Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Jose Fernandez is the 3rd Cuban born Rookie of the Year

It was announced yesterday that Cuban born José Fernandez of the Miami Marlins is the winner of the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year award. Fernandez was born in the city of Santa Clara, Cuba. In doing so, Fernandez has become the first Cuban born baseball player to win the National League Rookie of the Year and the third Cuban born player overall to win the Rookie of the Year award. Tony Oliva of the Minnesota Twins won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1964 and Jose Canseco of the Oakland Athletics won the American League Rookie of the Year award in 1986.

Fernandez won the award with 26 first place votes for a total of 142 points ahead of Los Angeles Dodgers rookie standout and fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig. In  28 starts, Fernandez went 12-6, with a 2.19 ERA in 172.2 innings pitched. Fernandez struck out 187 batters while only walking 58 and giving up 111 hits for a WHIP of 0.979 and an opposing hitters batting average of .182. His 2.19 ERA was second in the National League to the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw's 1.83 and his 9.75 K's per 9 innings the second best in the league behind A.J. Burnett of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Also according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
Fernandez Was Doc-Like: José Fernandez won the National League Rookie of the Year Award after a season in which he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA for a team that lost 100 games. And did we mention that Fernandez didn't turn 21 years old until July 31? His ERA was the lowest in a season by a pitcher younger than 22 who threw at least 150 innings since Dwight Gooden had a 1.53 ERA for the Mets in 1985, his second season in the major leagues.
It is amazing to think that at the age of 14, Fernandez had been jailed with murderers and other hardened criminals for being a potential defector. Fernandez had attempted to defect to the United States three times amid dangerous swells and hazardous conditions before finally reaching the shores of Mexico. Reaching Mexico wasn't a given to not being returned to Cuba. Unlike here in the United States where if a defector reaches shore they can stay (if they are caught on the water they are returned), Mexico can deport and defectors back to their home country whether on land or water. A series of bus trips and then a trip across the Mexico-U.S. border Fernandez finally reached the United States. To read more of Fernandez's life in Cuba, his journey to make it to the United States and his attempts to achieve his dreams of becoming a professional Baseball player, read the following article: From Cuba With Heat: Marlins rookie pitcher Jose Fernandez on his journey from Cuban defector to MLB All-Star by Jordan Conn from Grantland.com dated July 16, 2013.

The rise of such Cuban superstars as José Fernandez, Yasiel Puig and Yoenis Cespedes among others leads me to believe that we will soon find ourselves with a Cuban Baseball renaissance in the MLB. Which is a double edged sword of sorts. As we've seen recently, a number of Cuban defectors have signed contracts with Major league teams which will only add to the number of those willing to risk their lives by leaving Cuba through defection and by those leaving their teams in international play seeking asylum. Even as the Cuban government recently changed the rules concerning whether a Cuban athlete can play for foreign leagues I don't see things changing on the side of the United States and their embargo on Cuba while the Castro regime is still in power in Cuba.

Regardless of the road that Cuban-U.S. baseball relations takes, talented players like Jose Fernandez will continue to try and find their piece of the "American Dream". So far that's translated into the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year. Felicidades José.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Jose Fernandez's career statistics on Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access the ESPN/Associated Press article Cuba: Athletes can sign overseas dated September 27, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Should Manny Ramirez Do

It was announced earlier today that Manny Ramirez was released from his minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. So this leaves Ramirez at the age of 41 without a team to play with. What should he do? Do what other ballplayers that are deemed to be over the hill here in the United States. Follow the example of Bob Horner and go play in Japan.

No knock on the Nippon Professional Baseball league (NPB) but I feel that the Japanese fans would go nuts over Manny Ramirez similar to how the Taiwanese fans were when Manny was playing for the EDA Rhinos of the CPBL earlier this year. I'm sure that some team over in the NPB needs a power bat for the stretch run.

Maybe Manny just needs to forget playing in the majors. Play for the sake of playing and Japan is more than a suitable place to play Baseball. Plus winter ball is right around the corner. I'm sure Manny is playing ball in the Dominican League like he did last season with Las Aguilas del Cibao. But who can tell what Manny Ramirez will ever do. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sisco Kid

****AUTHOR'S NOTE: Was just told by Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker that the player aquisition deadline has expired in Japan for this season. There goes that idea. ;)

Just a little bit of the excitement Manny can bring with the long ball. He did this last season in the first pitch he saw in Winter Ball:

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Alfonso Soriano Has 2000 Worldwide Hits

Suzyn Waldman made it known during the Yankees post game show that the Japanese media was surrounding Alfonso Soriano. When she approached Ichiro Suzuki, she was told that Soriano with his 2-3 performance today places him at 1,999 hits in the MLB. In addition, Soriano had two hits during his brief stint in Japan which has him at 2,001 hits. Why is this important?

In order to be eligible for the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame a player must start his Professional career in Japan AND must have a total of 2,000 hits (including hits in MLB). So Alfonso Soriano is now eligible to be inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.

In case you didn't know, Soriano started his career with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the NPB Central League. He played the 1996 season with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp's farm team and was promoted to the main team where he went 2-17 with 2 RBI, 2 runs scored, 4 Ks and 2 walks. In a move similar to Hideo Nomo's, Soriano hired agent Don Nomura to negotiate his free agency from Japan. He retired in Japan exploiting the "voluntary retirement" loophole as Nomo did a year earlier and signed a contract with the New York Yankees in 1998 against the protests of the NPB. This, Nomo's departure and the situation with Hideki Irabu would lead the NPB to enact the posting system that is in place between the MLB and the NPB.

Two interesting articles that go deeper into this are Robert Whiting's Irabu's impact on MLB-NPB relations profound (Oct 16, 2011) and Contract loophole opened door for Nomo's jump (Oct 10, 2010)

Congratulations to Alfonso Soriano on his international achievement. As with his return to the New York Yankees this season, he might be able to go home again this time to Japan if he is ever inducted into their Baseball Hall of Fame.

Sisco Kid

Monday, August 5, 2013

Que Vergüenza

I'm going to keep this short and not so sweet. These 12 players that I'm going to list below are an embarrassment to the Latino Baseball Community. They've just stepped on and spit all over the effort made by Latino players that took insults from racist fans because they were dark skinned and just trying to get a chance to play ball like everyone else. They've insulted the Latino ballplayer who lived in small towns playing ball isolated and alone trying their best to make it to the big leagues through blood, sweat and tears helping to bring the local fans into recognizing Latino effort and hard work. They've shred to pieces the work of every Latino forefather who broke through cultural and language barriers and lay the foundation so that today's player can be in the position they are in today. These guys down below should all be embarrassed.
Nelson Cruz Rangers outfielder
Jhonny Peralta Tigers shortstop
Everth Cabrera Padres shortstop
Francisco Cervelli Yankees catcher
Jesus Montero Mariners catcher
Cesar Puello Mets Minor League outfielder
Fernando Martinez Yankees Minor League outfielder
Fautino De Los Santos free agent reliever
Jordan Norberto free agent reliever
Antonio Bastardo Phillies reliever
Jordany Valdespin Mets infielder
Sergio Escalona Astros reliever
And after Alex Rodriguez gets his suspension handed down later today, it'll be unlucky number 13. Thanks a lot to you all for sullying the good name of hard working Latino ball players everywhere. Enjoy your 50 games off. You've earned it.

Sisco Kid

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Brazilians In The Major Leagues

Brazilians and Baseball seem to make strange bedfellows. When one thinks of Brazilians and sports you would think about Futbol, Basketball, Mixed Martial Arts and even Rodeo. Baseball doesn't even seem to come up in the conversation. But it seems that there has been some inroads which have translated in two major leaguers.

Cleveland first baseman-catcher
Yan Gomes. (Rich Pilling/Getty Images)
The first Brazilian born major leaguer is the catcher for the Cleveland Indians Yan Gomes. Gomes was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 10th round of the 2009 draft playing out of the University of Tennessee. After making his way through the Blue Jays minor league system, Gomes made history on May 17, 2012. Against the Yankees, Gomes got his first hit for a Brazilian born player on the day of his debut.

Gomes was born on July 19, 1987 in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. After his family moved to the United States, Gomes went to High School in Miami and was originally drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 39th round of the 2008 Major League Baseball but decided to not sign. As I stated above he eventually was drafted in 2009 with the Blue Jays in the 2009 draft.

In his only season with the Blue Jays:

Yan Gomes
63200 .264  .367 .204.631

On November 3, 2012 , Gomes was traded with Mike Aviles to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Esmil Rogers. Gomes has seen limited duty this season backing up Carlos Santana. So far this season:

Yan Gomes
82920 .314  .510 .283.824

Up to today's date, Gomes was the only Brazilian born major leaguer until Andre Rienzo made his debut for the Chicago White Sox against Gomes' Cleveland Indians marking the first time that two (the only two) players born in Brazil faced each other on a Major League field. Rienzo is the first Brazilian-born pitcher in the Major Leagues. 

Rienzo was born on June 5, 1988 in São Paulo, Brazil. Similar to Gomes, Rienzo's family emigrated to the United States. Rienzo would sign as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago White Sox in 2009 and started in the minors. Rienzo would find himself in some controversy when he failed a drug test in 2012, testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol which is a performance-enhancing drug. While Rienzo stated that he he unknowingly ingested the PED via a supplement that he bought in Brazil, he decided to take responsibility and served his 50-game suspension. He came back and kept working hard. His hard work would be duly rewarded.

It was announced yesterday that Chicago starter Jake Peavy would not be able to make his start in Tuesday night's game against the Indians and that Rienzo would be brought up. In his debut against the Indians, Rienzo became the first White Sox rookie since Jack McDowell in 1987 to throw seven innings in his major league debut without allowing an earned run. In total Rienzo gave up five hits giving up three unearned runs with six strikeouts and three walks in the no-decision. How did Rienzo do against his countryman Gomes?

Gomes had the upperhand against Rienzo by getting a single in the third inning and a bases loaded walk in the fifth. Rienzo would end up striking out Gomes in the seventh. 

With the impressive showing of the Barry Larkin managed Team Brazil in the 2013 World Baseball Classic with three competitive games against Pool A teams Japan, Cuba and China it seems that the future is bright. I believe that the next Brazilian major leaguer might be Tampa Bay Single-A prospect Leonardo Reginatto who seemed to me to shine in the three games that he played in the WBC. Also impressive for Brazil was Rafael Fernandes who plays in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. 

We'll have to see how that plays out. Either way its good to see the sport continually grow in markets and countries where the sport is not the main sport. 

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rami-Chan Sent Down to the Minors in Japan

Photo Credit Japanese Baseball Cards
I recently posted on Alex "Rami-Chan" Ramirez's accomplishment of being the first foreign player in Japan to reach the 2000 hits mark in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) in my blog post Rami-Chan First Foreign Player in NPB to Reach 2000 Hits dated April 9, 2013. After that post, Ramirez has been mired in a season long slump and was benched and eventually demoted.

According to the article Veteran Ramirez deactivated by BayStars from the Japan Times dated July 18, 2013:
The Yokohama BayStars sent down Alex Ramirez on Thursday with the 38-year-old outfielder hitting a paltry .185 with two homers this season.

It is the first time Ramirez has been demoted due to poor performance since arriving in Japan in 2001.

Ramirez became the first foreign-born player to reach a career 2,000 hits in April, but has struggled badly since, being relegated to pinch-hitting duties for the fourth-place BayStars.

He was hitless in his last 22 at-bats and has not homered since June 2.
Demotion for Ramirez means that he was sent down to the minor league affiliate of the BayStars. I'm not sure if this means his career in Japan is at an end but I have to say that it is not looking good for the two time back-to-back MVP of the Central League (2008 and 2009). Maybe he can regain his swing in the minors and make his way back up to the parent team.

I'll keep an eye out on it for you gals and guys.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Alex Ramirez's career statistics from the English version of the NPB website

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Latinos Leading the NPB Central League in Batting and Homers

Every so often I like to look across the big pond known as the Pacific Ocean to take a look at the progress of the Latinos that play over in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB). As in years past, I have spent extensive time looking at Alex "Rami-Chan" Ramirez. Though Ramirez made history earlier this season when he became the first foreign player to reach the 2000 hit plateau (which I profiled in my blogpost Rami-Chan First Foreign Player in NPB to Reach 2000 Hits), there have been a new crop of Latino players to make their mark in Japan.

As of Saturday June 29th, three of the top six hitters in the Central League are from Latin-American countries with a fourth player being from Curaçao. Take a look at the batting race below (courtesy of the NPB Batting title statistics website):

Saturday, June 29, 2013
Minimum plate appearances equal to 3.1 times the number of games played by that player's club
1Luna, Hector
2Murton, Matt
3Blanco, Tony.33167284236417870251606700014067623.678.440
4Nakamura, Norihiro.31162247222226991910733000121033312.482.377
5Balentien, Wladimir.31055239200406280251455600013820465.725.418
6Lopez, Jose.310652592423075160111242910101105326.512.353

In at the top is Dominican Hector Luna who is leading the Central League with a .377 average in his first season playing in Japan for the Chunichi Dragons. Luna has 101 hits (22 2B/3 3B/8 HR) with 45 RBI, 26 walks, 44 strikeouts and an OPS of 1.005 (.434 OBP/.571 SLG). For those of you who aren't familiar with Luna, he last played in MLB for the Philadelphia Phillies during the 2012 season.

Third in the batting race is Dominican Tony Blanco who is not only batting .331 but is tied for the Central League Home Run race with 25 homers (with Wladimir Balentien of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows) in his first season with the Yokohama DeNA Baystars (he played the last four seasons with the Chunichi Dragons). Blanco has 78 hits (7 2B/0 3B/25 HR) with a league leading 67 RBI, 40 walks, 62 strikeouts and an OPS of 1.118 (.440 OBP/.678 SLG). Blanco last played in MLB in 2005 for the Washington Nationals.

Tied for fifth in the batting race is Venezuelan Jose Lopez who is batting .310 in his first season playing in Japan for the Yomiyuri Giants. Lopez has 75 hits (16 2B/0 3B/11 HR) with 29 RBI, 11 walks, 32 strikeouts and an OPS of .865 (.353 OBP/.512 SLG). Lopez is a veteran of MLB having played the majority of his career with the Seattle Mariners and last played in the league last season with the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. 

I'm going to give a special mention to Wladimir Balentien who is from Curaçao. Balentien is tied fifth in the league with a .310 average and tied for the league lead in home runs with the aforementioned Tony Blanco. 

So there you have it. I'll make sure to check in on the progress of these and other Latinos that might be playing in Asia. 幸運の兄弟。(Buena suerte hermanos).

Baseball Sisco

Thursday, June 20, 2013

再見...Manny Ramirez says Zhai Gen aka Adios to Taiwan

Photo Courtesy of AP
Ay-yay-yay. So the Manny Ramirez era in Taiwan has come to an end with his opting out of his contract with the EDA Rhinos of the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL). Ramirez states that his reasons for leaving have to do with his being homesick. This might very well be true but I really think that Manny wants to make a return to the MLB but the question remains does any team in MLB want the traveling drama show that is Manny Ramirez. Has he fully burned all his bridges in MLB or is there a team that is actually willing to give him a chance.

Rumors have it that the Chiba Lotte Marines of the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) is serious in their intent to want to sign Ramirez. Lotte is currently in first place of the Pacific League and I'm sure they see Ramirez as a power bat and a potential draw. If he was indeed homesick in Taiwan, he'll surely be homesick in Japan. But I think its a masterful move. If he joins the NPB, the competition will be stronger there than in the CPBL and if he can put up similar numbers there then I would think he would seriously get better interest from an MLB team.

In 49 games with the Rhinos, Ramirez hit .352 with 8 homers and 43 RBI. His slash line was .352/.422 OBP/.555 SLG.

We'll have to see where Manny lands next. I do have to say that I'll miss the homerun calls that the Taiwanese announcers would bellow when ManRam would go deep. This ball is long gone. Just like an ex-girlfriend who will never return...Awesome


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Rami-Chan First Foreign Player in NPB to Reach 2000 Hits

Photo Courtesy of
Sports Card Jambalaya
As those of you who have read this blog in the past know that I have kept an eye on the career of Alex Ramirez of Venezuela who has played the last 13 seasons in Japan. On April 7, 2013, Ramirez (affectionately known as Rami-Chan) now with the Yokohama DeNa Baystars of the Central League in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) reached the 2,000 hit plateau in stunning fashion. Playing against the team Ramirez initially signed with in the NPB (The Tokyo Yakult Swallows) at their homepark of Jingu Stadium, Ramirez hit his 379th career homerun. In doing so, Rami-Chan became only the 42nd player and first foreigner to surpass career 2,000 hits in the NPB.

So where does Rami-Chan rank in terms of foreign players in Japan? According to Jason Coskrey in his article Ramirez possibly top foreign-born player ever in NPB dated April 9, 2013:
Currently in his 13th season in Japan, Ramirez has a career .303 average, is 22nd on the all-time home run list and 20th in RBIs with 1,262 over his career with the Yakult Swallows, Yomiuri Giants and now Yokohama BayStars. Tuffy Rhodes is the lone foreign-born player with more homers (464) and RBIs (1,269)... A few could’ve laid claim to the title of “greatest foreign player,” but Ramirez’s longevity — the 38-year old has played in 1,696 games, the most by a foreign-born player — has set him apart.
The player with the most career hits in the history of the NPB was Isao Harimoto who according to Jim Albright (and Kaz Nagastsuka @kaznagatsuka for the heads up) is the only player in the history of the NPB to reach the 3,000 hit plateau (3,085). Based on that figure, I believe that reaching 2000 hits is similar to the 3000 plateau here in the United States since only one player in Japan has reached 3,000 hits.

Ramirez's achievement is a testament to his work ethic and perseverance in an environment that can often be difficult for foreign players to not only succeed but just to simply acclimate themselves to.

Here are Alex Ramirez's career statistics as of April 9th (Statistics courtesy of the Alex Ramirez page on the NPB website):

Alex Ramirez
30312442019 -  - .303 - 

I think that it is safe to state that Rami-Chan's chances for induction to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame are pretty certain. Felicidades Rami-Chan (ラミちゃんおめでとう).


For Further Reading
- Click Here to Access the article Ramirez becomes first foreigner to reach 2,000-hit milestone in Japanese baseball by Jason Coskrey dated April 7, 2013 from the Japan Times website
- Click Here to Access the article Where No Westerner in Japan Has Gone by Brad Lefton dated July 7, 2012 from the New York Times website
- Click Here to Access Rami-chan, the Dominant Latino Gaijin in Japan dated April 8, 2010 from my Latinoball blog page
- Click Here to Access Return to Japan to look at Rami-Chan dated July 1, 2010 from my Latinoball blog page
- Click Here to Access Latino Milestones in the U.S. and Japan dated September 1, 2010 from my Latinoball blog page
- Click Here to Access 2010 Season Recap for Rami-Chan dated December 14, 2010 from my Latinoball blog page

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Se Retira Edgar Renteria Del Beisbol Professional

Though he was out of Major League Baseball since the end of the 2011 season, Edgar Renteria offically retired from Baseball on March 20, 2013. In doing so, Renteria goes down as one of the best players to ever come out of the country of Colombia. Renteria was the fourth player from Colombia in MLB and has the longest career to date for Colombian born major leaguers. With two World Series rings and the MVP trophy of the 2010 World Series with the San Francisco Giants, his legacy is cemented. It is crazy to think that he was only 20 years old he went 3-for-5 including a walk-off single in the 11th inning driving in Craig Counsell in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series against the Cleveland Indians. Seems like yesterday. And here we are 16 years later.

Renteria signed with the then Florida Marlins in 1992 as an amateur free agent and spent most of four years in the minors before he was called up in 1996. Renteria played for a total of seven teams (Marlins/Cardinals/Red Sox/Braves/Tigers/Giants/Reds) and put up the following career statistics:

Edgar Renteria

It seemed to me that Renteria was a better player while in the National League than in the American. It was percieved by many Boston faithful that he failed in his only season in Fenway. It was also deemed to be the same in Detroit. Granted his offensive numbers were a little less than what he was putting up in the National League, he put up a career high in strikeouts with 100 whiffs. His defensive numbers in Boston were downright horrible. He went from 11 errors the year before with the Cardinals to 30 with the Red Sox. No wonder he was run out of Boston in the trade with the Atlanta Braves with cash included in 2005.

Though by the time he was playing with the Giants in their World Series title year of 2010 he wasn't a full time player any longer, he was still a consistent presence in the lineup hitting .412 with 7 hits, 2 homers and 6 RBI in 17 at-bats against the Texas Rangers in the World Series.

I personally believe that his best year was in 2003 with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Edgar Renteria

Renteria put up career highs in average, hits, doubles, RBI's, walks, slugging percentage, OPS, and a career low in strikeouts. Renteria was an all-star, won his second Gold Glove and was awarded the Silver Slugger for the National League Shortstop position. He was came in 15th in MVP voting.

Overall, Renteria put up a solid career in MLB. I don't think he will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown but he might surprise some people in terms of vote percentage. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Renteria will pick up some coaching duties at some point both here in the U.S. but also in his native Colombia.


For Further Reading: