Archive for January, 2015

Red Sox -2015

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

General - The second decade of 2000 has been a back wrenching roller coaster ride for Red Sox fans. To begin the decade the Rays replaced them as the second best team in the AL East, a position that normally got the Red Sox in the playoffs. In 2012, after signing a number of expensive free agents to return to that second spot they fell to last place. The 2013 season saw a rise to the top spot and a World Series victory but 2014 saw another drop to the basement. In the process they traded the ace of their staff and lost him to their ex-general manager now working for the Cubs. The Red Sox hope 2013 was not an aberration but they must improve on their bats, which looked more like the Rays than the Red Sox of the past. They also have a team lacking a big time ace with their best arms still bubbling up in the minor leagues.

Key Additions - They hope the free agent signings of Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez will provide some spark to a stale offense in 2015. Hanley will play in left, but could be used at short. With third base sufficiently covered the Red Sox traded Will Middlebrooks to improve themselves on the catching front by acquiring Ryan Hanigan from the Padres. Myworld is always a bit suspicious of players who keep bouncing around from team to team as Hanigan has these past couple years. They improved their pitching by acquiring Wade Miley from the Diamondbacks, though his best season was his first year when he won rookie of the year. The Red Sox acquired Rick Porcello for the starting rotation, trading away Yoenis Cespedes to the Tigers. Red Sox fans had hardly got to know the Cuban since he was a late season addition from the Athletics. The Red Sox took a gamble on Justin Masterson, signing him as a free agent in hopes he can recapture his old form. Alexi Ogando is a recent free agent signing that will probably work in the bullpen, since starting seems to be bad for his arm.

Catcher - Ryan Hanigan has seen four different teams since 2013. In the last two years he has had trouble hitting over .218 and last year was his worst year throwing out baserunners. He does have more experience than Christian Vazquez who played in just 55 games last year with a .240 average. They allowed Ryan Lavarnway to bounce around on waivers opening a spot for their catcher of the future in Blake Swihart. Expect him to be the regular by mid-season, but a good spring could see him win the opening day job.

First Base - Mike Napoli and his .419 slugging average is not a lot to get excited about. He also only drove in 55 runs, production expected from a middle infielder rather than a first baseman. The Red Sox hope for his return to 2013 form when he slugged .482 and drove in 92. David Ortiz could see some time here against National League teams if they want to get his bat in the lineup, but Allen Craig and Daniel Nava were the primary backups last year. Neither of them was an improvement over the punchless Napoli.

Second Base - The glitter is kind of wearing off on the MVP year Dustin Pedroia had a number of years ago. His offensive production fell below many second basemen last year but he continues to start because of what he has accomplished in the past. The Phillies did this with a number of their players, hoping for a resurgence of their greatness but that never came to pass. The Red Sox are hoping Pedroia is not done at 32 as an offensive weapon at second base. Brock Holt is a nice leadoff option but a man without a position, playing all of them except catcher and pitcher last year. Mookie Betts put up some monster numbers in the minors and has been bumped from his outfield spot. His natural position is second base.

Third Base - They traded their third baseman of the future Will Middlebrooks to give the position to Pablo Sandoval. They have to hope he stays in good enough shape to continue to play the position defensively. The Panda has been known to have some weight issues with the Giants. Sandoval did not have a great season (.739 OPS) but seems to do better when the playoffs begin. For the Red Sox his numbers are better than what they had at the position last year. Brock Holt can spell him here and Hanley Ramirez could move here if they need to fill the position for an extended period.

Shortstop - Xander Bogaerts has been told he will be the shortstop. He made all the plays but many feel his best position is third base. That position has been taken by Sandoval. Xander needs to improve on his .297 OBA or Hanley Ramirez could move to this position to improve the offense. Brock Holt will be the player to give Bogaerts the occasional rest.

Left Field - Hanley Ramirez will see how life is in the outfield. He has been a shortstop for most of his career, starting it with the Red Sox minor league affiliates, so he is coming home. Ramirez has had trouble staying healthy, seeing only 128 games for the Dodgers last year. His bat also slumped quite a bit from what he put up in 2013. He will be playing in a more hitter friendly park so expect those numbers to inflate a bit. Daniel Nave will act as a fourth outfielder type. The Red Sox like his grit and ability to get on base (.361 OBA). Holt and Allen Craig are other options, though Craig only hit .128 in 94 at bats for the Red Sox last year.

Center Field - A battle of once rookie phenoms. Jackie Bradley has failed to take over the position the last couple years, failing to transfer his minor league productive bat to the majors. Bradley would be a gold glover on defense but needs to hit. Mookie Betts did an adequate job playing the position last year, but he spent most of his time in the minors at second base. He doesn’t quite have the tools of the new center fielder Rusney Castillo who raked last year in a brief September callup. Whether he can sustain that over a full season is still a question. Expect Betts to take over hear if the Red Sox feel Castillo needs some more seasoning in the minors.

Right Field - Shane Victorino would like to reclaim the position but injuries last year limited him to just 30 games. The Red Sox feel a need to get Mookie Betts bat in the lineup. His .812 OPS was second to David Ortiz and this is the only position except catcher without an established starter. If Rusney Castillo struggles out of spring Mookie could return to center and Victorino would take over in right. Allen Craig and Daniel Nava are two other players who can play this position. Watch out for Bryce Brentz, a rookie with a power bat that needs an opportunity.

Designated Hitter - David Ortiz drove in 104 runs last year. Defensively, the only position he can play is first base and he does not do that well. So he will see 140 plus games at DH. Mike Napoli, Allan Craig, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez could all get a day or two here to rest their legs but still keep their bats in the lineup.

Starting Pitching - With the loss of Jon Lester they really lack an ace. Clay Buchholtz has put up ace numbers in the past, but last year his 5.34 ERA and .273 opponent average was more indicative of a back of the rotation starter. Joe Kelly made the claim he will win the Cy Young award in 2015 but he has yet to see a complete year in the starting rotation. His small stature makes teams think he is a better fit in the bullpen. Three new acquisitions have seen better years. Wade Miley gives up a lot of hits but is a good fit for the middle of the rotation. Rick Porcello is another pitcher allowing more hits than innings pitched last year and has never reached his first round pick potential. Justin Masterson has seen better years. Last year was a disaster with lefties roping him at a .330 clip. The Red Sox are loaded in the minor leagues and those players can be seen in the 2015 rookies section. Expect one or two of them to eventually fit in the rotation after the veterans struggle or fall to injury.

Closer - Koji Uehara was unhittable in 2013. As the season progressed last year he was very hittable. If he continues the end of the 2014 path the Red Sox need to find another closer. Edward Mujica took over this spot after Koji struggled but the Red Sox have let it be known he is available in a trade. That does not leave a lot of proven alternatives.

Other Relievers - Junichi Tazawa came upon the scene and acted as a primary setup man. He struck out more than a batter an inning, the only bullpen guy to do that except for Koji. Alexi Ogando was recently signed and he is a better fit for the bullpen, where he can keep his arm healthy. His fastball has more zip in shorter outings. They really lack a lefthanded piece though Craig Breslow was resigned and Robbie Ross was acquired from the Rangers. Neither had a lot of success last year. Anthony Varvaro had a lot more success against lefthanders (.149) than righthanders (.273) so the righthander may be the better option. Expect some of the young Red Sox arms to claim some of the positions as they wait for an opportunity in the starting rotation.

2015 Rookies - The Red Sox are loaded with young pitchers. Henry Owens is an ace in waiting with a lefthanded arm that creates a lot of swing and miss. Eduardo Rodriguez was acquired from Baltimore and thrived in AA Portland (0.96). He is another talented lefthanded arm. Edwin Escobar is a third lefthanded arm acquired from the Giants that could find himself in the Red Sox rotation. Brian Johnson is a 2012 first round pick that is a fourth lefthanded piece that dominated in 20 AA starts (1.96). Matt Barnes is the one right handed option ready to help the rotation. Rusney Castillo should take over the centerfield job and will vie for rookie of the year honors. Blake Swihart should be able to take over the starting catching position by mid-season. Injuries to Sandoval could give Garin Cecchini an opportunity but his power numbers have been a disappointment. Deven Marrero is the Red Sox best defensive option at shortstop, but his bat is not quite ready. Myworld was impressed with the bat of Travis Shaw in the AFL. He has a shot to take over the first base position if Mike Napoli continues to be short on power. Bryce Brentz is a 2010 first round pick outfielder who has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. He has a power bat and arm for right, a position he could claim with a good spring.

2015 Finish - A lot depends on improved years from players who may no longer have those years ahead of them. The starting pitching is also short with a questionable bullpen. It seems they must rely on production from too many rookie players, a recipe for inconsistency. They will not finish last in the division, but they will still fall short of the playoffs as the vaunted Eastern Division fails to net a wild card winner for the second year in a row.

Perth Advances to Finals; Give Blue Sox the Boot

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

The Perth Heat advanced to the finals by sweeping the Sydney Blue Sox in two games in a best of three semi-finals. The last game was not very competitive with the Heat melting the Blue Sox chances of advancing with a 9-2 thrashing. Tim Kennelly and Rene Tosoni each drove in two runs, Tosoni finishing the day with three hits. Warwick Saupold did not pitch five innings, though he held the Blue Sox scoreless. He threw 97 pitches, walking four and striking out seven in his outing. The win went to Scott Mitchinson, who pitched less than two innings but gave up both Blue Sox runs.

The Heat will now play the Adelaide Bite for the championship.

Mariners Scott Arrested in Australia

Friday, January 30th, 2015

It would be a dream of every ball player to get an opportunity to play baseball in Australia and get paid for it. That dream is turning into a nightmare for the Mariners Troy Scott. He let his emotions get the best of him in a brawl, punching the ABL homerun leader Kellin Deglan hard enough to create facial injuries requiring dental work. The assault led to his arrest, suspension and a fine.

The Adelaide Bite qualified for the championship this year but Scott will not be participating in those games. The six game suspension of Scott is the most severe in ABL history and will cause him to miss the playoffs. He is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

You can read more here:

arrest

Youth Teams Announced for 18’s and 12’s

Friday, January 30th, 2015

The 18’s will be played at Koshien Stadium during August 28 to September 6. Koshien is where Japan plays two high school tournaments called the spring and summer Koshien that are often played before 40,000 plus. It will be interesting to see if high schoolers not from Japan attract the same crowds. It is also the location for the NPB Hanshin Tigers, who were kind enough to revise their schedule so the tournament could be held at Koshien. It is the first major international tournament to be held in Japan this year. In November Tokyo will host the semi-finals and finals of the Premier 12, composed of the top 12 countries in the world.

The teams that will compete in the 18’s through qualifying matches for their geographical area are (with their world rankings in parenthesis):

Japan (1), United States (2), Cuba (3), Taiwan (4), Canada (7), South Korea (8), Italy (11), Mexico (12), Australia (14), Brazil (16), Czech Republic (20) and South Africa (29).

It was also announced Tainan City in Taiwan would host the 2015, 2017 and 2019 12’s championships. This is different from the Little League World Series that is played in Williamsport and gets wide viewership in the United States. These 12 year olds are the best in their country, not restricted to play in a certain district. So the best of the West, East, Midwest, etc. in the United States would be formed into one All Star team.

The teams selected to compete in the 2015 event from July 24 to August 2 are (with their rankings in parenthesis):

Japan (1), United States (2), Cuba (3), Taiwan (4), South Korea (8), Venezuela (10), Mexico (12), Panama (13), Australia (14), Nicaragua (16), France (27) and Russia (32)

Countries and Their Links to Major League Teams

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Interesting article in Fangraphs you can read at the link below. Because of scouting expenses certain teams are better focused in specific countries. Some of the highlights from the article:

Once Ichiro Suzuki plays a game for the Miami Marlins the Reds will be the only team not to have a player born in Japan on their roster.

Since 1998 to 2014 the Nationals and Royals used the most players from the Dominican Republic on their roster with 52. The Orioles were second at 51. This surprises me since myworld does not recall the Orioles having a lot of Dominicans on their roster. At the bottom were the Angels and Athletics.

For Venezuela the top team is the Seattle Mariners, followed by the Detroit Tigers. The two teams at the bottom are the Cardinals and Athletics.

For Cuba the Yankees take the top spot. Two teams, the Rays and Braves fall one behind. The Astros have yet to have a Cuban player appear on their roster with the Angels and Indians having one apiece.

The Padres rule with Mexico as is to be expected followed by the Rockies. The Dodgers fall five players behind the Padres in fifth. The Giants have only had one player from Mexico on their roster with four teams having two.

In Japan the Mets reign supreme by a clear majority with the Red Sox and Mariners falling three players behind. The Reds and Marlins have not had a Japanese player appear on their roster, though Ichiro will change that this season. The only Japanese player to appear with the Orioles is Koji, though I recall Tsuyoshi Wada on the roster, and possibly even called up but he may not have made an appearance in the major leagues while with the O’s because of Tommy John.

countries and teams

Perth Win Opening Playoff Round in ABL

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Matt Kennelly tied the game in the eighth with a double and Joey Wong singled to give the Perth Heat an opening round 5-4 win over the Sydney Blue Sox in the opener of the best two out of three. Joey Wong finished the game with two runs driven in and Rene Tosoni helped in the offensive assault for the Heat with his solo homerun in the fourth. Jorge Marban retired the last five hitters to pick up the save, including three on strikeouts. The winner of this plays the Adelaide Bite for the championship.

The boxscore for the game can be found here:

boxscore

South Africa 18 and under Champions in Africa

Friday, January 30th, 2015

The tournament was hosted in Meru, Kenya. South Africa won the 18 and under division by beating a Uganda team 4-1. Tanzania won the bronze by beating the hosts Kenya 25-13. It was the first ever appearance by Tanzania in a baseball tournament and the first time Kenya has hosted a baseball tournament.

This qualifies South Africa for the 18 and under tournament to be played in Japan at the historic Koshien stadium in August/September of this year. The schedule is dependent on the schedule of the pro team the Hanshin Tigers who play their games at the stadium.

A youtube clip of the event can be found below:

tournament

Cardinals - 2015

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

General - The Cardinals 2014 season ended tragically, beginning with their loss to the Giants in the championship series courtesy of a Travis Ishikawa homerun. Coming into the playoffs not many Cardinal fans were familiar with the name Travis Ishikawa. The season ended early meaning one of their top prospects left for the Dominican Republic early. Oscar Taveras died in a single car traffic accident when he should have been playing in a World Series game if things had gone differently. The Cardinals hope the 2015 season has better news. They have won their division the last two years and made the playoffs the last four years. No reason to think a fifth year is not in the cards. The core of Holiday, Molina and Peralta is getting older, but they still have a few good years left in them.

2015 key additions - Their big move was with the Braves when they acquired Jason Heyward and Jordan Walden. Right field had been reserved for Oscar Taveras but Jason Heyward has it now. Walden should fit nicely in the high heat Cardinal bullpen. They also signed the swing and miss bat of Mark Reynolds as insurance at the corners and Matt Belisle to bolster the bullpen. Not a lot of moves but the Cardinals are all about development and bringing up the younger players.

Catcher - Yadier Molina has always been a rock, catching 140 something games a year. Last year he only played 110 games because of injuries. At 32 years old he is no longer a youngster. The Cardinals will give more playing time to Tony Cruz, who while a solid defensive catcher still falls short of the Molina tools. He also does not have much of a bat. When Molina is catching the Cardinals will have one of the best at the position. It just won’t be as often as it used to be.

First Base - Has Matt Adams come down to earth? He seemed to come from nowhere as a lot of Cardinal prospects do with monster shots rising over the fence. Last year he hit 15 with a .457 slugging average. That was short of his 17 homeruns and .503 slugging average of 2013. He also struggled hitting lefthanders with a .180 average which could result in a platoon for 2015. In 2013 he hit .231 against lefties. Mark Reynolds could be the bat to come off the bench against tough lefthanders. He can hit the ball a long way, but there is a lot of swing and miss in his bat. He plays better defensively at first base than third from what myworld saw of him at Baltimore. Xavier Scruggs is a player to watch. He doesn’t hit for a lot of power, but has the potential for a .300 plus average and hit lefthanders at a .350 clip in AAA. There is not much more he can prove in AAA.

Second base - Kolton Wong struggled early but by the end of the season was the starter. He needs to improve on his .292 OBA which would result in more stolen bases and a player the Cardinals could put in the leadoff spot. He led the team last year with 20 stolen bases, so he is their only real speed source. Pete Kozma will replace Daniel Descalso as their utility player. Kozma has a soft bat but has the glove to play all the infield positions well.

Third Base - Matt Carpenter may be more comfortable at third base but his offense suffered last year after the move from second base. In 2013 he batted .318. Last year his average dropped to .272. He still does a good job getting on base (.375 OBA) which makes him good for the leadoff spot, but he lacks speed to steal bases. Mark Reynolds can play here, but unlike Adams the lefthanded bat of Carpenter does not have any trouble hitting lefthanders.

Shortstop - Last year the Cardinals got solid production from Jhonny Peralta. He may not provide a lot of range at the position, but he fields most balls hit at him and he carries a power bat for a shortstop (21 homeruns and .443 slugging). Pete Kozma will provide some blow time for Peralta who may need to rest his 33 year old legs to keep him fresh for the 162 game season. Dean Anna played for the Yankees last year and is the alternative utility player should Pete Kozma fall more into a full time player or needs extended time on the DL because of injury. Neither player offers a terror bat that you would want at this position for an extended period.

Left Field - Matt Holiday still provides a terror bat for the position. He hit .272 with a .441 slugging. He also takes a lot of walks (.370 OBA). The defense is less than satisfactory so expect fourth outfielder Randall Grichuk to play a lot of late inning defense. Grichuk is more noted for being the player the Angels drafted ahead of Mike Trout when they had back to back first round picks, calling the name of Grichuk before Trout. He started in right field during the playoffs but will fall to the fourth outfielder role with the arrival of Heyward.

Center Field - Peter Bourjos is a superb defensive player. The Angels preferred him in center over Mike Trout when the two played with the Angels. His bat is far behind his defense at this point and may make him more of a fifth outfielder for the Cardinals. John Jay is a player with less range but more of a bat. Last year he hit .303 but he won’t hit for a lot of power or steal bases. He is just a steady, vanilla type player who won’t get the headlines.

Right field - The Braves thought Jason Heyward was going to be a superstar. Solid starter was just not good enough for them, so they traded him to the Cardinals to improve their pitching. Heyward has the potential to hit 30 plus homeruns but last year he hit only 11. A .169 average versus lefties slows down his numbers. This may create a platoon with Randal Grichuk who hit lefthanders better in AAA (.325) than the major leagues (.242).

Starting Pitcher - Adam Wainwright was third in the Cy Young voting. His 20-9 record puts him as the ace of the Cardinals rotation. He knows how to throw the double play grounder. Lance Lynn has not got his due. He had another good season, giving the Cardinals 15 wins and 200 plus innings. He led the Cardinals in strikeouts despite throwing less innings than Wainwright. Question marks follow these two pitchers. They would like to see Michael Wacha reach his potential. Despite solid numbers (5-6, 3.20) the Cardinals did not have the confidence to use him in the playoffs. John Lackey is a veteran starter who could eat innings or be released by mid season. Jaime Garcia hopes to return to his old form after being hurt for most of last year. Prior to his injury he was the Cardinals number three starter. Carlos Martinez has been used in the bullpen, but the Cardinals would like to see his 95 plus fastball as a starter. He was used in that role in the winter league. Marco Gonzalez was a 2013 first round pick that saw five starts last year. He will probably start his season in the minors and be called up when help is needed.

Closer - Hitters tagged Trevor Rosenthal a little better in 2014 than in 2013. His fastball did not seem to have the same velocity. The Cardinals are still happy with his 45 saves, second in the National League to Craig Kimbrel. Carlos Martinez and Jordan Walden also throw high heat fastballs geared toward the closer role.

Other relievers - If Martinez does not make the rotation he will be the setup man. His .297 average against lefthanders means he needs to enhance his changeup. Another pitcher who throws hard who will arrive on the scene like Rosenthal in 2013 is Sam Tuivailala who hits the radar in the triple digits. He may not be seen until mid season. Randy Choate limited lefthanders to a .093 average. That is as automatic an out as you will find. Others returning from last year are Sam Freeman and Seth Maness. Free agent pick up Matt Belisle will provide depth at the back end of the bullpen. A solid group that will live and die as Rosenthal goes.

2015 rookies - Marco Gonzalez has a shot to make the starting rotation. Randall Grichuk has not lost his rookie status but will be limited to a fourth outfielder role. Xavier Scruggs is not a highly touted prospect but he could rake if his starts are restricted to lefthanded pitching. Tim Cooney saw 25 starts in AAA and is a nice fit in the back end of a rotation. Sam Tuivailala will be another high heat bullpen source before mid-season. They have a couple power bats in Ed Easley and Cody Stanley who will only see time behind the plate if Yadier Molina misses time because of an extended injury. Aledmys Diaz is a Cuban signing that could see a utility role along with Dean Anna and Greg Garcia. The Cardinals hope for a bigger bat with Diaz and if a more permanent role is needed at short he could get the call if he shows success in the minors.

2015 Finish - The team is getting older. Myworld thinks they have enough to make the playoffs, but they may fall short to the Pirates for the division title this year. A lot will depend on the development of their younger pitchers and how they respond to the starting rotation when called upon.

Miguel Tejeda to Continue His Career in Mexico

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

At 40 years of age Miguel Tejeda just loves to play baseball. He will not be playing in the major leagues in 2015, but in the Mexican Summer League where a number of other ex-major leaguers extend their careers. He will be playing for the Puebla Pericos, who lost in the finals last year to the Mexico City Red Devils. The Mexican League is considered AAA caliber.

Caribes Last Team to Qualify for Series del Caribe

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

Caribes 8 Magallanes 3

Caribes will represent Venezuela for the second time in their franchise history after beating Magallanes in five games. They scraped together 16 hits and punched across four runs in the top of the ninth to ice the game. Jose Gil hit a two run homer in the ninth to sustain that rally. Niuman Romero and Ehire Adrianza continued to smoke from the leadoff spot for Caribes, each collecting three hits. Jose Castillo one upped them with his four hits from the clean up spot. Caribes used seven different pitchers, including starter Amicar Gaxiola who pitched in the Mexican League round robin playoffs but got his third start for Caribes, going only two innings.