Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Anyone interested in some baseball cards?

If you're interested in buying some baseball cards, and who wouldn't be, especially vintage ones of Stan Musial or Lou Brock, all you have to do is contact the federal government. Seems they have confiscated some some memorabilia items for a former investment advisor who forgot it wasn't actually his money. Kind of sounds like our banking system right now.
Anyhow, here is the main point of the story:
Baseball card collectors interested in two 1959 Stan Musial cards or three rookie cards of Cardinals great Lou Brock will have an opportunity to purchase these rare items if federal prosecutors get their way.

The government recently filed a motion to formally seize a collection of baseball cards and other memorabilia from a former investment adviser from Town and Country who admitted that he sold investment-grade coins belonging 44 customers without their knowledge.
Not only are those cards available, so are cards of Sandy Koufax and Roger Maris. But combining my two loves of baseball and history, there is more than just the cards available:
Also, nine pages listed German, Russian, Soviet and North Korean memorabilia, including Adolf Hitler’s signature and a 1946 bust of Joseph Stalin.
Yeah, those are must for every collectors stash. The upside to all of this is, if the governments selling these items, they'll have no idea how to accurately price them and they should all go pretty cheap.
I do have to wonder if Sandy Koufax has any issues with his cards being sold at the same auction as items from Hitler and Stalin. I mean, I'm all for capitalism and everything, but it seems a little strange to me.

Top 10 Caribbean prospects playing in the United States

Once again, from my world of baseball, comes the top-10 Caribbean prospects playing in the United States. He's doing some good work, folks, lets give him a look.

4 Cubans, of course. But 3 Panamanians (how did they do so badly in the Classic); 2 Nicaraguans (nice to see them getting back into baseball); and 1 Colombian (how did they not get a team in the Classic), but no Puerto Ricans or Dutch islanders. Interesting.

1. Yonder Alonso 1B (Cuba) - He was eight years old when he arrived in the United States with his family. (not really a Caribbean prospect in my opinion, but its not my list). Drafted out of high school, Yonder chose to take his skills to the University of Miami and was second to Buster Posey for College Player of the Year. He makes contact, hits for power and should hit for average. As a first baseman he doesn’t run for much speed and his defense needs some work just to be average, but his stick will play in the major leagues. The Reds drafted him in the first round, and part of his contract placed him on the 40-man roster. Expect the Reds to move him
up their system quickly.

2. Juan Ramirez RHP, (Nicaragua) - At 6′3″ he has a good pitchers frame with plenty of projection. Currently, he can hit 97 with his fastball, but he’s more comfortable at 92-93. As he gains strength that fastball could consistently settle in the mid-90s. He also throws a slider, but has yet to develop a third pitch. His changeup still needs a lot of work as he still likes to blow the ball past hitters rather than finesse his way through an inning.

3. Dayan Viciedo 3B (Cuba) - It’s not often that a major league team talks about allowing a 19 year old to compete for a major league job. But Dayan isn’t just any typical 19 year old. He’s already played three seasons in the Cuban Nacional, which is the equivalent of the major leagues, starting as a 16 year old. He has the potential
to hit 40 homeruns, but he also has the potential to be the closest player to have a physique like Livan Hernandez. That won’t help him play third base. He’s supposeldey lost 30 pounds to get down to 230 and he has already went deep early in the exhibition season. He doesn’t have the athleticism of Alexei Ramirez, affectionaltely referred to as the Cuban missle in Chicago so if Dayan doesn’t hit bombs his contribution to a team will be limited.

4. Julio Teheran RHP (Colombia) - Baseball is a lot more popular in Colombia than people think. The Braves shelled out $850,000 to sign Julio and he made his debut in the Appalachian League as a 17 year old. He started six games and finished with a 6.60 ERA, shutdown for good chunks of the season with a sore shoulder. Julio already throws 90-93 and complements that with a plus changeup. He may get a long look in extended spring training before he is brought up.

5. Adrian Nieto C (Cuba) - Another player that came over from Cuba as an eight year old. While he was drafted in the fifth round, the Nationals were still quite impressed with him and paid him a $376,000 bonus, the third highest in the fifth round. He is
a cerebral player that is a natural team leader that plays above his tools. His arm is not a gun and he still needs a lot of work defensively, but pitchers love pitching to him. He also brings an offensive game, leading his high school to a number one national ranking, hitting two homeruns in a critical championship game.

6. Randall Delgado RHP (Panama) - The Braves farm system closely resembles that of the Mariners, with players from every corner of the world working out of their minor league farm system. This is the fifth country that is represented with Braves
prospects, having identified players from Colombia (above), Mexico, Australia and Canada. As Randal has gained strength his fastball has increased in velocity from the high 80s to the low 90s. He can also show a changeup and curveball, but both pitches need to be thrown with more consistency. He ranked second in the Appalacian League in K’s with 81.

7. Ruben Tejeda SS (Panama) - He’s still a skinny teenager, so once he gains strength his power should increase. Ruben had a disappointing .229 average last year, though he was one of the younger players in the league and went from Rookie ball to High A, skipping Low A. He has all the tools to play shortstop with a strong arm and solid range. All he needs to do is improve the bat and he could give the Mets a solid shortstop to replace Jose Reyes.

8. Juan Miranda 1B (Cuba) - At 26 this year, if the Yankees had confidence that he could make an impact he would have been playing for the Bronx Bombers by now. Only the Yankees can sign a player to a four year $4 million dollar contract, then bury him in their minor league system. He did get a September callup and did hit .400 in his ten at bats. Miranda has trouble hitting lefthanders, lacks speed and needs work defensivly. Other than that, he is ready for the major leagues.

9. Everth Cabrera 2B/SS (Nicaragua) - A rule V pick, it will be a stretch for him to make the major league roster. Last year he hit .284 in Low A, but his homerun total was more than double his numbers the previous four years. His 73 steals led the minor leagues, so he has speed to bat leadoff. His 51 walks show that he can also take pitches, but he still has trouble making contact as his 101 K’s will attest. He’s got the tools to play short, but most of his defensive preparation has been at second base.

10. Christian Bethancourt C (Panama) - Another international prospect for the Braves, Christian signed for $600,000 last year. He needs to gain strength to survive as a major league catcher. He did nail 43% of those runners who tried to steal against him, impressive for a player who still has not turned 18. But at
160 pounds, he is going to get beat up behind the plate.

All-in-all, a good class of prospects. Nice to see a couple of catchers and a third baseman in there. Most Caribbean prospects end up being pitchers, short stops, or outfielders. Yeah, I know there are some Caribbean catchers and third basemen in the majors, but not compared to the other position's.

The new Julio

Julio Franco is not the only player dreaming of playing baseball until (or past) his 50th birthday. Even though Julio is out of the game right now, he has a successor to his dream.
Roberto Cabalisti, a 48-year old right-handed pitcher in the Italian Baseball League, has just been acquired by a new club, de Angelis Godo.
His manager, for one is happy with the pick-up:
Team manager Gigi Mignola likes the fact to have such an experienced hurler on the roster to go alongside the young squad.
Cabalisti does have a lot of experience, and a good pedigree in the Italian League:

Cabalisti made his debut in the National Series with TRIESTE in 1984, played for VERONA and SAN MARINO in the following years, before joining RIMINI in 1989. He appeared in 500 games so far, having an ERA just north of the 3.00 mark. He won five national championships, one champion’s cup and pitched in 48 games for the Italian National Team, including the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. He last pitched in the IBL on July 26th last summer against FORTITUDO BOLOGNA.

I don't care what league you play in. To do it at the age, and still be productive is an outstanding feat. I say, more power to him. He's older than I am, and I some mornings I have to literally roll out of bed. And it's not alwasys because I've been out to the pub the night before.
Keep throwing strong, dude. I hope you make it to 50.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Breaking the color barrier

This isn't really about international baseball, but it is about baseball on the outside of the main stream. It seems that the color barrier of whites and blacks playing together was broken before Jackie Robinson joined the Dodgers. And where did it happen? In the military, of course.

Several months before Jackie Robinson, Paul Phipps broke his own color barrier in baseball.

The year was 1946. After battling the Japanese on Saipan and Iwo Jima as a Marine officer, Phipps received an assignment to oversee sports at separate bases in North Carolina, one for white soldiers like him and one for blacks.

Down a catcher, a black team asked him to join. He accepted.

A year later, a former Army officer named Jackie Robinson joined the Brooklyn Dodgers.
While none of this had anything to do with Jackie Robinson getting his chance, the fact that the military finally starting looking the other way must have helped:
In the end, Phipps only played a few months, traveling back to Hopkinton when his wife endured a difficult pregnancy. He resigned his commission in 1947 when he realized Marine life would leave the pair living apart for long stretches.

Several months later, Robinson broke the Major League color barrier, enduring taunts and insults from players and fans. A year later, President Harry Truman ordered the desegregation of the armed forces. Phipps said his actions held no larger import, unlike Robinson or Truman's.
In a society where segregation was legal, and the norm, President Truman's actions were remarkable. It was one of the first instances of segregation being outlawed. This wasn't the only issue that let Jackie Robinson play in the majors, but it must of helped, in some measure. It's hard to convince people that soldiers can fight and die by each other's side, and then tell them they can't sit on the same bench in the dugout together.

I'm willing to bet this wasn't the only instance of a white man playing on a black team. In fact, it's a central plot line in the fantastic book, Ice Man, by Weldon Hill. I'm willing to bet there it happened many times, and I'm also willing to bet that there were a lot of black players who got a chance to play with white teams.

Not every white person connected with baseball before 1947 was racist. Just a few of them who were given way more power to decide issues like this than was needed.

Fortunately, there have always been people willing to go against the tide, and try to make a difference.

Friday, March 27, 2009

A little help for my friends

Some of the people who come here to read are not Americans, and some are not quite as familiar with baseball as some of us. In an effort to help educate people, I think it is important that we use the proper terminology in talking about baseball. Maybe this comes from my days in the Army (where terminology is paramount), but I get a little irritated at times when people use the wrong the phrases. It's not really anyone's fault, and no one is required to stop using what they know and like.

However, for some reason, there is always a need to equate something to something else of a similar nature. Thus, American football is compared to European football, which is asinine, because American football is derived from rugby, and not soccer. And for some reason, people want to compare baseball to cricket. It's always helpful to use familiar terms and phrases, but today is the start of my campaign to stop it forever.

So here is a handy-dandy little list that you can use to help assimilate you into the proper terminology of the game of baseball. It is not comprehensive, and can be added to as needed. Please print it out and post it next to your computer and television screen. So here we go:

pitch = field, yard, diamond

friendly = exhibition game

match = game

batsman = batter, hitter, stickmeister

bowler = pitcher, hurler

sent off = ejected

relegated = demoted

Man U = New York Yankees

Chelsea = Boston Red Sox

Arsenal = Chicago Cubs

Liverpool = Los Angeles Dodgers

Ronaldo = Alex Rodriguez

Alex Ferguson = Tony LaRussa

Wayne Rooney = Kevin Millar

Those are the major one's I could find. As I find more, the list will be periodically updated and re-posted. Feel free to submit ones I have missed, so that we can make the world a better place.

Baseball in the Olympics - or not

For those of you who have been waiting with baited breath, or don't really care and just stumbled across this, the answer to whether or not baseball will be in the Olympics will be answered a lot sooner than we thought. Yep, never an organization to use fair play as a concept with making decisions, the IOC will be expediting things and make a final decision in August:
Thanks to a link in the twitter feed of Baseball GB’s Matt Smith, we receive news regarding the reinstatement of Baseball and Softball into the Olympics. The BBC reports on their website that the IOC has decided to cut five of the seven sports, which are considered for reinstatement into the Olympic program, already at a meeting in Berlin, Germany in August.
Here's the actual quote:
The seven sports hoping to be included in the 2016 Olympic Games will be cut to two at a meeting in Berlin ahead of a final decision later in 2009. The original plan was for the sports to make presentations in June before going to Copenhagen for the vote in October..But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has now opted to cut five sports at August’s executive board meeting
Now, some people might think this is a good idea. Lets get the decision made and get it done. Especially those who think it's a forgone conclusion that baseball will make it back. It won't. You've done your work, Bud. The Olympics are out, and the World Baseball Classic is firmly entrenched as the world stage for baseball. Now stop fucking it up, and take it seriously, before you do a lot of harm.

But all is not milk and honey in the minds of those who know. The entire idea of making the final decision smacks of partisanship, particularly by those in Europe who want soccer to remain the world sport.

Yes, fresh off the success of the World Baseball Classic (and it was a success everywhere but the United States, at least according to the mainstream media in the U.S.), the vote will pre-empt any legitimate shot of having baseball returned. With two Asian teams in the finals, a Dutch team advancing to the second round (at the expense of a baseball powerhouse) and an Italian team that beat a 'mostly' major league Canadian team, baseball is popular around the world. And a successful World Cup of Baseball, played in Europe, would seem to be the thing needed to push baseball over the top. But it won't happen:
During the August 13 meeting in Berlin, the IOC executive board will decide, which two of the seven sports will be voted on at the IOC congress in Copenhagen, Denmark in October. This means the IBAF Baseball World Cup could come too late to impress the many members of the IOC in Europe.
So they'll make the vote before the World Cup, but right as the European soccer leagues are getting ready to start their season. Summer camp/pre-season in soccer is the same as the NFL. The biggest thing around.

Yeah, I'm convinced. There's no bias involved at all. There's no conspiracy by FIFA to keep baseball out of the Olympics. And there's absolutely no chance that anyone on the IOC committed could be (shall we say) 'influenced' to push this decision up at the expense of baseball. Sure, baseball is known for it's 'bleacher bums', and sitting in the outfield stands with no shirt on and swilling beer while we intentionally mis-pronounce the names of foreign players, but it doesn't mean we're stupid.

I would like to see baseball stay in the Olympics, as I feel it belongs. Even if the pro's don't play, it's okay with me. It's about putting the sport in the limelight, not winning every medal. Even though I think we did okay before. We have won Gold medals with minor-league players.

What is really funny, to me, at least, is the fact that Bud keeps saying he would like to see baseball stay in the Olympics. But if that's true, where is MLB while all of this going on? Where is their voice? Where are their representatives? Oh yeah, sitting back and counting the cash from the Classic.

So, I think it's a forgone conclusion. Baseball is out of the Olympics. And I'll bet they let softball back in to just to spite us.

My new list of most worthless organizations in the history of the world, in order:

1. The United States State Department
2. The United Nations
3. The European Union
4. The House of Representatives (c'mon, really, what's the point?)
5. The Catholic Church
6. The International Olympic Committee

I'm looking for 7 - 10.

Top 10 Australian prospects playing in the United States

From my world of baseball, come the top-10 Australian prospects playing in the states. Australians playing in the majors has a long history, as Jack Quinn, back in the 1880's, was the first Aussie, and first non-European foreigner to play in the states. There was a big lull for 80 years, but the Aussies are firmly entrenched in the bigs, and are among the baseball playing nations in the world. Even if the average citizen there doesn't realize it yet. I still say they got jobbed in the pool bracket. But that's just my opinion.

1. Luke Hughes 3B, Twins - He put himself on the prospect map with a solid .319 season in AA. When promoted to AAA the average stayed at a respectable .283. He was also able to combine for 18 homeruns. Injuries have prevented him from showcasing his talent. The power should increase as he adjusts better to pitches and improves his patience at the plate to wait for his pitch rather than the pitchers pitch. While he played third base most of last year he may have to move to left field. He needs a lot of work to make it as a third baseman, with hands too hard for the position. But if he can enhance his power he can make it as a left fielder.

2. Drew Naylor RHP, Phillies - He made the Phillies 40 man roster this year. At 6′4″ he has good size for a pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the high 80s but can travel in the low 90s. His curveball is a solid second pitch. He needs to improve his changeup if he wants a third pitch to make it as a starter. Because he is not overpowering he also has to show command of his pitches so as not to deposit too many pitches up in the bleachers. Drew had a lot more success in Low A (2.99) than High A (4.85) but he progressed enough that he should find himself in AA in 2009, just an injury away from making the Phillies rotation.

3. Shane Lindsay RHP, Rockies - Lindsay has been saddled with injuries the last couple years, including a torn labrum. The Rockies were forced to put him on the 40-man roster this year when he lit up the Arizona League with a high 90s fastball. That was shades of 2005, when he was 6-1, 1.85 in 13 starts with Tri City to win the pitcher of the year award. Shane has a knuckle curve and inconsistent changeup as his other pitchers and needs to improve on them to make his fastball more effective. He also needs to stay out of bars as he had a tendency to do, finding himself in a barroom brawl that resulted in a broken hand that forced him to miss a good portion of the 2008 season.

4. Matt Kennelly C, Brewers - He’s not going to get a lot of playing time as long as Brian McCann is a fixture at catcher but he’s only twenty so if he plays well some team will want him. He teamed with brother Tim Kennelly to help Perth win the Claxton Shield this year, though his bat didn’t really wake up until the playoffs (.148 during the qualifying rounds, .333 in the playoffs). He’s got offensive potential and tossed out 57% of the baserunners who tried to steal against him. His defense is there and his offense needs to catch up and when it does he will be ready for the major leagues.

5. Mitch Dening OF, Red Sox - He has not hit below .300 in his first two minor league seasons in the United States, with his slugging percentage improving from .375 to .471 from 2007 to 2008. As he learns to pull the ball he will hit for more homeruns. There is nothing great about his defense, but he is not lacking there as well. He probably doesn’t have the range to play centerfield on a consistent basis, but his arm is good enough for right field. He will have to hit for more power to be a good fit for that position.

6. Brad Harmon Utl, Phillies - He’s got a tough job ahead of him with Jimmie Rollins at shortstop and Chase Utley at second. He does not have the power bat to fit for third. Both Pedro Feliz and Chase Utley may not be healthy enough to start the season so Brad will compete with Jason Donald to start at either of those positions. He does not have the consistentcy to play short. His best position appears to be second base, but he will not unseat Chase Utley at that position. Brad will have to hope for a trade or be satisfied with a utility position.

7. Rich Thompson RHP, Angels - Rich made his major league debut in 2007 and in seven games finished with an ERA of 10.80. He got another opportunity in 2008 and in two appearances finished at 22.50. That leaves a career mark at 13.50. He’ll have to improve on that if he wants another major league opportunity. His fastball hits 94 but at 25 this year his best bet is for a long relief job or as an emergency starter. He doesn’t have the overpwoering stuff to fit at the front end of a rotation or survive as a key cog in the bullpen.

8. Brendan Wise RHP, Tigers - Brendan was the closer for Perth in the Claxton Shield and led all relievers in saves. He was critical to their championship run. Brendan is not your typical closer, relying more on his command than an overpowering fastball to get hitters out. He was used exclusivly out of the pen last year, appearing in 48 games and finishing with a combined ERA of 3.74 in 48 games. He still needs to find a pitch that gets lefthanded hitters out consistently.

9. Brad Tippett RHP, Twins - He is a John Stephens clone, with a fastball that sits comfortably in the mid 80s and rarely reaches into the 90s. His best pitch is a change up and though he is a righthanded pitcher in 2007 lefthanded hitters went 0 for 36 against him with 19 strikeouts. He wasn’t quite as successful against lefthanded bats this year but 8-3, 2.55 in 14 starts got him a promotion to Low A.

10. Travis Blackley LHP, Diamondbacks - He recently signed with the Diamondbacks as a free agent after a successful stint in the Mexican League, finishing 2-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 12 appearances and ten starts. He traveled to Australia to participate in the Claxton Shield where he combined with his brother Adam to lead the Victoria Aces to a second place finish. His most impressive season was in 2003, when he won 17 games and finished with an ERA of 2.61 with 144 strikeouts. That success got him a month in the major leagues in 2004, but in six starts he finished 1-3, 10.04, getting returned to the minor leagues where he ended his year with arm soreness. Travis had to have shoulder sugery in 2005 and he has been battling his way back up again.

The Phillie's seem to have the leg up on Oz, and pitching seems to be the strength. But lots of good players. Some of these names will be familiar, as they are not really prospects anymore, but are in the bigs.

They have Kennelly, the catcher, listed with the Brewers, but he is actually a Braves farmhand.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New world rankings - update


I didn't realize this, but Venezuela was given 3rd place in the Classic, and the United States was given 4th. Even though Venezuela lost to the team that finished 2nd, and the United States lost to the team that finished 1st.

You can't do after the fact seedings. It doesn't work. I'm going to try and find an explanation for this one.

Straight from the International Federation of Baseball are the latest world rankings, updated to include the results of the World Baseball Classic:

1. Cuba
2. Korea
3. Japan
4. USA
5. Chinese Taipei
6. Netherlands
7. Mexico
8. Canada
9. Australia
10. Puerto Rico

Cuba, while not making the semi-finals, retains it's #1 ranking. The United States, while making the semi-finals, drops to 4th. Taiwan, which went 0 - for the Classic, and lost to China, stays in 5th. The Netherlands, which advanced to the second round, and beat the Dominicans twice, stay in 6th, behind Chinese Taipei. Mexico and Canada flip-flop 7th and 8th. Australia, who got screwed in their pool, actually moves up to 9th. And Panama, rightly so, drops out of the top 10, to be replaced by Puerto Rico.

As a reminder, there is a point system for this:

The IBAF debuted its World Rankings earlier this year in January. Developed in conjunction with Scott Goode, a sports information director from Harding University (Arkansas, USA), the rankings are based on a point total which IBAF member federations (teams) earn from IBAF-sanctioned events in a four-year window, or a period of time that encompasses two IBAF Baseball World Cups.

Teams earn points based on their finish in an event. A tournament winner takes home 50 points, second place, 40; third place, 30; and fourth place, 15. From there, points are divided evenly among the remaining teams in the event to ensure balance between tournaments that feature different-sized fields.

Once points are rewarded based on a team’s finish, that amount is then multiplied by a number based on the strength of the event. Major world championships, such as an Olympic Games, IBAF Baseball World Cup or World Baseball Classic, all receive 4X multipliers. Minor world championship events (Junior, Youth or FISU University Worlds, or the Honkbol Tournament, for example) have a 1X multiplier, and all other continental championships receive multipliers from 1X-.25X based on how many teams in the top-10 of the current IBAF World Rankings compete in the event.
So a team particular finish might not necessarily move them up or down, depending on how many total points they had accumulated prior to the Classic.
I've only really started following international baseball since I've started this blog, but I really have to wonder: what the hell are the Taiwanese doing to get into 5th place?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The All-Tournament Team

Here are the players named to the World Baseball Classic All-Tournament Team. I don't really have any issues with any of the choices. Some guys who could have made it were left off, and some guys who made it should have been left off. Hey, it's all subjective anyways.


Japan - Daisuke Matsuzaka
Japan - Hisashi Iwakuma
Korea - Jung Keun Bong

Puerto Rico - Ivan Rodriguez

Korea - Tae Kyun Kim - first base (unanimous selection)
Venezuela - Jose Lopez - second base
Korea - Bum Ho Lee - third base
United States - Jimmy Rollins - shortstop

Japan - Norichika Aoki
Cuba - Frederich Cepeda (unanimous selection)
Cuba Yoennis Cespedes

Designated hitter:
Korea - Hyun Soo Kim

No issues, really, with any of the selections. I would have liked to have seen Rod del Monico and Bert Blyleven be named manager and pitching coach of the tournament, because, man, did they work some magic.

It is kind of curious that the team is really the South Koreans and Japanese, with a token slot to the Venezuelans and Americans. I know those two played in the final, but were all those players really the best out there? And if you're going to go back to non-finalists, why two Cubans? Do we still need to suck up to Fidel? I can thing of some Dutch pitchers who might deserve the honor as well. But that's just me.

New world rankings

Straight from the International Federation of Baseball are the latest world rankings, updated to include the results of the World Baseball Classic:

1. Cuba
2. Korea
3. Japan
4. USA
5. Chinese Taipei
6. Netherlands
7. Mexico
8. Canada
9. Australia
10. Puerto Rico

Cuba, while not making the semi-finals, retains it's #1 ranking. The United States, while making the semi-finals, drops to 4th. Taiwan, which went 0 - for the Classic, and lost to China, stays in 5th. The Netherlands, which advanced to the second round, and beat the Dominicans twice, stay in 6th, behind Chinese Taipei. Mexico and Canada flip-flop 7th and 8th. Australia, who got screwed in their pool, actually moves up to 9th. And Panama, rightly so, drops out of the top 10, to be replaced by Puerto Rico.

As a reminder, there is a point system for this:

The IBAF debuted its World Rankings earlier this year in January. Developed in conjunction with Scott Goode, a sports information director from Harding University (Arkansas, USA), the rankings are based on a point total which IBAF member federations (teams) earn from IBAF-sanctioned events in a four-year window, or a period of time that encompasses two IBAF Baseball World Cups.

Teams earn points based on their finish in an event. A tournament winner takes home 50 points, second place, 40; third place, 30; and fourth place, 15. From there, points are divided evenly among the remaining teams in the event to ensure balance between tournaments that feature different-sized fields.

Once points are rewarded based on a team’s finish, that amount is then multiplied by a number based on the strength of the event. Major world championships, such as an Olympic Games, IBAF Baseball World Cup or World Baseball Classic, all receive 4X multipliers. Minor world championship events (Junior, Youth or FISU University Worlds, or the Honkbol Tournament, for example) have a 1X multiplier, and all other continental championships receive multipliers from 1X-.25X based on how many teams in the top-10 of the current IBAF World Rankings compete in the event.
So a team particular finish might not necessarily move them up or down, depending on how many total points they had accumulated prior to the Classic.
I've only really started following international baseball since I've started this blog, but I really have to wonder: what the hell are the Taiwanese doing to get into 5th place?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

10 reasons the World Baseball Classic won't work in the future

As much as I liked the Classic, and want to see it succeed, there are a lot of reason why it might not. I think that would be a bad, thing, but it might if people don't stay interested. These are the reasons why it might not work in the future.

1. The format: this double elimination crap has got to stop. Japan and South Korea played each other 4 times, and then faced off in the final. Some teams played twice, and other played 4 times, just in the opening round alone. Australia played Mexico and Cuba, while Cuba and Mexico both played Australia and South Africa. It's not working, and they have to come up with a better format.

2. Major league baseball: if Bud and the boys aren't going to take it seriously, how do they expect anyone else to. Dictating the format, who can play, the days they play, the mandate for 'work' for those participating, not hiring a manager who will play to win; all signs that MLB is more concerned with promoting their new baseball channel than actually worrying about the Classic.

3. Pitch counts: idiocy at it's best. They pick an arbitrary number of pitches and a pitcher is pulled, unless he's in the middle of a batter. Which includes the first pitch to the batter. Ever see a 15-pitch plate appearance. What's the point? Then bringing relievers in in the middle of an inning, when the game situation doesn't dictate it? I'm not against limiting the work pitcher do, but it needs to be done by innings, not pitches. Give the managers reasonable options.

4. The players: if the best players in the world aren't going to play, then it's not really that much of a classic. Every league except MLB let their players go. The Asians started practicing in January. The major leaguers could do the same thing. Pick 50 players, start training early, play inter squad games and college teams, and they'll be game ready for the Classic. If the union objects, then make them the bad guys. If the owners object, make them the bad guys. Guys get hurt in Spring Training every year. We can live with it in the Classic also. But let the players play.

5. The schedule: some teams play back-to-back, and other's go for 3 days between games. The Asian teams had a 10-day break between the first round and the second round. Complaints about too much work for the MLB'ers, or not enough work for them? Again, are they going to take this seriously? Make a schedule where they play every other day, rotating between pools, with 2 days between rounds. Every one gets to play the same as spring training, and gets their work in. Increase the number of pitchers, if necessary.

6. Locations: it was played on 2 different continents, in 4 different countries, with the finals in a 5th one. Crap. Pick an area and rotate it. If it's in Asia, all the games are split between Asian cities, with enough time for all participants to adjust. See #4. It's okay for it to not always be in the United States. We'll still watch. There are lots of places that can host the entire tournament. Or make it a competition, and the sites have to met certain criteria to host. But it's a "World" Baseball Classic. We have the best league in the world. Let other countries see the best the world has to offer.

7. The rules: the pitch count, the substitution rules, the extra innings rules? It's not football. We don't change the rules at the end of the game to increase the dramatic aspect of the game. Baseball is played by the same rules for the entire game. And it's not a timed event. That's what separates baseball from football and basket ball. Scrap the pitch count in favor of innings. Declare a 40-man roster, with roster changes when necessary, but the injured player out for good, and use the real rules in extra innings. It's not Arena football. don't make it into that.

8. The United States: it's the "World" Baseball Classic, not the "American" Baseball Classic. As long as we continue to think the Classic breathes and dies on what America thinks, it's in danger. Lot's of different countries are involved, and lots of people around the world were watching and cared about the results. But all you hear in the American media is how it wasn't popular in the United States. So? Neither is Marmite. But lots of people around the world like it.

9. The pools: Cuba and Mexico play the African/Pacific teams, while Italy and Canada are in with the United States and Italy, and the Netherlands gets 3 Caribbean teams, while all 4 Asian teams play each other? Who picked this? Australia never had a chance, Japan and South Korea got to play China and Chinese Taipei, while Italy had to face 2 teams who made the finals, and another one made up of major leaguers? Either play by continent, or do a random draw, or something. But the seedings for these pools didn't work. At least not for me.

10. The fans: the perception is, for the Classic to be popular, Americans have to want to see it. As much as it shouldn't matter, the fact that MLB is showing the games, or ESPN, and there is prize money involved, means that people in the states are going to have to embrace the Classic. If American fans aren't interested, it will effect whether or not the Classic is shown on the major channels, or get relegated to secondary status. That, in turn, effects the ad revenue, which is used to pay for the entire thing. No American interest, no Classic.

Again, this is just my list. If anyone has any other ideas, please let me know.

10 reasons the World Baseball Classic will work in the future

Okay, so it's over, and Japan is 2-time champion. And South Korea proved the Olympics wasn't a fluke. And the United States could have won if they had taken it seriously. And the Venezuelans were the most over achieving team of all time, even compared to the Dutch. The second Classic is in the books, and it was a good one. This video tells me all I need to know. That's great baseball, boys and girls.

So here is my list of 10 reasons why the World Baseball Classic will work in the future.

1. The Dutch: everyone loves Cinderella, and the Dutch team making the second round, by knocking off the Dominican Republic, is the single biggest memory most people will take from the Classic. And they did it the old-fashioned way, with pitching and defense. But I still maintain it wasn't a fluke. I picked them to beat the Dominicans and advance, not as an upset special, but because I believe they were that good. They are the best team in Europe, and showed they deserve to play with the big boys. If only they could hit.

2. The Italians: I took two things from the Italian performance. One - the fundamentals. These guys know how to play the game. It's not just swinging at the ball and throwing hard. Great defense. They know what they're doing out there. They can play the game. Second - the actual Italians played well, if not spectacularly. It was the hyphenateds, who were supposed to be the big dogs, who failed, and the real Italians stepped it up and played baseball. Maybe next time around they'll ask the other guys to stay home.

3. Europe: baseball used to be North America, the Caribbean basin, and Japan. Not anymore. Baseball might still take a backseat in Europe, but it's not a gimmick anymore. They play baseball in Europe. They play good baseball in Europe. And they can beat traditional baseball countries, at their own game, on their own ground. Ask the Canadians and the Dominicans. I don't think they'll take a European team lightly next time. Look for a major growth in the sport. After all, Europe already offers the second best thing in the world. Beer. Now they're adding baseball to the mix. Yeah, I'm in.

4. Cuba losing: they actually are human,and don't win every game. I don't have anything against the Cubans. They're still a great baseball country, and a good team. I think they have internal issues (defections, dissidence) that have affected the team. But what this proved is that there are now 4 spots available in the semi-finals. Not 3 spots and a automatic Cuban presence, like it used to be for the last 40 years. Bad for the Cubans, good for the sport.

5. United States losing: hey, I'm true blue, and a flag-waver, and all that good stuff. But we are the big dog, and everyone loves knocking the king off of his hill, at least metaphorically. It's still our national past time, but it's not our game exclusively anymore. We sent 'some' of the best we had to offer, and couldn't pull it off. Other teams can compete against us, and beat us. In today's world, taking the US down is still a major achievement for anyone. Doing it at our own game is doubly sweet.

6. South Korea/China: see #3 and replace Europe with South Korea. The Japanese have competition. Good competition. And nothing can be assumed anymore. Japan might have won the Classic, but it was an extra innings affair, that could have gone either way. And while China isn't a serious threat to anyone right now, they did win a game, and with over 1 billion people to pick from, in 8 years, China will be competitive. Baseball in Asia just got a lot better.

7. The timing: as much as everyone is complaining about it, the timing is perfect. Baseball is still mostly played in the Northern hemisphere (with regards to South Africa and Australia) right now, and that means the classic is in the spring, after long winters in many of the countries. The same reason Americans look forward to spring training is the same reason the Classic needs to be in the spring. And if you want to get people around the world interested in the game (i.e., buying merchandise, MLB.tv, planning vacations to watch games; yeah, you got it figured out, Bud), then the Classic has to be in the spring to generate excitement for the upcoming seasons in the United States, Japan, Canada, South Korea, Mexico and Europe. Do it the end of the World Series, and people will ignore baseball until spring. Do it during the spring, and the excitement carries over.

8. The fans: American fans didn't seem to care all that much, or so we're told. But I disagree. I think a lot of fans did. But here's a point to remember. It's the 'World' Baseball Classic. There were teams from 16 countries playing, and the next time around, it will be 24. The fans in 6%, or 4%, of the countries involved are only a small portion of those watching. I know lots of people throughout Europe and Asia who stayed up all night watching games, and rooting for their teams. Just because American fans are apathetic to the Classic, doesn't mean the rest of the world is. Somewhere I have the numbers. I'll post on that later.

9. The timing: every 4 years, just after the Olympics is perfect. Baseball is likely not going to make it back into the Olympics, and will lose it's 'highlighted' world stage. I say highlighted, because the World Cup has been going on for years, but is still essentially an amateur competition. The Classic offers the best competing against the best. More often than 4 years, and it will be overexposed. Less often than 4 years, and people will lose interest. The reason the Olympics work is because of the 4-year scale. It will work for the Classic also.

10. Major league baseball: just because the American fans don't care, and MLB leadership is just using this as a cash cow to publicize the new Major League baseball channel doesn't mean they don't have a clue. Bud isn't doing his part to promote the game internationally, but someone is. Bud would have never come up with this idea, but someone in the front office is getting this done. Bud won't last forever, and if the people running the Classic get a voice with the new administration, things will be different. And better.

If anyone has anything they'd like to add to this about why the Classic "will" work, please leave a comment.

Why it "won't" work is coming soon.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Top 10 Puerto Rican prospects playing in the United States

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. From my world of baseball comes the list of top-10 Puerto Rican prospects playing in the United States. I actually have a hard time looking at these guys as foreign prospects, since they are all American citizens, with all rights, and a tax-free status most of us don't enjoy. But hey, who am I to quibble. Here's the list:

1. Ivan DeJesus Jr, SS (Dodgers) - If his name sounds familiar it is because his dad played for a number of years in the major leagues. His son should have a better bat. With Rafael Furcal recently signed to a long term contract the Dodgers may choose to move him to second to get his bat in the lineup. His power numbers have increased as he has advanced, which could be a result of him getting stronger, going from 0 to 1 to 4 to 7. Eventually, he may settle into the double figure zone. No one has a
problem with his defense at short.

2. Neftali Soto 3B (Reds) - Brandon Waring became expendable with he development of Soto in the Reds system. Soto broke Juan Gonzalez youth homerun record in Puerto Rico and combines excellent hand-eye coordination with a wicked swing. For as hard a swing as he has you would expect less contact, but his K numbers are low. He still struggles to excel at the nuances of the position such as charging bunts so he may have to eventually have to move to the outfield.

3. Angel Morales OF (Twins) - Angel slugged .623 his second year and should get his first opportunity for full season ball in 2009. His 15 homeruns led the Appalachian, which is a testament to his raw power. He also has good speed and plays a solid defense in center field, so Angel is a potential five tool player. His plus arm will make him a fit for right if as he fills out he becomes too slow to cover the ground necessary to play centerfield. The only reason he isn’t number one on this list is his accomplishments have all been in rookie ball and lets see what he accomplishes as he advances. He struck out 72 times in 54 games, which is one big concern.

4. Reynaldo Navarro SS (Diamondbacks) - Reynaldo is another player who has not advanced past rookie ball. He’s a switchhitter that shows more power from the right side but has more bat control from the left. Since his game will not be his power he should stick to moving the ball around. He made more errors in 2008 than he did in 2007 (28 to 38) so that is a concern.

5. Hector Correa RHP (Marlins)- The first pitcher on this list, he missed four months last year because of a sore shoulder. Because of that, the mid 90s fastball he showed in 2007 stayed mostly in the low 90s. He also shows a good changeup and slider as his other pitches. It will be ineresting to see if his velocity returns in 2009 and he stays free from shoulder problems.

6. Efrain Nieves LHP (Brewers) - A product of the Puerto Rico baseball academy, which has also increased the popularity of baseball in Puerto Rico. Right now his fastball is not overpowering, residiing in the low 90s, but as he gains strength it could reach the mid 90s. His out pitch now is the changeup, but he has also shown a
curveball and slider. He’s always around the plate, walking only 10 hitters in 76 innings.

7. Javier Rodriguez OF (Mets) - He’s still a teenager, drafted in the second round in 2008. His first exposure to rookie ball he only hit .193, but he shows all five tools. Whether he can put them together will decide how far he advances. Despite his poor average he only had 27 K’s in 38 games so he was making contact. A good spring will give the Mets confidence to start him in low A, otherwise he will have to play in extended spring training until the Rookie leagues begin, or Javier shows the
readiness to handle low A.

8. Luis Atilano RHP (Nationals) - At 24 in 2009, he is the second oldest player on this list. He was acquired by the Nationals in the Daryl Ward trade and had a solid year in Potomac (2.32 ERA in 15 games, 11 starts). He underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of 2006 and missed all but one game in 2007. He’s not overpowering, with a low 90s fastball, a slow upper 70s curveball and a good changeup, which will
be his out pitch. If he could tone his body more the velocity could increase, but he will take another year like 2008, because that should get him a promotion to the Nationals in 2009.

9. Lou Montanez OF (Orioles) - He still has rookie eligibility so he qualifies for this list. At one point when he played for the Cubs he was considered one of the top prospects in the minor leagues, but his star fell quickly. He was moved from shortstop and now plays the outfield, though his arm is pretty soft for being a hard throwing shortstop. He had a near Triple Crown year with Bowie, hitting
.335 with 26 homeruns and 97 RBIs. This led to a promotion to Baltimore where he will probably be no more than a fourth outfielder. He did hit .295 in 112 at bats with three homeruns, numbers he should not be ashamed of.

10. Luis Cruz LHP (Astros) - A 2008 draft pick, he only stands 5′9″ but he can hum the fastball in the low 90s, which is phenomenal for a kid that will turn 19 in 2009. He throws a changeup but still hasn’t developed a third pitch. Without a third pitch he will end up settling into the bullpen, which may be the best place for him. He did miss the final six weeks because of elbow problems, so his innings will have to be monitored. In seven starts last year he finished with an ERA of 2.28.

Just to add to my previous statement, another entry from the blog:
Below is myworld’s top ten Puerto Rican prospects list. It was much tougher to identfy all “Puerto Ricans” since some players born in Puerto Rico may have played their high school ball in Miami.
But in the interest of 'international harmony', we'll give it a pass. I must be mellowing in my old age.

The next-to-last update

So, one day and one game to go in the World Baseball Classic. And it's Japan vs South Korea. For the 5th time. No, that's not a misprint. They will play each other for the 5th time in this tournament. Some explain again how this double-elimination idea is good. Because it's really not. They should be playing a best-of-3, to make sure one team has two losses, and is actually eliminated. But in the finals of a double-elimination tournament, the loser isn't actually doubly eliminated. Does that make sense? It should, as much as any of the other insanity involved with the Classic makes sense.

All-in-all, however, I do rate it as a success, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Except for the U.S. team, which was a major disappointment throughout. But if Bud doesn't care, why should the players?

So on to the last game:

South Korea vs Japan. I've picked South Korea a lot throughout the classic, and have picked them to beat Japan more than once. I've also picked them to lose to Japan more than once. They've done all that, just not at the same time as me. The Japanese confuse me. They were without a doubt, one of the top-4 teams in the Classic, but haven't played like it. They've lost games they should have won, and won games they should have lost. This could be a toss-up. I can see this being a tie game going into the 13th inning, where the stupidest tie-breaker of all time (yes, even stupider than soccer) will determine the winner on 2 sacrifice bunts.

South Korea over Japan. Because I lived in South Korea for a year, and I've only been to the Tokyo airport. That's it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dutch pitcher to the Blue Jays

baseball de world is reporting the news that Leon Boyd, the closer for the Dutch in the World Baseball Classic, has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays:

The Toronto Blue Jays have signed Dutch national team pitcher Leon Boyd to a minor league contract after an impressive showing in this year’s World Baseball Classic.

Boyd played a key role as the closer for the Netherlands in a pair of stunning upsets over the Dominican Republic in the first round of the WBC in San Juan, Puerto Rico. On March 7, the Canadian hurler sealed a 3-2 victory against the Dominican Republic in his first career relief appearance by striking out Jose Bautista to earn the save. Three days later, Boyd picked up the win as the Dutch ousted the Dominicans from the tournament.

The 25-year-old right-hander, who has been a member of the Dutch squad since 2006, went 1-0 with a 2.70 ERA at last summer’s Beijing Olympics.

Boyd, who maintains a personal blog which chronicles his baseball journey, posted a 10-2 record for DOOR Neptunus of the Dutch Major League last season with a 1.64 ERA and 86 strikeouts. His road to the minor leagues began at a junior league in Canada and has taken him to Oklahama (college), Belgium, the Netherlands, and back home with the Blue Jays organization.

The Dutch Major League, which level has been described as somewhere between Single-A and Double-A, and the Italian Baseball League are generally recognized as the top baseball leagues in Europe.
First, Sir Sidney, and now Leon Boyd. If there was one thing the Dutch can proud of, its their pitching. Good luck to him.

Programming note

New posts on the other blog, for those of you who follow it.

Pool results so far - update 1

So the final 4 selected by the voters was:

Puerto Rico - 9
United States - 7
Cuba - 7
Japan - 7

The actual participants will be:

United States
South Korea

Glad to see I'm not the only one who doesn't know what he's talking about. So, new poll up. Lets get those votes in.

Predictions for Pool 2 - update 3

Well, just call me a dumb ass. I guess I was as wrong about the Venezuelans as anyone could be. I have a good friend who used to live in Venezuela, and he told me to believer. But I wouldn't. And I still don't. I don't know how they've done it, but they still haven't done anything to impress me. Except win.

Puerto Rico vs United States. A thrilling, 3-run 9th inning, that featured the worst the Americans have to offer. Bad defense, bad managing, bad pitching, bad hitting. Ugly. We are the Ugly Americans. No way the U.S. deserved to be in the Final over Puerto Rico. But they are. And I don't know how.

U.S. over Puerto Rico

United States vs Venezuela. Winning ugly vs winning uglier. The better looking one won, and it wasn't close. Venezuela, who predicted would be out in teh first round, is a winner going into the Finals. I don't know if it means anything or not, but they actually seem to be playing for national pride, and the entire country is behind them. Not really the same thing from their opponents.

Venezuela over the United States.

Predictions for Pool 1 - update 3

I've had some connection problems, so I wasn't able to watch the games. I'm going off of the daily accounts, and trying to watch the archives on MLB.tv.

Korea vs Japan. I expected this. The South Koreans were shaping up to be the second best team in the Classic. Right now, they're the best. Close, like I thought it would be. Japan has to be a little worried. This is more than just winning the Classic to them. There is a lot of national pride in this games. This is U.S./USSR during the Cold War.

Korea over Japan

Japan vs Cuba. I didn't pick this game, because I've been slacking. I'm not really sure who I would have taken. I picked Japan as a favorite to make the Finals. They're still a good team, even if they having a hard time with South Korea. Cuba never really impressed me outside of the Australian game. Guess they go home to face the wrath of Fidel now.

Japan over Cuba

Upcoming game:

Japan vs South Korea. Why? This is like the 5th time they've played already. And they both already advance. Oh yeah, the double-elimination. Why to rip the heart right out of this thing, Bud. Good work. This just doesn't make sense anymore.

South Korea over Japan.

I'm skipping the records now, since I got so far off of it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Predictions for Pool 2 - update 2

Okay, the Venezuelans are really starting to piss me off.

Venezuela vs Puerto Rico. A 2-0 shutout of Puerto Rico, and Venezuela advances to the Final. They have looked worse than any team except the Dominican Republic. (South Africa doesn't really count, and I still think Italy was better.) But no, Hugo Chavez will not be silenced. I think 'ole Hugo might actually wish George W. was still in office, just so he could do some smack-talkin'. Unbelievable.

Venezuela over Puerto Rico.

Up coming game: United States vs Puerto Rico.

The American citizens will be going home. Not the ones from the continent, the ones from the island. You know, the guys who give Carlos Delgado all of the same rights and a tax-free status just so he can insult us. He'll do it again.

Puerto Rico over United States.

Actual record: 2 - 2

Predicted record: 2 - 2 - 3

Predictions for Pool 1 - update 2

Okay, so I hadn't seen this game yet. I'm still having computer issues. I'm also going to go back to the other stuff I was doing. I've kind of gotten away from it during the Classic, but I'll have some new stuff (non-Classic related) tomorrow. I also do another blog, and some other writing, and I need to concentrate on that today. As well as laundry. And it's St Patricks day. I'm unemployed and don't have time to do anything. It's weird.

Cuba vs Mexico. Cuba is better than Mexico and proves it. Mexico shouldn't have been able to get past Australia. Look at this:

From comments I made on a post on East Windup Chronicle:

The problem with the double elimination, and not a round robin, is the fact that Australia didn’t get to face South Africa. Cuba and Mexico did.

Do you think either team went with a front-line starter against them. Mexico was able to save their #2 to against Australia, instead of the 3rd guy in the rotation. Meanwhile, Australia had to use it’s 2 front-line guys against Mexico and Cuba, and a 3rd starter against Mexico again.

I’m not saying Australia would have won the rematch, but definite advantage to Mexico. South Africa got them to the 2nd round, not their players.

Cuba played a 3 and 4 seed.

Mexico played a 3 and 4 seed.

Australia played a 1 and 2 seed.

Explain again how a double elimination is better than round robin?

Cuba over Mexico. So Mexico goes home and Cuba plays the South Korea/Japan winner. Outside of Asian baseball fans, is anyone even paying attention to this pool? Doesn't seem like it.

Predictions for Pool 2 - update 1

The games here represent more of a 'wish list' than actual predictions, but you have to pick one team, and stick with it. This was what I did. Probably shouldn't have.

Netherlands vs Venezuela. I went with Netherlands as the 'heart over head' choice, and believe they could have won it if they would have gotten any kind of hitting at all. They didn't. Venezuela still didn't impress me, but they keep doing what they need to.

Venezuela over Netherlands

Puerto Rico vs United States. Can we just officially list any involvement in the World Baseball Classic as a national embarrassment. This is ridiculous. Of course, if their own commissioner won't even take the thing seriously, why should the players. It's good for international baseball, but it's embarrassing as an American.
I never thought I would ever say this, but, "God, where is Billy Martin when we really need him." A debacle.

Puerto Rico over United States

So on to the consolation prize.

United States vs Netherlands. The Netherlands deserved to win this, if no other reason than to get the U.S. out of this thing. Congratulations to the Dutch. They played well, they impressed me, and they are good. The only thing they need to be embarrassed about is losing to this American team. This is the equivalent of Custer beating the Indians. I didn't have this one picked, but I would have picked the U.S. over Venezuela, and rightly over the Dutch. Even though they don't deserve it.

United States over Netherlands

Upcoming games:

Puerto Rico vs Venezuela. This won't be close, either. I didn't necessarily think the Puerto Ricans would advance this far, but they've been the class of the 2 pools they've played in. They're strong, and Venezuela isn't.

Puerto Rico over Venezuela

Actual record: 2 - 2

Predicted record: 2 - 2 - 1

Predictions for Pool 1 - update 1

Okay, obviously I haven't been doing much the last couple of days. Job interviews, some spring cleaning and looking for a new place to live, as well as back-to-back visits with my daughter kept me busy. I'm back on track, however, so lets see whats happening.

Japan over Cuba. I was wrong on this one. The Cubans really aren't that good right now. The Japanese were able to prove they are. This gives the Japanese a lot of momentum going towards the finals, and they should make it easily.

South Korea over Mexico. This one wasn't hard either. South Korea is on a roll and might be the best team in the Classic. A lot of people will obviously disagree, but we'll need to prove it on the field.

Upcoming games:

South Korea vs Japan: I'll go with the hotter hand, and pick South Korea. I think South Korea would have beat Cuba if they were playing them, and they Japanese played it close. It won't be 1-0, but it won't be a mercy rule either.

South Korea over Japan.

Mexico vs Cuba: I don't think the Mexicans have what it takes. One game against Australia doesn't prove anything, and Cuba is fighting for its reputation.

Cuba over Mexico

Actual record: 1 - 1

Predicted record: 1 - 1

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pool results so far

The four teams I'm picking for the finals:

United States
Puerto Rico
South Korea

The teams leading the poll right now:

United States
Puerto Rico

I guess the Cuba/South Korea will be pivotal. Keep voitng.

Predictions for Pool 2

Now comes the hard one. I always want to root for the United States, and I've been riding the Dutch since the beginning. The Puerto Ricans are looking good, and the Venezuelans are frauds. I'm probably going to miss every game here, but as I said, it doesn't really matter what I think.

Netherlands vs Venezuela. The Venezuelans are frauds in this Classic, and the Dutch are playing Cinderella. All the Dutch need to do is hit, and it's a gimme. The Italians had better overall hitters then the Dutch, and couldn't do anything. I'm going with the hot hand. Ride that pony.

Netherlands over Venezuela

United States vs Puerto Rico. Is it really an international competition when every player on both teams is an American citizen. If Puerto Rico wins, do we get to claim it as an American victory? The United States hasn't impressed me, and Puerto Rico has a lot of weaknesses. This is a toss up, and whichever team I choose will end up losing.

Puerto Rico over United States

United States vs Venezuela. Lightning does not strike twice. Pissed off finally, the U.S. sends Venezuela home, where the entire team is immediately imprisoned by Hugo Chavez for being American lackeys. Tony Blair laughs over his scones.

United States over Venezuela

Puerto Rico vs Netherlands. I want the Dutch to win this game. Man, I really want them to win this game. It would be great for the game of baseball for Netherlands to win this game and advance to the finals. They don't.

Puerto Rico over Netherlands.

United States vs Netherlands. In the interests of international baseball, I would accept an American lose to let the Dutch in the final round. It won't happen, and the Dutch go home to get knighted. Since Sir Sidney is already a knight, he will forever afterwards be known as Double Dutch. Insert your own joke in here.

United States over Netherlands.

Puerto Rico vs United States. The United States, fresh over their victory of Holland, and thinking its a better idea to play the South Koreans instead of the Japanese. Puerto Rico doesn't care, as the players take their tax free status to the finals regardless. The United States, thinking it's playing for national pride, steps up and beats those nasty foreigners.

United States over Puerto Rico.

Predictions for Pool 1

As I did with the Pools, I'm going to predict the games all the way out to the end. I'll miss a few, get a few right, and in the end, none of it will matter, because I'm not betting on the games. So this is for Pool 1. Lets see how it matches up.

Japan vs Cuba. This is a tough pick, but they all should be at this point. Japan looked good early, and lost to South Korea in a close game. But they haven't played in a week. Exhibitions don't count, but these games do. Cuba didn't look good, but did everything they need to do to win.

Japan wants to prove losing to South Korea was a blip, and Cuba wants to avenge its defeat in the 2006 Classic. The Cubans hit 3 Australians, and weren't afraid to pitch inside. They were also staring down the Aussies, and were try to play the intimidators. It didn't work against Australia. It will against Japan.

Cuba over Japan. Big.

Mexico vs South Korea. Mexico didn't do anything to impress me, and South Korea beat Japan to win the pool. After getting blown out. The game against South Africa doesn't count (as an indicator) and they split mercy rules with the Aussies, so Mexico is a little bit of a puzzle.

This is another toss up, and I'm not sure, but I never expected Mexico to advance, and I knew South Korea would.

South Korea over Japan

Cuba vs South Korea. The winners match up, and the South Koreans expose Cuba as not being as good as they think they are. Due to defections, and players staying at home because of the possibility of defection, this team isn't nearly as strong as it used to be. I think that's why they're trying to play the intimidator.

South Korea over Cuba

Mexico vs Japan. The losers match up. Japan is still a premium team, and Mexico proves they aren't. This will be a blow out, and the Mexicans go home.

Japan over Mexico

Cuba vs Japan. The Cubans are exposed, and don't have a chance against Japan. In a matchup of the 2006 Classic, Japan shows the world why they won.

Japan over Cuba.

South Korea vs Japan. Not that it matters, because they will both advance. But for the seeding, South Korea stays with the hot hand and beats Japan again.

South Korea over Japan.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

So the first round is over, almost. Mexico vs Cuba to determine final seating, but they both advance.

Here are the final 8:

South Korea
United States
Puerto Rico

For people who aren't watching the Classic (and that's okay, not everyone likes this level of ball) are missing some good games, and missing some great defense and pitching. I'm lovin' it.

I want to see all the matchups first, and think about it, and I'll have my predictions up tomorrow.

If anyone read through the live blog I did on the Netherlands/Dominican Republic game, let me know. If anyone would like me to do it again on a particular game, I will. But a little more analysis the next time.

Pool D predictions for the WBC - update 5

Puerto Rico over Holland. I was really hoping the Dutch would win this game, just to get their hitting going. No such luck. Giving up 5 runs wasn't that bad, as they've pitched on a lot of emotion. They played Puerto Rico two good games, and I don't anyone wants to really face them right now. Not with the pitching they're getting. Puerto Rico is looking good right now, and might be the team to beat.

Good stuff going on in baseball.

Actual record: 12 - 10

Predicted record: 10 - 5 - 7

Pool C predictions for the WBC - update 4

Venezuela over Italy. Has there been an uglier looking team then Venezuela? I know they beat the Italians twice, but they didn't do so well. Both games, the Italian starter held them them to the 4th. It was went they went to the pen that the Italians started getting hit. I think the other teams in the second round will have better relievers. But they won. Good on them. I'm still not impressed.

Venezuela over the United States. I wouldn't have thought that would happen. I didn't see the game, but obviously they played well. It was a pride game for the Venezuelans. I'm not going to say the U.S. wasn't trying, but I have to question the pitching choices. It looked Johnson was just trying to get guys some work. Another reason the Classic will fail. How do you leave Guthrie in for 2 innings to give up 4 runs? That was the loser right there.

Actual record: 12 - 9 (I'm starting to suck here)

Predicted record: 10 - 4 - 7

Pool B predictions for the WBC - update 3

Cuba over Australia. This was a good game, if a little sloppy. I guess Fidel call the team and chewed them out. They didn't play that well this game either, with baserunning errors, pitching mistakes and fielding miscues. But their experience shows. A lot of people tend to dismiss the Cubans for not playing top-tier (MLB) teams, and feel they are only AA at best. I disagree. The Cubans are a good team, with a lot of experience. So are the Australians. A lot pinch hit home run won it for the Cubans, but the Australians could have just as easily won the game.

Mexico vs Australia. Wow, what a comeback. I was wrong there. I had Mexico winning the first game, and losing the rematch, not the other way around. I guess it's the luck of the draw with the pools, because the Aussies are to good to be left out. They are better than the Venezuelans and the Dutch, but they have to win, and they didn't.

Cuba vs Mexico. I'll stick with Cuba on this one. Even with all the mistakes and the things that went wrong, they still won the first two games. Mexico hasn't impressed me enough to pick them in this game, but they are better than I thought. Of course, the entire Classic will be home games for Mexico, in Mexico City, San Diego, and Los Angeles. Complain if you want, but it's true. And you know it.

Actual record: 12 - 7

Predicted record: 10 - 4 - 5

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Live blogging Netherlands / Dominican Republc




Marmol into pitch.

de Young PH'ing.

de Young rips a double to the left-center wall, and its man on 2B, no outs.

Smith will pinch hit.

Ground ball to SS, runner moves to 3B, 1 out.

Kingsale is up. If the Dutch lose it, its not his fault. He doesn't need to press here. He's got major leauge experience. He just needs to hit.






Schoop strikes out. 2 out. Simon up, and he'll be walked. Runners on 1st/3rd, 2 outs, de Caster up.

Cruz pops out to CF. 1 out.

Olivo pops up to 3rd, and there are 2 out.

Reyes walks.

Jose Bautista will get his first AB.

Kingsale misplays a liner to RF, and it rolls to the wall. Reyes scores and Bautista gets 3B. The first defensive misplay by the Dutch, and it's costly.

As Kaat just said, if you don't walk guys with two outs, then they can't score.

Ramirez strikes out.

Dominican Republic 1, Netherlands 0
bottom 11th

Marte in to pitch.

de Caster strikes out.

Brombley, the PH, tries to bunt his way on, and takes it straight to the P, for the 2nd out.

Rooi, the PH the last inning, is up now.

Rooi singles to RF, with 2 outs. Where has he been at so far.

Halman strikes out, and we go to the 11th. This has got to be the last inning.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 10th

Ramirez lines out to LF. 1 out.

Aybar up, in place of Ortiz.

Ground ball to 2B, 2 out.

Boyd will take over against Tejeda.

Tejeda gets hit by a pitch, and its a runner on 1st, with Guillen up.

Guillen singles into LF, and its 1st/2nd, with 2 outs. Cano is up.

Cano flies out to RF, and we go to the bottom. We really need to end it now. We can do one more inning after this, then it becomes really dangerous.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 10th

Duursma will lead it off.

Perez, the lefty, in to pitch for the DR.

Duursma bounces out to the pitcher. We don't want extra innings.

Kingsale hits a chopper to SS, and Reyes boots it. Does the running game come into play. Olivo doesn't throw runners out.

Grounder to 2B, fielders choice takes out Kingsale. 2 out, runner on 1st. Simon up.

Simon grounds out to 2B, and it's extra innings. The Dutch still have Boyd in the pen, but they're giving the Dominicans way too many chances.

Gregory Halman is in CF now, and makes the hard catch by Cruz, straight to him. 1 out.

Olivo flies out deep to LF, but it's an easy catch, and 2 out.

Neuman is out, and a lefty will come in to face Reyes. We'll see how it works.

Reyes singles to CF, and it will get interesting now.

They'll leave the lefty in, and Moises Alou will come into PH.

I wondering about Boyd.

Alou grounds out to SS, and we go to the bottom of the 9th. Simon will be the 4th hitter, and he's their big dog. If they can get someone on, he's the guy to bring them in.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 9th

The PH'er Rooi, lines it to the wall in LF, but Cruz pulls it it. Where has this guy been if he can hit like that. 1 out.

Groundball to 2B, and there are 2 out.

Another groundball to 2B, and it's 3 up, 3 down. Again. The top of the order will get up in the bottom of the 9th. If they can hold against the end of the Dominican line up, it will be their best chance.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 8th

Neuman back in to start the 8th.

Tejeda strikes out, 1 out.

Guillen flies out to LF. He's 0-4, and there are 2 out.

Line drive to deep RF, but its 3 up, 3 down. This is the time to score, then they can close it out against the bottom of the order.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 8th

Ortiz is out of the game, for a defensive replacement. That could be big, later.

Simon takes one down the LF line, but Cruz gets to it. 1 out.

de Caster grounds out to 2B. 2 out. C'mon, guys, look at some pitches.

Foul pop to 3B, end of the inning. 2 hits, no walks. They can't ask their pitchers to do any more than they've done. The hitters have got to do something. And Pedro is out now.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 7th

Reyes lines one to RF. One of the hardest hit balls of the night, but still an out.

Taverez walks for the 3rd time. He's gotten a lot of calls. I wish the Dutch were hitting aginst the same strike zone. 1 on, 1 out.

Ramirez flies out deep to LF, but it's a loud out. 2 out, 1 on, Ortiz up.

Ortiz pops up to short, inning over. Bottom of the line up (still dangerous for the next two) and the 3, 4, 5 up for the Dutch. This is the time, guys.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 7th

Jansen pops out to Tejada in foul territory, and it's a nice catch. 1 out.

The Dutch finally try to lay down a bunt, but it has to go more than 5 feet. 2 out.

Kingsale gets hit by a pitch, and its a man on. You have to wonder if he'll try to steal again. I would. He was safe last time, and the ump blew the call.

A strike out on a checked swing. They have to do something next inning.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 6th

Cordemans is in. The Dutch are still sitting good.

Tejeda walks on some close pitches.

Guillen pops out to RF. 1 out.

Liner to 3rd, out, and a toss back to 1B, but Simon doesn't handle the throw. He should have reached for it, and not waited on it. 2 down.

Cruz walks, runners on 1st/2nd, 2 outs.

Olivo pops out to RF, and it's still scoreless. C'mon, Orange, lets get something going.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 6th

Flyball to CF, 1 out.

Flyball to CF, 2 out. But I'm seeing a pattern here, and it's the bottom of the order. If Pedro is around when the top of the order comes up, we might be able to do something.

Strike out, and it's 3 up, 3 down. The Dutch need someone to step up and start hitting. They're playing great, but they have got to score.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 5th

A new pitcher for the Dutch. Smits, a LH'er is in. Slight change in the format. You'll pick it up. It's easier this way. I'm still on a learning curve.

Reyes strikes out. 1 down. Kaat says the DR are all swinging for the fences, and the strike outs are adding up. Boy, that sounds familiar.

Taverez walks. You can't do that. 1 on, 1 out.

Well, my piece of shit computer crashed on me. I missed what happened, but the Dutch got out of the inning.

Pedro is in now. They have to get to him.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 5th

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 4th

de Castor looks at strike 3 down the middle of the plate. 3 up, 3 down, and 10 strike outs in innings. On the bright side, Jimenez has less than 10 pitches to go, and he'll be out, and Pedro will be in next inning. I think they get to Pedro.

Simon strikes out on ball 4. 9 K's, out of 11 outs. 2 down.

8th K, and 1 out. Jimenez still has 20 pitches to go. Good efficiency, but Pedro Martinez is warming up.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 4th

Ground ball, 6-4, and the Dutch get out of it again. The Dominicans haven't done anything to impress me at all. The Netherlands gets to see a new pitcher and the beginning of their order coming up. They need to do something now and get out to a lead.

Cruz walks, and the bases are loaded. 2 out.

Cano strikes out on a checked swing. You have to wonder if that's a make up call. There's really no such thing, but it does happen.

Guillen pops out to RF, and no advance by the runners. 1 out. I'm not going to do it, I'm not.

A 2B to right center by Oritz, on a ball that should have been caught. The RF'er took a bad route to it. Ortiz will be struggling after that. Infield single by Tejeda, and it's 1st/3rd with no outs.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end of 3rd

Kingsale runs on the 1st pitch, and is called out. He was safe, but the umpire is such a prima donnna he thought he could stand still and make the call. But the runner blocked his sight of the tag, and was safe. Because the idiot umpire was too lazy too move. My God, even in the WBC, the umpires think they're above the game. Positioning by umpires is horrendous. I know that's what they get taught, but they are rarely in position to make the right call.

Two bad calls agains the Dutch already.

A dink single down the LF line by Kingsale, and there's a runner on. The Dutch have to get something going, and send him.

Finally a ground ball, and its 2 out.

Younsen strikes out, and thats 7 K's so far.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 3rd

Groundball to 2B, and the innings over. The Dutch are doing what they've been doing. Getting great pitching, and playing good defense. And still not hitting.

Taverez walks, and it could be fun. A good basestealer vs a good catcher.

Reyes pops out to SS, and it's 2 out.

Olivo lines one to CF, and it's 1 out.

I'm lovin' this new Hi-Def MLB.tv. It's fantastic.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 2nd

Called strike 3, and it's 6 K's and a Single for the Dutch. That isn't going to do it. They need to get guys on base.

Another strikeout, and its 2 down, no one on. The Dutch still aren't hitting anything at all.

On the replay, de Castor did get hit by the pitch. Bad call. Start over.

Called 3rd strike to Nelson Cruz.

DR 0
Dutch 0
mid 2nd

Groundball single to RF for Cano. 2 outs, runner on 1st. WP and Cano goes to 2nd.

Guillen grounds into a 6-4-3 DP, and its 2 outs. Too easy, I'm not going to do it.

Infield single for Tejeda, but he's limping around. He might be hurt. It's raining in San Juan also.

A disputed strikeout, and the Dutch go out with no score. Jimenez strikes out the side, but he threw a lot of pitches. He won't make it through into the 4th at this rate.

DR 0
Dutch 0
end 1st

6-0 Venezuela, after 5

PB and Simon goes to 2nd.

Another strikeout, and then a single to CF by Simon. Runner on 1B, 2 outs.

The Dutch did shake up thier line up, with de Caster hitting 4th, and Halman out of the lineup. The Dutch are hitting .140 with 1 xbh. Should be interesting.


D.R. 0
middle of 1st

I think Ortiz at 1B is going to come back to haunt Alou. This is what I was talking about when I said the Dutch have taken the Dominican Republic out of their game. Ortiz strikes out.

Hanley Ramirez singles to RF, 1 on, 2 out.

Taverez grounds out to 2B, and 2 down. Dursma is in at 2nd, to get a bat in. I haven't seen the line up yet, but the Netherlands are doing something to get the bats going.

And Reyes grounds out to 3B, and it's 1 down.

I'm going to do this one top down, instead of the way I did the Italy/Venezuela game.

David Ortiz is at 1B, so Reyes and Ramirez can both get into the lineup. Just like I though, Alou is worried about the hitting, and it's his small ball team.

Live blogging Italy / Venezuela

The Venezuelans do not have a strong defensive team at all. Abreu in RF, Ordonez in LF, Mora at 3B, and Cabrerra at 1B? That's not a good sign, not at all. Chavez in CF will help, but if he's making a lot of plays, it won't bode well.

Punto took it to a full count, then flew out. 8 pitches to the first batter isn't a good way to start. But it's a full pen, with Felix Hernandez and Rodriquez both available for work.

A nice enough play by Cabrerra at 1B, but any major leaguer should make that play. Not a bad 1st inning, 3 up and 3 down. But a lot of pitches, and he'll be struggling to get through 4 at that pace.

Italy 0

It's not a good sign when Endy Chavez drives one to the CF wall.

Nice bunt by Mora, by way? Are they panicking? They must be worried about scoring runs. It's not a good sign when you start a game running scared.

Nice play by the 3B, Liddi. Italy has really impressed me with their defense

Venezuela gets a leadoff double and a walk, and can't score. Plus a good defensive play by Italy. I'm not sure which team that means trouble for.

Italy 0 / Venezuela 0 end of 1st

I would thought Chavez would have caught that ball, but to be fair, he's been in the National League for a long time. He doesn't the walls there in the SkyDome that well.

Liddi gets an infield single on a broken bat hit to Izturis. They'll give him a hit, but Izturis hurried his throw. That's not really a defensive breakdown, but the two runners on this inning have gotten on on balls hit to Venezuela's two best defensive players.

Now a hit batter and the bases are loaded with two out.

Good play by Chavez on a straight away liner, to end the inning. A lot of pitches by Gonzalez. He won't be around much longer.

Italy 0 / Venezuela 0 middle of 2nd

A good 1,2,3 inning for Italy. No trouble at all. This is shaping the same as the 1st game between the two. Italy getting guys on base, but not capatilizing on it, and Venezuela not doing much at all offensively.

Italy 0
Venezuela 0

end of 2nd inning

Another flyball to Chavez, by Punto, for the 1st out. The Italians are making good contact.

A strikeout, and now 2 down.

A popup to RF, and it's 1,2,3.

Italy 0
Venezuela 0
middle of 3rd

Ground ball by Izturis to Punto, and one SS throws the other one out.

Strike out by Chavez, and since his lead off double, the Italian pitcher is cruising.

Another strike out, this time by Mora. 3 up, 3 down. 7 in a row.

Italy 0
Venezuela 0
end of 4

A new pitcher up in the Italian bullpen, so it looks as though the starter is done. Or will be in the middle of the inning, and they want to have someone ready.

A strike out of Costanza, and 1 down.

A pop up to 1B, and 2 down.

Liner to LF, and it's 3 up, 3 down, 7 in a row for Venezuela.

Italy 0
Venezuela 0
middle of 4th

Tiago di Silva, the new pitcher for Italy, and he'll be facing the 3, 4, 5 hitters.

Abreu grounds out to 2B, and 1 done.

Ground ball double by Cabrerra down the LF line, and its a man on 2B, 1 out.

di Silva has a really funky hesitation movement, almost a Hideo Nomo type thing, but without the arm swing. He can't do that with a runner on, because it would be a balk. You have to wonder how that effects a pitcher from no runners on, to runners on base.

Action in the Italian pen. It's a cattle call today.

Infield single for Ordonez. 1st and 3rd, 1 out. Venezuela still isn't hitting the ball hard at all.

Italy 0/Venzuela 1

Of course, as soon as I say that, Guillen rips one off the RF wall. Cabrerra scores, and runners on 2nd/3rd, 1 out. Visit by the pitching coach.

Intentional walk to Jose Lopez, to set it up for Ramon Hernandez. Bases loaded, 1 out.

Hard hit right through Punto for a 2-run error. Should have been a double playy, and Italy out of the inning. Now a hit batter, and the bases are loaded again, with still only 1 out.

Italy 0 / Venezuela 3

Chavez hits a SF to CF, and its 2 down, runner on 1st.

Italy 0 / Venezula 4

Italy will make a pitching change. di Silva got hit, but had some bad fielding. He also hit a batter, so he didn't help. I wonder why he started the inning. Why not let the starter go his full 70 pitches. On a day when every pitcher will be used, why pull a guy who had retired 7 in a row. I think that's a tactical mistake by Italy.

Okay, that was practice. I'm switching over to the Netherlands/Dominican Republic. I'll give periodic updates on this game.