Archive for December, 2014

Manny Leads Aguilas

Monday, December 29th, 2014

The round robin for the Dominican Republic has begun and myworld will report on the results:

Aguilas 8 Toros 2

Manny Rameriz shows he still has some sock left in his bat, hitting a three run homer in the third to give the Aguilas (1-1) their first round robin victory. Toros (0-2) drops their second straight. Juan Francisco made it back to back following with a solo shot to give the Aguilas an insurmountable 4-1 lead. Angel Castro worked the last four innings in relief to get the win. Dan Black finished with two hits and two walks in four at bats to drive in two for Aguilas. Teammate and Japanese bound Ricardo Nanita went 3 for 3 with one walk to score three times. He is batting .667 in the first two games of the round robin.

Gigantes 4 Estrellas 1

Gigantes scored all four runs in the opening frame, Francisco Peguero and Maikel Franco smoking back to back doubles to each drive in two runs. Nick Additon went five innings to get the win, though he gave up 8 hits and walked three in the shaky outing. Estrellas stranded 10 baserunners in taking their first loss. For Gigantes, they are now 2-0. Ramon Ramirez pitched a perfect ninth to pick up the save.

scoreboard

Cuban All Star Game

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Lourdes Gourriel led the Occidentales All Stars to a 9-4 win over the Orientales. His three run homer in the second inning put the Occidentales on top 3-1. He also added an RBI single in the fourth to drive in the first four runs for the Occidentales and led all players in hits with three. His two older brothers Yulieski and Yunieski combined for three hits.

The Occidentales erupted for five runs in the sixth to put the game away after the Orientales had closed to within 4-3. Yusmel Velasquez was the victim of the onslaught. Cionel Perez got credit for the win, despite giving up two runs in just one inning of work. The youngster Norge Luis Ruiz took the loss, serving up the three run homerun to Gourriel.

Yordanis Samon homered for the Orientales to drive in a meaningless fourth run and Alexei Bell contributed two hits that drove in two runs, though he was only credited with one RBI since an error allowed one of the runs to score.

The box score for the game can be found below. The attendance was listed at 10,000. You can take a look at the players and see who the new stars of the league are after all the defections.

boxscore

Angels - 2015

Monday, December 29th, 2014

It is a bit early to be doing a team by team breakdown with a number of significant free agents still waiting to be signed, but myworld will start with the Angels and hope to finish all the teams by the end of February. That is the goal.

General - They won their division last year garnering an MVP vote for Mike Trout. Trout had better years his previous two years but the Angels did not make the playoffs. He had a little help from Albert Pujols last year, driving in 105 runs and breakout years from unknown Matt Shoemaker and fireballing Garrett Richards. They will need this trio to repeat their performance in 2015, plus get better production from Josh Hamilton, who played the invisible man after signing his multi-million dollar free agent contract last year. They already have $119 million dedicated to 10 players for the 2015 season, so signing a big name free agent to help them next year is probably out of the question.

Key Additions - They added Johnny Giovotella in a trade with the Royals as well as Josh Rutledge in a trade with the Rockies. Taylor Featherstone was a Rule V pickup. All three have a chance to fill the second base vacancy after the Angels traded Howie Kendrick to the Dodgers. Matt Joyce was acquired in a trade with the Rays because you know Josh Hamilton is not going to play the full season without injury. They also acquired catcher Drew Butera in a separate deal with the Dodgers.

Catching - Not an impressive lot from an offensive standpoint. Hank Conger is gone so Chris Ianneta will get the majority of starts. The big thing with Chris is he is not afraid to take walks, putting together a .373 OBA despite a .252 average. Drew Butera will back him up and be lucky to hit over .200. He is noted more for his glove than his stick. Grading a 1-5 with 5 being the best this is a 2.

First Base - They have a little bit of depth here. Albert Pujols returned to his 100 RBi performance years after being absent for a couple. We’d be surprised if he ever hits the .300 mark again. He may get more time at DH this year with a younger Chris Cron backing him up at first. Cron almost outslugged Pujols (.450 to .466) but his OBA (.289) needs some work. Marc Krauss was picked up from the Astros, but will be stored in AAA awaiting an injury before filling the roster.

Second Base - With Kendrick gone they need to find someone to play this position. Rutledge and Giavotella will fight for the starting spot. Taylor Featherstone was a Rule V pick and may not stick with the club. They also have Grant Green returning and he hit .356 in limited playing time against lefthanded pitching. If they want to contend they will keep looking for a better alternative.

Shortstop - Eric Aybar has been solid but myworld expected more. When ranking the top shortstops in the league he will be stacked in the middle. He doesn’t make a lot of errors (10) but his bat belongs near the bottom of the order. When he was younger he could steal bases, but this is getting more difficult for him. Rutledge could play some here when they want to rest Aybar but last year Eric played in 156 games.

Third Base - David Freese made a name for himself with some clutch hits with the Cardinals in the World Series. His bat has not been that potent since. Last year he hit only .260 with a .383 slugging percentage. Not a lot of depth here unless they call on Green or Rutledge. Prospect Kaleb Cowart needs one full year in the minors to develop his power.

Left Field - Josh Hamilton is getting paid a lot of money to play games. Last year he could only appear in 89 of them. If the Angels are to repeat as playoff participants they will need to see 100 RBIs from both him and Pujols next year. At $25.4 million he just beats out the $24 million paid to Pujols for highest paid Angel in 2015. Matt Joyce should see a lot of time here when Hamilton is hitting in the DH slot or sitting on the bench nursing an injury.

Centerfield - Can’t do better than having an MVP out in center. Many would argue that this should have been Mike Trout’s third straight MVP year. Miguel Cabrera took a couple away from him. Last year Trout only hit .287 but he led the team in homeruns with 36, scoring 115 runs and driving in 111. He doesn’t really need a backup but Collin Cowgill will play here when needed.

Right Field - Kole Calhoun had a nice breakout year last year, hitting 17 homeruns. He arrived late in the 2013 season and appears to have the right field job. Matt Joyce is around in case he falters. Collin Cowgill is better suited for a fourth outfielder role, but you can always use more Cowgill.

Designated Hitter - This will be a rotating position. The elder statesmen Pujols and Hamilton may see the most time here. Matt Joyce and Chris Cron may platoon here when they are not playing the field.

Starting Pitcher - Jered Weaver does not throw hard but he pitches like an ace. He won 18 games last year but his ERA showed slippage from the previous year. Matt Shoemaker should not be expected to repeat his 16-4, 3.04 season from 2014. They also have to hope Garrett Richards has a healthy knee after missing the playoffs last year because of the injury. Those are the big three. C.J. Wilson is being paid $18 million in 2015 but he must improve on his 4.51 ERA from last year to earn his keep. This would make up for a come back to earth year from Shoemaker. The five spot will be decided in spring training, but the most talented of the pitchers is prospect Andrew Heaney, who the Angels acquired from the Marlins. Hector Santiago (3.64) is probably the favorite since he started 24 games for the Angels last year.

Closer - They gave the Padres a bushel of prospects to acquire Huston Street for the playoff run last year. They will get him for the whole season this year. Last year they struggled to find a closer, but Joe Smith was effective for 15 saves and a 1.81 ERA. He will probably be used as the main setup man for Street in 2015. Young fireballer Cam Bedrosian has the blood line to be a closer, but he needs a bit more experience.

Other Relief Pitchers - An effective group that did not get a lot of credit with Mike Morin (2.90), Fernando Salas (3.38) and Vinnie Pestano (0.93) all returning. Jose Alvarez may fill the lefty role, but there are not a lot of options on the roster here.

Rookie Contributions - Andrew Heaney could win the fifth starting job, but if not he should be pitching for them by mid season. Nick Tropeano is another rookie that will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. He has one more year of experience on Heaney, but not the fastball. Cam Bedrosian struggled in the bullpen last year but should see more quality time there this year. If Taylor Featherstone sticks as a Rule V he will play a utility role. If no one wins the second base job expect Alex Yarbrough to be called up by mid season. Carlos Perez has a good shot of beating out Butera for the back up job at catcher. The Angels may prefer he get at bats in AAA and be ready if injury calls for his contributions. Both Perez and Tropeano were acquired from Houston in the Hank Conger trade. Scott Snodgress seemed to take to the bullpen last year and may be put in that role with the Angels in 2015.

2015 Finish - The Rangers and Mariners should be better next year, while the Athletics appear to be in another rebuild. Myworld is not impressed with the lineup and the health of the players filling the positions. The way it is currently put together we see them missing the playoffs this year. Too many question marks at too many positions.

Hiram Bithorn

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Rod Carew has a stadium named after him in Panama. Dennis Martinez has one named after him in Nicaragua. Hiram Bithorn has a stadium named after him in Puerto Rico. Most are familiar with the first two ball players. Only Puerto Ricans may be familiar with the third name.

Hiram Bithorn was the first Puerto Rican ball player in the major leagues. He pitched for the Chicago Cubs in 1942 and 1943. It was the latter year when he won 18 games and threw seven shutouts. That is a record that still holds for Puerto Rican pitchers.

The war interrupted his playing career. After two years serving in the military he came back heavier. He won six games for the Cubs in 1946 but they released him the following season. He played briefly for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago White Sox, appearing in only two games in the 1947 season. In 1948 he had surgery to correct an arm issue and tried to come back in 1949, pitching in the minor league but with little success.

Some say Hiram was attempting a comeback in baseball in 1952 by pitching in the Mexican winter league. Others say he was just visiting his mother and sister who lived there. At 35 years of age he was shot and killed by a police officer over an argument during a traffic stop. The police officer was later sentenced to eight years in prison.

Many are not aware that Hiram was not just a baseball player. He also played on the Puerto Rico volleyball team, bringing back a silver medal in the 1935 Central American and Caribbean Games. He also won a bronze medal playing for the basketball team that same year. The next year he was pitching in the New York Yankees minor league farm system.

Hiram Bithorn had a short life, but it appeared to be a full life.

Gigantes and Estrellas Open up with Wins

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

The opening games of the round robin were played in the Dominican Republic yesterday with the Gigantes and Estrellas getting victories.

Estrellas 6 Toros 0

Evan McClane and Raul Valdes engaged in a pitchers duel but Estrallas finally got to Valdes in the fifth inning for one run. The Toros bullpen then put gas on the fire, allowing five runs in the last three innings to put the game out of reach. Audy Ciriaco and Gustavo Nunez each drove in two runs for Estrellas. Nunez drove in the first run with a double off Valdes in the fifth inning. He also drove in the second run in the sixth taking a walk with the bases loaded. Ciriaco contributed RBI singles in the seventh and eighth innings.

Gigantes 2 Aguilas 1

Moises Sierra hit a game tying homerun in the eighth inning and in the eleventh Garabez Rosa drove in the go ahead run with a pinch hit double. Zach Jackson came on with two runners on and one out in the bottom of the eleventh and coaxed Jonathan Villar to ground into a double play. Maikel Franco had two doubles for the Gigantes, including the critical double in the final inning to set up the Rosa single. Carlos Martinez had a stellar outing for Aguilas, going five innings and striking out 10. He gave up six hits.

More About Cuban Smuggling

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Another interesting article discussing Cuban smuggling and the increased sleaziness of those involved in getting baseball players out of Cuba. There is also an interesting allegation against Yasiel Puig, who played for Cienfuegos when he was in Cuba. The recent glut of players fleeing Cuba coming out of Cienfuegos may be more than just a coincidence. You can read the pretty lengthy article below:

Cuban smuggling of baseball players

Cuban Eight Decided

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

The defending champ Pinar del Rio put on a late surge to make it into the final eight. The Nacional Series takes a break. The next event will be drafting players from teams who did not make the final eight to strengthen their teams. The final eight and their stars are:

Matanzas (31-14)

Yasiel Santoya (.368, 3, 32), Yurisbel Gracial (.246, 2, 15 with 13 stolen bases), Yadiel Hernandez (.355, 2, 20 with 36 runs scored), Dainer Moreira (.363, 0, 25 with 38 runs scored). Seemed to do pretty well after suspension of Jose Fernandez, who will eventually find himself in the major leagues.

Jonder Martinez (6-1, 3.18), Cionel Perez (6-1, 1.05 with 60 whiffs), Yoanni Yera (7-3, 3.34), Yohan Hernandez (2-1, 2.62, 5 saves), Felix Fuentes (2-2, 3.38, 3 saves) and Adrian Sosa (3-0, 2.45, 3 saves).

Granma (29-16)

Alfredo Despaigne (.375, 2, 16 in only 18 games. Arrived late from NPB), Lazaro Cedeno (.310, 12, 35), Roel Santos (.314, 2, 11 with 40 runs scored), Adrian Moreno (.308, 2, 17 with 13 doubles), Urmani Guerra (.282, 9, 34) and Guillermo Aviles (.252, 6, 28).

Lazaro Blanco (7-3, 3.46), Alain Tamayo (4-6, 3.34 with 55 whiffs), Ciro Licea (1-0, 3.91, 8 saves) and Jose Pena (4-1, 3.31, 1 save)

Isla de la Juventud (27-18)

Rigoberto Gomez (.355, 0, 24), Dainier Galvez (.329, 9 22 with 10 doubles), Michel Enriquez (.352, 3, 20), Roimy Proenza (.331, 2, 15). A bigger park brings down the impressive offensive stats.

Jesus Amador (4-1, 3.95), Danny Aguilera (6-0, 1.21, 8 saves), Yunier Gamboa (3-4, 3.38, 3 saves)

Artemisa (25-20)

Dariel Crespo (.303, 1, 18 with 10 doubles), Lazaro Hernandez (.279, 4, 11 with 25 runs scored).

Miguel Lahera (6-1, 2.07), Misael Villa (6-3, 2.37), Yunieski Garcia (6-3, 2.80), Yulieski Gonzalez (4-5, 3.27), Jose Garcia (0-2, 1.33 with 11 saves).

Industriales (25-20)

Yulieski Gourriel (.268, 4, 8 but only 11 games because of late arrival from NPB), Lourdes Gourriel (.315, 6, 30), Yunieski Gourriel (.324, 1, 20), Alexander Malleta (.291, 6, 31), Rudy Reyes (.315, 3, 21) and Yusnier Diaz (.307, 0, 9 with 29 runs scored).

Frank Monthiet (3-3, 2.63), Pedro Duran (3-2, 2.23), Yohandri Portal (0-0, 3.09, 8 saves), Alexander rodriguez (2-1, 3.32, 6 saves), Jesus Balaguer (5-1, 2.28, 1 save).

Ciego de Avila (24-21)

Jose Garcia (.372, 7, 31), Yoelvis Fiss (.263, 5, 21), Yorelvis Charles (.329, 4, 24), Humberto Morales (.281, 6, 20).

Yander Guevara (6-3, 3.22), Yunier Cano (4-3, 1.60, 2 saves), Yadir Rabi (2-1, 1.29, 7 saves), Osmar Carrero (3-2, 2.74), Victor Baro (3-1, 2.18, 1 save.

Pinar del Rio (24-21)

Luis Valdes (.369, 5, 33), Randy Arrozarena (.293, 2, 17 with 26 runs scored and 9 stolen bases), Lazaro Alonso (.310, 4, 19).

Julio Martinez (6-2, 2.20), Yavani torres (4-4, 1.81), Vladimir Gutierrez (3-4, 1.73, 8 saves), Livan Moinelo (4-1, 2.70, 3 saves)

Holquin (23-22)

Yeison Pacheco (.333, 5, 27), Maikel Caceres (.313, 6, 20 with 26 runs scored), Jose Castaneda (.352, 1, 11)

Carlos Santiesteban (5-2, 2.98), Ernesto Hernandez (4-2, 2.96), Yusmel Velazquez (5-6, 3.18),

Puerto Rico Winter League Hall of Fame Team

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

This is a team composed of players who played at least one year of winter ball in Puerto Rico. It is not the players who performed the best while playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. Many of these players only played one year, some times as twenty year old rookies competing against veteran winter league players. Once they had established major league careers their Puerto Rican visits stopped. With the Series del Caribe in San Juan this year, myworld thought it a good idea to give some history of the San Juan winter league.

Catcher - This team is filled with catchers. You can start with Johnny Bench and Josh Gibson, but how can you leave off Roy Campanella. And that is not including two native stars that are premier defensive players in Ivan Rodriguez and Yadier Molina. Thurman Munson gets a sentimental vote.

First base - Orlando Cepeda or Frank Howard. Whoever is not starting can DH. There would be no room for either on this outfield.

Second Base - A little light but Roberto Alomar is a stud. Roger Hornsby was a manager, but that doesn’t count.

Third Base - Mike Schmidt with Wade Boggs backing him up.

Shortstop - Cal Ripken and you could turn Robin Yount into a utility player. One of the greatest shortstops would be Perucho Cepeda, who is the father of Orlando Cepeda. He was a fiery ballplayer who did not play in the Negro leagues because he abhorred the racism in the United States. He did have a pretty impressive winter league career playing in Venezuela and Dominican Republic but we’ll write about him later.

Left Field - Henry Aaron will just have to learn to play left field. If he struggles then there is always Ricky Henderson or Reggie Jackson to back him up.

Center Field - Willie Mays is the only true centerfielder on this list, though I suspect other players could play here.

Right Field - You have to give it to Roberto Clemente. He has a couple good back ups in Frank Robinson and Tony Gwynn.

Designated Hitter - As if you don’t have enough players here who could also DH, but you have to make room for Edgar Martinez.

Starting Pitchers - You can only use five, but myworld will give you the pleasure of assigning those who don’t make it the bullpen responsibility. Choose five between Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Satchel Paige, Steve Carlton, Jim Palmer, Dennis Martinez, Phil Niekro, Vida Blue or Luis Tiant.

Relief Pitchers - They may not get a lot of work but Goose Gossage and Lee Smith would be a nice start. Rob Dibble can provide some heat and commentary.

Put this team together in simulation games and see how well they do with the best of the other Hall of Famers and they would probably do pretty well.

Caribbean Playoffs to Begin Soon

Saturday, December 27th, 2014

The Dominican League has their playoff participants determined and Santo Domingo has been shut out. The capital normally has two strong teams, but Licey and Escogido could not do it this year. Estrellas de Oriente took the division with a 32-18 record. Following Estrellas will be the Aguilas Cibuanas (30-20), Gigantes del Cibao (28-22), and Toros del Este (24-26). The last time the capital was not represented was in 2010/2011 when Toros del Este won the round robin playoffs. Santo Domingo has represented the Dominican Republic in five of the last six years. The round robin playoffs begin to determine the Dominican representative to the Series del Caribe begins today.

The Mexican League will end their season Monday. The first half winner the Obregon Yaquis find themselves at the bottom in the second half and will have to ressurect that magic if they want to stay competetive in the best of seven matchups. Newcomer Charros de Jalisco is winning the second half, a game ahead of Culiacan. The Mexican League uses a point system based on first and second half finishes to determine the six teams to advance in best of seven matchups.

The Series del Caribe host Puerto Rico will be without their San Juan team in the round robin playoffs. Their regular season ends on December 31, but all four playoff teams have been determined. It is just a matter of finding the matchups. With about five games left Santurce, the other San Juan team is the only team not guaranteed a top seed. The Caguas Criollos have the top spot with the Mayguez Indios a game and a half back. The Carolina Gigantes are four games back in third place.

In Venezuela only the Margarita Bravos have been eliminated from the round robin playoffs. There are four games left in the Venezuelan winter league regular schedule. The first place Caribes, followed by Aguilas del Zulia and Tigres de Aragua appear to be guaranteed a playoff spot. Four teams are battling for the final two spots, with the Navegantes de Magallanes needing to win only one more game, or hope for losses from the last two teams to clinch the fourth spot. Their regular season ends December 30.

Cuba appears to be scheduled to appear in their second Series del Caribe, hoping to amend their embarrasment from last year when they finished at the bottom of the five teams. Pinar, last year’s winner would be their representative, but the team will have a number of All Stars sprinkled in the lineup to supplement the team. All Caribbean teams are allowed to add players from other teams to their roster to strenghten the teams and add marque players to the tournament. Pinar has been struggling this year. It was possible they would not make the final eight in this year’s Nacional Series, but after a game they forfeited because of a dispute over a homerun and the season long suspension of their manager because of this forfeit, they have rallied to win eight of their last 10 games to put themselves in the final eight.

Myworld will have a special interest in this Series del Caribe since we will be present for the event. It will be the second Series del Caribe myworld has attended, the first being in the Dominican Repbulic in 2011 when Escogido won. That will not happen this year since Escogido did not even qualify for the round robin playoffs in the Dominican Republic.

It’s About Winning Innings

Friday, December 26th, 2014

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won the MVP award in the National League. There are those voices who feel pitchers should not win the MVP because they have their own award in the Cy Young. Others say that pitchers do not impact as many games as regular position players, pointing out a starting pitcher will appear in only 33 games while a position player will play 150 plus games. Myworld argues it is not the number of games you play but the number of innings you impact that gives your team a chance to win. Pitchers in general impact all nine innings of a game while hitters bat in four or five of those innings. A position player could influence a game because of his defense, but unless you are a catcher or a firstbaseman you can go all game without touching a ball..

Taking a look at AL MVP Mike Trout myworld notes he played in 157 games giving him an opportunity for over 700 plate appearances. That calculates to about 4.5 at bats per game, or an opportunity to impact four or five innings with his bat. Some of those bats will be productive but most of them will result in outs. In those productive at bats he was responsible for scoring 115 runs and driving in 111. Subtract from that run production his 36 homeruns and his total run production is 190. If you assume he only drove in one run or scored one run in each inning then you can project his offense impacted at least 190 innings.

The reality of baseball is that it is not so black and white. Some of his hits will drive in multiple runs while in some innings he may contribute hits that do not drive in runs but advance a runner who will later score on a third hit. There is also his defense to take into account for saving runs. Not being scientific and not wanting to study each box score to determine the number of innings Trout made an impact myworld will say he had a positive contribution in 150 to 190 innings.

When you look at Clayton Kershaw he started 27 games and worked 198 innings for a 1.77 ERA. Myworld is going to say he worked 22 complete games. That would calculate to five games in which he gave up one run in one inning, but held a team to zero runs in eight innings (we’ll assume a positive contribution is holding a team to zero runs, though some may argue that one run is not that bad if you win the inning). In 17 other starts he gave up one run in two innings but pitched goose eggs for the other seven innings. That would mean Kershaw would have made a positive contribution in 159 innings.

But just as Mike Trout will drive in more than one run with a hit, Kershaw will have some innings in which he gives up more than one run. So you will probably have to raise the number of innings he made a positive contribution. This could raise his positive contributions and when you compare it to Mike Trout the pitcher has a positive impact on just as many innings as a position player.

This is one reason why general managers pay so much for pitchers who in the end have more of an impact when it comes to influencing the innings in a game. They pitch all nine innings while hitters only bat in four to five of those innings. So despite the fact a pitcher plays fewer games they have just as many chances to make a positive influence on an inning.

It has been a slow news day so myworld went philosophical for a minute. Imagine contracts and lineups put together based on the number of innings a player influences in a positive direction, not just on his overall production. Granted, a pitcher who gives up multiple runs in an inning does get negative points for making it more difficult to win a game, despite the number of positive innings he may pitch.