The Baseball Guru Archives
[Previous entry: "Phillies Journal - 2007"] [Main Index] [Next entry: "World Baseball Today"]
11/26/2007 Archived Entry: "World Baseball Today"
Sunday, November 25, 2007
by Bruce Baskin
For a free online subscription to WBT,
SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2007
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
MLB HANDS OUT POSTSEASON AWARDS
Major League Baseball has issued its top awards for the 2007 season. Unsurprisingly, third baseman Alex Rodriguez is the American League Most Valuable Player after leading the majors with 54 homers and 156 RBI’s while batting .317 for the Yankees. Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins won in the National League after carrying his team to a playoff berth with a .296 average, 30 homers and 90 RBI’s to nudge Colorado outfielder Matt Holliday of the MVP trophy.
Cy Young Awards were handed out to Cleveland’s C.C. Sabathia and San Diego’s Jake Peavy. Sabathia won the AL pitching title by going 19-7 with 209 strikeouts for the Indians, while Peavy was a unanimous pick after leading National League pitchers with 19 wins, 240 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA.
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia is the American League Rookie of the Year after hitting .317 for the World Champions; Third baseman Ryan Braun of Milwaukee is Pedroia’s National League counterpart, hitting .324 with 34 homers and 97 RBI’s after a May call-up.
Cleveland’s Eric Wedge and Arizona’s Bob Melvin were selected American and National Managers of the Year, respectively. Wedge led the Indians to a division title and ALCS appearance, while Melvin managed the Diamondbacks to an unexpected playoff berth.
GLAVINE GOES “HOME” TO BRAVES, SIGNS ONE-YEAR DEAL
After spending five seasons with the New York Mets, Tom Glavine is returning to the team he helped turn into a National League dynasty. Glavine is bringing his 303 career wins back to the Atlanta Braves, for whom he pitched from 1987 through 2002. He won two Cy Young awards for Atlanta, where he maintains his primary home. The lefty signed a one-year deal with the Braves for $8 million after going 13-8 with a 4.45 ERA in 200-plus innings with the Mets in 2007.
Glavine helped give the Braves 11 National League East titles in 14 seasons, and was the World Series MVP of Atlanta’s win over Cleveland in 1995. He has five 20-win seasons.
BONDS MAY BE DONE AFTER FEDERAL INDICTMENT
Although he has never been convicted of using performance-enhancing steroids, Major League Baseball’s home run king may have seen his career come to an end with his recent federal grand jury indictment. Barry Bonds will not face charges of taking steroids, but rather for lying to Congress about it. Bonds’ ten-page indictment charges him with four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.
Bonds has long been suspected of taking steroids as both his body and home run totals grew over the past few years, but his usage of performance-enhancing drugs has never been proven in a court of law. While this might create a slippery slope for a prosecution that must convict Bonds for lying about something that has never been legally confirmed, the effect is that interest among teams in signing him has cooled considerably.
The Oakland Athletics, whose general manager Billy Beane has always admired Bonds as much for his ability to draw walks as hit homers, are now said to be out of any running for his services. The indictment may ultimately serve to scare teams away from Bonds, whether he goes to prison or not.
A seven-time MVP, Bonds finished the 2007 season with 762 career homers. He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted. The 43-year-old slugger is scheduled for a December 7 appearance in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
IBAF WORLD CUP BASEBALL
USA TOPS CUBA FOR WORLD CUP GOLD MEDAL
The United States built up a 5-0 fourth inning lead and went on to defeat Cuba 6-3 to win the championship game of the IBAF World Cup in Taiwan last weekend. With the win, the Americans copped their first World Cup gold medals since 1974 while breaking Cuba’s string of nine consecutive World Cup titles.
The USA rocked Cuban starter Yadel Marti for three runs in just 1.1 innings of work, and never looked back. American outfielder Jason Nix, who was named the World Cup MVP for 2007, launched a solo homer in the fourth inning to give the US their five-run lead. Five Yanquis put in two-hit performances against the Cubans, including Andy LaRoche, Evan Longoria, Jason Jaramillo and Justin Ruggiano.
Ruggiano led World Cup batsmen with three homers, and was named to the all-tournament team along with fellow American outfielder Colby Rasmus. Cuba placed two players on the All-World Cup team: Pitcher Aroldis Chapman de la Cruz and outfielder Frederich Cepeda Cruz.
JAPAN TAKES THIRD AFTER SHUTOUT OVER NETHERLANDS
Japanese starting pitcher Tadashi Settsu capped off a superb World Cup performance with seven strong innings of shutout ball as Japan whitewashed The Netherlands 5-0 in the tourney’s Bronze Medal game. Settsu allowed just one hit and whiffed seven Dutch batters en route to his fourth win of the World Cup, and was picked to the all-tournament team for his efforts.
The two teams were locked up in a scoreless tie until Japan plated a pair of runs on three hits in the top of the sixth inning, chasing Dutch starter Leon Boyd. The Japanese added three more counters in the seventh, with Kei Nomoto’s two-run double keying the effort. Closer Kohhei Hasebe shut down The Netherlands at game’s end, striking out two of the seven batters he faced.
SOUTH KOREANS BEAT AUSTRALIA FOR FIFTH PLACE
South Korea came back from a 2-0 deficit by notching four runs in the sixth inning, and went on to a 5-2 win over Australia for fifth place in the World Cup.
The Aussies got off to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on RBI singles from Trent Oeltjen and Benjamin Risinger off Korean starter Seung-ho Lee, and the starter from down under, Greg Witshire, gave the Australians five innings of shutout pitching on two hits to maintain the lead.
However, the Koreans opened their four-run sixth by reaching Wiltshire for two singles, sending him to the showers in favor of Adam Bright. Bright then allowed another single before giving up a bases-loaded triple to Si-hyun Son that broke the game open for South Korea, and pinch hitter Ji-hwan Son’s RBI double in the eighth added an insurance run.
Yong-hoon Cho tossed three scoreless innings in relief for the win, while closer Jae-yoon Hyun was perfect in two innings of relief. Witshire absorbed the loss for Australia.
MEXICO PLACES SEVENTH FOLLOWING WIN OVER HOST TEAM
Mexico built a 5-1 lead through the seventh inning, and then held off a late Taiwan rally to beat the host nation 6-4 to take away seventh place in the World Cup. Mexican catcher Felix Fong stroked a single and double, driving in two runs along the way. Fong was one of four Mexican batters with two hits, joining Alejandro Ahumada, Albie Contreras and Baltazar Lopez.
Taiwan fought back with a three-run eighth, including an RBI double by Tai-shen Chang, but the game ultimately belonged to the Mexicans and starter Juan Delgadillo, who pitched six innings of one-run ball for the win.
CARIBBEAN WINTER LEAGUE BASEBALL
ESPN STORY QUESTIONS FUTURE OF VENEZUELAN BASEBALL
A feature story on ESPN’s website this month casts doubts on the future of Venezuela as a so-called breeding ground for Major League Baseball players. In her story, Maria Burns Ortiz cites a number of big league organizations that are pulling out of Venezuela, almost exponentially coinciding with the nationalization of businesses by the Hugo Chavez-led government.
Baseball is a cultural institution in Venezuela. There are currently over 1,000 Venezuelan players in major or minor league baseball, including MLB academies in Latin America. The winter Liga Venezolana is one of the strongest in Caribbean baseball, along with the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela’s strong showing in last year’s World Baseball Classic only underscored that nation’s rise as an international baseball power. The country’s ambassador to the United States, Bernardo Alvarez, states, “Baseball is the center of our modern culture. It’s part of our life. It expresses the synthesis of modern Venezuela.” So what’s the problem?
According to Ortiz’ story, the growing encroachment of government power coupled with increasing violence is serving to scare major league organizations away from Venezuela. The number of big league teams involved in the Venezuelan Summer League in 2006 was 19, but only 11 took part this season. Four teams that once operated academies in Venezuela have pulled out, including San Diego, Cleveland, Baltimore and Boston. Things were not helped when the International Baseball Federation cancelled this year’s World Junior Baseball Championships in Caracas after the Taiwan team was denied entry visas to Venezuela for political reasons. The IBF may place sanctions on Venezuela’s international program as a result.
What’s ironic is that Chavez is a huge baseball fan along the lines of his mentor, Fidel Castro of Cuba. Like Castro, Chavez turned to politics when hopes for a career in pro baseball failed to pan out. Concerns that Chavez will ultimately attempt to exert government control over all Venezuelan baseball is a motivating factor in the lessening of ties with MLB teams. What happens down the road remains to be seen, but there may be fear that Chavez will eventually nationalize baseball entirely, stemming the flow of talent from Venezuela to the major leagues. One thing seems certain: Changes are coming to Venezuelan baseball. What’s uncertain is what kind of changes those will be.
WASHINGTON HOMER TEAR HELPS CARIBES STAY ON TOP IN VENEZUELA
Infielder Rico Washington launched three homers in a five-game stretch to help the Oriente Caribes maintain their leadership of the Venezuelan League tables. Washington’s hot streak put him on top of the RBI list among Venezuelan batters. Caribes outfielder Jody Gerut continues to lead the league with a .393 average. The Lara Cardinales won four of six to move into second place. Lara pitcher Scott Patterson extended his scoreless streak to 14.2 innings, while fellow Mariners farmhand Cesar Jimenez has a similar streak of his own at 11.2 frames.
NAVOJOA CLOSES GAP ON CULIACAN IN MEX PAC RACE
The Navojoa Mayos saw their winning streak finally snapped at ten games, but they now trail first-place Culiacan by just two games in the Mexican Pacific League race. The Mayos began last week with a 21-14 record. The Tomateros had a 13-game winning streak early in the season to grab the Mex Pac lead, but a recent 1-5 stretch gave the rest of the league to gain ground. Obregon second baseman Carlos Valencia leads the Mex Pac in batting with a .341 average, while Culiacan’s Alfredo Aceves still tops the ERA list at 2.03 after six starts.
TIGRES LEAD DOMINICAN LEAGUE AFTER WINNING FIVE OF SIX
The Licey Tigres won five of six games to vault into the pole position in the Dominican League with a 14-9 record last week. Catcher Matt Tupman raised his batting average to .318 after a ten-game stretch in which he went 14-for-37. Cibao is second at 13-10, thanks in part to the hot bat of outfielder Nelson Cruz. Cruz hit .469 with two homers and nine RBI’s in his first eight games for the Gigantes. Meanwhile, Cibaenas lost six of seven to drop from first to third place in the standings.