ESPN is celebrating 20 years of covering Major League Baseball and the network asked fans to vote for their all-time team of the last 20 seasons.
At this moment, fans are being asked to pick the winners for each position.
Not surprisingly, winning names in this national poll have been Edgar Martinez as the top DH, Albert Pujols top first baseman, Ivan Rodriguez as top catcher, and Mariano Rivera as the top closer in the last 20 years.
All players from Latin America.
For the last 23 years I have been covering the Major League Baseball beat of the Puerto Rican and Latin American players, and over that time I have seen a bunch of great players.
I’ve also seen how appealing they are to their fans. I have seen how hall-of-famers Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Tany Perez, Luis Aparicio, Rod Carew, and Juan Marichal are perceived as never-gone heroes in the respective towns they played in in their hey-days.
Nowadays players like Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Manny Ramirez, Johan Santana and many others are closely watched and being regarded as the No. 1 players of their respective franchises.
Quite different to ESPN’ SportsNation Poll, I will share whom I believe are the best Latino players the last 20 years. Most possibly readers will have have a different opinion, but this is my own Latino All-Star team.
Catchers-Santos Alomar Jr., Javier López, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Benito Santiago
First Base-Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Delgado, Andrés Galarraga, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Pujols
Second Base-Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Julio Franco
Third Base-Vinny Castilla, Mike Lowell, Alex Rodríguez
Shortstop-Hanley Ramirez, José Reyes, Miguel Tejada, Omar Vizquel
Outfielders-Bobby Abreu, Carlos Beltran, José Canseco, Juan González, Vladimir Guerrero, Magglio Ordoñez, Sammy Sosa, Bernie Williams
Pitchers-Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana
Closers-Mariano Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez
Designated Hitter-Edgar Martinez, David Ortiz
Once upon a time Puerto Ricans used to chat about just two boricuas Roberto Clemente and Orlando Cepeda being in baseball Hall of Fame. If dream comes true like a fairy tale story this same time around next year we can be praising two more.
That fantasy could be reality next December when members of the Baseball Writers Association of America will receive ballots that list candidates eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2010.
With historical and stats records furnished to them and with their own perception of greatness to back up their judgement, there should be great hope in Puerto Rico the writers wii consider our own Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martinez.
In my opinion, their career records should assure them of gaining acceptance and earning plaques in Cooperstown and why not in their first year of eligibility.
Roberto Alomar was one of the biggest stars and arguably the best second baseman in the history of the game. He was a 12-time All-Star, 11 consecutive seasons from 1991-2001, in 17 major league seasons. In the same career time he won 10 Gold Gloves, the most by a second baseman ever. In his prime he was doing everything right at second base a la Ozzie Smith did at shortstop or Brooks Robinson at third base.
Going strictly by his offense, his numbers are hall of fame too. He finished his career with a .300 batting average and among hall-of-fame comparisons he had more career hits and RBI than two other Hall-of-Fame second basemen Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg. Not enough ? In Alomar’s case, the most basic statistics should serve. Among all second basemen, Alomar ranks sixth in hits, seventh in runs scored, 10th in RBIs and fourth in steals. When he called it quits he was just 276 hits shy of 3,000 hits.
Among his hardware let’s not forget he was an American League Championship Series MVP (1992); All Star Game MVP (1998), two-time World Series member (1992,1993) and a four-time Silver Slugger Award. A three-time Toronto’ Player of the Year, franchise that inducted him into their Blue Jays Level of Excellence group last year and a two-time Cleveland Indians’ Player of the Year.
On the other hand, Edgar Martinez accolades are very,very long. To start, when as soon Martinez retired Major League Baseball recognized him as the greatest designated hitter of all time and renamed its yearly Designated Hitter Award as the Edgar Martinez Award. And its qualifications are his own numbers.
The 18-season veteran is only one of six in all history to have finished its career to have a batting average of .300 or more, on-base percentage of .400 or more, a slugging percentage of .500 or more, 2000 hits, 300 home runs, 500 doubles, and 1000 walks.
He is the Mariners’ all-time leader in hits (2,247), doubles (514), walks (1,283), and games played (2,055). He is also among the top 10 in other categories including at-bats (7,213), runs (1,219), home runs (309), RBI (1,261), total bases (3,718) and extra base hits (838).
He was among many recognitions a 7-time All Star, 5-time Silver Slugger, 2-time American League batting champion (1992, 1995) and won the Roberto Clemente Award (2004). He was also a two-time Mariners Player of the Year.
By the way, let’s not forget Edgar is “Señor Mariner”” not only in Seattle but in the whole Pacific Northwest. He was so cherished the Mariners waived the waiting period so they could induct him into the team hall of fame after his 2004 retirement and on the south side of Safeco Field named a street after him. Moreover, the Mariners have not issued Martínez’ #11 jersey since he retired.
Hope December arrives soon.
C’mon…whom the South Florida politicians are kidding that are sad and crushed with the departure of the Baltimore Orioles from Fort Lauderdale Stadium.
“It’s very, very dissapointing to see a tremendous era of spring training end”, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Selier said. “It’s a sad day”.
Yeah, right. Since 2004, the team has been on a year-to-year lease with the City of Fort Lauderdale. Every time a possible discussion for a long term deal was brought to the table by the Orioles there was always some type of road block.
Finally after so much, should I stay or should I go, the franchise is relocating to the state’s west coast. The City of Sarasota and its county approved a $31.2 million renovation and expansion of Ed Smith Stadium, which hosted the Cincinnati Reds from 1998 to 2009. Also renovations were approved for the Twin Lakes Park, the new Orioles’ full time minor league complex.
The Orioles are expected to be in Sarasota next February.
In this side south side of the Sunshine State a big deal have been made now that it will be without a major league team in the spring for the first time in 60 years.
Let’s not forget long time ago Fort Lauderdale was home for the New York Yankees for 33 seasons before they went off to Tampa in 1995.
One year later, in 1996, Fort Lauderdale became the spring training home of the Birds franchise. Since that opening year you could hear the rumbles of problems between the two sides. It look the marriage was not going to be a long one.
It is true the nowadays Orioles are not even close to those of the late 90’s anchored by Cal Ripken Jr. and other big name stars such as Roberto Alomar, Mike Mussina and many, many others.
However no matter the Orioles product, the City of Fort Lauderdale never show a commitment and effort to keep them for a long time in town.
Let’s not forget either they are the same politicians never wanted to build a home for the Florida Marlins. Hey, no sorrow and complaints now that they will be the Miami Marlins in 2012.
Fort Lauderdale should not cry. The truth is they never like the baseball business in their backyard.
Cheers to Sarasota. The Orioles will have a spring training home there for the next 30 years.
Bye, Bye Orioles.
NOTE: The author covered the Baltimore Orioles from 1997 to 2008. Thanks Bill Stetka for your support to the international media.
The All-Star Game is almost here and the 2009 season have reached its historically midway point of its schedule, making the perfect moment for this year Midseason Awards.
Disregard the predictions written back in April. Both The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated had the Yankees, Twins, Angels and Red Sox making October . Both publications went Phillies, Cubs, Dodgers and Mets in the National League.
Honestly, not bad at all. Except in both Central Division, the Tigers and the Cardinals at the moment are changing the spring prognosis. Also, the Angels have to be careful with the surprising Rangers in the American League West. Moreover, in the National League wild-card race unless the Mets get a miracle as the famous New York expression “Forget About It!”. At the moment the Giants, Marlins and Brewers look best for the coveted prize in the old circuit.
I will not give any forecasts. After all, who said back in 2007 the Colorado Rockies would make it to the World Series. Nobody crystal ball predicted the Phillies and the Rays last season in the October Classic.
Let’s have fun. Here are my midseason award winners:
Best Team: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees (tie)
Surprise Team: Texas Rangers
Disappointing Team: Cleveland Indians
Best Latino Player: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Best Latino Pitcher: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
Best Latino Rookie: Elvis Andrus, Texas Rangers
Best Boricua: Mike Lowell, Boston Red Sox
Best Latino Surprise Player: Nelson Cruz, Texas Rangers
Dissapointment Latino Player: Magglio Ordoñez, Detroit Tigers
Forget About Him!: Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
Best Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Surprise Team: San Francisco Giants
Disappointing Team: Chicago Cubs
Best Latino Player: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Best Latino Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers
Best Latino Rookie: Omir Santos, New York Mets
Best Boricua: Carlos Beltrán, New York Mets
Best Latino Surprise Player: Joel Piñeiro, St. Louis Cardinals
Dissapointment Latino Player: Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs
Forget About Him!: Manny Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers
My Midseason Latino All-Star Team:
C Victor Martinez (Indians); 1B Albert Pujols (Cardinals); 2B Robinson Cano (Yankees); 3B Mike Lowell (Boston); SS Hanley Ramirez(Marlins); OF Carlos Beltran (Mets); Carlos Lee (Astros); Juan Rivera (Angels); P Felix Hernandez (Mariners); PR Mariano Rivera (Yankees).
This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook
This upcoming 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, Yadier Molina will be the lone boricua shining with the best of the best .
There is no doubt, the younger of the Molina brothers deserved the accolade from the fans to be the starting catcher in the National League lineup. Not because the fans wanted to award him with his first All-Star experience playing at home. The 2009 All-Star Game will be played at Busch Stadium in his Cardinal nest in St. Louis on July 14. Neither a gift because he will be celebrating his 27th birthday the night before the big mid-summer classic game.
Yadier is validating he is the best defensive catcher in the National League. At midway point of this season he has thrown out 44 percent of would-be basestealers and picked off four baserunners as well. He’s second in the league in innings caught. Numbers that are in pace to help him win his second career Gold Glove Award.
Do not misremember either his batting. The Bayamon native is hitting for a .284 average with 5 homers and 28 RBI’s.
Of course, we can not forget that Carlos Beltran was also selected to be a starter outfielder in the National League. However, the Manati native at present is receiving a second treatment in his ailing right knee and would be re-evaluated during the All-Star break.
At this moment, the New York Mets have informed if doctors cleared him, he could resume baseball-related activates, like hitting and running after the All-Star Game break. For now, he is exercising on a bike and in a pool. Beltran publicly have acknowledged he does not have a timetable how long it would take to return to the Mets.
For the rest, after 85 games, I keep asking que pasa boricua ? Besides Molina and Beltran whom this season deserve to be an All-Star. Possibly in the National League older Yadier’s brother Bengie and in the American League Mike Lowell before getting re-injured again with hip problems. That’s it !
No longer are the hey-days of full of boricuas All-Star Games. See the accompanied chart below this decade. Make your own conclusions. I know we can do better again. Hopefully soon.
Puerto Ricans in All-Star Games (2001-2009)
2001 (Seattle): Roberto Alomar, Juan González, Edgar Martínez, Jorge Posada, Iván Rodríguez, Bernie Williams
2002 (Milwaukee): José Hernández, Mike Lowell, Jorge Posada, Benito Santiago, José Vidró
2003 (Chicago): Carlos Delgado, Javier López, Mike Lowell, Edgar Martínez, Jorge Posada, Jose Vidró
2004 (Houston): Carlos Beltrán, Mike Lowell, Iván Rodríguez, Javier Vázquez
2005 (Detroit): Carlos Beltrán, Felipe López, Iván Rodríguez
2006 (Pittsburgh): Carlos Beltrán, Alexis Rios, Iván Rodríguez
2007 (San Francisco): Carlos Beltrán, Mike Lowell, Jorge Posada, Alexis Rios, Iván Rodríguez
2008 (New York): Geovany Soto
2009 (St. Louis): Yadier Molina
This column was published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook
Sí es algo magnifico en la carrera de un pelotero en las Grandes Ligas ser escogido a un Juego de las Estrellas, más grandioso es el privilegio de ser seleccionado como abridor.
A estas fechas sobre 170 latinoamericanos en la historia de las Mayores han participado al menos en un clásico de verano pero no todos tuvieron o han tenido esa gran experiencia en sus carreras.
Este año 2009 ese honor le corresponde a cuatro de los nuestros en la Liga Nacional. Al campocorto Hanley Ramírez de los Marlins de Florida, el guardabosque Carlos Beltrán de los Mets de Nueva York y los Cardenales el inicialista Albert Pujols y el receptor Yadier Molina.
“Es un gran honor” fueron las primeras palabras del dominicano Ramírez, quien será por segunda temporada consecutiva el paracorto titular del conjunto del más antiguo de ambos circuitos.
Esas palabras o similares se escucharon este pasado domingo en muchos de los camerinos a traves de las Grandes Ligas. En el caso del joven Ramírez,quien a estas fechas es el lider de bateo de la Liga Nacional, fueron en el Estadio Land Shark en Miami.
Para Ramírez las pasadas dos semanas han sido grandiosas. Entre grandes destaques el joven quisqueyano se convirtió recientemente en el primer campocorto en la historia de la Liga Nacional en impulsar carreras en 10 encuentros consecutivos. Por otro lado, nos confesó que su verdadera razón de estar bien contento en dias recientes es porque va nuevamente al Juego de las Estrellas.
Aunque bien sabemos su sentir en el corazón, el único de los cuatro antes mencionados que muy probablemente no se encuentre en el diamante entre las luminarias lo es el jardinero de los Metropolitanos. El boricua Beltrán esta descansando de una lesión en su rodilla derecha que lo tiene en la lista de inactivos desde el pasado 22 de junio y por ordenes de su equipo muy probablemente no regrese a jugar hasta despues del partido de las estrellas.
En el caso de Pujols y Molina que más honor de haber sido electos como abridores en su propia casa en el Busch Stadium en San Luis.
Otros latinoamericanos no corrieron la misma suerte pero no importando hay que destacar los también invitados.
En la Liga Nacional serán parte de su escuadra como reservas el primera base Adrian Gonzalez de los Padres de San Diego y el campocorto Miguel Tejada de los Astros de Houston. También, los lanzadores Francisco Cordero de los Rojos de Cincinnati y Francisco Rodriguez y Johan Santana de los Mets.
Desafortunadamente, al momento de escribir estas lineas, están fuera del gran juego los Gigantes Pablo Sandoval y Bengie Molina. Ambos entiendo son merecedores este año de estar en la banca del Dirigente Charlie Manuel.
En el conjunto de la Liga Americana las unicas caras latinas lo son el receptor Victor Martínez de los Indios de Cleveland y los serpentineros Felix Hernández de los Marineros de Seattle y Mariano Rivera de los Yankees de Nueva York.
Mis respetos al Dirigente Joe Maddon pero en su escuadra de la Americana debieron estar presentes también el primera base Miguel Cabrera de los Tigres de Detroit y el campocorto Marco Scutaro de los Azulejos de Toronto. Y alguien más adelante le preguntará porque no esta Carlos Peña de sus propios Rays quien es el lider actual en el circuito en vuelacercas conectados.
Para aquellos amantes de la historia, estos son los latinoamericanos que han sido abridores en Juegos de Estrellas:
Chico Carrasquel SS 1951,1953,1954
Beto Avila 2B 1952,1954
Minnie Miñoso OF 1954,1959,1960 (2)
Luis Aparicio SS 1958,1959 (2), 1961,1962 (2), 1970, 1971
Zoilo Versalles SS 1963
Tony Oliva OF 1964,1966,1967
Felix Mantilla 2B 1965
Rod Carew 2B 1967,1968,1969, 1971, 1972,1973,1974,1975 / 1B 1976,1977,1978,1980,1981,1983,1984
Luis Tiant P 1968
Bert Campaneris SS 1973,1974,1975
Ben Oglivie OF 1980
Manny Trillo 2B 1983
George Bell OF1987
José Canseco OF 1988,1990
Julio Franco 2B 1989
Rubén Sierra OF 1989
Santos Alomar Jr. C 1990,1991,1992
Roberto Alomar 2B 1991,1992,1993,1994,1996,1997,1998,1999,2000
Danny Tartabull DH 1991
Ivan Rodriguez C 1993,1994,1995,1996,1997,1998,1999,2000,2001,2004,2006,2007
Carlos Baerga 2B 1995
Edgar Martinez DH 1995,1997,2001,2003
Alex Rodriguez SS 1997,1998, 2002,2003 / 3B 2001,2004,2005,2006,2007,2008
Juan Gonzalez OF 1998, 2001
Manny Ramirez OF 1999,2001,2002,2004,2005,2008
Rafael Palmeiro DH 1999
Pedro Martinez P 1999
Bernie Williams OF 2000
Jorge Posada C 2002,2003
Alfonso Soriano 2B 2002,2003,2004
Carlos Delgado 1B 2003
Esteban Loaiza P 2003
Vladimir Guerrero OF 2004,2005,2006,2007
Miguel Tejada SS 2005
David Ortiz DH 2005 / 1B 2006,2007
Placido Polanco 2B 2007
Magglio Ordoñez OF 2007
Orlando Cepeda 1B 1959, 1962 (2), 1964, 1967 / OF 1961 (2)
Roberto Clemente OF 1961 (2), 1962 (2), 1964,1966,1967
Julian Javier 2B 1963
Juan Marichal P 1965,1967
Leo Cardenas SS 1966
Felix Millán 2B 1969
Matty Alou OF 1969
Tany Pérez 3B 1970
Rico Carty OF 1970
Cesar Cedeño OF 1973
David Concepción SS 1975,1976,1977,1981,1982
Fernando Valenzuela P 1981
Manny Trillo 2B 1982
Mario Soto P 1983
Bobby Bonilla 3B 1988 / DH 1991
Pedro Guerrero DH 1989
Benito Santiago C 1989,1991,1992
Iván Calderón OF 1991
Mariano Duncan 2B 1994
Vinny Castilla 3B 1995
Sammy Sosa OF 1999,2000,2001,2002,2004
Andrés Galarraga 1B 2000
Vladimir Guerrero OF 2000,2002
José Vidró 2B 2002,2003
Javier López C 2003
Edgar Renteria SS 2003, 2004, 2006
Albert Pujols OF 2003 / 1B 2004, 2006 / DH 2005 / DH 2008
Alfonso Soriano OF 2006
Aramis Ramírez 3B 2005
Bobby Abreu OF 2005
Carlos Beltrán OF 2005, 2006,2007
José Reyes SS 2007
Geovany Soto C 2008
Hanley Ramírez SS 2008
For the first time this season Mike Lowell is accepting a break. Not because he is pulling one of those Alex Rodriguez ‘fatigue’ stories as the ‘A-Rod’ did when the Yankees came to Miami. Lowell’ hip had grown stiff and sore lately and his Manager Terry Francona have offer him to take longer breaks. Not good news for the Puerto Rican four-time All-Star.
Let’s remember this season is one he does not want to finish hurt. Lowell pointed us out back during spring training that he very well know he needs a healthy season and finish with good numbers.
He really wants to demostrate Boston’ management he can still play and would like to be a Red Sox longer than his signed contract through 2010.
“This season is very important to me. I love Boston and I want to stay here. If not I play in Mars along their is big league baseball. After all I’m a major leaguer,” Lowell said.
For the veteran Gold-Glove third baseman, up until few weeks ago it look his numbers were amazing hitting over .300 and taking him to the path for a run for American League Comeback Player of the Year. Some Boston media were even talking All-Star Game in St. Louis. However, the last two weeks his hitting has gone down faster than the Titanic. At this moment he’s hitting .281, 10 homers with 41 RBI’s.
According to Lowell, 35, the pain is not constant but some days his hip would feel “locked up”.
For Red Sox Nation fans this is not good news either. Specially right now that they are in command of their East Division pennant. Nonetheless, they have not forgotten that it could be déjà vu all over again as last season.
Last year Lowell went down as they were fighting the surprising Tampa Bay Rays. For most of the 2008 campaign he was hurt to the point he was left off from the Red Sox roster for the American League Championship Series. And in October 20th he decided on to go to surgery for a torn labrum in his right hip with well catalogued Dr. Bryan Kelly in New York.
Remember the Rays won and were the one with the ticket to the World Series. And this year the Red Sox besides the Rays they also have the Yankees and the Blue Jays in their back very close too.
At this moment the Red Sox are planning to put Lowell on a maintenance program starting next week up to the All-Star break where he’ll receive at least one day off a week and receive occasional lubricating injections to ease the friction in the cartilage in hip and they want to make sure he’s rested accordingly. After the All-Star Game they will check on Lowell’s progress.
The Red Sox acknowledge that they need a healthy Lowell to win it all again. In the other hand, Lowell wants to be healthy enough to go back to a post-season and who knows if he can repeat again his 2007 World Series MVP performance. And of course, stay as a Red Sox.
Last Minute Note: Lowell probably will not play this weekend against the Atlanta Braves according to various reports.
This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook