Monday, February 28, 2011

TOMAS "Tommy al Bat" MORALES: We Lost in the Caribbean

Although the new Hispanic Baseball Hall of Fame has commenced on the left foot, it’s very agreeable that Fernando Valenzuela has received a new recognition, since he deserves everything after the great run he had in the Major Leagues. Added to this recognition in a new temple of the immortals, it has left us in a ridiculous situation in which despite many proposals on the matter, Valenzuela still is not in our own Salon de la Fama.

Yes, the great bateador Hector Espino and the magnate Alejo Peralta entered the enclosure of honor on the first ballot, and it should now do the same with Fernando Valenzuela and Vinicio “Vinny” Castilla. The entries of Peralta and Espino were obtained very deservedly in the times of Rafael Dominguez, director of the place.

For a long time the presidents of the two main leagues, the Ligas Mexicana and Pacifico, have had many talks in the years that would cover many subjects, but it seems that in the present (for reasons in the past), that is no longer the same.

We’ve said that the new Caribbean Hall of Fame is on a roll because besides Valenzuela, from the list of Mexican players they chose Chile Gomez, but not Roberto “Beto” Avila. I myself don’t know who voted so this would happen, but on sight they should have to give up their cards as cronistas.

And in the Caribbean Series Hall of Fame, neither “Cananea” Reyes nor Paquin Estrada have been chosen.

And in our own Hall of Fame, I’ll never forget that voters have given more points to Mercedes Esquer than to Teodoro “Teddy” Higuera, who also deserves direct entrance to the enclosure that was inaugurated in 1973 with the election of many stars of yesterday who also entered on the first ballot.
I do not doubt that Esquer should be in the Salon, but that he had more votes than Higuera is a sacrilege that should obligate an investigation into the people who were voting.

It has practically been an insult to have a five-year wait for Higuera, Valenzuela and Vinicio Castilla when we all know they should occupy, as I’ve said before, their own special suite in the place.

from ESTO: 16 February 2011
Translated by BBM Editor Bruce Baskin via BabelFish

Sunday, February 27, 2011


The Mexican Pacific League has announced its award winners for the recently-concluded 2010-11 season at a February 25 league meeting in Hermosillo.

Justin Christian of the Los Mochis Caneros was named the Most Valuable Player after leading the LMP in a five offensive categories and finishing third in the batting race with a .356 average. Alberto Castillo of Mochis beat out Culiacan’s Matt Buschmann and Obregon’s Marco Quevedo for Pitcher of the Year after turning in a 9-2 record to lead the Mex Pac in wins while registering a 3.94 earned-run average. Rookie of the Year honors went to another Mochis pitcher, Edwin Salas, who went 4-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 19 appearances (seven of them starts).

While Eddie Diaz of Caribbean Series winners Obregon was honored as manager of the LMP champions, the league’s Manager of the Year award went to Matias Carrillo of Guasave after leading the Algodoneros to the first half title and bringing his team to the seventh and deciding game of the championship series with Obregon.

Front office awards went to two men from Obregon: Yaquis team president Rene Rodriguez for Executive of the Year and Francisco Minjares for General Manager of the Year.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Despite what ended up being a disappointing winter in Mexicali, the Aguilas are bringing Francisco “Chico” Rodriguez back as manager for the 2011-12 Mexican Pacific League season.

The Aguilas began the last campaign with high hopes centered on the return of manager Dave Machemer, a former major league infielder and longtime skipper in the San Francisco Giants minor league system who led Mexicali to a Mex Pac pennant in 1988-89.

Instead, Machemer was fired after the first half of the season despite finishing one game out of first place with an 18-17 record. Replacement Marco Antonio Guzman then won just four of 12 games before being replaced by Rodriguez, a Salon de la Fama member and brother of the late ex-MLB infielder Aurelio Rodriguez, who brought the team home with a 9-11 record last December in a month in which Mexicali batted just .236 as a team while Aguilas pitchers combined to record a 4.86 ERA. Even so, the Aguilas saw enough to bring the former shortstop back.

“Chico did a great job despite having arrived at a difficult time for everyone,” said Mexicali GM David Cardenas. “He‘s the type of manager that the team needs and more for all the young players we have.”

Rodriguez also led the now-dormant Chihuahua Dorados to a 59-48 record in the Mexican League last year.

Friday, February 25, 2011


The Mexican Northern League is slated to open its 2011 season on Thursday, April 14 with a lineup of eight teams on the league rostrum. The defending champion Ensenada Marineros will host the Tijuana Truenos in the first of a 72-game regular season schedule that will last into mid-July, followed by a six-team playoff.

There had been concern in the offseason that both Ensenada and Tijuana might be forced to withdraw from the LNM because the two Baja California cities represented costly road trips that some of the remaining league teams in Sonora could not afford to make, but at a January meeting, it was determined that they would be back in the fold for 2011. However, Tecate has dropped out of the league and been replaced by the Magdalena Membrilleros this year. Groups from Mexicali and Puerto Penasco have applied for membership but the requests were tabled until a later date.

The LNM is considered a “Class A” league and affiliated with the AAA Mexican League. Liga Norte teams will be allowed to carry 28 players, including four imports, but only two players age 30 or more (one Mexican and one extranero). The circuit began in 2000 as the Liga Norte de Sonora, but changed its name after the later addition of teams in Baja California.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


What’s in a name? Kansas City Royals closer Joakim Soria thinks there’s enough negativity to his nickname of “The Mexicutioner” that he’d like it to stop being used.

The All-Star reliever spent a lot of time in Mexico during the winter, and what he saw was enough for him to want the jettison the tag. “I’ve never paid much attention to nicknames,” Soria said at the Royals training camp in Surprise, Arizona, “but this one is quite negative, especially when you consider what is happening in Mexico right now…I do not want to contribute to the negativity in my country when we are looking for positive things.”

A native of Monclova, the 26-year-old Soria has become one of the top relief pitchers in baseball despite laboring for one of its weakest teams. In the process, he gained the “Mexicutioner” nickname and even featured it prominently on his Twitter homepage, but it has been dropped. “How about if we change my nickname to something positive?” he tweeted, “In support to Mexico to stop all the violence!!!”

The Mexican government has said that over 34,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in the past four years. “It’s very bad what is going on there,” said Soria, who spent the offseason in Monclova.

Soria enters the final year of his contract with 132 saves and a 2.01 ERA in four seasons with the Royals.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


The reigning Mexican League batting champion will be playing for the Reynosa Broncos this season. Willis Otanez, who led the Liga with a .393 average in 2010 while playing for the Puebla Pericos after beginning the season with a 22-game hitting streak, will be moving to Reynosa to play under Broncos manager Homar Rojas.

The native of Baja Vega, Dominican Republic also hit 12 homers and drove in 76 runs in 91 games for Puebla last year before a foot injury ended his regular season two weeks early. He did come back to rejoin the Pericos on their postseason drive to the LMB Championship Series, where they were defeated by the Saltillo Saraperos in five games. Otanez was named Baseball Mexico’s Liga MVP for 2010.

“I’m very happy with the news,” Otanez says. “I’m feeling very good about going there (to Reynosa). I’ve never played by the border but am looking for a championship for the fans, which is the least we should play baseball for.” Reynosa will be his seventh Mexican League team.

The 37-year-old Otanez enters his 21st season of pro ball in 2011. He signed with the Dodgers in 1990 and went on to play in Toronto and Baltimore in 1998 and 1999. He debuted in Mexico with Monterrey in 2001, and has topped the .300 mark six times in ten Liga seasons (including a .376/30/123 year with Veracruz in 2005).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


One of the two Mexican League franchises sitting out the 2011 season is now up for sale, although there may be a question of who a buyer should make the check out to. The Nuevo Laredo Tecolotes, who the LMP suspended for the coming season due to their failure to provide the Liga with names of people handling their finances, are being offered to the highest bidder.

“We’re sailing against the current,” then-Tecos chairman Victor Ordonez was quoted as saying before the 2010 season on the Puro Beisbol website. Nuevo Laredo finished last in the 16-team Liga in attendance with just 65,597 fans clicking the turnstiles in 47 games, an average of 1,395 per opening during a 32-72 season (also worst in the circuit). The franchise has been valued at US$2-2.5 million, and approval for current directors to sell the team was granted by the LMB to the team’s current directors last week. A number of cities are said to be interested in hosting a Class AAA baseball team next year, including Guadalajara and Aguascalientes. The LMB’s other inactive team, the Chihuahua Dorados, are moving to Leon next season after ballpark renovations are completed.

The Tecos have won five Liga pennants and were the first bi-national pro sports team in history when they were shared by Laredo, Texas in the 1980s and 1990s, but times have been harder in the border city since then and fortunes for the team have worsened.

Monday, February 21, 2011


For a 16-year-old kid who has yet to throw a pitch in a pro baseball game, Luis Heredia is already being held in high esteem in some quarters. Baseball America’s 2011 Prospect Handbook has named the Mazatlan prodigy as the fifth-best prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league system.

The 6’6” Heredia (who was signed by the Pirates for a $2.6 million bonus last August shortly after his 16th birthday) “doesn’t have one singularly superb trait,” the Handbook says, “aside from doing so much so well with such size at his age.” Also noted was that “His frame, coordination and delivery are highly advanced, and he has excelled against older competition all his life.”

Heredia was the subject of spirited bidding among more than a dozen Major League organizations, but his longtime relationship with former Mazatlan Venados general manager Jesus “Chino” Valdez (who is Pittsburgh’s lead scout in Mexico) meant the other teams had little chance of signing him. As is customary south of the border, Heredia’s rights were held by the Mexican League’s Veracruz Aguilas, who kept 75 percent of the bonus.

Heredia is one of three teenage pitchers among the Pirates’ top five prospects, according to Baseball America, along with top-rated Jameson Taillon and third-ranked Stetson Allie.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


The family of MLB players Adrian and Edgar Gonzalez has released some details on three planned sports academies they would build and operate in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

David Gonzalez, father of both players and himself a former member of Mexico’s national amateur team during his own playing days, told Fernando Ballasteros of Puro Beisbol that “High Performance Academies” are slated for Mexican Pacific League cities Mazatlan, Culiacan and Los Mochis. The facilities would be similar to the Gonzalez Sports Academy the family owns near San Diego.

As with the California facility, the Mexican academies will train aspiring athletes in basketball and volleyball as well as baseball. The elder Gonzalez says he’s already received support from Sinaloa governor Mario Lopez Valdez, and that ground has already been broken in Culiacan with a targeted opening later this year.

One party less than enthused about the project is the Mexican League, which operates similar academies near Monterrey and Oaxaca. While typically LMB teams keep 75 percent of the money any Mexican-born player get from signing with Major League teams (even those who, like Pirates prospect Luis Heredia, have never played an inning in the Liga) in what amounts to a monopoly of domestic players, the Gonzalez academies would keep only 30 percent of the proceeds. David Gonzalez is undaunted by LMB anger over potential competition for young Mexican talent: “We are happy to support the players and to recover the money we’ve spent will be enough.”

Saturday, February 19, 2011

BBM Winter Awards 2010-11 LMP ALL-STAR TEAM

1B Yurendell de Caster, Guasave (Versatile Dutch Olympian and WBC teamer hit .319 with 14 HRs and 44 RBIs)

2B Jose Rodriguez, Guasave (Hit .289 with 12 HRs and 47 RBIs while committing only 4 errors in field)

3B Agustin Murillo, Obregon (Only batted .262, but had 14 HRs, 16 steals and scored 57 runs)

SS Heber Gomez, Mazatlan (Steady vet had just 3 miscues at short while hitting .318 with 5 HRs)

LF Luis Alfonso Garcia, Hermosillo (After hot start, led Mex Pac with 21 HR and 60 RBIs and hit .301)

CF Justin Christian, Los Mochis (Hit .356 and led LMP with 24 steals, 60 runs and other categories)

RF Ruben Rivera, Mazatlan (Crashed 18 HRs with 53 RBIs and hit .292 and played well defensively)

C Geronimo Gil, Hermosillo (Ex-MLBer was among leaders with .338 average, added 3 HRs and 36 RBIs)

DH Sandy Madera, Los Mochis (Second in LMP with .362 average, also hit 14 HRs with 48 RBIs)

LHSP Travis Blackley, Hermosillo (Dominated LMP with 5-1 record and 2.09 ERA before leaving in December)

RHSP Luis Mendoza, Obregon (Was 6-3 with 2.11 ERA to lead strong staff before MLB Royals shut him down)

RP Jose Silva, Culiacan (Virtually unhittable: Was 3-0, 15-of-16 in saves, 0.95 ERA and .168 opponents’ BA)

Friday, February 18, 2011

BBM Winter Awards LMP MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Justin Christian, Los Mochis Caneros

Not a lot was expected out of Justin Christian when he came to Los Mochis last October. Yes, the 30-year-old Nebraskan had carved a niche over eight seasons in the Yankees system as a guy who could play all three outfield positions and second base while adding speed to the lineup, but nobody expected him to become the impact player he was for the Caneros. And was he ever an impact player!

Christian ended up hitting .356 for the Caneros to finish third in the Mexican Pacific League batting title chase while leading the Mex Pac with 60 runs scored and 24 stolen bases, tying for the lead with a .452 on-base percentage and even finishing fourth in the circuit with a .561 slugging percentage. Batting leadoff, Christian served as a catalyst for a potent Mochis offense that featured power hitters Sandy Madera and Ramon Orantes, who saw a lot of fastballs at the plate because pitchers had to respect Christian’s presence on the basepaths as the Caneros finished near the top of the league in homers, steals, batting and runs.

Despite hitting just .190 in the playoffs for Mochis, Christian was added to the Obregon roster in the Caribbean Series, where he hit .259 and tied with Caguas’ Alex Cora for the lead in runs scored with seven. He signed a free agent minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants on February 6 for his efforts.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

BBM Winter Awards LMP PLAYOFF MVP: Iker Franco, Obregon Yaquis

Some players might look back on a regular season after hitting .273 with 9 homers and 44 RBIs in 66 games and call it good, but for Obregon Yaquis veteran catcher Iker Franco, it was just a warmup.

Franco, a 29-year-old native of Ensenada who kicked around the Rays and Braves systems in between scattered stints in the Mexican League with the Tigres before settling in Quintana Roo for 2008 and turning in three straight All-Star Game appearances since then, turned on the burners for the Yaquis in the Mexican Pacific League playoffs last month.

He hit .340 in 15 LMP postseason contests to lead Obregon batters and seemed to have a knack for coming up with clutch hits along the way for the Yaquis: There was that two-run double in the Yaquis opening 2-1 first round win over Mexicali. Then that three-hit night with two doubles and two runs in a 7-4 win over Guasave. It didn’t stop in the Caribbean Series, where Franco’s two-out RBI single won Obregon’s 15-inning tilt with Este, 4-3, in the CS opener. Franco went on to be selected to the tournament’s All-Star Team with a .316 average over six games.

While it was a Jorge Vazquez homer that keyed Obregon’s CS-clinching win, the Yaquis couldn’t have made it that far without their 6’2” 240-pound catcher along the way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BBM Winter Awards LMP PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Jose Silva, Culiacan Tomateros

Okay, so I changed my mind on this one.

I was originally going to give this award to Travis Blackley, who was having a great winter for Hermosillo before heading home to Australia and signing with the KIA Tigers of Korea. But when I was poring through ALL the Mex Pac stats to make my All-Star Team selections, one guy’s numbers not only jumped out at me, they put me in a headlock, so I’m going with Jose Silva instead.

Silva was drafted by Toronto out of his Chula Vista, CA high school in 1991 and went on to pitch for the Jays, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati between 1996 and 2002. He’s worked in the Mexican League since 2004, and had 26 saves for Chihuahua last summer. Although the Tijuana-born Silva is 6’6” and listed at 235 pounds, he is also 37 years old and not so likely to overpower batter as he once might have so the righty fooled them instead.

He finished the regular season with a 3-0 record and converted 15 of 16 save opportunities. Good numbers? Try these on: He had a 0.95 ERA and allowed opponents to bat just .165 against him. Silva let in one run over his last ten regular season appearances for the Tomateros, then was 6-for-6 in saving all Culiacan postseason wins while limiting batters to an anemic .136 average with eight strikeouts in six innings.

Usually POY awards go to starters, but I couldn’t NOT pick Silva. His stats are simply too good to pass over.

THURSDAY'S BBM WINTER AWARD: LMP Playoff Most Valuable Player

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BBM Winter Awards LMP MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Matias Carrillo, Guasave Algodoneros

One of the most respected batters in Mexican baseball history, Carrillo has also become one of the country’s most well-regarded managers since retiring as a player in 2008. He added to his growing reputation by taking a historically-weak Guasave franchise and leading the Algodoneros to a first-half Mexican Pacific League title stretching Obregon to a seventh and deciding game in the LMP title series.

A Sinaloa native who turns 48 on February 24, Carrillo made his managerial debut in 2009 with the Quintana Roo Tigres of the Mexican League, the team he spent most of his playing career with. He has led the Tigres to two playoff berths, including a finals appearance in his first year. Carrillo came to Guasave last winter and took the Cottoneers to a playoff berth prior to this year’s finals performance. Thus, in a total of four seasons over two years, Carrillo-led teams have earned four postseason bids and two finals appearances.

Carrillo played in 22 Mexican League seasons, all but two with the Tigres. He hit .300 or more every year but 2003 and 2006 and hit 340 career homers between 1982 and 2008. He also hit .288 with 159 homers in 27 Mex Pac seasons, winning the MVP award in 1992-93 after hitting .404 for Mexicali. An outfielder, Carrillo spent parts of three MLB seasons with Milwaukee and Florida, hitting .251 in 107 games.


Monday, February 14, 2011

BBM Winter Awards LMP NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Barbaro Canizares, Obregon Yaquis

An Atlanta Braves farmhand, the 31-year-old Canizares played eight seasons for Industriales of the Cuban National Series between 1998 and 2005, batting .303 with 38 homers in 520 games and was a teammate of Angels infielder Kendry Morales on Industriales in 2003 and 2004 before both players were suspended for trying to leave both the team and country.

After defecting from Cuba, Canizares signed with the Braves as a free agent before the 2006 season. He has played the last four years for AAA Richmond and Gwinnett, topping the .300 mark three times, and hit .190 in five games for Atlanta in 2009.

Following a .341/13/77 season for Gwinnett in 2010, Canizares played winterball in Mexico for the first time with Obregon. The 6’3” 240-pound right-hander finished sixth in the Mexican Pacific League batting race with a .320 average and ended up in the top 5 in homers (12) and RBIs (46) over 56 games as well. Canizares hit .261 with three homers and 11 RBIs in 15 MexPac playoff games to tie with ex-LMP MVP Agustin Murillo for the team lead in homers and ribbies. He went on to come in sixth among Caribbean Series batsmen with a .333 average, tops among Yaquis players.

Tuesday's BBM Winter Award: LMP Manager of the Year

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Now that the dust has settled on the 2011 Caribbean Series and there’s over a month to go until the Mexican League season begins, I thought I’d take a break from straight reporting and share a few of my impressions of the CS and where this event and Latin winter baseball may be heading in years to come.

The CS itself was played in the beautiful, state-of-the-art Isidoro Garcia Baseball Stadium in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico (pictured). The 10,500-seat facility was completed two years ago at a cost of $48.7 million, and you couldn’t help but be impressed by it. You also couldn’t help coming away with an impression of the size of crowds attending the games, which were disappointing. The announced attendance for the six-day event was 42,500, or a little over 7,000 per day. The three visiting teams brought their own small cadres of enthusiastic fans, but the afternoon games were almost without exception played in front of sparse gatherings. A crowd of 11,000 jammed the ballpark February 4 for that evening's Caguas-Este game, but no other day drew more than 8,000 fans and only 4,500 were said to click the turnstiles on February 3.

Some of the greatest names in baseball history have played winter baseball in Latin America and it was once considered a rite of passage for upcoming young ballplayers to gain experience playing in front of passionate crowds. However, with the advent of the Arizona Fall League and other more recent stateside offseason rituals, MLB does not send its best young players to the Latin leagues anymore (of 900 players listed in Baseball America’s 2011 Prospects Handbook, not one played in Mexico last winter), nor are MLB teams as willing to allow Latino veterans to play in their home countries because there is so much money invested in them. The result is a smaller pool of available player talent for winterball teams to draw from. Mexico is equipped to handle this because it has a Class AAA league with a large number of homegrown players to draw from, but the other CS countries do not and will continue to rely on MLB to supply enough talent.

This is not to say the winter leagues are dying. Far from it. Despite lacking top imports, seven of the eight Mexican Pacific League teams averaged 5,000 or more fans per regular season game. Winterball appears to be on fairly solid ground as a whole at home, although ongoing concerns about the health of Puerto Rico’s league could not have been abated by the low turnout for the Caribbean Series. However, the CS appears to have lost some prestige even within participating countries and faces some pressure from MLB organizations to finish competition earlier. The end result may be a shortened regular season schedule or scaled back playoffs, but the question of how the Caribbean Series gets its groove back remains. One answer: Expansion.

The same four nations have competed in the Caribbean Series since its rebirth in 1970 and the lack of a playoff beyond the double round-robin formation can lessen interest among casual fans. A jolt may be provided by the addition of a new competitor. The inclusion of a team from the Cuban National Series would be a tonic, but logistical problems would arise because Cuba would be in midseason and a lack of interest among authorities there to join make that whole scenario unlikely at this point, so the more practical step may be to consider adding Colombia.

The modern professional six-team Colombian League plays a schedule parallel to other Caribbean nations, has ties with MLB and is operated by a foundation headed by shortstop Edgar Renteria, the first native Colombian named World Series MVP last year while playing for San Francisco. Renteria signed a one-year deal last month with Cincinnati worth up to $3 million. The league has actively pursued a slot in the CS for years and will keep lobbying to join next year in Santo Domingo. The quality of baseball and facilities there are said to be lacking, although MLB is consulting with Colombian authorities on a new ballpark in Cartagena (which has a 12,000-seat ballpark at present).

While there is not great enthusiasm among CS leaders, they may need to bring in Colombia to increase the field (and number of visiting fans) while going to a single round-robin format with semis and finals to maintain the CS as a six-day event. Interests in Nicaragua have also expressed interest in joining the CS, but that nation’s league is a distant longshot.

With participating Latin leagues and teams needing more homegrown talent to fill their rosters, the faces of winterball will continue to change even as declining interest in the Caribbean Series creates concern among participating countries. Changes will have to come, but only time will tell what the long-term results will be. The CS should survive in some way, but it may not be able to continue as we’ve known it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


The Baseball Mexico Winter Awards for the Mexican Pacific League season will be announced on the BBM blog beginning Monday. Here's the schedule of award announcements:

MONDAY, February 14 - Newcomer of the Year
TUESDAY, February 15 - Manager of the Year
WEDNESDAY, February 16 - Pitcher of the Year
THURSDAY, February 17 - Playoff MVP
FRIDAY, February 18 - Most Valuable Player
SATURDAY, February 19 - 2010-11 LMP All-Star Team

As with the 2010 Summer "Bammy" awards, winners will be determined by a committee of one (me) and on an arbitrarily objective basis...or something like that.


Players, staff and thousands of fans converged on Obregon’s Estadio Tomas Oroz Gaytan Thursday night in celebration of the Yaquis’ first-ever Caribbean Series championship. The Yaquis won four of six to top the four-team CS standings earlier this month in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Obregon fans waited for Yaquis players like Luis Ayala, Agustin Murillo and Iker Franco at the southern end of town as the parade through the streets began. The players were joined by members of the Yaquis coaching staff as well as mascot Chaco as the entourage snaked its way to the ballpark, where thousands of fans were already waiting. One player, Obregon native Karim Garcia (who joined the team from the Hermosillo roster for the CS), was given a standing ovation that brought tears to the Major League veteran’s eyes. Garcia will play this summer for Monterrey in the Mexican League after being an All-Star and fan favorite in South Korea.

Not all things in Obregon were celebratory, however. Manager Eddie Diaz, who is not signed for next winter, is being speculated upon as a potential manager for at least three teams in his native Dominican Republic and was vague when asked about his winter plans by a Dominican media source. Diaz, who will be an international scout for the Tampa Bay Rays this summer, did not attend the parade.

Friday, February 11, 2011


“Made up my mind to make a new start…” It’s pretty safe to assume neither Robert Plant nor Jimmy Page had Edgar Gonzalez when they wrote the Led Zeppelin classic song, “Going to California,” but the older brother of Boston Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez is moving back to the Golden State for 2011 after signing a contract with the world champion San Francisco Giants following a season in Japan.

Edgar, an infielder who batted .263 with 12 homers in 100 games for Tokyo’s Yomiuri Giants last year after playing 2008 and 2009 alongside his brother in San Diego, signed a one-year minor league contract with San Francisco after deciding to not make a deal with the Colorado Rockies, who were also interested in the 32-year-old Gonzalez. His father David told Puro Beisbol, “Edgar has already done a physical exam in San Francisco. Edgar wanted to be with a team in California…He said he’ll be given an opportunity to show himself in preseason games so the manager (Bruce Bochy) sees what he capable of.” Gonzalez is also a part-owner of the Gonzalez Sports Academy multisport training center near San Diego.

As a non-roster invitee to the Giants’ training camp in Phoenix, he may open the season with their Class AAA affiliate in Fresno (also in California but just as unlikely to be what Plant and Page had in mind in 1969).

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Mexican pitchers Alfredo Aceves and Dennys Reyes have signed with the Boston Red Sox.

According to Alex Speier of WEEI radio in Boston, Aceves’ deal is worth $650,000 with another $100,000 in incentives. The 28-year-old Aceves has a 14-1 record in three seasons as a middleman for the Yankees, for whom he pitched in their 2009 World Series victory over Philadelphia. Aceves, whose brother Jonathan is a catcher with the Mexican League champion Saltillo Saraperos, missed most of last year with injuries and also suffered a broken clavicle during a bicycling accident in Mexico during the offseason. He is not expected to miss spring training.

Reyes’ contract is said by Speier to be a minor league deal worth up to $900,000 if the left-hander makes the Red Sox this spring as a non-roster invitee. The 33-year-old Reyes (pictured) was 3-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 59 appearances in 2010 for the St. Louis Cardinals, his tenth MLB team. For his career, he is 35-35 with a 4.18 ERA in 669 appearances.

Thus far, infielder Carlos Rodriguez is the only other Mexican-born player to ever suit up for both the Yankees and Red Sox back in the 1990’s, hitting .278 In 85 games over three seasons between the two teams. Reyes would be the second.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


These photos from the El Imparcial newspaper in Obregon of Monday night's impromptu celebration of the Yaquis' first Caribbean Series championship say it all. Thanks to BBM subscriber Carlos Fragoso for helping bring these pictures to us. Carlos is an Obregon native and lifelong Yaquis fanatico.

Congratulations to the Mexican Pacific League, the Yaquis players and management, and the Obregon fans who have waited since 1958 for a moment like this. No hay nada como ser el mejor!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Caribbean Series Most Valuable Player Jorge Vazquez was joined by four Obregon Yaquis teammates on the 2011 CS All-Star Team, announced shortly after the last game Monday night in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Vazquez, who batted .310 with 2 homers and 6 RBIs in six games, was named as the All-Star first baseman for the tournament won by the Yaquis, who posted a 4-2 record. Also selected were catcher Iker Franco, right fielder Karim Garcia and designated hitter Barbaro Canizares, while Obregon skipper Eddie Diaz got the nod as All-Star manager.
The Dominican champion Este Toros landed four players on the All-Star squad: third baseman Danny Richar, left fielder Ruddy Yan, center fielder Jose Constanza and starting pitcher Raul Valdes. The host Caguas Criollos placed second baseman Alex Cora and reliever Juan Padilla on the list, while Venezuela’s Anzoategui Caribes had just one representative named: shortstop Henry Rodriguez.
The 2012 Caribbean Series will be played in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Sometimes a little help is all it takes. The Obregon Yaquis have become Mexico’s first Caribbean Series champion since Mazatlan in 2005 by defeating the Anzoategui Caribes of Venezuela, 3-2, Monday afternoon in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. However, the Dominican champion Este Toros gave the Yaquis an assist by defeating the host Caguas Criollos, 3-0, in the nightcap to ensure Obregon’s first-ever CS title.

Obregon pitcher Alberto Castillo gave up two runs in the fourth inning and Caribes starter Seth Etherton was working on a shutout in the sixth when the wheels fell off his wagon. Justin Christian doubled, moved to third on an Evert Cabrera single and scored on Agustin Murillo’s groundout to short. Jorge Vazquez then poled his second homer of the CS to straightaway center to give the Yaquis a 3-2 lead. From that point, the Obregon bullpen took over and locked down the Venezuelans the rest of the way. Adrian C. Ramirez (pictured) got the win after striking out three of the five consecutive batters he retired in the sixth and seventh.

In the game that decided the Serie, Raul Valdes and Julion Manon combined on a four-hitter to lead Este to a 3-0 win over Caguas. Alejandro de Aza’s two-run triple in the fourth was the key blow against the Criollos, who would have won the CS with a win over Este due to their two earlier wins over Obregon. Instead, the Toros turned in a sparkling effort to defeat Caguas that set off a celebration in the Mayaguez stands among Yaquis fans, including one who leaped onto the field and ran the bases while waving a large Mexican flag.

For his efforts at the plate, Vazquez (who hit .310 with two homers and six RBIs) was named the Caribbean Series MVP. Vazquez, whose homer today entirely cleared a sight screen and landed in a parking lot behind the center field wall, will report to spring training in Tampa with the New York Yankeees later this month. It's believed he has considerably improved his chances of getting noticed by the big team.

Sunday, February 6, 2011


The Obregon Yaquis fell just short of becoming the first Mexican team in six years to win the Caribbean Series by losing, 7-6, to host Caguas Sunday night in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The Yaquis took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second when Criollos starter Joey Newby walked the first three batters he faced and two Obregon runners came in to score after Caguas shortstop Luis Figueroa threw away a Carlos Valencia grounder. The Puerto Ricans struck back with three more runs in the bottom of the second, featuring a two-run double from Figueroa to go up, 4-2.

The two teams traded goose eggs for two innings before the Mexicans struck for two runs in the fifth to tie the game at 4-4 with singles from Karim Garcia (pictured) and Barbaro Canizares, but Caguas matched that in the bottom of the inning to go back up by two. Garcia closed the gap to 6-5 with a solo homer in the seventh, but the Criollos added an insurance run in the eighth and a Gabriel Gutierrez RBI single in the ninth ended up being too little, too late for Obregon as Caguas stayed alive by matching Obregon's CS record at 3-and-2.

The Yaquis will wrap up their CS schedule Monday at 3PM ET against the 2-and-3 Anzoategui Caribes. The Venezuelan titlists shut out the 2-and-3 Este Toros, 3-0, on Sunday as Manny Avila and three relievers combined on the whitewash. A Yaquis win and a Caguas loss to Este would bring the CS title trophy to Mexico for the first time since Mazatlan won at home in 2005.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


A two-out, three-run homer to right field by Jorge Vazquez in the top of the ninth inning powered the Obregon Yaquis to a 6-3 win over the Este Toros Saturday at the Caribbean Series in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. The win gave the Mexican champions to 3-1 in the CS and sole possession of first place. The Toros are 2-2.

The first five innings featured a pitching battle between starters Adalberto Mendez of Este and Francisley Bueno of Obregon. Both pitchers were replaced after the fifth frame with the Toros holding a 3-1 lead over the Yaquis. The score remained in favor of the Dominicans until the top of the eighth, when Obregon’s Everth Cabrera and Oscar Robles both stroked RBI singles to tie the game at 3-3. Eventually the Yaquis sent postseason hero Iker Franco to the plate with bases loaded and two out, but Franco skied out to center field on a full count to end the threat.

Alan Guerrero retired the Toros in order on five pitches in the bottom of the eighth to set up the ninth inning and Vazquez’ deciding home run, which came after Justin Christian got on board on an infield error and Cabrera singled. Yaquis reliever Luis Ayala held on for the save.

The Yaquis will take on the host Caguas Criollos Sunday at 7:30PM ET. Caguas is 2-2 after topping Venezuela's Anzoategui Caribes, 4-2, Saturday night in 10 innings. The Criollos scored two runs in the top of the tenth without benefit of a single hit, as they moved runners along the basepaths courtesy of three walks, an error and a hit batsman. Caguas reliever Kiko Calero repaid Anzoategui's generosity by retiring the Caribes' side in order to nail down the win. The Venezuelans are now 1-3 as they head into Sunday afternoon's contest with Este.

Friday, February 4, 2011


Agustin Murillo (pictured) went a long way towards making up for two error-filled Caribbean Series games with a bases-loaded double Thursday for the Obregon Yaquis, who went on to beat Venezuelan champion Anzoategui, 7-3, in Puerto Rico. Obregon is now 2-and-1 while the Caribes are 1-and-2 in the CS with three days left to play.

The Yaquis scored the game’s first two runs in the top of the third inning when Barbaro Canizares doubled home Doug Clark for one run, then scored a second counter himself on Justin Christian’s single.

Canizares and Jose Rodriguez both singled off Caribes starter Ramon Ramirez to start the fifth, and a Ramirez error on a Christian sacrifice bunt attempt loaded the sacks with Yaquis. After Evert Cabrera struck out, Murillo lined a full-count Ramirez offering into left field to plate three runs, giving Obregon a 5-0 lead.

The veteran third baseman, who had four errors in the first two games of the CS, went on to score on Jorge Vazquez’ single. Murillo and Canizares each collected two hits in the game as Marco Quevedo got the win with 5.1 innings of two-run, four hit pitching. Ramirez absorbed the loss for the Caribes.

In the day's second game, Dominican champ Este scored three runs in the ninth edge host team Caguas, 4-3. Trailing 3-1, the Toros tied the contest on Esteban German's two-run triple. German scored on Kevin Barker's double play grounder to put Este on top. The Criollos were retired scoreless in the bottom of the ninth as Hiram Bocachica hit into a double play to end the game. Caguas second baseman Alex Cora singled twice, walked twice and scored three runs as the Criollos saw their CS record fall to 1-and-2. Este and Obregon are tied for first at 2-and-1.

The Yaquis and Toros will meet again Saturday at 3PM while Anzoategui and Caguas clash in the nightcap. Obregon outlasted Este in the CS opener, 4-3, in 15 innings on Wednesday.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


The Obregon Yaquis started out five runs behind and never caught up as the Mexican Pacific League champions fell, 7-3, Thursday night to the host Caguas Criollos in Caribbean Series action at Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

Caguas gave their starting pitcher Dylan Owen an early cushion by posting five first-inning runs before Obregon had a chance to bat, chasing Yaquis starter Rolando Valdez in the process. Karim Garcia put Obregon on the board with an RBI single in the first and the Mexican champions scored two more times when Criollos third sacker Rey Navarro misplayed a Murillo grounder into a two-run fielding error.

However, the Puerto Rican pennant winners replied with single runs in the fifth and sixth off Obregon reliever Dan Serafini to make it a 7-3 Caguas advantage they would hold the rest of the game. Juan Padilla got the win for Caguas with four shutout innings in relief while Rolando Valdez took the loss. The Yaquis had 12 hits as Justin Christian (pictured) went 3-for-5, but were 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

Earlier Thursday, Dominican champs Este held off Venezuelan kingpins Anzoategui, 7-5. Kevin Barker cracked a double and homer to drive in three runs for the Toros, who touched up Caribes starter Amaury Sanit for three runs in as many innings en route to a 6-3 lead. Anzoategui made it a one-run game in the top of the ninth on Jackson Melian’s two-run homer, but Este reliever Julion Manon induced a Luis Nunez groundout to shortstop to end the game. All four teams are now 1-1 in the CS.

Obregon will complete the first half of their double round-robin schedule Friday with a 3PM ET contest against Anzoategui.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The Obregon Yaquis and Este Toros opened the 2011 Caribbean Series Wednesday in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, with the Yaquis sneaking past the Toros, 4-3, in 15 innings. As has happened so often in the postseason, Obregon catcher Iker Franco registered a clutch two-out single off Este's Jose Rosario to score Gabriel Gutierrez from second with the game-winning run.

The Dominicans scored once in the top of the third and twice more in the sixth to go up 3-0, but Obregon came back with two scores in the seventh when Carlos Valencia sliced an infield single that drew a throwing error by Toros third sacker Victor Mercedes, and the Yaquis knotted the game at 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth on a two-out, run-scoring single by Barbaro Canizares.
The score remained unchanged into the 15th, when Gutierrez and Doug Clark both singled with two out to set up Franco’s first hit in seven at-bats.
Marco Carrillo, the tenth reliever to follow starter Alberto Castillo, retired one batter to get the win. Rosario suffered the loss after 3.2 innings out of the bullpen.

In the nightcap, Venezuela's Anzoategui Caribes put together a four-run first inning and went on to top the host Caguas Criollos, 5-3. Both teams had six hits, with Caribes shortstop Luis Nunez and Criollos second sacker Alex Cora each collecting a pair of hits. Seth Etherton got the win for the Venezuelans, allowing two runs on three hits in six innings. Willie Collazo took the loss for Caguas despite letting in one earned run in 6.2 frames as four unearned runs were his undoing.

Obregon takes on Caguas Thursday at 7:30PM ET. All CS games can be seen live online at, while Yaquis games are being carried in Spanish at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


: La Romana, La Romana, Dominican Republic
LEAGUE: Dominican Winter League
PENNANTS: 2 (1995, 2011)
2010-11 RECORD: 27-22 (17-6 in playoffs)
MANAGER: Dean Treanor
TOP HITTERS: OF Andy Dirks (.315/5HR/26RBI), 2B Esteban German (.319/2HR/20SB), 2B Victor Mercedes (.301/15R), 1B Mauro Gomez (.279/4HR/21RBI), OF Ricardo Nanita (.273/3HR/22RBI).
TOP PITCHERS: Humberto Sanchez (5-1/2.39/21SO), Raul Valdez (5-3/2.95/49SO), Aneury Rodriguez (4-2/2.06/37SO), Fernando Abad (3-0/2.38/37SO), July Manon (0-2/3.14/6SV).
CS SCHEDULE: WED 2/2 3pm vs. Obregon, THU 2/3 3pm vs. Anzoategui, FRI 2/4 7:30pm vs. Caguas, SAT 2/5 3pm vs. Obregon, SUN 2/6 3pm vs. Anzoategui, MON 2/7 7:30pm vs. Caguas


LOCATION: Obregon, Sonora, Mexico
LEAGUE: Mexican Pacific League
PENNANTS: 5 (1966, 1973, 1981, 2004, 2011)
2010-11 RECORD: 38-30 (12-4 playoffs)
MANAGER: Eddie Diaz
TOP HITTERS: 1B Barbaro Canizares (.320/12HR/46RBI), C Iker Franco (.273/9HR/44RBI), 3B Agustin Murillo (.262/14HR/47RBI), OF Doug Clark (.314/5HR/26RBI), SS Everth Cabrera (.301/8SB)
TOP PITCHERS: Marco Quevedo 6-1/2.63/35SO), Rolando Valdez (6-4/3.86/84SO), Marco Carrillo (4-4/4.07/55SO), Luis Ayala (2-0/2.27/12SV), Hector Navarro (2-2/4.81/8SV)
CS SCHEDULE: WED 2/2 3pm vs. Este, THU 2/3 7:30pm vs. Caguas, FRI 2/4 3pm vs. Anzoategui, SAT 2/5 3pm vs. Este, SUN 2/6 7:30pm vs. Caguas, MON 2/7 3pm vs. Anzoategui


: Caguas, Puerto Rico
LEAGUE: Puerto Rico Baseball League
PENNANTS: 15 (1941, 1948, 1950, 1954, 1956, 1958, 1960, 1968, 1974, 1977, 1979, 1981, 1987, 2001, 2011.
CS TITLES: 3 (1954, 1974, 1987)
2010-11 RECORD: 31-16 (11-9 playoffs)
MANAGER: Carmelo Martinez
TOP HITTERS: Edgardo Baez (.279/3HR/24RBI), Luis Figueroa (.361/2HR/25R), Greg Porter (.336/2HR/17RBI), Javier Valentin (.283/3HR/15RBI), Alex Cora (.270/0HR/19R)
TOP PITCHERS: Sho Iwasaki (8-1/3.19/40K), Shota Oba (4-0/2.39/22K), Luis Cruz (3-2/2.93/18SO), Erik Arneson (3-2/2.35/15SO), Saul Rivera (0-1/0.42/15SV)
CS SCHEDULE: WED 2/2 7:30pm vs. Anzoategui, THU 2/3 7:30pm vs. Obregon, FRI 2/4 7:30pm vs. Este, SAT 2/5 7:30pm vs. Anzoategui; SUN 2/6 7:30pm vs. Obregon, MON 2/7 7:30pm vs. Este


: Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui, Venezuela
LEAGUE: Venezuelan Professional Baseball League
PENNANTS: 1 (2011)
2010-11 RECORD: 34-29 (15-8 playoffs)
MANAGER: Julio Franco
TOP HITTERS: IF Juan Camacho (.466/6HR/26RBI), OF David Sappelt (.297/1HR/10RBI), IF Alexi Amarista (.296/9HR/34RBI), OF Mike Wilson (.281/4HR/14RBI), C Eliezer Alfonso (.225/9HR/35RBI),
TOP PITCHERS: Andrew Baldwin (5-2/2.08/47SO), Ramon Ramirez (3-1/2.47/27SO), Stephen Bray (3-1/1.97/14SO), Jose Alvarez (3-3/3.90/21SO), Brayan Villarreal (5-0/2.32/1SV)
CS SCHEDULE: WED 2/2 7:30pm vs. Caguas, THU 2/3 3pm vs. Este, FRI 2/4 3pm vs. Obregon, SAT 7:30pm vs. Caguas, SUN 2/6 3pm vs. Este, MON 2/7 3pm vs. Obregon