Archive | December, 2011

Cuban National Series: Nine teams too many

By Reynaldo Cruz

The Cuban baseball National Commission (ruling body of the sport in the Caribbean Island) determined late this year to leave the capital’s second team in contest for the 51st edition of the Cuban Championship, setting the table for seventeen squads, thus making it an odd-number-teamed tournament. After the split of the former Habana Province – not Havana, the capital of Cuba – into Artemisa and Mayabeque, it was time that Havana’s second team, Metropolitanos, was set to disappear, leaving Industriales as the lone representative of the Cuban capital.

Instead of the usual 90 games, each team will add six matches to its schedule, and during each matchup, there will always be an “army” on standby: resting.

Metropolitanos (Metropolitans) have worked as an in-league farm team for Industriales, as many players with good performance in a season go to the capital’s main team on the next, whereas a player with low performance goes back to the “farm” for seasoning. That is a privilege no other team in Cuba enjoys, and makes the tournament to be played in very unequal conditions. The team’s presence was previously justified in order to keep the number of contestants even, but now that is not an excuse. Instead, the Cuban baseball’s powers that be determined to keep it in play and “analyze the situation for next season”… a situation they had an entire year to analyze.

However, the most striking part of the call is that the Commission stated that the amount of money to be spent this season will be about the same as last year, when it is completely known that only in the amount of used balls, the price will increase in thousands of US dollars. This brought a lot of controversy, since it was determined last year that only Nation-wide telecast games and postseason games were to be played at night to save electrical power.

The resting team – the team that is not in play during each of the scheduled matchups, either from the Eastern or the Western Zone – will be prone to issues like pitching getting off rotation, players losing shape or momentum – imagine one involved in a hitting streak and then having to wait five days thus losing his edge –, or even getting involved into any act of indiscipline or insubordination.

In the gameplay aspect, people were concerned that with the expansion – which normally brings about a lot of inexperienced rookies to everyday play – records would skyrocket. The single-season homerun mark has been broken three times over the past five years, and one of last season’s leader (tied), Jose Dariel Abreu, hit one out of the park every 6.4 at bats: a pace that belongs in sandlot ball or to PED-aided sluggers. There is little reason to doubt that he might hit 35 or 40 this year, despite the changes made to “ease the pain”.

To lessen the impact of the plus-one team on the tournament’s offensive numbers, they determined to raise the pitcher’s mound up to 15 inches and start using the Mizuno-200 (a less live ball than the Mizuno-150, in play until the end of this season’s first month). That might cause the increase in the total amount of round-trippers to be less abrupt.

Yet, the number of squads in contest in the Cuban Baseball National Series is too big.

Apart from the fact that the Island holds only 11 million inhabitants, and that no foreign player takes part on the tournament, Cuba also suffers the brain drain of many of its talented players, since many of them leave the country seeking the handsome contract offers of Major League Baseball teams – Cuban baseball is supposedly amateur. Eight squads would put the bar higher and would cause the amount of homers to drop as the quality of pitching, so scattered all over the country, would make hitters face good hurlers more frequently.

An example of what this causes is that one of last year’s homerun record setters, Yoennis Cespedes – who fled the country and currently tries to make his way to the Major Leagues –, managed 33 blasts: none of them against quality pitching (he hit none vs throwers that were members of the 2010 or 2011 Cuban National teams), and he failed to produce in the clutch, since none of his shots came after the seventh frame. Still, he tied for the lead in homeruns and led the league in RBI’s. In addition, in his first two postseason games he struck out six times.

The competitive level of the main championship of Cuban baseball has dropped considerably, and that, along with the other countries’ constant development, has caused Cuba to lose every major tournament since their victory in the 2007 Pan Am Games. People are questioning in the streets whether a second shorter domestic event with not so many teams will be played prior to the 2013 World Baseball Classic, an event that saw the Cubans make it to the finals in the first edition of 2006, and be left out of medals (5th place) in 2009’s version.

My call would be to make a shorter National Championship – since it will be impossible to deprive any province of its club – and to play another short tournament of eight clubs: two provinces united as one, shuffling some key players so that placing, for instance, two Type A second basemen on the same squad is avoided.

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Posted in Latin0 Comments

Australia: Perth Heat Leads at the All-Star Break

AUSTRALIA – The Perth Heat are leading the ABL at the All-Star break with a record of 18-6. Away from home, the Heat are almost unbeatable going 11-1 so far this season.

With the season on a break, its time to look at the first half of the season and see who is hot and who is not.

Perth Heat

The Heat are leading the league by 4 games over the Adelaide Bite. They are being led by out fielder James McOwen who is 2nd in the league in hitting at .354. There are several other hitters who are going well for Perth 4 others hitting .300 or better (Tim Kennelly – .341, Alex Burg – .318, Mychal Givens – .312, and Mitchell Graham – .300).

This is why the Heat are leading the league in hitting at .293 as a team. They also lead in on-base-percentage at .389 and slugging at .472.

Alex Burg is tied for the league lead in home runs with 7, Mitchell Graham (6) and Aaron Barker (5) are close behind as well.

The Heat are pitching well too.  Their ERA of 3 is leading the league by almost a full run and they are 2nd in the league in WHIP at 1.28.

Geoff Brown is 3rd in the league in ERA at 1.29 in 21 innings pitched. He is also tied for the league lead in wins with 4 with teammate Daniel Schmidt (3.09 ERA). Warwick Saupold is 4th in ERA at 1.55 in 6 starts going 3-1. Closer Ben Grice is tied for 3rd in the league in saves with 3 while posting a 2.08 ERA and a 1-1 record.

Adelaide Bite

Sitting in 2nd place at 14-10 are the Bite who have won 3 games in a row. While they have struggled some with the bats hitting .249 as a team, they have been pretty good on the hill posting a 3rd best team ERA of 3.99 and lead the league in saves with 8.

Denny Almonte is leading the team in pretty much every offensive category. Almonte is leading the league in hitting at .359, home runs with 7, and RBI with 27. Throw in his league leading OPS of 1.112 and Almonte is having an MVP type season.

Calvin Anderson has chipped in with 5 home runs and 15 RBI, but no other hitter other than Almonte is hitting over .300.

Starter Paul Mildren has pitched well going 2-2 with an ERA of 3.38 over 6 starts. Closer Ryan Beckman has 5 saves and an ERA of 1.10 over 16.1 innings.

Sydney Blue Sox

The hottest team in the league is the Sydney Blue Sox who have won 7 straight and moved into 3rd place with a 13-12 record. The Blue Sox are 2nd in the league in ERA at 3.80 but last in the league in hitting at .243 and have hit the fewest home runs with only 8 so far.

Tyler Collins is leading the way offensively with a .311 average, 3 home runs, and 14 RBI. First baseman Alex Johnson (.276) leads the team in RBI with 15, and tied with Collins for the lead in home runs with 3.

Craig Anderson is back pitching well again through 7 starts going 2-1 with an ERA of 2.52. Chris Oxspring is pitching well too with an ERA of only 2 through 27 innings. Reliever Matthew Williams has been lights out through 17.1 innings with an ERA of 0.52 in 9 appearances.

Canberra Cavalry

The Cavalry are tied with Melbourne with a 10-15 record and have lost 5 in a row.

Canberra is hitting well at .266 which ranks 2nd in the league. They are hitting home runs (17) and are 2nd in the league in slugging as well at .395. The Cavalry are in the middle of the pack pitching wise with an ERA of 4.43 and a WHIP of 1.57 (last in the ABL).

Brian Burgamy is doing a great job with the bat hitting .344/3/15 to lead the team in all 3 categories. Mike McGuire has pitched really well in 7 games (6 starts) going 2-2 with an ERA of 1.24. Hayden Beard (3-2/2.32) has done well too so far this season.

Melbourne Aces

Melbourne is tied with Canberra at 10-15. They are 2nd to last in ERA at 4.50 and 2nd to last in WHIP at 1.43. They are doing a bit better with the bats though. They rank 3rd in the league in hitting at .255 and 3rd in home runs with 18.

Brad Harman is having a good year at the plate so far hitting .357 in 14 games and leads the team in home runs with 4 and RBI with 13. Justin Huber is also doing well at the plate hitting .333 playing in all 25 games. He has chipped in with 3 home runs and 12 RBI as well.

The pitching has struggled more however. Nic Ungs has been off to a good start though going 2-1 with an ERA of 3.25 through 5 starts

Brisbane Bandits

In last place, 9.5 games behind are the Bandits at 9-16. They are tied with Sydney for the lowest batting average at .243 and have the worst on-base-percentage at .301. They aren’t fairing much better on the hill with the lowest ERA in the league at 4.61.

Brad Dutton (.306/1/10), Joshua Roberts (.301/3/17), and David Sutherland (.299/3/16) are leading the team offensively.  The Bandits have also gotten some offensive production from Japanese catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita in part time duty (.340/2 home runs) but he will be heading back to Japan for the remainder of the season.

Japanese pitcher Yohei Yanagawa has been the best starter so far going 2-1 with an ERA of 2.52, but he will be heading back with the rest of the Japanese players to Japan for the remainder of the season.

The league will kick of the 2nd half of the season on the Thursday December 29th with the top two teams facing off as Perth travels to Adelaide for a weekend series.

For more information on the ABL, visit www.theabl.com

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Posted in Oceania2 Comments

Australia: Perth Heat Hosts First ABL All-Star Game

PERTH, Australia – The Australian Baseball League (ABL) had its first all-star game last week held at Barbagallo Ballpark, home of the Perth Heat.

The game pitted the Australian All-Stars against the World All-Stars with the World team coming out on top 8-5.

The World team was led by MVP Tyler Collins (2-for-5) who hit a 3-run home run and scored 2 runs in the game.

The World team jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 3 innings but team Australia came back in the bottom of the 6th to make it a game with 3 runs of their own. Mathew Kennelly drove in 2 with a single to center to put team Australia on the board. A passed ball by World team catcher Ayatsugu Yamashita allowed the 3rd run to score making it 4-3.

However, the World team took control of the game in the top of the 7th as Tyler Collins came through with a 3-run home run to put the game out of reach.

Center fielder James McOwen went 3-for-4 with a run scored and a double to set the table for the World team. Mychal Givens drove in a run going 2-for-5 and Brian Burgamy went 3-for-5 for the World team.

Justin Huber led the way for team Australia going 3-for-5 with a RBI and a run scored. Joshua Roberts chipped in with 2 hits of his own including a solo home run.

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Posted in Oceania1 Comment

Korean Slugger Lee Dae-Ho Signs with Orix in Japan

JAPAN – South Korean free agent slugger Lee Dae-Ho has signed with the Orix Buffaloes of the Nippon Professional Baseball League.

Lee spent 11 seasons in the KBO with the Lotte Giants where he set numerous records including what is thought to be a world record home run in 9 straight games.

In the 2010 season, Lee won the triple crown in the KBO which was his second time to do so. He also won in 2006. In 2011, Lee claimed his 3rd batting title hitting .357 for Lotte.

Lee signed a 2-year deal with Orix for 760 million yen ($9.78 million) where he will play first base.

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Can-Am League: 2011 Season Recap

Originally founded as the Northeast League in 1995, the Can-Am League has gone through various changes over the years but has continued to play without missing a season. Renamed the Can-Am League in 2005, the league has seen 9 different champions. This year the Quebec Capitales won its 4th title and 3rd straight.

The 2011 season consisted of 8 teams including the Brockton Rox, New Jersey Jackels, Newark Bears, Pittsfield Colonials, Quebec Capitales, Rockland Boulders, New York Federals, and the Worcester Tornadoes.

Quebec took both halves of the season finishing 8.5 games ahead of 2nd place New Jersey. Pittsfield (12 games back) and Brockton (14.5 games back) also made the playoffs for the 2011 season.

Can-Am League Standings

Team Won Lost Streak
Quebec Capitales 64 26 Won 8
New Jersey Jackals 57 36 Lost 3
Pittsfield Colonials 53 39 Won 4
Brockton Rox 51 42 Won 3
Worcester Tornadoes 48 44 Lost 4
Newark Bears 41 52 Won 1
Rockland Boulders 40 52 Lost 1
New York Federals 15 78 Lost 6

Playoffs

In the first round of the playoffs Quebec took on 4th place Brockton while the #2 and 3 seeds played one another in New Jersey and Pittsfield.

Quebec made quick work of Brockton winning the series in 3 games by a combined score of 24-4. Only Game 3 was close with Quebec coming out on top 3-2. The Rox just couldn’t overcome the strong Quebec pitching as the Capitales moved onto the finals to face the New Jersey/Pittsfield winner.

Quebec Capitales 10, Brockton Rox 1
Quebec Capitales 11, Brockton Rox 1
Quebec Capitales 3, Brockton Rox 2
*Quebec wins series 3-0

The other semi-final series wasn’t much of a contest either as the New Jersey Jackals swept the Pittsfield Colonials in 3 games. New Jersey only trailed once in the 3 games and only for 2.5 innings as they outscored the Colonials 21-4.

New Jersey Jackals 5, Pittsfield Colonials 1
New Jersey Jackals 8, Pittsfield Colonials 2
New Jersey Jackals 8, Pittsfield Colonials 1
*New Jersey wins series 3-0

So the finals were set as the top two teams from the regular season would face off with one another. The games were a bit closer than in the semi finals and there was no sweep, but in the end Quebec was too much for New Jersey as they won their 3rd straight, and 4th overall, league title.

Game 1 saw a great pitching performance from Quebec’s Bryan Rembisz who went 7 shutout innings allowing only 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 to pick up the win. Pete Laforest provided all the necessary offense with a 3-run home run in the 4th inning off New Jersey starter Isaac Pavlik.

Game 2 was another close game with Quebec coming out on top 4-3. Once again Quebec got to the New Jersey starter early with 4 runs in the 3rd inning. Geofrey Tomlinson drove in the first run with a double, and he would later score on Sebastien Boucher’s RBI single. The next hitter was Rene Leveret who would drive in the final two runs with a 2-run blast off Jackal starter A.J. Wideman. Wideman would take the loss going 6 innings allowing the 4 runs.

The Jackals bounced back in Game 3 with its first, and only, victory of the finals. This time the Jackal pitchers kept the ball in the ballpark and Jon Kibler gave New Jersey a strong start going 6 innings allowing only 1 run on 2 hits while striking out 5. The Jackal bats woke up as well as they belted 3 home runs in the game.

New Jersey got on the board in the 4th on a DAngelo Jimenez 2-run home run.  Myron Leslie drove in 2 as well in the 8th with a 2-run bomb of his own. And in the 9th the Jackals would add an insurance run with a Nick Giarraputo solo shot.

Game 4 would be all Quebec after the first inning and a half. New Jersey jumped out in front 4-1 after the first inning and a half, but it was all down hill from there. Quebec would get 2 runs in the 2nd and 3rd and a single run in the 4th to win their 3rd straight Can-Am League Title. Ryan DiPietro picked up the win for Quebec going 6.2 innings giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. Pete Laforest (0-for-3)and Geofrey Tomlinson (2-for-4) both drove in 2 runs to help Quebec defend their title.

Quebec Capitales 3, New Jersey Jackals 0
Quebec Capitales 4, New Jersey Jackals 3
New Jersey Jackals 5, Quebec Capitales 1
Quebec Capitales 6, New Jersey Jackals 4
*Quebec wins series 3-1

League Leaders

Danny Bomback (Pittsfield) led the league in hitting with a .355 average. Danny had 121 hits in 91 games including 32 doubles and 5 home runs.

Nick Salotti led the league in home runs with 23 for Worcester a year after he hit 10. He finished just ahead of teammate Chris Colabello who finished 2nd with 20.

Keith Brachold of Brockton led the league in RBI with 80 finishing just ahead of Chris Colabello (79).

On the pitching side of things, Zach Zuercher (Worcester) led the league in wins with 14 just ahead of New Jersey’s Isaac Pavilk (13).

Isaac Pavlik (New Jersey) led the league in strikeouts with 112. He also finished 3rd in ERA at 2.73.

The ERA crown went to New Jersey’s James Leverton who had a 2.38 mark.

Pittsfield Colonials right handed pitcher Patrick Moran won the Rookie of the Year award finishing tied for 3rd in wins with 11 and 10th in ERA at 3.62.

Player of the Year went to Worcester Tornadoes infielder Chris Colabello. Colabello finished in the top 3 in 12 offensive categories. He batted .348 with 20 home runs, 79 RBI, 127hits, 75 runs, and 32 doubles. He had a slugging percentage of .600 and a .410 on-base percentage.

There will be some changes in 2012 as the Can-Am League and the American Association announced that the two leagues will play interlocking schedules. The Can-Am League will adopt the American Association’s 100 game schedule while 5 teams from each league will make 10-game road trips to play teams from the other league.

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USA wins 18U BWC Americas Qualifier

Team USA beats Canada to finish undefeated. Venezuela and Panama also qualify for IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship

Team USA has won the Americas Qualifier for the IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship in Seoul, Korea next summer. The squad of manager Scott Brosius scored seven runs in the first inning to defeat Canada 12-2 in the final game of the tournament in Cartagena, Colombia on Sunday. Addison Russell went 2-for-3 with a grand slam and three runs scored. Carson Kelly pitched six innings for the win.

Team USA finished the Americas Qualifier with a perfect 9-0 record. Canada followed in second place with six wins in eight games. Both teams are now qualified for the 2012 IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship. Venezuela and Panama also claimed a ticket, beating Mexico and Colombia 2-1, respectively 7-6 in their final games on the last game day.

The Netherlands Antilles, Brazil, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Bahamas and Argentina also sent teams to the Pan American 18U Baseball Championship in Colombia.

Results:

Round 1

November 17th
Canada 7 Panama 3
USA 15 Aruba 0
Colombia 3 Mexico 2
Venezuela 7 Guatemala 1
Puerto Rico 5 Argentina 1

November 18th
Venezuela 3 Antilles 2
USA 3 Mexico 1
Colombia 8 Argentina 0
Aruba 15 Bahamas 0
Canada 6 Brazil 1

November 19th
Mexico 7 Bahamas 0
Panama 5 Brazil 1
Colombia 2 Puerto Rico 0
Antilles 5 Guatemala 1
USA 16 Argentina 2

November 20th
Argentina 4 vs Bahamas 0
Venezuela 11 vs Brazil 2
Panama 7 vs Antilles 3
Mexico 9 vs Aruba 1

November 21st
Canada 2 vs Antilles 0
Venezuela 3 vs Panama 2
Puerto Rico 15 vs Bahamas 0
Brazil 3 vs Guatemala 2

November 22nd
USA 4 vs Colombia 0
Puerto Rico 4 vs Aruba 3
Panama 8 vs Guatemala 3
Antilles 5 vs Brazil 4

November 23rd
USA 16 vs Bahamas 0
Mexico 7 vs Puerto Rico 2
Canada 4 vs Venezuela 3
Aruba 9 vs Colombia 1

November 24th
Mexico 8 vs Argentina 2
Canada 11 vs Guatemala 0
USA 8 vs Puerto Rico 2
Colombia 23 vs Bahamas 2

Round One Standings

Group A
Team            GP W L RF RA
yx Canada (1A)   5 5 0 30  7
x Venezuela (2A) 5 4 1 27 11
x Panama (3A)    5 3 2 19 17
Antilles         5 2 3 15 17
Brazil           5 1 4  8 27
Guatemala        5 0 5  7 34

Group B
Team          GP W L RF RA
yx USA (1B)    6 6 0 62  5
xColombia (2B) 6 4 2 37 17
xMexico (3B)   6 4 2 34 11
Puerto Rico    6 3 3 17 21
*Aruba         5 2 3 18 29
*Argentina     5 1 4  9 37
Bahamas        6 0 6  2 80

*Game between Aruba and Argentina was rained-out and will not be made up.
x Clinched berth in Round 2
y Clinched 1st place

Round 2

November 25th
Mexico 3 vs Canada 2
Venezuela 3 vs Colombia 2
USA 9 vs Panama 0

November 26th
USA 5 vs Venezuela 1
Canada 4 vs Colombia 3
Panama 6 vs Mexico 1

November 27th
USA 12 vs Canada 2
Colombia 6 vs Panama 7
Venezuela 2 vs Mexico 1

Round Two Standings

Team     GP W L
USA       5 5 0
Canada    5 3 2
Venezuela 5 3 2
Panama    5 2 3
Colombia  5 1 4
Mexico    5 1 4

All Tournament Team

  • Pitcher: Jesse Winker (USA)
  • Catcher: Raphael Barbosa (BRA)
  • First Base: Daniel Pinero (CAN)
  • Second Base: Gavin Cecchini (USA)
  • Third Base: Alex Bregman (USA)
  • Shortstop: Addison Russell (USA)
  • Left Field: Brett Sidall (CAN)
  • Center Field: Albert Almora (USA)
  • Right Field: Carlos Arroyo (VEN)
  • Coach: Scott Brosius (USA)

Courtesy IBAF.org

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Posted in News, Tournaments0 Comments

Japanese Olympians help IBAF Olympic Reinstatement Drive

Baseball Clinic to be held on December 4, 2011

Baseball Federation of Japan will host the 2nd Olympic Baseball Players’ Clinic at the Tokyo Gas Company’s Omori Ground on Sunday, December 4, 2011. 20 former Olympic Baseball Players from Japan will coach 200 young players of the Under 12 age category.

The instructors include big names as Michio Ogasawara, 3rd baseman of Tokyo Yomiuri Giants (Atlanta), Koichi Ohashi, coach of Orix Buffaloes (Barcelona) and other players of both professional and industrial leagues.

The 1st Clinic was held on December 4, 2010 at Toyota Ball Park in Aichi.

Courtesy IBAF.org

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Posted in Asia, News0 Comments

Samsung Lions Win 2011 Asia Series

TAIWAN – The Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) became the first non-Japanese team to win the Asia Series when they defeated the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 5-3 on Tuesday night.

Jang Won-Sam (2.19 ERA) started for Samsung and pitched well earning his second victory and securing the MVP award. Jang gave up 1 run on 5 hits over 6.1 innings. Oh Seung-Hwan (47 saves and a 0.63 ERA in the KBO) came in to pitch the final two innings to finish off the game.

Fukuoka got on the board first in the 1st inning with an RBI double by  third baseman Matsuda Nobuhiro. The score would stay 1-0 until the 5th when Samsung would explode for all of their 5 runs.

Hawks starter Iwasaki Sho got a little shaky giving up 3 hits and 2 walks. After giving up 3 runs Sho was pulled for Yang Yao-Hsun.

The Hawks had their chance in the 8th inning to rally, and rally they did. Facing the Lions relief staff, the Hawks loaded the bases with no outs. The Lions manager then called on the “KBO Relief King” in Oh who promptly gave up a single to load the bases still with nobody out.

Next up for Fukuoka was Matsuda, who already had an RBI double. Oh got him to ground into a double play but a run scored making it 5-2. Hawks outfielder Hasegawa Yuya then got an RBI single to make the score 5-3, but that is all Fukuoka would manage as Oh shut them down in the 8th and the 9th to close out the game.

The victory was a little bit of revenge for Samsung who in round robin play was beaten by SoftBank 9-0.

The Asia Series will return in 2012. This time it will take place in South Korea and the format will be expanded. In addition to the 4 current winners of the KBO (Korea), CPBL (Taiwan), NPB (Japan), and the ABL (Australia), the winner of China’s CBL League and the other finalist from the KBO championship will also receive invites.

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Posted in Asia, News, Tournaments1 Comment


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