Tagged: Latinos in the Major Leagues

Bernie Williams: 51 Next ?


Just a little time ago here in Miami, a group of New York media reporters and myself were talking about which great Yankee’s player should be next to have his uniform’s number retired.

The immediate answer was number 2′ Derek Jeter.

The quick response is understandable. For 14 seasons the nine-time All-Star shortstop’s long list mark of honors and accolades are not doubt hall-of-fame bound. Not counting that besides Mr. Yankee Captain since 2003 he has been twice Mr. Captain of Team USA in both editions of the World Baseball Classic. Sixteen (16) pages of Jeter’s biography in the 2009 Yankee Media Guide tells it all.

Moreover his number 2 is at the present time, the only number from 1 through 9 not yet retired at Yankee Stadium’ s Monument Park.

What about 51 ? Yes, Bernie Williams. The reaction from the same group was something like he deserves it but we totally forgot about him.

In The Big Apple who should have forgotten whom in 16 seasons was one of the Mr. Yankee. He racked up from 1991-2006 batting .297, 287 homers with 1,257 RBI’s, The Barceloneta native is among  the top 15 Yankee career batting leader in 10 offensive categories. Five-Time All-Star; Four Gold Gloves; 1996 American League Championship Series MVP and 1998 American League Batting King.

At least in Borinquen who have forgotten when Williams and catcher Jorge Posada each hit home runs from both sides of the plate in 2000 in a win at Toronto. Only time in history that wo players have hit swith-home runs in the same game. That’s good history.

Back in March after the last Puerto Rico game in the World Baseball Classic the always amiable Williams gave us this wrap-up responses to the Puerto Rico Daily Sun in South Florida.

“I felt really good about playing,” Williams said. “I am my worst critic and I didn’t feel very bad about it. It took me a while to get acclimated. But after a while, I felt very encouraged. I can still play,”

“At this point, I don’t want to be the guy that tries to come back and goes to the independent leagues or the minor leagues for a couple [of] weeks,” Williams said. “I would certainly welcome the opportunity to play in the big leagues at some point, even though the window is very short right now.”

The window never open. And even though he never said  it if he’d play for a team other than the Yankees, we really knew he would have only played for the Yankees.

Nowadays Williams, 40, is on the road on his “Moving Forward” second-album jazz tour. And we well very know he still thinks he could have been in the pinstripes uniform one more time.

Just a suggestion to the Yankees organization. Next time you invite him to play a national anthem give him finally a Bernie Williams Day like any other Yankee greats and retire his number 51 forever. And be the first Puerto Rican and Latino to be in Monument Park. Jeter can join him later.

As an extra note, if this column is read in Seattle, the Mariners should finally retire Number 11′ Edgar Martínez. His honors are very long. Then someday another Mariners’ 51 , Ichiro Suzuki.

 

This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Notebook

Es Tiempo Para Un Juego de Estrellas Mundial


El proximo 14 de Julio las Grandes Ligas celebrará en el Estadio Busch en la ciudad de San Luis el tradicional Juego de las Estrellas. 

Siempre he sido de los fieles creyentes que el béisbol desde hace mucho tiempo es un juego de carácter mundial. Será el pasatiempo américano pero ya desde hace mucho tiempo es uno de sabor internacional. Es uno que debe regresar al calendario olímpico y entiendo cambios deben pasar en Las Mayores.

Atras en el 2001 en un congreso periodistico como parte de las festividades del partido de las luminarias en Seattle propuse que se cambiara el formato del Juego de las Estrellas a uno igual que el partido de los novatos del Juego de las Futuras Estrellas. Estados Unidos vs. El Mundo.

Para tal fantasia mia aquí les propongó mis selecciones del equipo del mundo y de los Estados Unidos sí este evento pudiera ser realidad este mismo año.

Si bien nota cada roster comprende de 32 jugadores tal como en el tradicional Juego de las Estrellas entre la Liga Americana y la Liga Nacional. Tambien note que en el equipo del mundo hice todo lo posible de tener las máximas figuras actuales de América Latina, Canadá y Japón.

Es tarde para ver tal sugerencia en el nido de los Cardenales este año pero tal formato debe ser considerado en un futuro cercano.

Siempre lo he dicho, que bueno es soñar. El tiempo dirá. Quien sabe sí este fantastico juego fuese realidad este año 2009 lo que hubiese sido pero si las Grandes Ligas me toman para el 2010 mi idea aquí están mis equipos:

Equipo Todos Estrellas-El Mundo
Dirigente: Ozzie Guillén, Medias Blancas de Chicago
Coaches: Fredi González (Florida); Manny Acta (Washington); Carlos Tosca (Florida)

LANZADORES
Johan Santana, Mets de Nueva York
Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee
Javier Vázquez, Atlanta
Felix Hernández, Seattle
Liván Hernández, Mets de Nueva York
Wandy Rodríguez, Houston
Pedro Feliciano, Mets de Nueva York
Kiko Calero, Florida
Francisco Cordero, Cincinnati
Francisco Rodríguez, Mets de Nueva York
Mariano Rivera, Yankees de Nueva York

RECEPTORES
Victor Martínez, Cleveland
Bengie Molina, San Francisco
Yadier Molina, San Luis

CUADRO INTERIOR
1B Albert Pujols, San Luis
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
1B Adrian González, San Diego
2B Robinson Canó, Yankees de Nueva York
2B Felipe López, Arizona
SS Hanley Ramírez, Florida
SS Cristian Guzmán, Washington
SS Marco Scutaro, Toronto
SS Miguel Tejada, Houston
3B Mike Lowell, Boston
3B Jorge Cantu, Florida

GUARDABOSQUES
Jason Bay, Boston
Ichiro Suzuki, Seattle
Carlos Beltrán, Mets de Nueva York
Carlos Lee, Houston
Nelson Cruz, Texas
Juan Rivera, Angelinos de Los Angeles

Equipo Todos Estrellas Estados Unidos
Dirigente: Joe Torre, Dodgers de Los Angeles
Coaches: Terry Francona (Boston); Jim Leyland (Detroit); Joe Maddon (Tampa Bay)

LANZADORES
Roy Halladay, Toronto
Zack Greinke, Kansas City
Matt Cain, San Francisco
Josh Beckett, Boston
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers de Los Angeles
Josh Johnson, Florida
Dan Haren, Arizona
Jered Weaver, Angelinos de Los Angeles
Brian Fuentes, Angelinos de Los Angeles
Jonathan Papelbon, Boston
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers de Los Angeles
Heath Bell, San Diego

RECEPTORES
Joe Mauer, Minnesota
Brian McCann, Atlanta
Jason Varitek, Boston

CUADRO INTERIOR
1B Justin Morneau, Minnesota
1B Mark Teixeira, Yankees de Nueva York
1B Kevin Youkilis, Boston
1B Prince Fielder, Milwaukee
2B Ian Kinsler, Texas
2B Chase Utley, Philadelphia
2B Brian Roberts, Baltimore
SS Derek Jeter, Yankees de Nueva York
SS Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay
3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay
3B David Wright, Mets de Nueva York

GUARDABOSQUES
Raul Ibañez, Filadelfia
Torii Hunter, Angelinos de Los Angeles
Ryan Braun, Milwaukke
Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay
Shane Victorino, Filadelfia
Johnny Damon, Yankees de Nueva York

 

Ivan Rodriguez: El Papá de los Receptores Grandes Ligas



En estos días que tanto se esta escribiendo y hablando de Iván Rodríguez es un buen momento para tomar nota de los mejores receptores en el gran circo. Muchos se preguntarán y por qué en este instante. Muy simple.  Es en estos días, el “Pudge” una vez más demostró para la historia, porqué es el hombre considerado como el mejor receptor de las Grandes Ligas.

El borícua, que en esta campaña juega para los Astros de Houston, se convirtió este miércoles en el receptor con más partidos jugados (2,227) entre los hombres que trabajan detrás del plato.

La marca de 2,226 estaba en posesión de Carlton “Pudge” Fisk que en su carrera jugó con Medias Rojas de Boston y Medias Blancas de Chicago. De pura coincidencia o cosas del destino, Rodríguez empató y rompió la marca ante los Rangers de Texas donde inició su carrera peloteril a los 19 años de edad. Y atrás en el calendario, el día de su debut el 20 de Junio de 1991, el hombre que estaba de receptor  del equipo contrario era el propio Fisk en aquel entonces en la camisa de los Patiblancos.

Para Rodríguez, todo el asunto de sobrepasar la marca de partidos jugados fue tomado con humildad. “Uno no juega para nuevos récords; ese es el resultado de que el trabajo se está haciendo excelente. Mi disciplina y respeto hacia el béisbol siempre estarán ahí. Sé que vendrán otros que seguirán nuestro camino”, dijo el receptor.

Y en verdad el nacido de Vega Baja puede ser humilde en todo este asunto. La súper marca de juegos participados es una más de 12 que ostenta como receptor en las Grandes Ligas y al paso que va puede que rompa varias más antes de que finalice la presente temporada.

Ya sea que juegue o no en la campaña de 2010, Rodríguez, con su más reciente hazaña, se acercó un paso más a su entrada al Salón de la Fama en Cooperstown.

Y no se vaya a equivocar que el paso que lleva durante este año con los Astros, su defensa se considera poco a poco para obtener otro codiciado premio del Guante de Oro. Rodríguez ostenta actualmente la marca de 13 Guantes de Oro ganados como receptor.
Y después del “Pudge” ¿quienes en la actualidad son los mejores receptores defensivos  en las Mayores? Para orgullo de la Isla del Encanto, siguiendo los pasos de Rodríguez, se menciona al joven Yadier Molina de los Cardenales de San Luís. Otro que ha puesto el nombre en alto como receptor para Borinquen lo es su hermano mayor Bengie Molina. Entre ambos hermanos, hay tres Guantes de Oro.

Todo parece indicar que en Puerto Rico los aficionados siguen de cerca los pasos de Geovany Soto y Omir Santos. De Venezuela puede que sea Ramón Hernández a pesar que se acerca el final de su carrera. Los otros dos venezolanos que dicho sea de paso son más jóvenes, son Víctor Martínez y Dioner Navarro. Por cierto, a Navarro muchos lo llaman en Tampa Bay  el Gordito Pequeño o  “The Little Pudge”. También ponga en la mira de su radar a los receptores de la tierra del merengue, Miguel Olivo y Ronny Paulino.

Y como un extra, sí la temporada terminará para estas fechas, además de Iván Rodríguez sería mi selección para el Guante de Oro como receptor en la Liga Nacional. Al momento, estos otros latinos deben ser merecedores también:

Liga Nacional

1B Albert Pujols, San Luís
3B Pedro Feliz, Filadelfia
OF Carlos Beltrán, Mets de Nueva York

Liga Americana

1B Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay
2B Robinson Canó, Yankees de Nueva York
SS Marco Scutaro, Toronto
3B Mike Lowell, Boston
OF Alexis Ríos, Toronto
OF Juan Rivera, Angelinos de Los Ángeles

Yadier and Bengie Molina: The Forgotten Gold Glovers

 


When thinking about Puerto Rican catchers, it first comes to mind such names as future hall-of-famer Iván Rodriguez, veteran Yankee Jorge Posada and the new wave kids Geovany Soto and Omir Santos. Often forgotten and they shouldn’t be there are Bayamon’  Molina brothers. Hopefully one month from now Yadier and Bengie will receive the attention they deserve.

“We all are quiet. We come to the ballpark to do our work and with God blessing we do the best job we can,” Yadier said at Landshark Stadium in Miami.

The Molina brothers younger to older Yadier (Cardinals), José (Yankees) and Bengie (Giants) they all debuted in the same season in 2004. They are the only trio of brothers  in Major League history to win World Series ring. However, no matter what, there are often left out of the favourite boricuas fan list.

That probably could change in few weeks as both the junior and the senior can be select it to their first All-Star Game in their careers.

“Yadier is like the kid everybody loves in the neighborhood,” St.Louis’ Manager Tony LaRussa said. “He deserves it same as his brother (Bengie).”

At this moment, Yadier, 26, is the leading vote-getter among National League catchers for the upcoming All-Star Game. And he is very happy about it moreover this year Summer Classic is at his Redbird nest at Busch Stadium in St. Louis July 14.

“It means a lot to me. A lot of people doubted I could do it,” Yadier said. “I’m proud of what I have done so far. It feels very good.”

Of course, he should feel good. Defensively he is probing once more he was not just lucky last season when he won his fisrt Gold Glove. At present, Yadier leads all Major League catchers in throwing percentage (41.8) and leads the majors in pick-offs since 2005. He admitted is slumping offensively a bit but he knows he can do better as similar to last year career-best .304.

In the other side of the country, all west, Bengie, 34,  is finally getting the attention he deserves. Not only because he is only 1 of  3 active catchers —Pudge Rodriguez (13) and Brad Ausmus (3)– to have won multiple Gold Gloves (American League 2002 and 2003) or owns as a catcher a career .994 fielding percentage. As a backstopper, he is second in the majors in putouts and have logged fourth-most innings played behind the plate. Also, he can hit too. He leads his San Francisco uniform in homers and RBI since 2007 and he is the leader again in both departments in 2009 (9 HR-37 RBI).

“(Pitcher) Matt McCain should be our All-Star this year. If I’m select it then it will be a great honor.” Bengie said. “Of course, that will be great to play in the same All-Star Game with my brother”.

Last Puerto-Rican duo of brothers to play in All-Star Games together were Roberto And Sandy Alomar Jr. in the 90’s.

Even though he is satisfied with the Giants—were he have been its franchise MVP the last two seasons— he stated he sometimes feels unrecognized as in his days with the Anaheim Angels. However, he said that given the right oppportunity he wants to stay in the Bay Area with San Francisco and be the starting catcher for the next two or three years.

Bengie is a free agent at the end of the season but he does not want to discuss with the Giants management a return to the team and any kind of deal anytime after the All-Star break.

On José, the other forgotten, is at the moment in the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa in a rehablitation assignment (strained left quadriceps muscle).

José, 33, went on the disabled list last May 10. No word from the Yankees management how soon he will called up.

This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Commentary

Ivan Rodriguez: Closer To Cooperstown

Last March during the second round of the World Baseball Classic in Miami we were fill the blank with the proper adjective to have the lead for The Puerto Rico Daily Sun that Iván Rodríguez was going to be playing his 19th season in the Majors with the Houston Astros.

Four months in the calendar have gone by and ‘Pudge’ is in the news again. The Vega Baja native is set for history again. He will become the all-time major league leader in games caught passing Carlton Fisk 2,226 behind the plate. Coincidentally, Fisk was the opposing catcher when Rodriguez made his debut on June 20, 1991.

Moreover, in interleague play he is in line to break the record against his original team, the Texas Rangers, June 16-18.

If any one have forgotten, Rodriguez, 37, played 12 seasons with the Rangers. It was in Arlington were he established his actual credentials. In Texas he was a 10-time All Star; won 10 out of his 13 Gold Gloves; 6 of 7 Silver Slugger awards; the 1999 American League MVP and many, many other honors and recognitions.

In 2003 he added to his resume something that he could not enjoy as a Ranger. As a Florida Marlins he have a dream season (.297, 16 HR , 85 RBI) and led his young club to the World Series. He was the 2003 National League Championship Series MVP against the Cubs and one of the leaders in the win against the Yankees.

What’s next ?

“I still can play this game on an every day basis,” Rodriguez said. “I just look forward to have a great year and make this ballclub (Astros) in the playoffs. That’s going to be my goal”.

At this moment the Astros are off in the race in their Central Division but in the other hand Rodriguez (.259, 5HR, 24 RBI) is showing good shape to keep playing in the Majors.

No matter he have surpassed Fisk and Johnny Bench in numbers and recognition, ‘Pudge’ have been clear that with his discipline, hard and strong ethic work if he can go on he will. And is no secret he’s next goal is try to reach the 3,000-hit plateau.

Time will tell if he will achieve it or not. However, no matter what, Rodriguez at this moment is enjoying the big moment and no doubt once he retires he will be bound to Cooperstown.

This column was also published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun / MLB Commentary

Albert Pujols: El Mejor en las Grandes Ligas


pujols.jpgTiempo atras leia un articulo en una edición de la publicación Baseball Digest de bastante atras en tiempo que pronosticaba que al finalizar esta primera decada del Siglo 21 el mejor pelotero en todas las Mayores lo iba ser Albert Pujols. En verdad no se equivocaron.

A este momento de un tercio de esta campaña 2009 el dominicano Pujols es uno de los hombres que más esta dejando hablar y va con buen paso una vez más para quedarse con el honor de Jugador Más Valioso de la Liga Nacional. A estas fechas el inicialista de los Cardenales de San Luis esta entre lideres en al menos ocho categorias ofensivas y el calendario no luce pasarle por encima. Cierto que todavia no ha cumplido los 30 años de edad pero para la pelota que ha jugado es considerado ya todo un veterano. Y que veteranazo.

Desde que fue escogido como Jugador Novato del Año en el 2001, Pujols no conoce una sola temporada con menos de .300 de promedio de bateo, menos de 30 vuelacercas y menos de 100 carreras impulsadas. Año tras año ha sido un Todo-Estrella y ha ganado cuanto honor, reconocimiento y premio que pueda usted imaginar o conocer. Por cierto si se lleva esta campaña el de Más Valioso de su circuito seria la tercera ocasión que bien merecido se lleva para su hogar.

Y así como decimos nosotros los escritores de la publicación Sports Illustrated lo reiteraron escogiendolo como el mejor pelotero actual en todo el gran circo en su última edición. Tiempo atras similar elección la dejo saber en sus paginas The Sporting News.

Solo un mes queda para escoger los abridores al partido de las estrellas que se escenificará este año el 14 de Julio precisamente en San Luis. No hay duda que tan honor de abrir en tan gran Clásico de Verano en el Busch Stadium es bien merecido por el natural de Santo Domingo.

Ademas de Pujols, a estas fechas sean electos o no al Juego de las Estrellas estos latinos merecen su voto y deben estar entre las Estrellas el proximo mes de Julio.

LIGA AMERICANA
C Victor Martinez, Cleveland
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
1B Carlos Peña, Tampa Bay
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees de Nueva York
3B Mike Lowell, Boston
SS Alberto Callapso, Kansas City
SS Marco Scutaro, Toronto
OF Nelson Cruz, Texas

LIGA NACIONAL
C Bengie Molina, San Francisco
C Yadier Molina, San Luis
1B Adrian González, San Diego
2B Felipe López, Arizona
SS Hanley Ramírez, Florida
SS Christian Guzmán, Washington
SS Miguel Tejada, Houston
OF Carlos Beltrán, Mets de Nueva York
OF Alfonso Soriano, Cachorros de Chicago

Fredi Gonzalez Deserves A Florida Marlins Chance

 

There are still many things that I do not understand from Florida Marlins fans. I comprehend through their long rocky history many unlikable things and decisions have happened however the 2009 edition should still be given a chance.

Very true the Marlins started sizzling hot with an 11-1 record. After that unlucky 13th game the month of April seems very long time ago. However does anybody think out there that they can arise again? Let’s not forget in 2003 under former Manager Jeff Torborg that team in the Month of June its destiny was to share the cellar of its Eastern Division with the defunct Montreal Expos. The rest is history. A World Championship.

It’s understandable there are not at present to many positive news, however at the moment I’m writing this column I have not seen one headline in all South Florida media that Hanley Ramírez is the National League’ s leading vote-getter among shortstop in the last balloting update for the 80th All-Star Game to be played on July at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

Ramírez, who is among the league batting leaders, is trying to earn the starting shortstop nod for the second consecutive season. And as the case of Ramirez good news are never heard.

But seems nobody cares. I understand fans have seen many; many people go but as the popular say tells the moment should be enjoy.

In contrary the only these days it could be heard all over whatever you want to call it nowadays stadium among media and fans it is the calling for the head of Manager Fredi González. First the chopping started this season in Arizona, then in Colorado and looks like many want to see the Cuban-born pilot be the third one gone.

I understand as Jim Leyland, former Marlins Manager and now the Detroit Tigers boss, said once is easier to get fired one person—the manager—rather than all the 25 players. However, the 2009 Marlins roller coaster is not all González fault.

In paper the Marlins began the season with the best youngest starting rotation in the National League. Only big right-hander Josh Johnson has been dependable so far. Same as the bullpen that was suppose to be one of the best in years only veteran Kiko Calero have not been as shaky as its counterparts.

It’s not Gonzalez culpability that the team offense is one of the worst three and also as a team their defense is one of the worst three in the National League.

Gonzalez last season was selected 2008 National League Manager of the Year by The Sporting News. I understand that Marlins fans unless they are not subscribed to thewell-known publication either they do not care or they are learning about the accolade now. He deserved it and he should have been the Majors’ National League manager of the year. If someone forgets, the 2008 less Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis was supposed to be the worst ever since 1998.

Give Fredi Gonzalez a chance. If not the changes should start in the roster itself.

This column was published by The Puerto Rico Daily Sun/ MLB Commentary