Posted on 28 November 2009.
MEXICO – Winning a pennant in 2008 and turning in the Mexican League’s best record this year apparently wasn’t enough to save Daniel Fernandez’ job as manager of the Mexico City Diablos Rojos.
Fernandez has been let go after what ordinarily would be considered two extraordinarily good seasons as skipper of the team he starred on as a player for over 20 seasons.
As a rookie manager last year, Fernandez led the Red Devils to a 66-39 record and their first pennant in five years (the team’s 15th flag since 1956). In 2009, Mexico City came in with a Liga-best 70-35 regular season record, but stumbled in the first round of the playoffs by losing a seven-game shocker to the Laguna Vaqueros, who were in their first postseason since 2003.
The Veracruz native is said to be interested in managing the LMB Veracruz Aguilas, who finished the 2009 season with a 51-56 record and missed the playoffs. While Fernandez says he hasn’t spoken with Veracruz chairman Jose Antonio Mansur, he’d like to have a conversation about landing a job with the Red Eagles.
As a player, Fernandez spent 25 seasons in the Mexican League, 24 of them with the Diablos. He retired fourth on the all-time hits list with 2,648 safeties (batting .313 lifetime), and is third in career stolen bases with 478 swipes.
DESSENS GETTING READY FOR DEBUT WITH HERMOSILLO
Pitcher Elmer Dessens, who declared himself a free agent after getting into 28 games for the New York Mets last summer, is preparing to be added to his hometown Hermosillo Naranjeros roster for their series this weekend in Culiacan.
Dessens, who turned in a 3.31 ERA with no decisions for Mets manager Jerry Manuel in a relief role after spending part of the season with Class AAA Buffalo, tossed 40 pitches in a simulated game last week.
The 38-year-old righty has pitched for nine teams in his 13-year major league career, winning 21 games for Cincinnati between 2000 and 2001. Dessens, who has pitched for Mexico in both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics, says he’d like to be a starter in Hermosillo. He was 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA in seven starts for the Naranjeros last winter.
CAMPILLO SIGNS WITH ROYALS, RETURNS TO MEX PAC
Right-hander Jorge Campillo has signed a free agent contract with the Kansas City Royals and will spend the winter pitching for the Culiacan Tomateros. Campillo parlayed an outstanding 2004-05 Mex Pac season with the Tomateros into a deal with the Seattle Mariners in 2005. That winter, Campillo went 10-1 and led the LMP with a 2.05 ERA after a number of mostly average summers pitching for the Angelopolis Tigres of the Mexican League.
However, Campillo has been beset by arm injuries since being signed by the Mariners, who traded him to Atlanta in 2008. He was 8-7 with a 3.91 ERA for the Braves that year, but only pitched five games for Atlanta this year (1-0 and 4.15) before rotator cuff surgery ended his season early. The Braves offered the 31-year-old a contract for 2010, but Campillo turned it down and chose to sign with Kansas City, where he hopes to have a chance to start.
It’s likely that he’ll be in the starting rotation for Paquin Estrada’s Tomateros, who finished last in the recently-concluded first half.
This Week in the Mexican Pacific League:
1. HERMOSILLO NARANJEROS (5-1)
Hermosillo is off to a great start in the second half, winning 5 of 6 games. The Naranjeros opened by taking 2 of 3 in Mexicali. Nelson Teilon went 4-for-5 with a homer and 3 RBIs in an 8-3 win over the Aguilas Nov. 20, followed two days later by a 10-7, 10-inning win as Luis Alfonso Garcia and Geronimo Gil whacked homers.
The Orangemen then swept 3 at home against Mazatlan, outscoring the Venados by an aggregate 26-11 margin. Garcia hit two more homers in the opener, giving him an LMB-high 15 homers for the season.
2. CULIACAN TOMATEROS (4-2)
Culiacan is bouncing back from a last place finish in the first half, taking 2 0f 3 games against both Mazatlan and Mexicali. Mike Cervenak had a great series against the Venados, batting 6-for-11 with two doubles, 4 runs and 4 RBIs. Hector Rodriguez tossed 7 shutout innings in a Tomateros 4-1 win on Nov. 21.
Then Culiacan registered back-to-back shutouts over potent Mexicali. Andres Meza started in a 5-0 Nov. 25 victory, and Rodriguez pitched 7 more scoreless frames Nov. 26 in a 2-0 whitewashing of the Aguilas.
2. OBREGON YAQUIS (4-2)
Obregon put 25 runs on the board in sweeping a Nov. 22 doubleheader in Navojoa, then took two more games at home against Los Mochis to finish the week tied for second. Carlos Valencia had 2 doubles, a homer and 6 RBIs in the twinbill with the Mayos, while John Mayberry Jr. and Erubiel Durazo each homered.
Durazo then homered in the first 2 games against Mochis as the Yaquis won by 7-1 and 3-1 scores. Obregon stretched Game 3 to 12 innings before losing, 6-5, despite Agustin Murillo’s homer.
4. LOS MOCHIS CANEROS (3-3)
Los Mochis evened their second half record at 3-3 with a Nov. 26 win in Obregon. The Caneros won 2 of 3 over Guasave to start the week before dropping their first 2 to the Yaquis. Sandy Madera had a pair of 3-hit games against the Algodoneros, and still tops LMP batters with a .442 average, 72 points ahead of the rest of the pack.
Madera, Saul Soto and Sebastian Valle have combined for 34 homers, ranking 2-3-4 behind Hermosillo’s Garcia. Madera leads or is tied for the Mex Pac lead in seven offensive categories.
4. NAVOJOA MAYOS (3-3)
Navojoa rebounded from a 1-3 start by posting a pair of wins to end the week at .500. Javier Martinez threw 6 strong innings in a 2-0 shutout against Obregon before the Yaquis bombed the Mayos in a Nov. 22 doubleheader.
After losing a 7-4 contest in Guasave Nov. 24, the Mayos racked up 12-3 and 9-5 wins the next 2 nights. Reid Gorecki put on a show in those games, going 4-for-8 with 2 homers, 5 runs and 7 RBIs. Christian Zazueta had a 5-for-5 night Nov. 26 to crack the LMP’s Top Ten with a .326 average.
6. GUASAVE ALGODONEROS (2-4)
Guasave had their problems with Los Mochis and Obregon, losing 2 of 3 to both sides. The Algodoneros droped their first 2 in Mochis (despite a 4-for-9 showing with 2 doubles for Eduardo Arredondo) before pulling out a 4-3 win Nov. 22 as Benji Gil cracked a homer for the victors.
Guasave then won their opener with Navojoa, 7-4, on Nov. 24 as Francisco Mendez was 3-for-4 with a double, scoring 1 run and driving in 2. Mendez homered in the Cotton Pickers’ 9-5 loss to the Mayos on Nov. 26.
6. MEXICALI AGUILAS (2-4)
Mexicali rocked Hermosillo and Culiacan for 30 runs before being shut out by the Tomateros 2 nights in a row. Oswaldo Morejon went 3-for-4 with 2 runs and 3 RBIs in a Nov. 21 win over the Naranjeros, while Roman Pena and Adam Rosales combined for 5 RBIs in the Aguilas’ 11-7 win in Culiacan Nov. 24.
The Eagles have 4 of the Mex Pac’s top 10 hitters, so what’s the problem? How about a pitching staff that let in 32 runs in 6 games last week, including 20 by Hermosillo? Hardly fatal, but sometimes hitting won’t carry you.
8. MAZATLAN VENADOS (1-5)
After a tremendous first half, Mazatlan had a disastrous first week in the second half, losing 5 of 6 games. The Venados won their opener over Culiacan, 8-2, as Pablo Ortega went 8 innings en route to his league-leading 6th win. After that, it was 5 losses in a row (including a sweep in Hermosillo) by an average score of 8-4.
Ortega remains on top of the LMP tables with a 2.16 ERA to go with his 6-1 record, but the Venados now trail Hermosillo in team ERA by a 3.66 to 3.71 margin. No other Mex Pac pitching staff is below 4.39.
Bruce Baskin is Editor/Poducer of BASEBALL MEXICO.
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Photo courtesy of www.diablos.com.mx