Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2010 Season Recap for Rami-Chan

For those of you who have been following this blog on a regular basis during this past baseball season know that I have been focusing my attention on one particular Latino ballplayer who has played the bulk of his professional career in Japan. I first started with a post Rami-chan, the Dominant Latino Gaijin in Japan (April 8, 2010) and followed it up with Return to Japan to look at Rami-Chan (July 1, 2010) and Latino Milestones in the U.S. and Japan (September 1, 2010). Now with the baseball season in Japan being over for about a month or so, I wanted to close out the 2010 season by focusing on Alex Ramirez (PHOTO CREDIT: http://japanesebaseballcards.blogspot.com/).

Ramirez, or as he is affectionately known in Japan as Rami-Chan, has been one of the few Latino ballplayers in Japan to both be successful and have a long career in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB). Having just finished his 10th season in Japan, Ramirez batted .304 with career highs in homers and RBI's (49 and 129). In 566 at-bats, Ramirez had 172 hits (28 2B/0 3B/49 HR) with 98 strikeouts and 21 walks.

As I had highlighted in my post Ichiro and the 200 Hit Club in Japan from my Baseballism blogpage (up to this season) Ramirez was only one of three players to have 200 or more hits in a season (after this season there are five players). Ramirez is a two-time Central League MVP (2008 and 2009) who remains a force in the NPB.

So I decided to ask a few individuals who are in the know when it comes to the Japanese leagues on whether they believe Ramirez is the best Latino to play in Japan. I ran my query by Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times and
Patrick Newman of the NPBTracker.com website for their opinions through Twitter and here is what they had to say.

Jason Coskrey: Hmmm. It's hard not to put him at the top. With his numbers, among foreigners and it's Tuffy (Rhodes) and him. Longevity plays a role...Rami has 10 yrs here. But is he better than Alfonso Soriano or others who weren't here as long? NPB only, I put him at the top

Patrick Newman
: Probably. I think (Roberto) Petagine was a little better at his peak but Rami has lasted longer. Roberto Barbon has a case in some ways.

Ok, so here is where the road leads me to Latino ballplayers in Japan. I will be working on a few posts on Roberto Barbon who in the arrived in Japan from Cuba in the 1950's and is regarded by many as being the first Latino ballplayer in Japan. Roberto Petagine was a slugger who played in Japan from 1999 and 2004. In addition to these players, I will try to shed some light on some other Latino ballplayers that I have come across in my research. Look forward to bringing some new information to you during the next few months to come.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for Alex Ramirez's statistics page from the English NPB Website
- Click Here for the Japan Times sports webpage where you can read Japanese Baseball articles by Jason Coskrey among others
- Click Here to access NPBTracker.com for information on Baseball in Japan and around the world.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Felix Hernandez 2010 AL Cy Young Winner

It was announced today that Venezolano Felix Hernández is the 2010 American League Cy Young Award winner. The voters recognized that though Hernández finished the season with a 13-12 record he led the league (or was at the top of the league)in most pitching categories. The voters placed emphasis on performance over results since the Mariners had the worst offense in the league and failed to score enough runs during Hernández's starts to win the games he started. It is believed that his record would be different (and more like prior Cy Young Winners) if he had a team like the Yankees or Rays hitting behind him. Regardless if that is true or not, history has been set with Hernández winning the award with the lowest number of wins in a non-strike season (Fernando Valenzuela won the award in 1981 with a 13-7 record).

Hernández is the second Venezolano to win the Cy Young since Johan Santana won the award in 2004 and 2006. In total there have been seven Latinos to have win the award. Here is the list:

1969 Mike Cuellar (AL)(w/ Denny McClain)
1981 Fernando Valenzuela (NL)
1984 Willie Hernández (AL)
1997 Pedro Martínez (NL)
1999 Pedro Martínez (AL)
2000 Pedro Martínez (AL)
2004 Johan Santana (AL)
2005 Bartolo Colon (AL)
2006 Johan Santana (AL)
2010 Felix Hernández (AL)

The breakdown by country is as follows:
Dominican Republic 2
Venezuela 2
Puerto Rico 1
Mexico 1
Cuba 1

Hernández's Cy Young Award is sense of pride for all Venezolanos and I believe it will be front page on every newspaper in Venezuela. Congratulations to Felix Hernández on winning the Cy Young Award.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for the official BBWAA webpage listing the results of the 2010 AL Cy Young Award
- Click Here for the list of past Cy Young Award winners since 1956

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Neftali Feliz 2010 AL Novato Del Año

It was announced yesterday that closer for the American League Champion Texas Rangers Neftali Feliz has won the 2010 Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award. Neftali received 20 of 28 first-place votes for a total of 122 points (20-7-1). Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson finished second with 98 points (8-19-1) and Danny Valencia of the Minnesota Twins came in third with 12 points (0-1-9).

This marks the 18th Latino to win the Rookie of the Year Award with the first Latino being Venezuelan Luis Aparicio who won the award in 1956. Feliz is the 7th Dominican to win the award (prior winners were Hanley Ramírez, Albert Pujols, Rafael Furcal, Raúl Mondesí, Angel Berroa and Alfredo Griffin) and is the first pitcher to do so. Here is the breakdown of Rookie of the Year Award winners per country:

Dominican Republic 7
Puerto Rico 5
Cuba 2
Venezuela 2
Panama 1
Mexico 1

Here is the list of award winners:

2010 Neftali Feliz Texas Rangers (AL)
2008 Geovany Soto Chicago Cubs (NL)
2006 Hanley Ramirez Florida Marlins (NL)
2003 Angel Berroa Kansas City Royals (AL)
2001 Albert Pujols St. Louis Cardinals (NL)
2000 Rafael Furcal Atlanta Braves (NL)
1999 Carlos Beltran Kansas City Royals (AL)
1994 Raul Mondesi Los Angeles Dodgers (NL)
1990 Sandy Alomar Jr. Cleveland Indians (AL)
1987 Benito Santiago San Diego Padres (NL)
1986 Jose Canseco Oakland Athletics (AL)
1985 Ozzie Guillen Chicago White Sox (AL)
1981 Fernando Valenzuela Los Angeles Dodgers (NL)
1979 Alfredo Griffin Toronto Blue Jays (AL)
1967 Rod Carew Minnesota Twins (AL)
1964 Tony Oliva Minnesota Twins (AL)
1958 Orlando Cepeda San Francisco Giants (NL)
1956 Luis Aparicio Chicago White Sox (AL)

Mexican pitcher Jaime Garcia of the St. Louis Cardinals made a good showing for himself in the NL Rookie of the Year voting by coming in 3rd place behind winner Buster Posey and runner-up Jason Heyward.

Year after year, the young Latinos continue to establish themselves in the major leagues. I believe next year will be no different with the arrival of such Latinos as Jennry Mejia of the New York Mets and Jesus Montero of the New York Yankees. Pa'adelante hermanos.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for the list of the Rookie of the Year Award since 1947 from MLB.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

Latino World Series MVPs

When all was said and done in the 2010 World Series, Colombian native Edgar Renteria was chosen as the 2010 World Series MVP. Renteria batted .412 for the series (7 for 17) with two homers and six RBI. Couple his performance with his 1997 World Series heroics of delivering the winning hit for the Florida Marlins in the 11th inning against Cleveland Indians pitcher Charles Nagy and you have Renteria joining rarefied air.

Only four players in the history of the major leagues have ever had two World Series winning hits. The other three are Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra and Joe DiMaggio. To further illustrate how impressive his performance was this series, Renteria no three RBI games during the regular season and had TWO in the World Series. Renteria is also the fifth shortstop to win the World Series MVP (Bucky Dent 1978, Alan Trammell 1984, Derek Jeter 2000, David Eckstein 2006)

Renteria also joins a select few of Latinos to win the World Series MVP award. Renteria joins the following fraternity:

1971 Roberto Clemente
1973 Reggie Jackson
1977 Reggie Jackson
1981 Pedro Guerrero (w/Steve Garvey and Ron Cey)
1990 Jose Rijo
1997 Livan Hernandez
1999 Mariano Rivera
2004 Manny Ramirez
2007 Mike Lowell

In total, there have been nine latinos to win the award. There have been three Dominicans (Guerrero, Rijo, Ramirez), three Puerto Ricans (Clemente, Jackson, Lowell), one Cuban (Hernandez), one Panamanian (Rivera) and one Colombian (Renteria).

*** AUTHOR'S NOTE: For those of you who wonder why I include Reggie Jackson in this list, you need to visit one of my earliest posts 1st Latino Baseball Superstar where I quote Reggie Jackson as saying:

"They (Baseball) have no right to pass judgment on what I claim about my Latin heritage," said Jackson, whose middle name is Martinez. "I just don't run my mouth off about it."

*** AUTHOR'S NOTE: I originally posted that Mike Lowell was Cuban when in fact he was born in Puerto Rico to Cuban parents who were of Irish and Spanish ancestry. Thanks to Fernando Ramos for the heads up.

So there you go folks. Latinos keep placing their mark on the beautiful game of Baseball that we all love. Muchas gracias hermanos. Sigue pa'lante.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Anthony Castrovince's article Edgar Rings-eria! Series MVP is clutch again from MLB.com dated November 2, 2010
- Click Here for Carl Bialik's article Renteria: An Unlikely World Series MVP from WSJ.com dated November 3, 2010 for a more Sabermetric view on Renteria's MVP accomplishment
- Click Here for Richard Sandomir's article Who's a Latino Baseball Superstar from NYTimes.com dated August 26, 2005 for Reggie Jackson's comments on his Latino Heritage

Friday, October 29, 2010

Latinos are Placing Their Stamp on the World Series

All I can say after the first two games of the World Series is that the Latino bats are alive and swinging in the fall classic. Though the scoring tends to be a bit one sided with the Giants holding a 20-7 lead in runs scored, Latinos on both teams have been smoking the ball. Let's look at a few stats:

In total, Latino hitters in the first to games of the World Series are batting a combined .288 (17 for 59) with 15 RBI (of which 10 came with 2-outs). Half of those hits came in the form of extra base hits (XBH) with 7 doubles and 2 homeruns being belted out.

The Giants onslaught were led by Freddy Sanchez, Andres Torres, Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria. All four players combined to hit .344 (10 for 29) with 9 RBI (7 with 2-outs), 9 runs scored and 7 XBH (5 2B/2 HR). Not bad for a team who many (myself included) had said that they had very little offense. Not only are they are putting themselves on base, they are they driving in runs especially in the clutch with two outs.

On the Texas side, most of the offense came in game one. Still, players such as Elvis Andrus, VLadimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, Bengie Molina and Julio Borbon combined to hit .233 (7 for 30) with 6 RBI (3 with 2-outs) 5 runs scored with 2 doubles. Texas' offense seems to have slowed down considerably since the ALCS. I believe the key is to have Elvis Andrus get on base and to let him run wild. His 7 stolen bases in the AL playoffs were a main reason why the Rangers had chances to drive in runs. Andrus put himself in the position to score with his aggressive base running. That aggressiveness seems to have been capped somewhat.

Offense was not the only way that Latinos placed their stamp on the World Series, the Latino hurlers also pitched brilliantly. With the exception of San Francisco's Ramon Ramirez, who gave up 2 earned runs in 0.1 inning pitched in game 1, the Latinos in each team's bullpens have flawless. Alexi Ogando has pitched 2 scoreless innings while Santiago Casilla, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez and Guillermo Mota combined for 4 scoreless innings in 5 appearances.

So far so good for out Latino brothers in the World Series. We'll see if the success continues in Game 3 with the change of venue to the Ballpark at Arlington, Texas. Sigue dando palos y tirando la candela hermanos.


Carlos González Ganador Premio Aparicio

It was announced today that Carlos González of the Colorado Rockies was named the 2010 Luis Aparico Award winner. The award is given out to the best Venezuelan ballplayer in MLB. The votes are submitted by sports writers across Venezuela. 

The award is named after Baseball Hall of Famer Luis Aparicio (HOF 1984) who holds the honor of being the only Venezuelan to currently be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Since it's inception in 2004 the award has only been won by a player multiple times (Johan Santana in 2004 and 2006). Here are the previous years award winners:

2004 Johan Santana SP
2005 Miguel Cabrera LF
2006 Johan Santana SP
2007 Magglio Ordoñez RF
2008 Francisco Rodriguez RP
2009 Félix Hernández SP

This year's award was decided between Carlos González, Miguel Cabrera and Félix Hernández. Each player received votes for up to a total of 100 points. Here was the breakdown of the voting:

González (471 points)
Cabrera (438 points)
Hernández (379 points)

González's 2010 campaign was one of a breakout nature. González was a Triple Crown candidate who won the National League Batting title with an average of .336 with 34 HRs and 117 RBI. He had a total of 197 hits (34 2B/9 3B/34 HR) 26 SB (34 attempts) with 135K's and 40 walks and an OPS of .974 (.376 OBP/.598 SLG). González has put himself in a position to become a future superstar in MLB.

Felicidades en gainer el premio Aparicio.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for the article Reconocido Como El Mejor Venezolano en G.L. from MLB.com
- Click Here for Carlos González's season statistics from MLB.com

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Latinos in the 2010 World Series

Latinos are well represented on the two teams that are playing in the World Series. In total there are 18 out of 50 players on the World Series rosters that are Latino or of Latino descent. The breakdown is as follows:

Dominican Republic 9
Puerto Rico 3
Venezuela 3
Mexico 3

Here is the breakdown by team:
San Francisco Giants
Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic)
Javier Lopez (Puerto Rico)
Guillermo Mota (Dominican Republic)
Sergio Romo (Mexican Descent from California)
Ramon Ramirez (Dominican Republic)
Freddy Sanchez (Mexican Descent from California)
Johnathan Sanchez (Puerto Rico)
Pablo Sandoval (Venezuela)
Andres Torres (Puerto Rico)
Juan Uribe (Dominican Republic)

Texas Rangers
Elvis Andrus (Venezuela)
Julio Borbon (Dominican Republic via Mississippi)
Jorge Cantu (Mexico)
Nelson Cruz (Dominican Republic)
Neftali Feliz (Dominican Republic)
Vladimir Guerrero (Dominican Republic)
Bengie Molina (Puerto Rico)
Alexi Ogando (Dominican Republic)

We'll see how these 17 players do by the end of the World Series.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"El Toro" Fernando Valenzuela

I just finished watching the latest ESPN 30 for 30 Fernando Nation directed by Cruz Angeles and have to say that I was thoroughly impressed. I've had some experience with the situation at Chavez Ravine (the current location of Dodger Stadium) during the 1940s and 1950s due to my graduate studies in Urban History. So I was knowledgable on part of the social issues that were in place by the time that Fernando Valenzuela debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1981. Watching the documentary put it in full color and HD the effect that Valenzuela had not only on Baseball in 1981 but more importantly the positive effect that one man can have on the Latino population the city of Los Angeles. Given the fact that Valenzuela came from a very rural part of Mexico and thrown head-first into the bright lights of Los Angeles with nary a private moment outside of the ballpark I would say that Valenzuela succeeded. Succeed he did.

The era of Fernandomania was a time of pitching dominance that hadn't been seen in Los Angeles since the glory years of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. In the strike shortened season of 1981, Valenzuela started the season at 8-0 with five shutouts, seven complete games of which the first five were in a row and the one game not completed, Valenzuela pitched the first nine innings of a ten inning game. His ERA over that stretch was 0.50 with 73 strikeouts with only 17 walks in 72 innings pitched. Add this to Valenzuela's 17 2/3 shutout innings of relief over the course of ten games during the stretch run in 1980 to the tune of a 2-0 record with a save. The Dodgers rode the 13-7 Valenzuela straight to a World Series title with a four game to two victory over the New York Yankees. Valenzuela's performance of a league leading 192.1 innings pitched (also a league leading) 180 strikeouts and 61 walks and 8 shoutouts (a Rookie record) earning him both the National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards. Valenzuela has the distinction of being the first pitcher to win both awards during the same year.

The next seven seasons (1982-1987) saw Valenzuela average 16 wins (with 12 losses) with an ERA of 3.19 and a workhorse load of an average 266 innings pitched. The highest was 285 innings in 1982 and the lowest amount in that stretch was 257 in 1983. Valenzuela's name was etched next to Hall of Famer (and fellow screwballer) Carl Hubbell when during the 1986 All-Star game Valenzuela struck out five consecutive American League batters including three future Hall of Famers: Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson and George Brett, tying a record set Hubbell in the 1934 All-Star game (Hubble struck out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin).

His efficiency diminished during his final three seasons in Los Angeles (1988-1990) by compiling a 28-34 record with a 4.05 ERA with 295 strikeouts and 251 walks. The final bright spot of his Dodgers' career came on June 29, 1990, when Valenzuela threw a 6-0 no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals (on the same day that the Oakland Athletics' Dave Stewart threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays). After his release by the Dodgers during the Spring Training of 1991, Valenzuela spent the better part of six seasons with five different teams before he retired in 1997.

In total, Valenzuela finished with a 173-153 record and a career ERA of 3.54 with 113 complete games in 453 total games. Watching the footage of the fans packing the stadiums both at home and on the road for Valenzuela's starts reminded me of the energy and crowds that Stephen Strausberg starts drew early this season. I don't believe that Valenzuela will ever be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown. But he will always be deemed a hero and an inspiration to Mexican and all Latinos who follow the game of Baseball.


For Further Reading
- Click Here to access the Fernando Valenzuela statistics page from BaseballReference.com
- Click Here to read Jorge Martin's article dated Aug 18, 2006 titled 25 Years After Fernandomania from MLB.com

Juan Miranda's Chances in MLB

A few hours ago on Twitter (yes folks, I am on Twitter SiscoKid027 in case you want to look me up) I saw something of a suggestion by blogger TheYankeeU that Jason Giambi could possibly return to the New York Yankees to fill the role that Lance Berkman will inevitably leave behind. I asked him whether Juan Miranda could be a viable younger and cheaper option for the Yankees to consider instead of Giambi. He felt that Miranda wasn't MLB material. Fair enough but I decided to look into Miranda's stats to see if maybe he would be a career AAA player or a diamond in the rough.

Miranda is a Cuban born, Dominican nationalized player who was signed by the Yankees as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He spent 2007 in between the A+ Florida State League Tampa Yankees and the AA Eastern League Trenton Thunder. Since 2008, Miranda has mainly played with the AAA International League Scranton/Wilks Barre Yankees with a few stops with the parent team. For his minor league career, Miranda has batted .281 with 63HRs and 273 RBI in 423 games. His OPS was .845 (.367 OBP/.478 SLG) and his strike out to walk ratio was almost 1.5 to 1 (357-195). His numbers while with the New York Yankees break down like so: in 83 at-bats, Miranda batted .253 with 4 HRs and 14 RBI. His OPS was .788 (.367 OBP/.458 SLG). Miranda struck out 20 times while walking 9 times.

What does this actually mean. To me it shows that Miranda is a capable hitter in AAA. I don't think that the brief times that he has spent with the parent club can be a fair assessment of his abilities. With Mark Teixiera signed for another six years, Miranda's time with the parent club might be in the role of a part-time DH. With Jorge Posada's skills being less and less what they were, the grumblings from Yankeeland seem to suggest that for the 2011 season he will platoon behind the plate with prospect Jesus Montero and take more and more at-bats as the DH. Can Miranda be productive? Possibly. Will he get the chance with the Yankees? Probably not. A change of scenery could possibly help. Maybe the example of Alex Ramirez (who plays for the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB) is something that Miranda can consider. A productive stint in Japan has been known to increase the value of a player in MLB and in the case of Ramirez lead to a fruitful career in Japan (Does Cecil Fielder ring a bell?).

Miranda will be playing in the Dominican Winter Leagues with the Tigeres del Licey and hopefully he can put together a productive campaign in the Dominican to help his chances in the pros. I'll check back on him during the season.

For Further Reading
- Click Here for Juan Miranda's statistics page from TheBaseballCube.com
- Click Here for the press release on Miranda's signing with the Yankees in 2006 from ESPN.com

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Latino Heritage Month and MLB

In honor of Latino Heritage Month I wanted to post the link to Jesse Sanchez's recent article Latinos have come a long way in baseball which is located on the MLB.com page. Give it a read.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Latino Milestones in the U.S. and Japan

Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals and Alex Ramirez of the Yomiyuri Tokyo Giants both had big weeks in their respective leagues. Both players continued to assault the record books and will eventually leave their names notched near the top due to their accomplishments. Let's start with Pujols.

Albert Pujols
With his blast during the 4th inning of an 11-10 loss to the Washington Nationals on August 26th Albert Pujols joined the 400 homerun club. In doing so at the age of 30 years 222 days, Pujols became the third youngest player in the history of Major League Baseball to achieve the milestone trailing only Alex Rodriguez (29 years 316 days) and Ken Griffey Jr. (30 years 141 days). Even more amazing was that Pujols reached the 400 homerun mark during his 10th season while Rodriguez and Griffey Jr both reached the 400 homerun mark during their 12th season. for his career with the Cardinals, Pujols has a .332 batting average with 401 homers and 1207 RBI. Where the discussion used to be that it wasn't if Griffey and/or Rodriguez would reach and surpass Aaron (and now Bonds) but I think the discussion has turned towards Pujols and his assault on Baseball homerun record.

Alex Ramirez
With his three-run homer in the first inning of a 10-4 win over the Chunichi Dragons on August 26th, Alex Ramirez became the first player in the history of the Nippon Baseball League to record eight consecutive 100+ RBI seasons. In doing so, Ramirez passed Japanese Baseball legend Sadaharu Oh who achieved the prior mark of nine straight 100+ RBI seasons from 1963-1969. The homerun also gave Ramirez 40 homers in a season for the third time in his career in Japan. For his career in Japan, Ramirez has a .304 batting average with 329 Homers and 1088 RBI. (Photo Credit KYODO PHOTO)

Our Latino brothers are showing that they can dominate the game on opposite ends of the earth. Keep bashing and keep winning hermanos.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for the MLB.com article on Albert Pujols hitting his 400th career homer by Matthew Leach
- Click Here to access Albert Pujols' career stats from Baseball-Reference.com
- Click Here to access the Japan Times article by Jason Coskrey telling of Alex Ramirez surpassing Sadaharu Oh consecutive 100+ RBI season record
- Click Here to access Alex Ramirez's career stats from the Nippon Baseball League website

Thursday, August 5, 2010

More Latino Milestones

Keeping with the theme of a few of the last posts, here are a few Latino milestones of note in MLB.

- Ivan Rodriguez Joins the 300 Homerun Club for Catchers

With his second homer of the season coming against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park, Ivan Rodriguez joined a select club. In registering his 300th career homerun as a catcher, Rodriguez joins Hall of Famers Carlton Fisk, Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra and future Hall of Famer Mike Piazza.

Rodriguez currently has a career .298 batting average with 2783 hits (563 2B 51 3B 307 HR) and 1294 RBI. Rodriguez has a career .802 OPS (.353 OBP% .468 SLG%). He has 1422 K's, 497 BB and 127 stolen bases. This doesn't even take into account that Rodriguez is one of the best defensive catchers of not only our generation but of all time.

During a current 20-year career, Rodriguez has caught 2358 games while playing a total of only 8 games at both 1st and 2nd bases. He is prolific at throwing runners out that try to steal on him by throwing out an amazing 46% of all runners (754 allowed 638 caught stealing). By comparison, Bench threw out 44% of runners (610 allowed 444 caught stealing), Fisk threw out 34% (1302 allowed 665 caught stealing) and Berra threw out 47% (428 allowed 384 caught stealing).

I believe that it is only a matter of time before Ivan Rodriguez joins his fellow 300 homerun club in Cooperstown.

- Alex Rodriguez Joins the 600 Homerun Club

Alex Rodriguez with his 1st inning homerun off of Shawn Marcum of the Toronto Blue Jays became the 7th member of the 600 homerun club. In doing so, he became the youngest player to do so (at the age of 35) and is the second Latino to reach the milestone (Sammy Sosa 609) . Rodriguez joins the following players in the club:

Barry Bonds 762
Hank Aaron 755 (HOF)
Babe Ruth 714 (HOF)
Willie Mays 660 (HOF)
Ken Griffey Jr. 630
Sammy Sosa 609

Under normal circumstances A-Rod's achievement would be considered a free pass into Cooperstown but his admission to using performance enhancing drugs (PED's) during the 2001-2003 seasons puts his enshrinement in jeopardy. No doubt many baseball writers, who hold the power of enshrinement into Cooperstown with their vote, will vote to keep Rodriguez out. But I believe that a telling aspect to his career will be how current Hall of Famers see his accomplishment.

Hank Aaron, who some believe is still the Home Run King of MLB , had the following to say about Rodriguez's 600th homerun:

"When you reach that plateau, no matter where it is, whether you're playing in the Majors or the Minors, it's a tremendous accomplishment," Aaron said. "It means an awful lot to whoever reaches this achievement."

When asked about Rodriguez's achievement in the era of PED's, smaller parks and diluted pitching staffs due to expansion, Aaron had the following statements:

"It really doesn't matter what kind of asterisk you put by it -- 600 homers is something special," Aaron said. "It's been so long since I reached that mark, I really don't remember how I felt. But I'm sure I was excited, probably even more than Alex because there weren't as many people who had done it before."

Others were not as positive towards Rodriguez as Aaron is. Here are a few more comments from Ryne Sandberg, Ozzie Smith, and Gary Carter:

Sandberg: "That's a lot of home runs," Ryne Sandberg said. "It's really something for anybody who does that. It's a small group. And he joins that group. But that's all I've got to say about it."

Smith: "Basically, there will always be questions, always be doubts, whether the home runs were legitimate," Ozzie Smith said. "That's it in a nutshell. He came up in an era when everyone used. So it's very questionable."

Carter: "I think it's great, but obviously, he'll always have hanging over his head the allegations about the drugs he took," Gary Carter said. "In any event, he's one of those kids who had the tag of 'superstar' on him when he was drafted, and he became a superstar. So he'll always be recognized as a great player. But 600, that's an incredible milestone. Not too many players have gotten there. And if he stays healthy, there's a chance he might one day be the all-time home run guy. We'll see."

Time will tell how Alex Rodriguez is seen five years from the time he takes his last at-bat. Being under contract to the New York Yankees until 2017 that puts him eligible for the Hall of Fame in the year 2022. Who knows how the steroid era will be seen by then. Like I said, only time will tell.


For Further Reading
- Click Here for Mark Bowman's article named Aaron Impressed by A-Rod's Milestone from MLB.com
- Click Here for Barry M. Bloom's article named Hall of Famers Weigh in on A-Rod from MLB.com
- Click Here for an Interactive Timeline Amanda Cox and Kevin Quealy on the seven members of the 600-Homerun club from The New York Times.com

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ozzie Guillen: Right, Wrong or Just Misunderstood

ESPN Chicago reported on Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's comments about how he perceives that Latino players are at an disadvantage when compared to the Asian players who come to play in the United States. Here are some of his comments:

"Very bad. I say, why do we have Japanese interpreters and we don't have a Spanish one. I always say that. Why do they have that privilege and we don't?" Guillen said Sunday before Chicago played the Oakland Athletics. "Don't take this wrong, but they take advantage of us. We bring a Japanese player and they are very good and they bring all these privileges to them. We bring a Dominican kid ... go to the minor leagues, good luck. Good luck. And it's always going to be like that. It's never going to change. But that's the way it is."

Guillen, who is from Venezuela, said when he went to see his son, Oney, in Class-A, the team had a translator for a Korean prospect who "made more money than the players."

"And we had 17 Latinos and you know who the interpreter was? Oney. Why is that? Because we have Latino coaches? Because here he is? Why? I don't have the answer," Guillen said. "We're in the United States, we don't have to bring any coaches that speak Spanish to help anybody. You choose to come to this country and you better speak English.

"It's just not the White Sox, it's baseball," he added. "We have a pitching coach that is Latino, but the pitching coach can't talk about hitting with a Latino guy and that's the way it is and we have to overcome all those [obstacles]. You know why? Because we're hungry, we grow up the right way, we come here to compete."

Author of Playing America's Game: Baseball, Latinos, and the Color Line (University of California Press, 2007) Adrian Burgos Jr., had commented on his book's page on Facebook asked whether or not Guillen's comments were a case of Ozzie being Ozzie or is he hitting on a systemic flaw in MLB practices? Here is how I responded:

I found similarities in what Ozzie said to how foreign players are treated in Japan compared to the Japanese players. The gaijin get interpreters and most times the players are paid more than the Japanese players in the league. You Gotta Have Wa (Vintage Departures 2nd Edition, 2009) by Robert Whiting highlights many examples of this occurrance.

I'm really not sure which way to take his argument. If there were as many Asian players as there were Latino players I'd be more open to agreeing with him. I guess teams save money by utilizing those bilingual Latino players as interpreters rather than hiring personel that will only translate. If the Latino players were offered that luxury when they first entered the league as the Asian players have then I would see no point of Ozzie's complaints. But we know how hard those first Latinos, especially the dark skinned ones had it trying to acclimate to a society that treated them badly on numerous fronts. The question is this: If there is a problem, what can be done to solve it without alienating a group of players.

The other dimension to this that many of the Asian players are professionals that played in established leagues before coming over to the majors and are paid more money than the Latino prospects. A worldwide draft would help to level the playing and paying field. Whether that happens or not remains to be seen.

On ESPN's Outside the Lines, the subject that Guillen brings up and the comments I made was covered in detail by group discussion. Among those involved were Sankei Sports MLB writer Masa Niwa, former MLB and NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball League) manager Bobby Valentine, former MLB and NPB player Eduardo Perez and Senior ESPN writer Jorge Arangure Jr. Click here to see the footage of the discussion. ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian also gives his perspective on Guillen's comments. Click here to see Kurjian's comments.

Guillen has now tried to backtrack somewhat on what he said by saying that his comments were taken out of context. I think the situation with his comments is similar to Torii Hunter's comments earlier this year about Latino Players compared to African American players. Without re-hashing what was said by Hunter, I believe that his comments weren't too far off the mark but it was how he said them. Same thing with Guillen.

Ozzie Guillen also went into the subject of performance enhancing drugs (PED's) in Baseball and how it related directly to Latino players. Here I believe he was more on the mark with his comments as how it described why players took these drugs in their home countries:

"It's somebody behind the scene making money out of those kids and telling them to take something they're not supposed to," Guillen said. "If you tell me, you take this ... you're going to be Vladimir Guerrero, you're going to be Miguel Cabrera, you're going to be this guy ... I'll do it. Because I have seven brothers that sleep in the same room. I have to take care of my mother, my dad. ... Out of this I'm going to make money to make them better."

I think he hits the nail directly on the head here. There is no excuse for the taking of the drugs but the reason is a valid one. Where Guillen screws up is by saying that he is the only one who is trying to educate the Latino players on the dangers of using PED's. For that he got firmly rebuked by MLB. Guillen is someone who will always be outspoken and shooting from the hip with his comments. Most times he is on the mark with his sentiment just not with the choice of words. Should he change? I don't think so. Simply put he is who he is.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jorge Posada Reaches Milestones Part II

As I posted on June 15, 2010 Jorge Posada had joined an exclusive club among catchers. With his two-homerun day during the inter-league series with the Houston Astros, Posada joined Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Carlton Fisk and future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez as the only catchers in MLB history to hit 250 home runs, 1,500 hits and 350 doubles over the course of their career. It is time to add another statistic to that feat.

On July 23rd against the Kansas City Royals, Posada ripped an RBI double down the line. That RBI was the 1,000th RBI for Posada's career. Once again, this places Posada with Bench, Carter, Fisk and Rodriguez as the only catchers who have 250 home runs, 1,500 hits, 350 doubles and 1,000 runs batted in over the course of their career. In addition, Posada became only the 12th New York Yankees player to reach the 1,000 RBI plateau. Posada is further cementing his case for Hall of Fame enshrinement once he decides to hang up his chest protector and mask.

Felicidades Jorge. Keep it up.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Tim Britton's article on MLB.com about Posada reaching 1,000 RBI
- Click Here for my June 15, 2010 post about Posada joining Bench, Carter, Fisk and Rodriguez in the 250 HR, 1500 Hits and 350 2B Club

Matt Garza Joins the No-Hit List

Congratulations to Tampa's Matt Garza on his 5-0 no-hit victory against the Detroit Tigers. Garza, a Mexican-American from, Selma California threw the first no-no in the history of the Tampa Bay franchise (Only the New York Mets and San Diego Padres remain as franchises that have never had a no-hitter thrown by one of their pitchers). Garza's performance was simply dominant. (Photo Credit Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Needing 120 pitches to complete his no-hitter, Garza kept the Tigers' hitters on the defensive by just throwing heat. 101 of his 120 pitches were fastballs. Garza faced the minimum 27 batters with his only walk being erased in a double play during the top of the 6th inning. For the game, Garza struck out six Tigers while only walking one. The game was reminiscent of the Chicago Cubs/Chicago White Sox matchup of earlier this season when dual no-hitters were being thrown. Both Garza and Tigers starter Max Scherzer were dueling each other with no-hitters until the bottom of the 6th when Matt Joyce delivered a Grand Slam to put the Rays up 4-0.

Garza's performance seemed to swing the pendulum of the mystical no-hitter in the favor of the Rays. Since the inaugural season of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the franchise has been no-hit four times with two perfect games and a ho-hitter being thrown against them in the 2009-2010 calendar year. Derek Lowe (2002), Mark Buehrle (2009), Dallas Braden and Edwin Jackson (both in 2010) all no-hit the Rays, with Buehrle and Braden pitching perfect games; Braden and Jackson no-hit the Rays this season. The Rays also became the first team to be involved in three official no-hitters in one season since 1917, when the Browns no-hit the White Sox twice, and the White Sox no-hit the Browns once.

Felicidades hermano. Welcome to the club of Latino's that have thrown no-hitters in MLB.

For Further Reading:
- Click Here for my prior post on Latinos that have thrown no-hitters in MLB history
- Click Here for the box score of yesterday's Rays-Tigers game
- Click Here for Bill Chastain's article on MLB.com about Garza's no-hitter

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Latinos in the All-Star Game

Latinos are well represented in the 81st annual All-Star game. In total there are 25 Latinos on the All-Star Roster (this includes the players that have been replaced due to injury. Those are in parenthesis). The breakdown is as follows:

Dominican Republic 16 (Jose Reyes, Yovani Gallardo)
Venezuela 4 (Victor Martinez)
Mexico 3
Puerto Rico 1
Panama 1 (Mariano Rivera)

Of the 20 starters, 6 are Latinos (Robinson Cano, David Ortiz, Yadier Molina, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and Ubaldo Jimenez).

Ubaldo Jimenez is only the 3rd Dominican pitcher to start the All-Star game. Surprisingly, Juan Marichal is not one of the other two. Mario Soto started the game as a member of the Cincinnati Reds in 1983 and Pedro Martinez started the game as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 1999.

Though in the end, Robinson Cano's sacrifice fly and RBI was the only run the American League would generate against the amazing pitching of the National League and an amazing play by the Chicago Cubs' Marlon Byrd in throwing Boston's David Ortiz out in 2nd on the bottom of the 9th, it was good to see our Latino brothers well represented in the Mid-Summer Classic.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Return to Japan to look at Rami-Chan

I've decided to take a trip back to the "Land of the Rising Sun" (well figuratively, not literally, LOL) to take another look at arguably the best Latino hitter in Japanese Baseball history: Alex Ramirez. In a prior post on April 8, 2010, I said that Ramirez has placed himself in a position to make history in Japan. As it is, he is the 2-time defending Central League MVP and this season he is working on his 3rd straight. (Photo Credit Kyodo Photo)

As of June 30, 2010, Ramirez is batting .280 with 26 Hr, 70 RBI and an OPS of .915 (.599 SLG/.316 OBP) in 71 games played. Ramirez is the 2nd foreign player to hit 20 or more homers for 10 consecutive years (Tuffy Rhodes is the 1st with 307 homers in Japan). Ramirez has also surpassed the 300 HR and 1000 RBI plateau for his career in Japan.

As Ramirez continues to climb the ranks of the NPB record books, he continues to cement himself as one of the best Latino players, if not the best Latino player in Japanese Baseball history. I'll keep you guys posted as the NPB season progress


For Further Reading
- Click Here for Alex Ramirez's webpage
- Click Here for the English Language Japan Times Online Article dated June 30, 2010 for Ramirez's 3-homerun game against the Hiroshima Carp
- Click Here for Jason Coskrey's article dated June 23, 2010 called Consistent Ramirez Reaches a Milestone
- Click Here for the official Nippon Professional Baseball League 2010 season webpage in English with up to date scores and statistics

Saturday, June 26, 2010

¿Que La Paso a Carlos Zambrano?

It feels like deja-vu that I am writing this kind of post about a Cubs player. Back in March I wrote about what has happened to Alfonso Soriano (Click here to see that posting). This season has been a very hectic and disappointing season for Carlos Zambrano which came to a head with his dugout temper tantrum against Derreck Lee and the Chicago Cubs bench. In case you haven't seen the video, click here to see it on MLB.com. Zambrano felt as if Derreck Lee had not properly played a ball that went down the first base line. What Zambrano fails to realize is that after the next player got on base, he was the one who served up the long ball to Carlos Quentin. After his outburst left teammates red in the face and wet from the Gatorade container he tipped over, Zambrano was sent home by manager Lou Piniella and was later suspended indefinitely. The following comments were made Chicago Cubs Genereal Manager Ted Hendry after the game:

"His conduct was not acceptable, his actions toward his teammates and staff were not acceptable. He will not be at the ballpark [Saturday]. We'll play with 24 [players]. From my point of view, we'll play with 24 before we tolerate that kind of behavior."

It is how I like to say about Zambrano's countryman Ozzie Guillen, when you are winning and producing, the tamtrums and comments are allowed. In Zambrano's case, from 2003-2008, he was 91-51 with a 3.39 ERA in 193 games started with 8 complete games and 3 shutouts. In 1266 innings pitched Zambrano gave up 1053 hits, walked 549 and recorded 1075K's for a WHIP of 1.265. But the last two seasons have been different.

Due to injuries and ineffectiveness, Zambrano has a 12-13 record with a 4.24 ERA in 37 games started (13 relief appearances this season) with 1 complete game and 1 shutout. In 225 innings pitched Zambrano gave up 224 hits, walked 103 and recorded 205K's for a WHIP of 1.453. His lack of performance got him a demotion to the bullpen for the majority of the first half of this season and now his outburst got him a full demotion from the team and maybe out of Chicago.

Cubs manager Lou Piniella made the following comments regarding Zambrano:

"That's something that can't be tolerated. He came in after he got the third out and he started yelling and screaming. It was embarrassing. ... There's no excuse for this, none at all, no excuse whatsoever.

"I'm embarrassed, he should be embarrassed. He's going to have to apologize to his teammates, that's for darn sure. We've got our share of problems, we don't need those. I sent him home, yes."

How many apologies can Zambrano make to his teammates before they get fully tired of his act. Only time will tell. We'll see how this plays out. All I can say is that Zambrano is a very good pitcher with strong desire and emotion that has let said emotions get the better of him and has derailed his career. Again, only time will tell on how this will end up for Zambrano.


For Further Reading:
- Click here for Paul Sullivan's article on Chicagobreakngsports.com regarding the Zambrano dugout outburst.
- Click here for video footage of Cubs GM Ted Hendry talking about Zambrano's suspension.
- Click here to access Carlos Zambrano's statistics on Baseballreference.com.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Edwin Rodriguez The 1st Puerto Rican Manager in MLB

With the firing of Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez this morning, his replacement makes history. Edwin Rodriguez becomes the 1st Puerto Rican manager in the Majors after taking over the reins of the Florida Marlins with the dismissal of Fredi Gonzalez after a disappointing (to team owner Jeffrey Loria) 34-36 record. It was believed (again by Jeffrey Loria) that the Marlins were a playoff caliber team. The situation was compounded by a benching of superstar Hanley Ramirez and the ensuing public dispute between Gonzalez and Ramirez. (Photo Credit: Andres Leighton/AP Photo)

Rodriguez, in his eighth season in the Marlins organization, managed their AAA affiliate the New Orleans Zephers for the past season and a half. Rodriguez had spent two years as manager of Single-A Greensboro (2007-08), two as manager of the Gulf Coast League Marlins (2005-06), and two as hitting coach for Double-A Carolina (2003-04). Rodriguez also was part of the Tampa Bay organization, managing Rookie-level Princeton for three seasons (2000-02) and Class A Hudson Valley for one (1999). He played parts of three seasons with the Yankees and Padres from 1982-85. Rodriguez joins Juan Samuel as the 2nd Latino to be hired as a major league manager (Samuel is the interim manager for the Baltimore Orioles).

In terms of the departing Gonzalez, he has the most wins of any manager in Marlins history with an overall record of 276-279. After an overachieving 2008 season where the Marlins finished in 2nd place in the NL East with an 84-77 record, he was named The Sporting News' Manager of the Year.

As much as I hate to see a Latino lose his job, I'm glad to see that another one was chosen to right the ship. Felicidades Edwin, good luck.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jorge Posada Reaches Milestones

During the inter-league series between the Yankees and the Houston Astros this past weekend, Puerto Rican Jorge Posada blasted his 250th and 251st career homeruns of which both were Grand Slams. What is more impressive is that with his 2 Salamis that occurred in consecutive at-bats across two games, is that he becomes the 1st Yankee to do so since fellow Yankees catcher Bill Dickey did so in 1936. I find that especially impressive since I would have garnered a guess that Don Mattingly would have hit consecutive grand slams in that magical season on 1987 when Donnie Baseball slugged 6 grand slams for the season. But that is not all in terms of historical accomplishments for Posada.

Posada is now one of only five catchers to amass 250 home runs, 1,500 hits and 350 doubles over the course of a career. Who are the others four? Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, Carlton Fisk and Ivan Rodriguez. That puts Posada in elite company since Bench, Carter and Fisk are already enshrined in Cooperstown and the best defensive catcher in the last 15 years (and not much of a slouch at-bat either) Rodriguez will join them five years after he decides to hang up his chest protector and mask.

What separates Posada from his fellow catchers on the list? He is the only one of the five to reach all that plateau while winning four World Series (1998, 1999, 2000, 2009)*** Note, Posada played 8 games for the Yankees in 1996 but was not on the post-season roster. The other four have won four World Series combined (Bench 1975, 1976 with the Cincinnati Reds, Carter 1986 with the New York Mets, Rodriguez 2003 with the Florida Marlins). Kind of makes the case for Jorge Posada to be inducted to the Hall of Fame a bit more convincing. Time will tell if he joins fellow Core Four members Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera in the Hall when they decide to end their illustrious careers.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Ubaldo Jimenez Is Chasing History

Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez is steadily chasing history during the 2010 baseball season. Currently he is 12-1 with a 1.16 ERA with 84 strikeouts, 34 walks and a WHIP of 0.98. As it is, Jimenez has been residing in rarefied air with his performance this season. As of his first 11 starts, he joined Hall of Famer Juan Marichal and Eddie Cicotte as the only pitchers to win 10 games in their first 11 starts and to have an ERA under 1.00. Marichal was 10-0 with a 0.80 ERA and Cicotti was 10-0 with a 0.95. Jimenez was 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA. Keep into consideration that Jimenez is pitching his home games in the high altitude of Denver, Colorado.

While Jimenez is visiting the rarefied air of the pitching immortals, he currently is on pace to match the ERA god of the modern era: Bob Gibson. in 1968, Gibson while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals compiled a 22-9 record with a 1.12 ERA in 34 starts and 304.2 innings. Gibson threw 28 complete games and 13 shutouts. He gave up 198 hits, 62 walks and 268 strikeouts.

By comparison, Jimenez has a 12-1 record with a 1.16 ERA in 13 starts and 87.1 innings. Jimenez has thrown 2 complete games and 2 shutouts. He has given up 52 hits, 29 walks and 78 strikeouts. Will he be able to catch Gibson? Time will tell. What I do know is, barring any major injury or collapse by Jimenez, that they National League Cy Young will not be won with just 16 wins as it was with last year. Jimenez has the opportunity to cement himself with other dominant Latino starters such as Johan Santana, Pedro Martinez, Mike Cuellar and Juan Marichal. We'll keep an eye on it to see how it goes.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

José Lima (1972-2010)

News outlets have reported that Dominican José Desiderio Rodriguez Lima aka "Lima Time" passed away today due to cardiac arrest at the age of 37. Lima, who was one of baseball's more colorful players, was 89-102 in 13 seasons having played with the Detroit Tigers (1994-1996, 2001-2002), Houston Astros (1997-2001), Kansas City Royals (2003, 2005), Los Angeles Dodgers (2004) and New York Mets (2006). Though Lima's last season in the majors was 2006 he continued to play winter ball in his native Domincian Republic, playing as recent as last winter with Las Aguilas Cibaeñas. He also played in the Mexican League for the Saraperos de Saltillo (2007), the Kia Tigers of the Korea Baseball Organization (2008) and the Long Beach Armada and Edmonton Capitals of the independent Golden Baseball League (2009).

Photo: José Lima celebrates after striking out a St. Louis Cardinals batter during Game 4 of the National League Division Series on Oct. 9, 2004. Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

Lima's best season was 1999 when he was selected to the All-Star Game while with the Houston Astros. Lima had a career high 21 wins with 10 losses and a 3.58 ERA with 246.1 innings pitched. Lima started 35 games of which he completed 3 of them giving up 256 hits, 44 walks, 187 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.218.

Lima's personality and zest for both the game and life will be surely be missed. May he still throw fastballs and dance and sing his mereguitos and bachatas in the afterlife. En paz descance hermano.

For Further Reading:
- Click here for the listing of José Lima's death on the Listin Diario's webpage
- Click here for the New York Times obituary for José Lima
- Click here for the MLB.com article reporting on José Lima's death
- Click here for some words regarding José Lima from some of his peers and friends throughout baseball
- Click here for a video tribute to José Lima

Friday, April 30, 2010

Magglio Ordoñez joins the Venezolano 2000 Hit club

With Magglio Ordoñez hitting his 2000th hit in the 4th inning against the Minnesota Twins on August 28, 2010 he became only the 6th Venezolano to reach that plateau. Ordoñez was able to accomplish this is 14 major league season. He joins the following Venezoloanos in the 2000 hit club (Bold denotes active player):

Omar Vizquel 2706 (22 Seasons)
Luis Aparicio 2677 (19 Seasons)
Andres Galarraga 2333 (19 Seasons)
Dave Concepcion 2326 (19 Seasons)
Bobby Abreu 2136 (15 Seasons)

Feicidades Magglio.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Latino No-Hitters

This past Saturday saw the first no-hitter of the season. Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies achieved this feat with a 5-0 win over the Atlanta Braves. While I was watching the celebration on the field, it got me thinking. I was wondering how many Latino pitchers have thrown a no-hitter. Latinos have been playing in the majors from very on; but Hall of Famer Juan Marichal threw the first no-no in 1963 (A 1-0 victory over the Houston Colt 45’s). In total, Latinos have thrown thirteen no-hitters of which only one was a perfect game (Dennis Martinez of the Montreal Expos in 1991 against the Los Angeles Dodgers). Here’s the list (The List was Updated July 28, 2010):

- Juan Marichal (San Francisco Giants) 1-0 vs. the Houston Colt 45’s June 15, 1963
- John Candelaria (Pittsburgh Pirates) 2-0 vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers August 8, 1976
- Juan Nieves (Milwaukee Brewers) 7-0 vs. the Baltimore Orioles April 15, 1987
- Fernando Valenzuela (Los Angeles Dodgers) 6-0 vs. the St. Louis Cardinals August 15, 1990
- Dennis Martinez (Montreal Expos) 2-0 vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers July 28, 1991
- Wilson Alvarez (Chicago White Sox) 7-0 vs. the Baltimore Orioles August 11, 1991
- Ramon Martinez (Los Angeles Dodgers) 7-0 vs. the Florida Marlins July 14, 1995
- Francisco Cordova/Ricardo Rincon (Pittsburgh Pirates) 3-0 10-Innings vs. the Houston Astros July 12, 1997
- Jose Jimenez (St. Louis Cardinals) 1-0 vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks June 25, 1999
- Anibal Sanchez (Florida Marlins) 2-0 vs. the Florida Marlins September 6, 2006
- Carlos Zambrano (Chicago Cubs) 5-0 vs. the Houston Astros September 14, 2008
- Johnathan Sanchez (San Francisco Giants) 7-0 vs. the San Diego Padres July 10, 2009
- Ubaldo Jimenez (Colorado Rockies) 4-0 vs. the Atlanta Braves April 17, 2010
- Matt Garza (Tampa Bay Rays) 5-0 vs. the Detroit Tigers July 27, 2010

There are other examples of no-hitters that were called after a long rain delay. Brothers Pascual and Melido Perez both threw shortened no-hitters. Pascual threw a 5-inning no-hitter on September 24, 1988 while Melido threw a 6-inning no-hitter on July 12, 1990. Two other Latinos have shared credit in a no hitter. Alejando Pena (in 1991) and Octavio Dotel (in 2003) both contributed one inning of work in the no-hitters they participated in.

The most disappointing example of a no-hitter that was lost by a Latino was on June 5, 1995. Pedro Martinez of the Montreal Expos threw nine perfect innings against the San Diego Padres. In the 10th inning, Martinez gave up a double. The Expos won the game 1-0.

Did I miss anyone? If so, let me know.

For Further Reading
- Click Here for the full list of No-Hitters ever thrown on MLB.com

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rami-chan, the Dominant Latino Gaijin in Japan

For today’s post, I’ve decided to take a little trip to the Land of the Rising Sun to profile the Latino player that is currently dominating the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) with the Yomiyuri Tokyo Giants of the Central League. Known to the Yomiyuri fans as Rami-chan, this individual is the current 2-time defending MVP of the Central League and helped the Giants to both a NPB championship (the first for the Giants since 2002) and the Asia Club Title. Entering his 10th year in the NPB, he has a chance to achieve a rare milestone in the NPB by attempting to win his third MVP award in a row. His name is Alex Ramirez, of Caracas, Venezuela (Photo Credit http://japanesebaseballcards.blogspot.com/) .

Ramirez was originally signed as a free-agent by the Cleveland Indians in 1991 and spent the better part of seven years within Cleveland’s minor league affiliates before making it to the home club for a brief stint in during the 1998 season. Ramirez played for the Indians in 1999 batting .299 in 97 at-bats with 29 Hits (6 2B, 1 3B, 3HR) with 18 RBI and 11 Runs scored. Ramirez also had an OPS of .801 (.327 OBP/.474 SLG). Ramirez split time between the Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates for the 2000 season (Ramirez was traded with Enrique Wilson for Wil Cordero). Ramirez batted a combined .247 in 227 at-bats with 56 Hits (11 2B, 2 3B, 9HR) with 30 RBI and 26 Runs scored. Ramirez’s OPS dropped to .716 (.285 OBP, .432 SLG) while struggling against National League pitching (.286 BA in AL/.209 BA in NL). Ramirez’s contract was sold to the Yakult Swallows of the Central League. Ramirez thrived in Japan since he was given the opportunity to play every day in a new environment.

From 2001 to 2007, Ramirez bloomed into a dominant offensive force with the Swallows. Ramirez won the league homerun title in 2003 with 40 and won two RBI titles with 124 in 2003 and 122 in 2007 and in 2007 Ramirez became the first Gaijin (foreign player) to have more than 200 hits in a season. During his years with Yakult, Ramirez averaged 26 HR and 92 RBI with a .304 BA. As with the baseball economics that we see here in the United States, Ramirez had reached superstar status and the Yakult Swallows were not able to keep him. Ramirez looked toward the Tokyo rival Giants for the 2008 season. Wayne Graczyk of the Japan Times noted in his December 16, 2007 article named Readers Chime in About Giants ‘Jinx’ that fans worried about the supposed "Giants jinx":

It seemingly afflicts foreign players who play in Japan for one team, then cannot reach agreement on a new contract, so they move to the Yomiuri Giants, only to find bad luck, coincidental injury or other problems that keep them from performing as they did for the old club.

Well, if there was a jinx Ramirez seemed immune to it. In the two years that Ramirez has been with the Giants, he’s won two straight Central League MVP titles, an RBI title with 125 in 2008 and a batting title with a .322 BA in 2009. As I stated earlier, Ramirez helped lead the Yomiyuri Giants to the NPB Championship during the 2009 Climax Series against the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of the Pacific League and led the Giants to an Asia Club against the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) champion Kia Tigers. For those of you who don’t know what the Asia Club Tournament is, it replaced the Asian Series (2005-2008) that pits the champions of the NPB, the KBO, Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL in Taiwan) and the Chinese National team in a round robin tournament.

I’m not sure how long Ramirez’s contract is with the Yomiyuri Giants, but he has the potential to hit for over 300 HR and more than 1000 RBI for his career in Japan. His productivity seems to not be waning since he is still hitting for power and is striking out less and less per year. Whether or not he ever decides to leave Japan for one last stint in the Majors is also unknown, but given the opportunity that Ramirez has fully capitalized in Japan, why would he? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Here are Ramirez’s career statistics in Japan:

Alex Ramirez's Yearly Statistics in Japan (Bold Denotes League Leader)

For Further Reading:
Grazcyk, Wayne Japan Pro Baseball Fan Handbook & Media Guide, 2010 (Available at www.japanball.com and www.yakyushop.com)

Whiting, Robert You Gotta Have Wa (New York, Vintage Books, 2009);

- Click here for the Alex Ramirez statistics page on Baseball-Cube.com
- Click Here for the English webpage of the Nippon Professional Baseball League
- Click Here for the Japanese Yomiyuri Tokyo Giants webpage
- Click Here for the Japanese Yakult Tokyo Swallows webpage
- Click Here for Wayne Graczyk's article listings on the Japan Times website
- Click Here for the Japan Times Baseball News Page in English
- Click Here for this cool blogpage about Japanese Baseball Cards
- Click Here for Jim Albright's Informative Japanese Baseball Page

- Click Here for Bob Bavasi's Awesome Guide to Japanese Baseball
- Click Here for Rob's Japanese Baseball Cards page in English

Monday, March 29, 2010

Latino Managers

With the current baseball season close to beginning, I just wanted to highlight how many Latinos have reached the position of Manager of a Major League franchise. Considering that Latinos have been playing professionally since the early days, the managerial ranks have been represented by Latinos. Here's a list of how the Latinos have been represented:

Miguel Angel "Mike" Gonzalez (Cuba) 1st Latino Manager
Preston Gomez (Cuba) 2nd
Octavio "Cookie" Rojas (Cuba) 3rd
Felipe Alou (DR) 4th 1st Latino All-Star Manager
Tony Perez (Cuba) 5th
Tony Pena (DR) 6th
Carlos Tosca (Cuba) 7th
Ozzie Guillen (Venezuela) 8th 1st Latino manager of a World Series Champion
Manny Elias Acta (DR) 9th
Fredi Jesus Gonzalez (Cuba) 10th

Honorable Mention Latino/Hispanic Heritage
Davey Lopes (Cape Verde)
Al Lopez (Spain)
Lou Pinella (Spain)
Tony LaRussa (Spain)

It is interesting to see how the choice of managers reflect the era in which certain Latino groups have been dominant. Where the first group of managers were from Cuba, with the closing of Cuba in the 1960's, the ranks were filled by more Dominican, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan players. What I do find strange that there has yet to be a Puerto Rican manager in the major leagues.

Maybe as a Catcher, Ivan Rodriguez has the best shot for a Boriqua to become a manager. It seems to me that his current position on the Washington Nationals is two fold: one as a player and second is a mentor and tutor to the younger players. Any other suggestions on who can reach the position of manager from current crop of Latino players? Feel free to comment and add to the discussion