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:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Angel Pagan Esta Encendido

Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees is getting a majority of the press (and deservedly so) for his performance for Team Dominican Republic in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Here are his stats in 7 World Baseball Classic games (courtesy of World Baseball Classic statistics page):

Robinson Cano2B7295154026252700.548.862.5171.410

Impressive indeed. But there is another player who seems to have stepped up with the world spotlight shining on him in this international tournament. He is none other than San Francisco Giants centerfielder Angel Pagan. Here are his statistics in 8 World Baseball Classic games (courtesy of the 2013 World Baseball Classic statistics page):

Angel PaganCF8302112102154520.441.500.367.941
Where Carlos Beltran came in as the marquee name for the Puerto Rican team, it seems to me that Angel Pagan is now the man for Team Borinquen. I see Pagan carrying over his performance in this tournament straight into the upcoming season for the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants (courtesy of the 2012 Major League Baseball statistics page)

Angel PaganCF1546059517438158562664897297.338.440.288.778
I believe the sky is the limit for Rio Piedras resident Angel Pagan especially after resigning with the Giants this past offseason for a veritable bargain rate of 4-years $45 million dollars through 2016 he has nowhere to look but up. 

What do you think folks. Agree? Disagree?

On a side note, I saw this written about Pagan in the article U.S. falls flat in World Baseball Classic; does the country even care? by Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports!:
Before Friday night's game, Pagan gathered his teammates, bulged his eyes and shouted about honor and dignity and the kids back home who needed a light to follow. They could be their lights, he told them. "It's something to project for the kids," Pagan said. "You have a responsibility. I think it sends the perfect message: Names don't win ballgames."...So when that last baseball soared into center field, as his teammates rushed from the dugout to the mound, as they zigzagged from their positions looking for someone to hug, Pagan was the only one who waited for it to come down. "When I caught that ball, I was thinking of my country," he said. "Hopefully, Puerto Rico is proud of us."
I would say that they are Angel. Keep up the good work.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez 15 Years Later

 15 years ago on March 7, amid fanfare the New York Yankees signed Cuban defector Orlando Hernandez, who is the half-brother of Livan Hernandez. The man known as "El Duque" would live up to his reputation from his playing days in Cuba by successfully pitching in 4 different World Series (1998, 1999, 2000 with the Yankees 2005 with the White Sox).

I remember when the Yankees signed him, there were some reservations among fans who were still thinking about the mass media signing of another foreign "can't miss" pitcher Hideki Irabu who didn't live up to the expectations placed on him here in New York. Not only did El Duque succeed during the regular season, his performances in the post season place him up there with many of the best.

After defecting from Cuba on Christmas Day 1997, Hernandez signed a 4-year $6.6 million dollar deal with the Yankees. After a number of starts in single-A and a handful of starts in AAA Columbus, El Duque made his debut with the Yankees on June 3, 1998. Against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, El Duque held the Devil Rays to five hits and one run over seven innings. In the Yankee record season of 114-48, El Duque compiled a 12-4 record with 3.13 ERA placing 4th in the American League Rookie of the Year Vote. In a sign of things to come in the post-season, Hernandez neutralized the only team that could stop the Yankees in 1998, the Cleveland Indians.

In Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, El Duque hurled strong seven shoutout innings where he only allowed three hits. The Yankees would tie the series at 2-2 and eventually win the series in 6 games. El Duque would also pitch a masterful game against the San Diego Padres in Game Two of the World Series pitching seven innings of one run baseball. The Yankees would sweep the Padres for the first of three consecutive World Series and four of five (including 1996).

1999 would prove to be El Duque's most successful season. El Duque made 33 starts compiling an impressive 17-9 record with a 4.12 ERA. He would be even more impressive in the post-season when he started four games and finished with a 4-0 record in which he only allowed just four earned runs in 30 innings pitched including winning two games in the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox. In Game One of the World Series, El Duque would be matched up against Greg Maddux who finished the season with another 19-win season. In that game, El Duque out-dueled Maddux by strucking out ten while just allowing one hit to beat the Braves and start a four game sweep and a second consecutive World Series title for the Yankees.

His 2000 campaign would be disappointing with a 12-13 record with a 4.51 ERA in 29 starts but El Duque kept his best for the post-season. In four starts, El Duque went 3-1 losing his first post-season start against the Mets. In the 2000 post-season, El Duque beat the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners (twice). In total, El Duque would strikeout a total of 31 batters in 29.2 innings pitched during all four playoff starts.

In the postseasons during the Yankee three-peat years of 1998-2000, El Duque El Duque was 2-0 and 0.64 ERA in 1998, 3-0 with a 1.20 ERA in 1999 and  3-1 with a 3.94 ERA in 2000. Truly remarkable.

Injuries would be the downfall for El Duque. From 2001-2002, El Duque would go 12-12 with a 4.11 ERA in 41 total games. In five postseason appearances during 2001-2002, El Duque would go 2-3 for the Yankees as the Championship run came to an end. At the end of the 2002 season, El Duque would be traded to the Chicago White Sox then traded again to the Montreal Expos for the 2003 season but would not pitch for them. He would miss the entire 2003 season with shoulder injuries.

He would return to the Yankees for the 2004 season and after being granted free agency, El Duque signed with the Chicago White Sox. Though his season performance was a somewhat lackluster 9-9 with a 5.12 ERA, El Duque saved his last bit of magic for the American League Division Series against the World Series Champions Boston Red Sox. With the Red Sox down 2-0 in Fenway Park trailing the White Sox 4-3 but seemingly reaching into the bag of miracles, El Duque was brought in from the bullpen by manager Ozzie Guillen. Facing El Duque was bases loaded with NO outs and Red Sox Captain Jason Varitek at the plate. I remember the day vividly. I was working at Fraunces Tavern and we were full to the brim with people watching the game.

Varitek would pop out. Tony Graffanino would line out to shortstop Juan Uribe and in arguably his most important post-season strikeout, El Duque made Johnny Damon miss ball four with a check swing that would have tied the game had Damon been able to hold his swing. El Duque would pitch two more innings for the Chisox, striking out a total of four batters leading the White Sox to a three game sweep of the Champs and setting the tone for the White Sox breaking their own World Series drought when they would eventually beat the Angels in 5-games and the Houston Astros in a four game sweep to bring the World Series trophy to the South Side of Chicago for the first time since 1917.

El Duque would pitch for a couple of more years before he would be released by the Texas Rangers during the 2010 season effectively ending his career. In total, El Duque would finish with 90-65 record with a career 4.13 ERA. In the postseason, El Duque went 9-3 with a 2.55 ERA 107 strikeouts in 106 innings pitched with four World Series titles to his name. El Duque was definitely something special to watch with his high socks and his high leg kick.

Gracias para las memorias Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez.


- Click Here to Access Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez's career statistics from Baseball

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Albert Pujols On The Cusp Of 500 Home Runs

Barring any major injuries, it would be safe to say that Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim first baseman Albert Pujols will reach the 500 Home Run plateau this season. Pujols currently sits at 475 homers entering his 13th major league season. Though the fastest to 500 home runs was Mark McGwire in 1,639 games (Pujols has played in 1,859 games) and the youngest to 500 home runs was Alex Rodriguez at 32 years and 8 days of age (Pujols turned 33 this past January 16), Pujols has been downright impressive in his march to 500.

Even with last season's un-Pujolsian type season (30 HR 105RBI), he still has an yearly average of 39.6 Homers with yearly averages of 119.6 RBI,187.2 hits, 89 walks and for a power hitter of Pujols' caliber a mind blowing 68 strikeouts. He stands with a career. 325 batting average and a career OPS of 1.022 (.608 slugging/.414 on base percentages).

Add to that the idea that Pujols will have a potent 3-4 combination in the lineup that he has never had before with Josh Hamilton, who in six seasons has averaged a .304  batting average with a .304 batting average and yearly averages of 35 homers and 122 RBI. And Hamilton will be batting in the clean up hole behind him. The image of two boppers like Pujols and Hamilton hitting for power AND average back to back in that lineup WITH Mike Trout in the lineup evokes images of Ruth and Gehrig and Ramirez and Ortiz. Ay-yay-yay.

Angels Stadium will be electric this season, more so as Pujols inches closer and closer to 500 home runs. As hard as it is for me to say, 2013 might be Albert Pujols' best season yet. Stay tuned.


For Further Reading:
- Click Here for Albert Pujols' career statistics from Baseball

Friday, March 1, 2013

Latinos on the Hall of Fame Ballot

Now that the uproar of this past Hall of Fame election has died down, I want to focus on the Latino ballplayers that are currently eligible for the Hall.

The last Latino to get enshrined into Cooperstown was Roberto Alomar in 2011 in his second year of eligibility with 90.0% of the vote. So who is the next one to be inducted.

Before I go into who is next allow me to elaborate in who can get elected to the Hall of Fame. To be eligible for induction, players must have spent 10 years in MLB and must be five years removed from their playing das. If a player receives less than 5 percent of the vote, he is no longer eligible. In addition, if a player appears on the ballot 15 times and does not reach the necessary 75% then he is no longer eligible for enshrinement. Now that I got the rules out of the way, here is who I think will be the next Latino(s) to get in the Hall of Fame.

I would have to say that the next one to get in is Pedro Martinez who will be eligible for the Hall of Fame in the year 2015 with Vladimir Guerrero and Ivan Rodriguez in 2017. Vlad just announced that he will be attempting to make a comeback this season. If he happens to play one game for a MLB team then his first year for eligibility would be pushed back. I feel these three players are all first ballot caliber players. Manny Ramirez is also eligible for induction in 2017 but with his two positive tests and suspensions for violation of the MLB Drug Policy who can really say if he ever gets in. Talk of positive tests and suspensions brings me to Rafael Palmiero.

Palmiero is a member of a rare club of one of four players to reach BOTH the 500 Home Run and 3000 hit plateaus. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray are the other three and are members of the Hall of Fame. I believe that Palmiero will not be joining them since I feel that this will be his last year on the ballot. Look at his showing in the last three years:
11.0% in 2011
12.6% in 2012
8.8% in 2013
He lost ground in a year that saw first year eligible candidates Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio not get elected. Take into consideration that next year's first ballot eligibles include Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Jeff Kent and Mike Mussina among others. Next year will prove to be the deepest Hall of Fame ballot ever and the voters can vote for up to 10 players. I really have a hard time seeing Palmiero getting more than 8% let alone the necessary 5% to stay on the ballot.

The other Latino who is still on the ballot after multiple years is Edgar Martinez. Martinez is considered by many as being the best Designated Hitter of all time. He has been much more consistent when it comes to his standing on the Hall of Fame ballot. In his first year Martinez received:
36.2% in 2010
32.9% in 2011
36.5% in 2012
35.9% in 2013
Given the fact that next year is a stacked ballot, Martinez might drop a bit in terms of percentage but is in good shape to recoup his losses and even move up closer to the necessary 75% within the next five to ten years.

Sammy Sosa received 12.5% in his first year and who can tell where he'll rank in the next few years. Bernie Williams received 3.2% of the vote this year and is no longer on the ballot.

So what do you gals and guys think. Agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment and let me know what your thoughts are.