 walk to whiff ratio in 58 innings, limiting the opposition to a .180 average.  Jimmy has only given up one run in his last two starts, so if the Brewers need a starter he is on a roll.  The Brewers drafted Jimmy in the second round of the 2010 draft.

Mike Fiers RHP (Brewers) - His teammate is having numbers myworld can not ignore.  Mike is 6-1 with a 2.01 ERA.  In eight starts he has one complete game shutout with an uber impressive 7/72 walk to whiff ratio in just 49 innings.  At 29 years of age and appearances in the major leagues the last three seasons he is not really considered a prospect, but may be considered over Jimmy if not for the fact in two of his last three starts he was tagged for five runs.  In 2012 Mike had some success in the majors, crafting a 9-10 record with a 3.74 ERA.

Eastern League

A.J. Cole RHP (Nationals) - A.J. was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 draft by the Nationals but was a pitcher many considered equipped with a first round arm.  Injuries and signability dropped his draft stock.  The Nationals traded him to the Athletics for Gio Gonzalez then reacquired him for Mike Morse.  Cole is 4-2 with his 2.25 ERA also third in the league.  In eight starts he has a 7/34 walk to whiff ratio but a worrisome opposition average of .284.

Southern League

Chris Reed LHP (Dodgers) - Chris played for Great Britain in the 2013 World Baseball Classic qualifier and was a first round pick of the Dodgers in 2011.  He is the only lefthander in this group.  In nine starts he is 3-2 with a 2.19 ERA, but his .168 opposition average is most impressive.  It is interesting lefthanders are hitting him at a .233 clip while righthanders are flailing away at a .156 pace.  The defense for the Lookouts must be horrible.  Chris has given up almost as many unearned runs (12) as earned runs (13).  His 26/54 walk to whiff ratio in 53 innings needs to be improved upon.

Texas League

Daniel Winkler RHP (Rockies) - He leads in ERA (1.48), whiffs (51) and WHIP (0.74).  The opposition is only hitting .145 against him.  He has an impressive 12/51 walk to whiff ratio in just 49 innings.  The 20th round pick in the 2011 draft sports a 5-2 record.  His last start he gave up three runs on three solo homeruns, 60 percent of the total homeruns he has given up this year.  On a final note, he has only given up one hit in three of his eight starts.

Red Sox 2014 Domestic Draft Team

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Myworld is taking a look at all the major league teams to see what kind of 25-man roster they could field if they only relied on the players selected from the domestic draft and nothing else to stock their team. Only current major leaguers are considered for the 25 man roster. Realistically, some players would extend their career because without foreign players a job could still be available and others who never were called up could fill the empty positions. The Red Sox took advantage of the free agent compensation rules during the 2006 - 2011 period, accumulating 17 first round picks. Only in 2009 did they have just one first round pick. You would think this would allow them to put together a solid domestically drafted offensive team, but despite all those picks only one offensive player makes it on the domestic draft team. The pitching, especially the bullpen falls a little short.

Catcher - Lots of catchers here. Jason Castro (2005 - 43rd round), Yasmani Grandal (2007 - 27th round) and Yan Gomes (2008 - 39th round) were not signed, which leaves a pretty impressive group of catchers. We’ll go with a catcher they did sign as a starter, Kelly Shoppach (2001 - 2nd round) and two players to choose as backups, Ryan Lavarnway (2008 - 6th) and Tim Federowicz (2008 - 7th). This trio will provide strong defense behind the plate, with some pop in the bat, but overall the offensive production is not there.

First Base - Another surplus with Mark Teixeira (1998 - 9th round) and Brandon Belt (2006 - 11th round) not signed. Mark was drafted as a third baseman. It still leaves a pretty good duo of players to play at this position in Anthony Rizzo (2007 - 6th round) and Brandon Moss (2002 - 8th round), who was signed as a shortstop. Steve Pearce (2004 - 10th round) was another player not signed who could play both outfield and first base.

Second Base - Dustin Pedroia (2004 - second round) is all you have here and is all you will need, unless you have an injury.

Shortstop - Scouts have sold Jed Lowrie (2005 - 1st round), short on his ability to play short. The Oakland A’s are not complaining.

Third Base - Pedro Alvarez (2005 - 4th round) was not signed, but he is the best alternative. The Red Sox got rid of Kevin Youkillis (2001 - 8th round) to make room for Will Middlebrooks (2007 - 5th round). Middlebrooks is not doing the job and Youkillis recently left the Rakuten Eagles in Japan because of plantar fascititis. Some whisper Kevin lost his enthusiasm for the Japanese game and is using the injury to end his Japanese career.

Outfield - David Murphy (2003 - 1st round) would play left field, Jacoby Ellsbury (2005 - 1st round) would play center and right field would be manned by Josh Reddick (2006 - 17th round). The extra outfielders would be Jackie Bradley (2011 - 1st round) and Matt Murton (2003 - 2nd round), who is having a pretty good career in Japan.

Note the only offensive player from the 17 first round picks is Jackie Bradley.

Starting pitchers - The ace would continue to be Jon Lester (2002 - 2nd round), followed by Justin Masterson (2006 - 2nd round). Clay Buchholz (2005 - 1st round) would fit into the three hole. Depending on who can stay healthy Aaron Harang (1996 - 22nd round), Ricky Romero (2002 - 37th round) and Casey Kelly (2008 - 1st round) would vie for the final two spots. Neither Harang or Romero was signed and Kelly preferred to play shortstop after he was drafted, but is now a full time pitcher.

Relief Pitcher - At least they have a closer in Jonathon Papelbon (2003 - 4th round). After him, the bullpen gets thin with Manny Delcarmen (2000 - 2nd round) and Nick Hagadone (2007 - 1st round) both players on the fringes of keeping their major league careers intact.

Million Dollar Arm a Homerun

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

It is rare for myworld to give an excellent rating to a movie.  We see many movies a year, but while many are entertaining they do not tug at your emotions.  The last movie myworld watched that we would give an excellent rating to would be the documentary ‘Searching for Sugarman”.  Now add “Million Dollar Arm” to that list.  It will tug at your emotions, though we still shed more tears of joy for the Sugarman movie.

We’ve been following the story of Rinku Singh and Dinish Patel for awhile now.  Their names only became familiar to myworld after they had won the million dollar arm contest.  What myworld did not realize is an American agent started the million dollar arm contest to find players from India he could represent in an attempt to save his company.

Myworld can not vouch for the accuracy of the movie (I think they got the characters backward with the lefthander being the son of the truck driver.  They are both identified as javelin throwers on their Wikipedia site.).  We followed the blog created by Singh and Patel after they were signed by the Pirates.  Like all blogs, including this one, at some point in time you stop following it.  We don’t know if Singh and Patel still keep the blog, or if it still exists on the web.  Like most websites and blogs, the company that hosts any site wants money to keep it online.  Once you stop paying the site disappears.

The movie has a happy ending and their accomplishments were certainly great.  The reality of their achievement to make it as a major league baseball player was a daunting task.  Many American or Dominican players who start the game at 12 and play 365 days a year still do not make it as a major league player.  Only a select few get that honor.  Both Dinish and Singh did not even pick up a baseball until they entered the contest.

Dinish Patel was eventually released by the Pirates in 2010, but the experience gave his family prestige and the money he earned from the contest and his brief career with baseball helped renovate their home and pay for his sister’s wedding according to his Wikipedia sight.  Rinku Singh got a trip to the Australian Baseball League to work on his pitching, but now must take a year off as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.  One of the things Singh had going for him is his height and he throws lefthanded.  Lefthanders are always given a little more rope to succeed because of their rarity.  The Pirates should give him another opportunity to extend his career as a professional baseball player for the 2015 season once his arm recovers, although missing the 2013 and 2014 seasons because of his arm issues will not help hasten his development.

Myworld would highly recommend the movie, even if you are not a baseball fan.  In the theatre there were a number of people from India watching the movie.  I can’t imagine all of them had any knowledge of baseball.  Once the movie ended you know people enjoyed it by the number of people who clap after it ends.  There were a number of patrons in the theatre who clapped to show their enjoyment of the movie and stuck around to see the credits, which showed snapshots of photos and videos of the real Dinish and Rinku and their efforts to win the contest and succeed in signing a minor league contract.