Archive for January, 2017

Rodriguez Bookends Keep Aguilas Alive

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Ronny Rodriguez hit a homerun to lead off the game. He also ended the game with a walk off solo shot in the bottom of the 10th to give Aguilas a 3-2 victory over Licey. Aguilas still trails in the series four games to three.

Rodriguez scored all three runs for Aguilas. He walked in the sixth and then came around to score on a Zoilo Almonte single. Rodriguez has a shot to play multiple positions for the Indians next year. A second baseman by trade he can also shift over to first, third or left field. Last year was his first season in AAA where he hit .258 with 10 homeruns. If he wants to get beyond a utility package he must improve his OBA (.293). His power is minimal, despite the two homeruns yesterday.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Angels

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

General Overview - When you have the greatest player on the planet you should at least make the playoffs. The Angels are now a couple years away from the playoffs, even after having Mike Trout win two MVP awards. Maybe they should go back to calling themselves the Anaheim Angels. At some point Mike Scioscia has to get this team into the playoffs to keep his job, but you look at the farm system and the current roster and they define below average. Better health to the starting pitchers could help the Angels achieve average.

Strengths - If Cameron Maybin can repeat his .300 hitting season he had with the Tigers this will be a very formidable outfield. Maybin does not have the power of Mike Trout or Kole Calhoun but he is a centerfielder playing left field. Trout is just the best player in baseball and Calhoun has shown he can hit 20 plus homeruns per year (though he fell two homeruns shy last year). Ben Revere provides excellent depth as a fourth outfielder having the capability to play all three outfield positions, though his arm makes right field a challenge. He has speed and can hit for average, though last year was a failure. The defense up the middle with Andrelton Simmons and Danny Espinosa should cut off a number of runs. The offense will suffer, though Espinosa did hit 24 homeruns last year, most of them in a early season outburst. Albert Pujols will settle into the DH spot and hit 30 plus homers and drive in 100 plus runs. You can’t ask for more than that from your DH. His mobility for playing defense at first base now is in question with all his foot problems.

Weaknesses - They don’t have any proven starter behind the plate. This is an area the Angels may still try to still fill on the short term. Taylor Ward was a first round pick but he is still at least a couple years away, struggling behind the plate with 19 passed balls last year. He still has a ways to go to be ready for the major leagues. Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez are the two players on the 40-man roster listed as catchers but they are better used in backup roles. Starting pitching was plagued by injuries last year and the Angels do not have any knowledge of how those pitchers stuff will play out when they return. Garrett Richards will get back to being the ace but following him will be a bunch of back end pitchers having to pitch the front end. They have veterans in Ricky Nolasco and Matt Shoemaker and unproven youth in Tyler Skaggs and Alex Meyer. Alex could be better suited for the bullpen. Finally, the Angels lack a talented left handed option for the bullpen. Jose Alvarez is the best left handed option but he struggled last year.

Impact Prospects - The Angels have done a good job of picking up other teams rejects to enhance their slim pitching depth. Alex Meyer was acquired from the Twins. He could fit in the starting rotation, but his fragility may make it best he pitch out of the bullpen. His mid to high 90s stuff makes him a potential closer. Other pitchers who could find themselves in the bullpen before the year is out is hard throwing righty Brooks Pounders, who got smacked around a bit last year in his major league debut. His fastball can hit triple digits. Vicente Campos has found himself bouncing around a number of different teams in his minor league career. He started 25 games last year in the minors but the Angels could use him in the bullpen. Abel de los Santos has pitched mainly in the bullpen. Last year he bounced around the waiver wire appearing on three different teams. His fastball can hit mid-90s and the opposition in the Southern League only hit .134 against him in 17 appearances. Manny Banuelos was once one of the Yankees top prospects until Tommy John surgery impacted the velocity on his fastball. It could be just a matter of time before he recovers that velocity or perfects his other pitches to be effective. Lastly, Nolan Fontana could make the team as a utility player. He doesn’t walk as frequently as he did in college but he plays a number of positions. His bat will not be a factor.

Prospects to Watch - The Angels have a propensity to draft power hitters who have no position to play but first base. Matt Thaiss fits that mold. The 2016 first round pick was a catcher in college but the Angels already have Taylor Ward developing there so they moved his lefthanded bat to first base. He had an .824 OPS in his minor league debut. Taylor Ward could become the catcher of the future. He was the Angels first round pick in 2015 but the Angels have kept him behind the plate. His 19 passed balls last season in High A shows there is still a lot of development needed in his game and his .337 slugging and .659 OPS were a disappointment when compared to his debut season in 2015. If Ward doesn’t make it behind the plate it will be tough to find a second position for him. Roberto Baldoquin was signed out of Cuba for $8 million. Last year he hit .198 with a .233 slugging. If the Angels had not made such a big investment in him Roberto would have been released. He needs to show better numbers in 2017.

2017 Finish - They will finish ahead of the Athletics but will not be a force in the AL West playoff run. They have made a couple nice signings to add depth to their roster but they fall far short of being a playoff team, despite having the best player in the game on their roster.

Zulia Wins Venezuelan Championship

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

The Zulia Aguilas won the Venezuelan championship with a 5-2 win over the Lara Cardenales to win their series four games to one. For Zulia it is their first Venezuelan championship since the 1999/2000 winter league season. The last championship for Lara was the year after Zulia won their championship.

Jose Pirela had the big bat for Zulia mashing a two run shot in the first inning. Aguilas was never behind after that. Mitch Lively worked seven innings allowing just two hits. One of those hits was a solo blast from Jesus Montero in the seventh. Silvino Bracho finished up the ninth, giving up a solo shot to Carlos Rivero to score the Cardenales second run but it fell far short to spoil the Zulia victory, ending for them a 16 year drought.

Caguas Puerto Rican Champions

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

It took a little overtime but the Caguas Criollos outlasted the Santurce Cangrejeros 6-5 to win the Puerto Rican championship five games to three in a best of nine series. It took 12 innings but a two out Henry Ramos single scored David Vidal from second for the walk off hit. Vidal had reached second base on a dropped fly by right fielder Juan Silva that should have been the third out.

Santurce had rallied from two runs down with single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game. Ricardo Gomez came on in the eighth and was absolutely brilliant, retiring all twelve hitters he faced, striking out six of them. He did give up a squeeze bunt in the eighth inning that scored the tying run, but with a runner on third with one out he retired the next two hitters on popups to end the threat.

Ex-major leaguer Joel Pineiro shut down Santurce in the 12th inning to set the stage for the Henry Ramos walk off hit.

Licey One Win Away from Dominican Championship

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

Aguilas had their way with the three other teams in the round robin. Licey snuck into the second place finish with a record barely above .500 to play Aguilas in a best of nine series. With their 5-2 win on Wednesday Licey is now one win away from the Dominican championship, leading the series four games to two.

Evan MacLane pitched seven innings of shutout four hit ball to stunt the Aguilas bats. With the score 1-0 Licey put the game away in the eighth inning on a solo homerun from Yamaico Navarro and a two run shot from Mel Rojas Jr. Aguilas rallied for two runs in the top of the ninth off Licey closer Jairo Asencio when the first three hitters produced hits to score two runs. Jairo settled down to retire the next three hitters to secure the victory to pick up his eighth save.

Cuban Series del Caribe Roster

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Below is the roster for the Cuban team in the Series del Caribe. With Granma winning the championship most of the players will be from Granma, but the Series del Caribe allows the winning team to pull players from other rosters so the Series will be composed of more players fans want to see. The Series del Caribe is composed of winning winter league teams from Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Cuba. Cuba was the first team to end their championship. The below rosters were provided by baseballdecuba.com.

Pitchers

Lázaro Blanco (Granma), Leandro Martínez (LHP) (Granma),Yanier González (Granma), César García (Granma),Vladimir Garcia (Ciego de Avila), Livan Moinelo (LHP) (Pinar del Río/Holguín/Matanzas), Vladimir Baños (Pinar del Río/Ciego de Avila), Freddy Asiel Álvarez (Villa Clara), José A. García (Artemisa/Ciego de Avila), Miguel Lahera (Artemisa/Granma), Yoelkys Cruz (Las Tunas/Granma), and Noelvis Entenza (Industriales/Holguín/Granma)

Catchers

Frank C. Morejón (Industriales/Granma), and Osvaldo Vázquez (Ciego de Avila)

Infielders

Guillermo Avilés (Granma), William Saavedra (Pinar del Río/Matanzas), Carlos Benítez (Granma), Osvaldo Abreu (Granma), Lázaro Cedeño (Granma), Yordan Manduley (Holguín/Granma), Yunior Paumier (Holguín/Granma), Alexander Ayala (Camagüey), and Yuslán Milán (Granma)

Outfielders

Roel Santos (Granma), Alfredo Despaigne (Granma), Yoelkys Céspedes (Granma), Denis Laza (Mayabeque/Granma), and Víctor Víctor Mesa (Matanzas)

Mark Teahen Ends Retirement

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Mark Teahen was a supplemental first round draft pick of the Oakland Athletics back in 2002. It was the first Moneyball draft and Teahen was one of the top players of the draft using that philosophy. Because his father was born in Canada Teahen played for Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic along with having a six year major league career from 2005 to 2011.

After a few years in the minor leagues Teahen thought he had retired from baseball after the 2014 season. That was until he visited Italy. According to Mister Baseball Tommasin Padua convinced the 35 year old to play for them in the Italian Baseball League for the 2017 season. It will be interesting to see what he has left in the tank after two years of not playing baseball in which he batted .264 with 67 homeruns.

Don’t know if playing professional baseball in Italy will impact your retirement clock for Hall of Fame consideration, but I don’t think Mark Teahen has much to worry about there.

Taiwan WBC Roster

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Despite the Chinese Professional Baseball League’s (CPBL) withdrawal from having anything to do with the World Baseball Classic, three of the four teams in the CPBL have still provided players. The CPBL is in dispute with the Chinese Taipei Baseball Association (CTBA) over the selection of the manager for the WBC team, even though they were outvoted 2-1. The CTBA and the Sports Administration wanted the Uni-President Lions Tai-yuan Kuo as manager while the CPBL preferred EDA Rhinos Chun-chang Yeh. The CPBL pulled out when they did not get their way, though they also had other issues with the CTBA. The Lamigo Monkees are the only team to support the CPBL by not allowing any of their players to participate in the WBC, though whether a team provided players was optional for the CPBL teams.

Pitchers

Chen-Hua Lin, Ming-Chin Tsai, Fu-Te Ni, Sheng-Hsiung Huang, Wei-Lun Pan, Yun-Wen Chen, Ching-Ming Wang, Kuan-Yu Chen, Chun-Lin Kuo, Chia-Hao Sung, Hung-Wen Chen, Shao-Ching Chiang, Kuo-Hua Lo

Catchers

Kun-Sheng Lin, Da-Hong Cheng

Infielders

Chih-Sheng Lin, Chih-Hsien Chiang, Chi-Hung Hsu, Yi-Chuan Lin, Chih-Hsiang Lin, Yung-Chi Chen, Sheng-Wei Wang

Outfielders

Dai-Kang Yang, Cheng-Wei Chang, Che-Hsuan Lin, Chin-Lung Hu, Kuo-Hui Kao, Chih-Hao Chang

There are no major leaguers among this group. There are a couple minor league pitchers down in the A league in Chiang and Lo. The NPB is well represented with four different players, three pitchers in Kuan-Yu Chen, Kuo and Sung along with outfielder Yang, who will be one of the top hitters on the team. Fu-Te Ni was at one time a relief pitcher for the Detroit Tigers. He will be one of the top starters for Taiwan.

The CPBL also appears to be a hitters league with the high ERAs of the pitchers and the high batting averages of the players. The CPBL teams can use two foreign players on their rosters and those two players are usually put in the team’s starting rotation. You can go to cpblenglish.com to take a look at the WBC roster and some of the stats attributed to the players.

30 Teams in 30 Days - Athletics

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

We’ll go through the AL West. Last year myworld predicted the order of finish, except switching Houston and Seattle. We had Houston finishing in second place but Seattle leap frogged them towards the end of the season. The 30 teams in 30 days may not be consecutive, but we’ll try to finish this before April.

Oakland Athletics

Overview - They hate their stadium and with the new collective bargaining agreement they will not be subsidized as much by the other teams to pay salaries for their roster. This year they will have to do things on their own. With Billy Bean nothing is ever settled on this roster. Last year the collapse of their pitching staff because of injuries and ineffectiveness led to a fire sale to pick up prospects and continue to rebuild.

Strengths - Not a lot of them. Left field is manned sometimes by Khris Davis. He slugged 42 homeruns last year, which is a huge accomplishment in Oakland. Jason Giambi back in 2000 was the last Athletic to hit 40 plus homeruns in a stadium not known to be friendly to hitters. Davis defense is less than average and his arm is not strong so he may also spend a lot of time at designated hitter slot allowing an unheralded outfielder to take over this position. At shortstop Marcus Semien has a nice power bat. He hit 27 homeruns, which was second on the team. Like Davis he is not considered a stellar defensive player, though he cut his errors down to 21 last year after committing 35 in 2015.

Weakness - They have a potential platoon of fourth outfielders in center and right, and also left when Davis is the DH. Matt Joyce could not start for the Pirates last year but he is expected to be a starter for the Athletics. Rajai Davis is expected to patrol center but injuries allowed him to start more game than he should have for the Indians. Alejandro de Aza has a good chance of making this team as a fourth outfielder. At second base the team is relying on a utility player in Jed Lowrie and an unproven prospect in Joey Wendle to handle the position. Wendle was acquired from the Indians for Brandon Moss so they need to see if he can handle the position. Yonder Alonso will provide no power at first base. They might do better with Mark Canha or Ryon Healy to play first. The bullpen is dull and will do little to exude confidence. Ryan Madson struggled as a closer last year and he could be replaced by previous closer Sean Doolittle. They signed Santiago Casilla after he wore out his welcome with the Giants. Ryan Dull put up good numbers and could be used in a setup role. Doolittle is the only pitcher of those four who throws lefthanded and there are not a lot of viable options on the roster. The starting rotation needs the return of Sonny Gray and some unexpected brilliance from youngsters Sean Manaea and Jharel Cotton to be more than adequate. Cotton had five solid starts in a late season callup. Kendall Graveman was the workhorse on the team but he is a mid-level starter at best.

Non-Roster Invitees to make roster - The Athletics need another player to fit into centerfield and that is where Alejandro de Aza comes in. Ross Detwiler is a lefty they can use in the rotation or in the bullpen.

Impact Prospects - Matt Chapman and Renato Nunez are their two top prospects ready for the major leagues. Unfortunately, they both play third base. Nunez is having a good winter in Venezuela after struggling last year in AAA. Chapman probably needs a couple months in AAA after struggling there last year in a late season callup. He hit 29 homeruns in AA and was four RBIs shy of 100 if you include his AAA numbers. At some point before the season is over the Athletics will trade veteran Trevor Plouffe, who is currently slotted for third. Jharel Cotton should make the rotation after his five start success after his late season callup. The power bat of Matt Olsen could see some time in the outfield by the All Star break, though his best defensive position may be first base. The Athletics greatest need is in the outfield. Nunez has also seen time there.

Prospects to Watch - Franklin Barreto is their best prospect but he is still a year away. The shortstop did hit .281 with a .753 OPS in AA. He could move Semien to second base if the Athletics want to call him up in September after a full season in AAA. Richie Martin is a smoother defensive shortstop but there is some question about his bat. He is a level below Barreto. Lazaro Armenteros is a 16 year old Cuban outfielder to watch. The potential is there for him to exhibit all five tools but his attitude is a bit cocky with shades of Yasiel Puig. Young pitchers to watch include the 6′7″ inch 2016 number one pick A.J. Puk. Puk can bounce the radar readings in triple digits, sitting between 95-97 with his fastball. Logan Shore was the second round pick in 2016. Shore was the ace of his Florida Gator staff while Puk was the second starter. Shore lacks the fastball of Puk, sitting in the low 90s but his command is better. Cuban pitcher Norge Ruiz was one of the better pitchers to come out of Cuba. He does not have overpowering stuff and lacks the length you want to see in a righthanded starter (6;0″). His selling point is getting hitters to pound the ball on the ground so he will need a good defense behind him to be effective.

2017 Finish - Myworld can not see anything but a last place finish for the Athletics. The farm system is starting to boast some high level prospects so the future is brighter. Where these prospects will play when they are major league ready is open to question as the stadium issue continues to go unresolved.

Japan WBC Roster

Tuesday, January 24th, 2017

It is short one position player but it does have some solid pitchers. The only current major leaguer on this team is Norichika Aoki, but this team has a talented outfield in Seiichi Uchikawa, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and Seiya Suzuki. All three of those players are major league caliber with Tsutsugo and Suzuki rising stars in the NPB. Uchikawa is older and could be best suited for DH. You also have the possibility of Shohei Otani to play outfield or DH so it will be tough for Aoki to get playing time. No Ichihiro Suzuki, but he would be a fourth outfielder on this team.

The four young talented starters to watch are Otani, Shintaro Fujinami, Takahiro Norimoto and Kodai Senga. You may not see a better all around shortstop than Hayato Sakamoto, who can beat you with the bat or the glove. There may not be a better talent in baseball outside of Mike Trout than Shohei Otani. but then Trout does not throw a 100 mile per hour fastball. Two young players to watch who are as good as any major leaguers who have achieved 30/30 (homeruns/stolen bases) years are Tsutsugo and Tetsuto Yamada (second base). Both these players will be under 27 years of age entering the 2017 season and are the faces of their franchises.

Pitchers

Yuki Matsui, Tomoyuki Sagano, Ryo Akiyoshi, Takahiro Norimoto, Naoki Miyanishi, Shohei Otani, Shintaro Fujinami, Hirotoshi Masui, Ayumu Ishikawa, Toshiya Okada, Kazuhisa Makita, Kodai Senga, Yoshihisa Hirano

Catchers

Seiji Kobayashi, Shota Ona, Motohiro Shima

Infielders

Nobuhiro Matsuda, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Hayato Sakamoto, Sho Nakata, Tetsuto Yamada

Outfielders

Seiichi Uchikawa, Norichika Aoki, Ryosuke Hirata, Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Seiya Suzuki, Shogo Akiyama