Mexico Still Struggling with Start of Summer Season

June 22nd, 2020

The summer Mexican League is still struggling with the start of the season. The teams do not want to begin the season with no fans since like the minor leagues in the United States the fans are their major source of revenue. They also can not extend the season because it would then run into the more popular winter season. Many of the players who play in the summer league also play in the winter league.

They do have a tentative date to open on August 7, but that is dependent on the status of the corona virus and their ability to allow fans. The league president has mandated that the season will not start if fans are not allowed in the stadium. The current plan is to end on November 7, for a 48 game season. If they have to postpone beyond August 7 there may be no point in having a summer season.

Japan Hopes to Allow Fans by July 10

June 22nd, 2020

Japan has opened their season this past weekend to no fans. They hope that will change by July 10 when 5,000 fans will be allowed in the stadium. The Japanese parks tend to be larger than the parks in Taiwan so they can space out more people. They are then hoping that by August 1 the stadium can be filled to half capacity.

Some of conditions that may need to exist before they allow fans are 1) ability to do temperature checks, 2) masks must be worn, 3) prohibiting fans from countries with high corona virus rates - which could limit United States fans from attending 4) and limiting the fun at the stadium by not allowing any jumping or rocking back and forth, even waving towels will be discouraged.

Korea has yet to have a date for when they will start allowing fans. The major leagues continue to stumble with their money grab and threaten even the start of the season.

Eagles Continue Purge - Release Hoying and Sign Barnes

June 22nd, 2020

The last place Eagles continue with their changes by releasing Jared Hoying and signing Brandon Barnes. Barnes will probably not be available to play until sometime in mid-July because of the 14 day quarantine upon his arrival. He may also have to spend some time in the minors to get his timing back.

The best year for Hoying was his first year when he hit .306 with 30 homeruns and 110 RBIs. Those numbers dropped in 2019 where his slugging percentage dropped below .500 (.460). The first year he played on the team the Eagles ended their playoff drought of eleven years. His drop in production and a ninth place finish the following year was not a major cause for concern. But a .194 batting average to begin the season with a .323 slugging percentage and the Eagles 18 game losing streak was his death knell.

Myworld has always thought Brandon Barnes was a bit under rated in the major leagues. He covered a lot of ground in the outfield when we saw him play in spring training. He lacks the power of Hoying, but if he can adjust to life in Korea he should do just fine. He began his career with the Astros when they were losing over 100 games a season so he knows what it takes to be on a struggling team. He probably has more tattoos than career major league homeruns (20). In six major league seasons he finished with a career .242 average. Considering his lack of power and his inability to hit for average it will be interesting to see his production in the KBO.

Japan Starts Their Season

June 20th, 2020

The Japanese season saw there opening games on Friday. There was lots of rain, but no fans. Each team got their games in, with some delay. Pitchers seemed to be the hitting stars for two of the games, the first time in NPB history that two pitchers have hit homeruns on opening day. Below is a summary of the openers.

Yomiuri Giants 3 Hanshin Tigers 2

This is one of the biggest rivalry games, similar to Yankee/Red Sox games. The Giants got a two run homer from Naoki Yoshikawa in the seventh to erase an early Hanshin Tiger 2-1 lead to win the game. A good start from Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano, who had an off year last year. He gave up two runs in seven innings, pitching long enough to get the win. Kata Nakagawa pitched a scoreless eighth and Rubby de la Rosa shut down the Tiger bats in the 9th to pick up the save.

Pitcher Yuki Nishi drove in both runs for the Tigers, one with a solo homerun in the third and the other an RBI double in the fifth. He also went six innings giving up just one run.

Chunichi Dragons 9 Yakult Swallows 7

These two teams are expected to be the cellar dwellers in the Pacific. Dragons scored two in the 10th to win it. The two teams combined for 35 hits. Zoilo Almonte and Dayan Viciedo each combined for three hits for the Dragons. Dayan clubbed a two run homerun in the first.

Hiroshima Carp 5 Yokohama DeNA Baystars 1

Daichi Ohsera went the distance giving up just four hits. One of those was a solo bomb by Jose Lopez in the second inning. The Carp put the game out of reach in the 10th with three runs, triggered by the pitcher Ohsera’s two run homerun followed by Jose Pirela with a solo shot to make it back to back.

Seibu Lions 3 Nippon Ham Fighters 0

The Lions got six shutout innings from Zach Neal, who only allowed one hit but walked three and hit a batter. Three different relievers pitched an inning of shutout relief with Tatsushi Masuda working the ninth to earn the save. The Lions scored all three runs in the third, Hotaka Yamakawa, Shuta Tonosaki and Takumi Kuriyama each driving in one run.

Rakuten Golden Eagles 9 Orix Buffaloes 1

Takahiro Norimoto also needs a come back year and he got it off to a good start, going seven innings and allowing just one run on one hit. Normally a strikeout pitcher Norimoto struck out just three. Taisuke Yamaoka also pitched well for the Buffaloes, allowing just one run in seven innings. The bullpen let the game get away coughing up 8 runs in the eighth inning.

Softbank Hawks 2 Lotte Marines 1

The defending champs are playing without their Cuban offensive stars Alfredo Despaigne and Yurisbel Gracial, who are stuck in Cuba because of the corona virus. Cuba is not allowing anyone to leave the country. Despite their absence the Hawks pulled out a 2-1 win in 10 innings, getting a walk off (sayonara) single from Ryoya Kurihara in the bottom of the tenth to nail the victory. Yuki Yanagita drove in the first run for the Hawks.

Lotte got six innings of shutout ball from Ayumu Ishikawa. He allowed just two hits and struck out seven. The Hawks Nao Higashihama countered with five shutout innings, also allowing just two hits.

Heroes Replace Motter With Russell; Job Opening Filled

June 20th, 2020

Addison Russell could not get a major league contract. Right now it doesn’t appear there will be a major league season. That may not matter to Addison Russell as he will get to play baseball this year. He signed a one year contract for $530,000 with the Kiwoom Heroes. The Heroes had recently released Taylor Motter, another infielder who was hitting less than .200 in the KBO.

Addison Russell was at one time a rising star within the Athletics and then Cubs organization. He and myworld have a little bonding since we were both born in Pensacola, Florida. If the Philippines was looking for another player to add to their World Baseball Classic qualifying team they could talk to Russell since his mother is from the Philippines.

Russell did play for the United States 18 and under team and won a gold medal. The Oakland Athletics thought enough of him to draft him in the first round straight out of high school. Oakland is normally a team that drafts college players. They ended up trading him to the Cubs two years later. Russell won the shortstop job with the Cubs in late 2015, replacing Starlin Castro.

It appeared Russell would have a long career as the Cubs starting shortstop. He was the starting shortstop for the National League All Star team in 2016. He slugged 21 homeruns that year, but his batting average dropped to .238. Things started to unravel in 2017. A foot injury forced him to miss a good chunk of the season. In 2018 a domestic assault charge began his spiral downward and he eventually lost his shortstop job to Javier Baez. He was eventually suspended by major league baseball for 40 games, 11 games to end the 2018 season and 29 games to begin the 2019 season. He played in a career low 82 games in 2019.

Russell has a career .704 OPS in the major leagues. He has never batter over .250. He had a more extensive major league career than Taylor Motter, who finished with a .575 OPS. Russell is also a better defensive middle infielder than Motter. At one time he was considered one of the better defensive middle infielders in the game. His one big issue was contributing enough with the bat.

It appears to be a good pickup by the Heroes. Now it will all depend on how Addison can adapt to playing in Korea.

Guardians Sign Manny Banuelos

June 19th, 2020

Myworld can remember watching Banuelos pitch in a spring training game and determined he was a can’t miss for the major leagues. Injuries led to ineffectiveness and he did make the major leagues, but he was a miss. The Fubon Guardians of the China Professional Baseball League (CPBL) signed him and hope he can help them run past .500. They won yesterday over the last place Uni Lions 6-5 to put their record at 17-22.

Banuelos signed with the Yankees in 2018. At one point he was rated as one of the Yankees top ten prospects and MLB.com put him in their top 50 prospect rankings. Tommy John surgery in 2012 hurt his prospect status. At that time the lefty could throw in the mid-90s pretty consistently. Now it is more in the high 80s to low 90s. He did get opportunities to pitch in the major leagues in 2015 and 2019 but with little success, stringing together a 6.31 ERA in 23 appearances and 14 starts with the Atlanta Braves (2015) and Chicago White Sox (2019).

The Uni Lions released Donn Roach, the first foreign player released by a CPBL team. They have signed another pitcher, but he has not been named yet as he undergoes his 14 day quarantine. It will be interesting who that is. The Lions already have three foreign pitchers in Josh Roenicke, Ryan Feierabend and Logan Darnell, but Darnell could also be on the outs with an ERA at 9.00 in five appearances and four starts. You can go to CPBLstats.com to learn all the releases and signings in the CPBL.

The Rakuten Monkeys struggles continue as they lost to the Chinatrust Brother 7-4. The loss now puts them a game and a half behind the Brothers. The Brothers are on a three game winning streak while the Monkeys have played under .500 since they won their first seven games of the season.

KBO Begins to Feel the Hurt with No Fans

June 18th, 2020

The KBO did not have an argument with the players about taking a pay cut when it was proposed to play games without fans. The hope was that after the first month of the season fans would be allowed to trickle into the stadium, similar to what is happening in Taiwan. What they did not foresee in Korea was a slight resurgence in the corona virus that delayed the decision to allow fans. According to Yonhap one third of the revenue brought in by KBO teams is from attendance.

The KBO and other leagues are structured differently than the major leagues. Corporations have ownership of these teams and sometimes ownership can accept losses from their baseball teams because of the profits they bring from their teams in free advertising. Instead of a team being named the Seoul Bears for the city they play in they are named after the corporation that sponsors them, the Doosan Bears. It is almost equivalent to a major league team selling their stadium naming rights to a corporation, except they name their team after the corporation that sponsors them and any losses are the same as paying for a stadium named after them.

The pandemic has hit into the profits of a number of corporations and this would not be a good time to absorb the losses of their baseball teams. There is hope that the decision to allow fans will occur in July, first with a small amount and then growing bigger as the fears lesson of the corona virus spread. Some have argued that the opening of water parks in Korea should allow baseball teams to begin allowing fans, as long as they make an attempt to accommodate social distancing.

As the season progresses with the continued policy of no fans teams may be forced to take in loans from their corporations to pay for player salaries. South Korea does not get substantial television revenue like the major leagues. If they ask their corporate sponsors for money to pay player salaries struggling corporations may see this as an expense they cannot afford. It is not uncommon for teams to fold or be bought out by other corporations because of the financial struggles of the corporations that sponsor them. That is one reason why the Nexon Heroes recently changed their name to the Kiwoom Heroes because of the financial problems of Nexon. The financial problems of Nexon may have had nothing to do with baseball, but the last thing a corporation needs in struggling times is for baseball to exacerbate their financial issues.

Asian Dream Team

June 17th, 2020

Because one of the requirements is you have to have played in the major leagues it limits the talent level of the Japanese players. Some of the all time greats from Japan are not eligible. Limiting it to Japanese players who played in the major leagues would not create a full roster of quality players. In some cases, like with catcher you only have one player born in Japan that played catcher in the major leagues. This is a team filled with Asian players from Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, thought Australia and Taiwan only had one player each.

Starting Lineup

Ichiro Suzuki RF (Japan)
Kosuke Fukudome CF (Japan)
Shohei Ohtani DH (Japan)
Hideki Matsui LF (Japan)
Ji-Man Choi 1B (Korea)
Kang Jung-Ho 3B (Korea)
Tadahito Iguchi 2B (Japan)
Kenji Johjima C (Japan)
Kazuo Matsui SS (Japan)

Bench

Dave Nilsson (C) (Australia), Rob Refsnyder (UTL) (Korea), Nori Aoki (OF) (Japan), Shin-Soo Choo (OF) (Korea), Dave Roberts (OF) (Japan), Tsuyoshi Shinjo (OF) (Japan)

Starting Pitching

Hideo Nomo (Japan), Masahiro Tanaka (Japan), Daisuke Matsuzaka (Japan), Yu Darvish (Japan), Park Chan-Ho (Korea)

Bullpen

Koji Uehara (Japan), Kazuhiro Sasaki (Japan), Hideki Okajima (Japan), Shohei Ohtani (Japan), Seung-Hwan Oh (Korea), Chien-Ming Wang (Taiwan)

This team lacks a true shortstop. Matsui and Kang played a lot of shortstop in Japan and Korea but were not considered major league shortstops. This is a big hole. Behind the plate you can rotate Nilsson and Johjima. Choi was even considered a catcher when he played in Korea and briefly in the minor leagues. So Taguchi was left off the roster but he and Shinjo are interchangeable. Refsnyder was included because of his ability to play infield. There are a number of quality starting pitchers to choose from. Kenta Maeda was left off this roster in favor of Park. The bullpen can have seven relievers because of the dual ability of Ohtani. Wang is the one player from Taiwan who I could not squeeze in the rotation but I did put him in the bullpen. He could make an occasional emergency start. That knocked off Australian lefty Graeme Lloyd.

MLB Owners Gutting Baseball

June 16th, 2020

Optics are not everything, but in the case of major league baseball it certainly is damaging. By their actions on a number of fronts you would think MLB owners are trying their best to gut baseball. Fortunately, there are other leagues in Japan, Korea and Taiwan that are doing their best to keep baseball thriving.

The first act owners have done to make myworld suspicious about their love of baseball more than their pocket book is by attempting to take more control of the minor leagues. Many minor league teams were doing quite well running baseball clubs. Major league owners could not help but notice that and wanted a piece of the action. The suit by minor league players complaining about the paltry sum they were getting paid by major league baseball was an excuse the owners used to take control of the minor leagues because they “wanted to see the minor league players paid more”. The pandemic seems to have destroyed the minor leagues and given the owners the opportunity to take control of the process as they had hoped. Less communities will now see minor league baseball in their town. Owners have made promises of a Dream League, but at this point myworld sees just empty promises.

The next action the owners took to show their greed is to reduce the major league draft to just five rounds. Any player not drafted could be signed by any major league team, but not for more than $20,000. What a bargain. That seems to run counter to their goal of paying minor leaguers more. It also busted a lot of young players dreams of becoming professional baseball players. Now you have to wonder where in the popularity spectrum baseball will be for youth who choose a sport to play. The owners of MLB are doing a good job of making their sport the fourth most popular in the United States among the youth of America.

The third action was the negotiation process with the players. It was obvious to myworld that the owners were not making any serious effort to offer the players a deal because a) they were not interested in having a season in 2020 or b) they were trying to stall so that they could play as few games as possible. The players called their bluff and said “When and Where” and the owners are still stalling because they do not want to play, unlike all the other professional leagues that appear to have no problem playing without fans or minimal fans. The NBP will start their opening games on June 19 with no fans. There has been no public spat about money.

Good luck after the 2021 season when the new collective bargaining agreement has to be negotiated. Myworld has not seen so much hate among players to the owners since the many work stoppages that occurred a couple decades ago. The peace has been broken. Rob Manfred does not seem to be doing a very good job of keeping the ship sailing towards those peaceful seas, but more so moving it back to the harbor of two decades ago where work stoppages were common as the owners attempted to break the union. My hope is that the owners who do not want a season in 2020 attempt to sell their clubs so we can get new owners who truly enjoy baseball. And get a new commissioner who can move baseball in the right direction.

The owners claim it is impossible to make a profit in the baseball business but to date no owner has been willing to open their books to prove that statement true. My response to them is “Open the Books.” My bet is that no owner will agree to do so. It is a pandora’s box that will expose the lies.

So at this point myworld will only be reporting on baseball in countries that love to play the game. That appears not to be the case in the United States. They only love to play the game if they can shower their pockets with money.

That is my rant for the day. It felt pretty good to let it out.

Indiana Dream Team

June 15th, 2020

Again, not a lot of superstars on this team but some Hall of Famers from the early years. As the years have passed there seem to be fewer people from Indiana playing baseball. Below is a roster of a Dream team from players born in Indiana. To qualify these players have to be born in Indiana, have played major league baseball and have that playing time happen after 1920.

Starting Lineup

Cy Williams CF
Don Mattingly 1B
Gil Hodges LF
Ron Kittle DH
Scott Rolen 3B
Chuck Klein RF
Milt May C
Dickie Thon SS
Billy Herman 2B

Bench

Dick Dietz (C), Craig Counsel (UTL), Jeff King (3B/1B/2B), Kenny Lofton (OF), Max Carey (OF), Sam Rice (OF)

Starting Pitchers

Tommy John, Freddie Fitzsimmons, Bob Friend, Dizzy Trout, Don Larson

Bullpen

Dan Plesac, Ron Reed, LaTroy Hawkins, Drew Storen, Tim Stoddard, Tommy Hunter

A number of old time Hall of Famers sitting the bench as back up outfielders. A lot of speed on the bench. Gil Hodges can also act as a third catcher. The starting pitching lacks a Hall of Fame ace or a shutdown closer.