Results tagged ‘ national league ’

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

Who’s Next 300-Win in the Majors ?


Days ago Randy Johnson was the happiest man wondering around in the Giants clubhouse in Miami. The ‘Big Unit’ have a good reason why. A week ago he became the 24th pitcher to reach one of baseball’s most revered milestones. Join the 300-win club.

“It’s been a long road,”Johnson said. “I guess the one word that would sum it all up is that I’ve persevered”.

Johnson (5-5) became the sixth left-hander to win 300 games, and the first to do it on his first try against the Washington Nationals since Tom Seaver in 1985.

The towering 6’10″ hurler now is in the history books but now the immediate question is who’s next? Whom can we forecast is able to be ready for another long road and in time be number 25.

The closest active pitchers at this moment are Phillies’ Jamie Moyer (250 wins) and Yankees’ Andy Pettite (220 wins). Both will not. Moyer is 46 year-old and Pettite have express in numerous occasions this is his last season in the Majors.

Could be a latino? It could be but remember Johnson’s words “is a long road”. And not easy. Dennis Martínez in 23 seasons won 245 games. Hall of Famer Juan Marichal in 16 seasons won 243. Luis Tiant in 19 seasons won 229. The recently retired Pedro Martínez won 214.

Bartolo Colón, 36, and Liván Hernández, 34, both at this moment with 153 career wins are down hill in their careers. Local Javier Vázquez,33, have 131 career wins but have never had a 20-win season.

Most possible. Maybe. Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano. Both are 30 years-old and with over 100 career wins. Both are young and if healthy can go at least 10 more seasons. However, at least they have to average 18 wins a season. And after that stay healthy enough to try to complete the mission.

Does Johnson was the last of the 300-win plateau club? It’s no easy task but only time will tell.

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

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

Boricuas As Cold As Ice in the Majors


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Two months of the 2009 Major League Baseball season are in the books and the first phrase that comes to my mind is the much famous local enquiry que pasa boricua ?

Over 50 games have been played and it is very difficult to find much names of our local stars in the top of the hitting and pitching statistics charts. By now it is well known that golden years of such past as future hall of famers Roberto Alomar and Edgar Martínez and others such as Bernie Williams, Juan González, Rubén Sierra, Sandy Alomar Jr.,Javier López and many others are all gone however we ponder sometimes what’s happening with the current crop.

It is very feasible we are concern with the health of Carlos Delgado and when he will come back to play with the New York Mets or as many are following very closely Ivan Rodriguez probable last ride in the Majors with the Houston Astros.  It is very genuine they have a huge army of baseball fans watching them day to day but we much need as a pueblo a little more than nostalgia. We also want to see our ballplayers be hot.

If we were going to call this date this season Puerto Rico’s MVP in the Majors it should be Carlos Beltrán. The New York Met outfielder  is top among the best hitters in the National League and among the best in other three offensive categories. His over .340 average constant pace have kept him at the top among the first five batters in the old circuit with fellow latino Albert Pujols and Miguel Tejada in his tail.

If the Manati native continues his hitting stride there is a good chance it can be seen the first Puerto Rican to win a batting title in the Majors since 1998. That year Yankees’ Bernie Williams hit .339 to win the American League batting crown. Before him was Edgar Martinez with the Seattle Mariners who won the batting champion crowns in 1992 and 1995. The last boricua to win it in the National League was the late Roberto Clemente with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1967. His last of four batting titles.

In the National League other only fellow natives that truly are standing out at this moment of time are D’ Backs second baseman Felipe Lopez and brothers Bengie and Yadier Molina of the Giants and Cardinals respectively.

In the American League no boricua is among the top ten in any offensive category however the leader of the pack exceeding many of the expectations that were written for him this season is Mike Lowell. Many in Boston were not completely sure if he was going to be fully recover from his medical procedure from last season. Lowell missed post-season action and underwent arthroscopic surgery last October 20 to repair his right hip which was said  at the time to be a complete success.

At this moment, the Red Sox third baseman is hitting so well for average and power and playing again as a gold glover that he is a strong candidate for American League Comeback Player of the Year. Other islander that is starting to wake up offensively lately is Blue Jays’ Alexis Rios.

Among hurlers, best news so far among leaders in the National League are Javier Vazquez (Atlanta Braves), Kiko Calero (Florida Marlins) and Pedro Feliciano (New York Mets). Let’s keep a watch on Joel Piñeiro that if he continues his course could be a strong candidate for National League Comeback Player of the Year.

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

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