Friday, December 31, 2010

Dominican Winter Baseball League Playoffs 2010-11

The Dominican Winter Baseball League Playoffs (LIDOM) are underway.  They have a really cool playoff system.  The Dominican Baseball Guy put up a post about the LIDOM playoff system last year. Briefly, the top 4 of 6 teams make the playoffs and play a 15 game round robin, then the top two teams play a 9 game final series and the winner of that goes to the Caribbean Series.

This year Escogido, Toros, Estrellas, and Gigantes made the round robin.  The two traditional power houses of the league, Licey and Aguilas, missed the playoffs.  This is a major story as Licey and Aguilas are like the Red Sox and Yankees of the LIDOM.  It is a very rare year that both miss the playoffs.

The teams are 5 games into the round robin and all within 1 game of each other (see the standings).  This is a great time to see a game in the Dominican Republic.  The crowds are very big during these playoff series and the atmosphere is great.  Here is the schedule: if you will be in the country try and catch a game.

The economy in the country is not the best right now, so the crowds are not as big as they have been in years past, and the Aguilas and Licey games draw the biggest crowds, but here is an old picture from a Licey vs. Aguilas game, so you get the jest.  The games this year should have a great atmosphere too.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dominican Winter Baseball League MVP and Post Season Awards 2010

The Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) has finished the regular season and the playoffs are being played right now.  Here is the press release announcing the post season awards.

As the Dominican Baseball Guy predicted, Juan Francisco won the MVP.  The Dominican Baseball Guy also predicted that he would play in the MLB this past season and he did.  Juan won the Rookie of the Year in LIDOM in 2008, the MVP last year, and the MVP this year.  He has had quite a run in his first three years.  This article from the Gigantes del Cibao website sums up his dominance in the LIDOM over the past three years.

This year he was in the top 5 in HR, RBI, Runs, and average.  In just 3 years he has 30 HR, which puts him only 2 behind the Gigantes club leader Nelson Cruz, who took seven years to get to that number.  He is only the third player in LIDOM history to have two 10 HR seasons, and is half way to the career record.  He is also only the 10th player to hit two 400 feet HR in Quisqueya Stadium.  He nearly made the Reds playoff roster this season, and should see more playing time next year after playing in 36 games last season.  Juan is from Bonao, and he is known as "the Diamond of Bonao."
Juan Francisco
The Rookie of the Year went to Eury Perez.  He is in the Nationals system and played last year at single A.  Eury is a speedy center fielder, who had 60 stolen bases during his single A season last year.  He hit .345 and had 21 stolen bases in 37 LIDOM games.  It will be some time before he makes it to a big league club, but he has the potential to be a productive lead off hitter and center fielder.  Eury is from San Luis, DR.
Eury Perez
Another National, Yunesky Maya won the Pitcher of the Year.  He is an established major leaguer who came over to the Nationals last season after pitching for many years in the Cuban National Series, the top Cuban league.  He won the Cuban equivalent of the Cy Young on 2009.  In eight LIDOM starts he was 4-2 with a 1.32 ERA.  He also had 42 K's in 41 innings and just 8 walks.  Maya should fit into the Nationals starting rotation somewhere this year, the only question is where.  Maya is from Pinar del Rio, Cuba.
Yunesky Maya
Here is an article from Federal Baseball Nationals blog that sums up these two and their potential going forward.  Both played for Escogido in the LIDOM this year.

Lastly, Dean Treanor won the Manager of the Year Award.  Treanor managed the Toros to first place in the LIDOM.  He has managed and coached in various minor league teams and organizations since 1988.  He has managed the Toros for the last two years.  Treanor will be managing the Indianapolis Indians of the International League next year (according to this article).  Treanor played baseball at Cal Poly-San Luis Obisbo in the 1970s.
Dean Treanor

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) Players of the Week 2010

Here is the list of the players of the week for the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) 2010:

October 25-31: Radhames Liz
Nov. 1-7: Matt McBride
Nov. 8-14: Juan Francisco
Nov. 15-21: Juan Francisco
Nov. 22-29: Joel Guzman and P Fabio Castro
Nov. 29-Dec.5: Wilson Betemit and P John Halama
Dec. 6-12: Omar Luna and P Yunesky Maya

Apparently the LIDOM started naming both a player and a pitcher of the week for the last four weeks of the season.  Notice, favorite of the Dominican Baseball Guy, Juan Francisco is the only repeat winner.  He also won two Player of the Weeks last season, and repeated as the MVP of the LIDOM this year.  The Dominican Baseball Guy will get up a post about all the post season awards soon.

LIDOM is currently in the playoffs, which starts on December 26 and will be going on through the end of January.  Escogido, Estrellas, Bulls, and Gigantes are the four teams that are competing in the playoffs.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Alexi Casilla and Edward Valdez Players of the Week

For the last week of the regular season (December 13-19) in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM), Alexi Casilla and Edward Valdez won the player of the weeks honors.

Alexi plays for the Gigantes and has been an established Major Leauger with the Twins for the last four seasons. At times he plays everyday with the Twins, but injuries and other factors have pushed him into a bench player at times.  He is a quality talent in the LIDOM though.  He played in 40 of 49 games this year, and hit .303 while playing excellent defense at 2B and SS.  Alexi is from San Cristobal, DR.
Edward Valdez has been with Escogido in the LIDOM.  He has made it as far as AAA in the last two seasons and he is currently under contract with the Rockies.  He has been used as a starter and long reliever.  Maybe we will see him with the Rockies in the next few years.  Edward is from Nizao, DR.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wilson Betemit, John Halama, Omar Luna, Yunesky Maya Players of Week

For the week of November 29-December 5, Wilson Betemit won the Player of the Week Award in the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) and John Halama won the Pitcher of the Week.  Here is the press release.

Betemit won the award one time last year.  He has been an MLB player for six years, splitting time between the minors and majors for most of these.  He has had some good years for the Yankees, White Sox, and most recently the Royals.  He even won the Royals player of the month award last year for July, so not sure he how he started out in the minors for them last year.  He has 24 RBI in 22 games for the Gigantes in the LIDOM this year.  Betemit is from Santo Domingo, DR.

John Halama is from Brooklyn and has been at the AAA level since 2005 with various organizations and AAA teams.  He played in 262 games in the majors with 5 teams from 1998-2006.  Another interesting sight in the LIDOM: a journeyman American pitcher seeing extended playing time.  It is more evidence that teams in the LIDOM are concerned about one thing, winning.  There is no effort to develop players or play local talent, the teams just want to win the league and go to the Caribbean Series.

For December 6-12, Omar Luna and Yunesky Maya won the awards.  Here is the press release.
Luna hit .500 for the week and had a home run and 4 RBI.  He has been in the minors since 2007 and reached AAA last year with the Durham Bulls, the Tampa Bays Rays affiliate.  He is from Monte Cristi, DR.

Maya is a legit major leaguer in the prime of his career.  He was signed by the Nationals last summer, after defecting from Cuba.  He won the Cuban equivalent of the Cy Young for the 2008-2009 season.  He spent just five games in the Nationals minor league system before being called up and starting 5 games last year.  This article from the Federal Baseball blog, tells his story and the story of him signing.  He is from Pinar del Rio, Cuba.  So many good Cubans, sad we can't see them all play in MLB.  They could give Dominicans competition for the most foreign players.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Dominican Winter League All-Stars vs. Puerto Rico All-Stars 2010

The Dominican Winter Baseball League All-Stars traveled to Puerto Rico on Sunday to take on the Puerto Rican League All-Stars.  The Dominican team featured a few major leaguers and some top prospects including Juan Francisco, Julio Borbon, Fernando Abad, Alexi Casilla, Erick Almonte, and Timo Perez.  They were managed by Felix Fermin.  This article from Listin Diaro has a list of the Dominican team.

The game took place in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.  The Puerto Rican team won the game 4-3.  Pedro Valdes won the MVP for the Puerto Rican team.  Valdes has had an interesting career, spending a few seasons in MLB with the Cubs and Rangers, and playing in Japan, Korea, Mexico, and of course his home country Puerto Rico.  Here is a recap of the game from El Nuevo Dia, a Puerto Rican publication.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dominican Baseball Card #15: Rafael Belliard

This installment of Dominican Baseball Cards is a 1990 Topps #143, Rafael Belliard.  The Dominican Baseball Guy has a lot of cards from this Topps set.  Not sure why because they are pretty ugly, but they come at a very popular time for card collecting.
Rafael Belliard played 17 seasons in MLB, 1155 games and 2301 at bats, for the Pirates and Braves.  He hit 2 home runs.  Yes, that is not a typo.  He hit 2 home runs in 2301 at bats.  He was named as a Player that Obviously Never Took Steroids by Just Call Me Juice blog, which I guess is a good thing.

He never made an all-star team or had any individual honors.  Pretty amazing for someone to stick around for 17 years without ever taking any individual awards.  His biggest individual accomplishment: he twice appeared in the top ten in the NL in sacrifice bunts.  His prowess was as a great fielding short stop.  Rafael did win a World Series title with the Braves in 1995.  He played with the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League (LIDOM).

Rafael is currently a coach with the Tigers (Here is his Tigers coaching profile).  He even has his own Facebook page.  His cousin Ronnie Belliard played for the Dodgers last season and has been in MLB since 1998.  Rafael is from Pueblo Nuevo, DR.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

History of the Estadio Quisqueya

The Dominican Baseball Guy is going to continue a series of blog posts that he started at the beginning of the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) season last year.  They will be on the history of Dominican Baseball, with a focus on the teams and stadiums.  The first two posts on Dominican Baseball History were the History of the Gigantes del Cibao and the History of the LIDOM.  The Dominican Baseball Guy also included a post with several important books that have a histories of Dominican Baseball.

The Quisqueya Stadium is the most important sporting place in the Dominican Republic.  It is in Santo Domingo and is home to the Licey Tigers and the Ecogido Lions, the two most prominent and longest standing teams in the country.  The stadium was the dream of longtime dictator Rafael Trujillo and inaugurated on October 23, 1955.  Trujillo is not usually seen as a favorable ruler as his regime was characterized by an iron fist, but he did maintain order and brought progress in infrastructural development.  And he loved baseball.

Quisqueya has been the Cathedral of baseball in the Dominican Republic and has hosted 50 plus games nearly every year since the first game in 1955.  Everyone in the country knows this stadium and it is the dream of most young players to play here, even more so than in the big leagues because their friends and family can see them play in the Quisqueya.

Last May, the federal government set forth to redevelop the stadium and surrounding area.  They will be adding 10,000 seats to make the capacity nearly 25,000, and they will be updating locker rooms and all the guest facilities.  Additionally, they plan to develop the area around the stadium and build apartments, a luxury hotel, and retail outlets.  The new area will be named after Juan Marichal, the only Dominican in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.  He is from Laguna Verde, DR.

You can see a complete history at the Licey website here.  Great place to see a game, and it will be even better when this renovation is complete!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic

The David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic is this weekend in Cap Cana, Dominican Republic.  Here is the official website.  The tournament proceeds fund the David Ortiz Children's Fund, which provides money for pediatric medical care in Boston and the Dominican Republic.  There are a slew of articles covering his charity golf tournament, many coming from Dominican publications (see this one).  This is a huge story in the Dominican Republic, as Ortiz is one of the most famous Dominican players.  The Boston Herald covered it as well and put out a few articles: one on Ortiz's future in Boston, one on Adrian Beltre and his contract opportunities for next year, and several blog posts from Cap Cana on their Extra Bases blog.

In attendance werDustin Pedroia, Daniel Bard, Jon Lester, Darnell McDonald, Jed Lowrie, Tim Wakefield, Adrian Beltre, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez, Vlad Guerrero, Robbie Cano, Ubaldo Jimenez, Placido Polanco and Francisco Liriano.  Bill Russell, Jim Rice, and some other celeberities were there too.  Ortiz is of course the star though.  Here he is with Bobby Orr:
David Ortiz is not alone.  Lots of current and former Dominican players do charity work for their home country.  Jose Bautista is currently teaming with the NCAA to recruit Dominican student athletes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Irvin Joel Guzman and Fabio Castro Players of the Week

So, apparently the Dominican Winter Baseball League (LIDOM) names a player of the week and sometimes a  pitcher of the week each week.  The Dominican Baseball Guy did not realize this, but from now on will post a link and some info about both the player and the pitcher of the week for each week of the Dominican Winter Baseball League season.  That is when the LIDOM releases both names, because often times they only name a player of the week.

For the week of November 22-29 and the sixth award of the season, here is the press release for the player and pitcher of the week.  Irvin Joel Guzman was chosen as the player of the week.  Guzman was 4-8 with 2 HRs and 7 RBI for Escogido.    Guzman has played a few games in the big leagues with Tampa Bay and the Dodgers, but has spent the rest of his baseball career at the AA and AAA level.  Last year he hit 33 HRs playing  for the Bowie Baysox in the Eastern League.  He is from Quisqueya, DR, which is a suburb of the baseball Mecca San Pedro de Macoris.
The pitcher of the week was Fabio Castro.  Castro pitched seven innings and allowed zero earned runs for the Gigantes.  He is currently leading LIDOM with a 1.29 ERA and is second in wins.  Castro has seen a few major league games with the Rangers and Phillies, but spent last year with Pawtucket in the AAA International League, the Red Sox affiliate.  He has already signed with the Mariners for next year.  He is from Monte Crisit, DR.  Here he is in some Dominican League action:
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