Monday, November 30, 2015

CANEROS AND MAYOS TIED FOR EARLY LMP SECOND-HALF LEAD

Los Mochis and Navojoa have bolted out the gate in the Mexican Pacific League’s second half.  The Caneros and Mayos are both 6-2 with the final month of the LMP regular season looming ahead.  First-half champion Mexicali is in third with a 4-3 mark and Culiacan holds fourth at 4-4, followed by 3-4 Hermosillo.  Jalisco and Obregon are tied for sixth at 3-5, a game up on 2-6 tailender Mazatlan.  Four weeks remain until the playoffs begin after Christmas.
 
Mexicali OF Welington “Duke” Dotel continues to pace league batters with a .379 average, 21 points ahead of Obregon 3B Christian Villanueva’s .358.  Jalisco teammates 3B Alex Liddi and OF Jesus Valdez are tied for fourth at .333.  Another Charros swinger, 1B Japhet Amador, tops the loop with 12 homers and 39 RBIs in 44 contests.  He’s batting .281.  Culiacan OF Rico Noel has 20 stolen bases in just 27 games to top the MexPac, but also reportedly became embroiled in a heated dugout argument with Tomateros manager Benji Gil that nearly ended in blows.

 
Mexicali P Javier Solano (above) was touched up for 6 runs in 7 innings against Mazatlan November 27, but still managed to win in a 9-6 triumph over the Venados.  It’s been that kind of winter for Solano, whose LMP-best 7-1 record has been built on a 4.08 ERA, solid offensive support and luck.  Mazatlan’s Alejandro Soto has pitched better than his 3-2 record shows, topping the MexPac with a 2.17 ERA.  2009 Mexican League Rookie of the Year Juan Pablo Oramos is wintering in Hermosillo, where his 55 strikeouts are most in the league.  Oakland farmhand RHP Andres Avila has 18 saves in 24 outings for Los Mochis.

SANDOVAL OUT, BUNDY IN AS HERMOSILLO SKIPPER

Something mentioned numerous times in Baseball Mexico dating back to our Viva Beisbol days is that there's nothing casual about winter baseball. While gringo players often learn the hard way that the Mexican Pacific League isn’t winter training en espanol, nobody has to remind longtime Mexican baseball people like Jose Luis Sandoval or Lorenzo Bundy (right) that the LMP isn't about "working on your game"...it's about winning.
 
Solo Beisbol writer Dr. Tomas Lopez says Sandoval, who managed Hermosillo to a last-place finish in the MexPac’s first half, received the dreaded “vote of confidence” from the Naranjeros front office on November 19, in which he was called part of a long-term building process. Hermosillo had an 11-24 first-half record (8-15 after Sandoval had replaced Delino DeShields just four weeks earlier). The reprieve lasted all of two days before Sandoval was sacked, a move that should’ve been unsurprising to Sandoval, who was released by Hermosillo during the 2010-11 season, his 21st and last as a minor league shortstop (spending all but one summer with the Mexico City Diablos Rojos between 1990 and 2011).

 
This is Mexican baseball, however, which means the change wasn’t seamless.  After the axe fell on Sandoval in Hermosillo, Bundy had to cool his heels two days waiting for the Navojoa Mayos to accept his resignation as their manager.  In Bundy’s case, a first-half record of 17-18 was likely enough to keep the executioner at bay, but the former Dodgers third base coach must prefer living dangerously.  He now becomes Hermosillo’s sixth manager since the beginning of last season after finally being introduced as the Naranjeros’ newest pilot last Tuesday.  He's been replaced in Navojoa by another veteran Mexican manager, Enrique “Che” Reyes.

For now.

DIABLOS CEO DISCOUNTS AMADOR-TO-JAPAN RUMORS

Mexico City Diablo Rojos CEO Roberto Mansur is pooh-poohing rumors that Mexican League MVP Japhet Amador may be heading to Japan for the 2016 season. 
 
According to Puro Beisbol columnist Juan Alonso Juarez, Mansur says nobody from the Japanese leagues has contacted the Diablos office to negotiate the right to talk contract with the hulking Amador, who led the Liga with 41 homers and 117 RBIs with a .346 average in 103 games last summer.  The 330-pounder is leading the Mexican Pacific League with 12 homers and 39 RBIs this winter for Jalisco. Mansur added that he’s amazed how much power the right-handed Amador gave Mexico City in 2015 with little left-handed protection in the batting order.  

 
To address that, Mansur will travel to Venezuela to meet with first baseman Luis Jimenez, no ballerina himself at 6’3” and 280 pounds, who hit just .205 with one homer in 23 games in his Diablos debut last summer.  Jimenez had a cup of coffee with Seattle in 2012 but has otherwise bounced around the minors, Korea and Mexico for 15 years (including nine MLB organizations), batting .289 with 232 homers and 1,001 career RBIs.  He’s currently playing winterball in Venezuela with the Lara Cardenales.