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Baseball Analysis   Bruce Baskin 

B a s e b a l l   M e x i c o
Monday, December 19, 2022

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November 28, 2022

November 7, 2022




            With nine games remaining in the 2022-23 regular season, most of the intrigue over the Mexican Pacific League's final week will be at the bottom of the standings rather than the top. Two Mex Pac powers of recent winters, Culiacan and defending champion Jalisco, are in danger of missing the postseason altogether this season after meeting in a thrilling LMP championship series last January that required the maximum seven games to decide.


            How times have changed.


Roberto Vizcarra            Now, instead of their usual jockeying for playoff seeding over the last ten days of the schedule, both the Tomateros and Charros are fighting to simply keep playing when the first round opens in January. If the regular season had ended yesterday, the two clubs would be out of the running due to a projected total of 8.5 playoff points and a ninth-place finish for Culiacan while Jalisco projects to a last-place overall finish with 7.5 playoff points. Their respective front offices have noticed, with manager Benji Gill barely avoiding his ouster in Culiacan while the axe fell on Roberto Vizcarra in Guadalajara days ago.


            The two teams played each other over the weekend in Guadalajara with the Charros sweeping all three games over the Tomateros as over 25,000 fans were in the stands between Friday and Sunday. Jalisco broke out the brooms Sunday with a dominant 8-1 win over the visitors as starter Yoennis Yera scattered three hits over seven innings of one-run pitching with six strikeouts. Veterans Jose Aguilar and Agustin Murillo each had two hits and scored twice for the winners while Alexis Wilson singled in Joey Meneses with Culiacan's lone run in the top of the second as new Jalisco manager Gil Velazquez went to 3-0 after his hiring on Friday.


            Gil Velazquez? This being the “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately?” world of Mexican baseball, the season-long struggle for the Charros proved too tempting for Jalisco ownership to resist firing manager Vizcarra last Friday, less than a year after leading the team to their second pennant in four years and Caribbean Series appearance (both times under his leadership). Velazquez, who was canned himself in Mexicali after this season's first half, was named the new Charros manager before the series opener on Friday night. Along with ex-MLBers Vinny Castilla and Tony Perezchica, Velazquez was named as a coach for Mexico in next year's World Baseball Classic under manager Gil. All were named by team general manager Rodrigo Lopez, a former Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher.


            Meanwhile, in the more rarefied air at the top of the standings, Hermosillo holds a one-game lead over Los Mochis despite dropping a 6-2 game at Navojoa Sunday while the Caneros pounded out a 12-8 decision over Monterrey at home. Both teams are playoff shoe-ins due to finishing in first and third, respectively, in the first half. Obregon and Mexicali are tied for third in the second-half standings three games behind Los Mochis. The Yaquis came in second in the first half and have punched their ticket to the quarterfinals but Mexicali (who finished seventh) will have to maintain their current spot to hold off Mazatlan, Monterrey and Navojoa among the middle-tier teams fighting for postseason seeding berths.


            Monterrey's Roberto Valenzuela is batting .369 and, barring a precipitous late collapse at the plate, stands to beat out Los Mochis teammates Yasmany Tomas (.336) and Justin Dean (.329) for the batting title. Tomas socked three homers last week to bring his season total to 10, tying him with Mexicali's Anthony Giansanti and Jesse Castillo of Jalisco for the league lead.Tomas has also brought his RBI total to 52 to take a commanding lead over Obregon teammates Victor Mendoza (45) and Yadir Drake (41). Jose Cardona of Hermosillo and Mazatlan's Randy Romero are tied for the stolen bases lead at 20 swipes each, five ahead of the 15 pilferages by Los Mochis' Dean.


            Among pitchers, the numbers for wins leaders remain unchanged from last week as Hermosillo's Wilmer Rios' seven victories are one more than the six apiece for Nico Tellache (Guasave), David Reyes (Mexicali) and Juan Tellez (Mazatlan). Los Mochis' Luis Miranda rebounded from two bad starts to post seven shutout innings at Obregon last Wednesday to lower his ERA to 1.02, ahead of Braulio Torres-Perez of Mazatlan at 1.33 and Guasave's Matt Pobereyko's 1.94 mark. Pobereyko's 60 strikeouts trail only the 62 of Culiacan's Manny Barreda while Gusave moundmate Gino Encina's 56 K's rank third. Elkin Alcala of Mazatlan hasn't posted a save since December 9 but his 17 still lead the LMP, with Guasave's Brandon Koch's 14 and the 13 each of Joe Riley (Monterrey) and Jake Sanchez (Mexicali) good for the next three slots on the list.



Hermosillo 16-7 (10.0), Los Mochis 15-8 (7.0), Obregon 13-10 (8.0), Guasave 11-12 (9.0), Mexicali 12-11 (5.0), Culiacan 10-13 (3.5), Monterrey 10-13 (4.5), Navojoa 10-13 (5.5), Mazatlan 9-14 (6.0), Jalisco 9-14 (4.0).  Note: First-half playoff points in parentheses.



Dec. 20-21-22: Los Mochis at Mazatlan, Mexicali at Guasave, Culiacan at Hermosillo, Navojoa at Obregon, Jalisco at Monterrey.

Dec. 23-24: No games scheduled

Dec. 25-26-26:  Obregon at Culiacan, Guasave at Navojoa, Monterrey at Mexicali, Hermosillo at Los Mochis, Mazatlan at Jalisco.

Dec. 27-28-29: Navojoa at Mazatlan, Mexicali at Hermosillo, Los Mochis at Guasave, Jalisco at Obregon, Culiacan at Monterrey.





Manny Rodriguez            One of Mexico's best (and most popular) ballplayers over the past two decades will hang up his mitt at the conclusion of the current Mexican Pacific League season at age 40.


            Jalisco Charros second baseman Manny Rodriguez was honored during a pregame ceremony Saturday night in Guadalajara, where the Charros hosted Culiacan in a crucual weekend series for both clubs. Rodriguez is in his ninth season for the Charros, all as team capitain, after playing eight winters for his hometown Guasave Algonoderos before the franchise was sold and shifted to Guadalajara in 2014.

            He's never played for another Mex Pac team and has compiled a very respectable. 295 batting average over 17 seasons with 123 homers and 611 RBIs in 1,037 regular season games. Rodriguez was a member of title-winning Jalisco teams in 2019 and 2022 and is a three-time LMP Most Valuable Player. His 233 doubles are second only to Hector Espino in league annals while he ranks fifth on the all-time Mex Pac list with 595 runs scored.


            Receiving applause from over 9,000 fans at Estadio Pan Americano as well as members of both teams, Rodriguez addressed those assembled: “I would like to thank my family and my teammates. Thank you very much for so much support to all the fans. Thank you for being here. I have no words. Thank you, Culiacan Tomateros, for so many years of competition and respect. I admire you and I wish you all the best. I did not know how this farewell was going to be and it exceeded all my expectations. Thank you very much, Jalisco.”

            Rodriguez had received a Culiacan jersey with his number 13 moments earlier from Tomateros manager Benji Gil, who himself escaped involuntary “retirement” weeks ago after a meeting between Culiacan players and ownership reversed the ex-MLB infielder's firing.


            Born Jose Manuel Rodriguez (but known as “Manny” to fans south of the border), the 5'10” 187-pounder played for Chillicothe of the indepedendent Frontier League in 2004 and 2005, batting an even .300 with 17 homers in 114 games over two years for the Paints (and leading the loop with a .380 average in 2005), before signing with Saltillo of the Mexican League in 2006.


            He hit .344 in 55 games for the Saraperos that year and then batted .333 in his first winter for Guasave in 36 games. He's gone on to top the .300 mark nine times in the Mexican League, where he has a career .307 average with 149 homers over 1,037 games while playing in four All-Star Games and winning Comeback Player of the Year in 2014. Rodriguez represented Mexico in the 2008 Summer Olympics and 2017 World Baseball Classic.


            After hitting .250 with six homers in 48 games for Saltillo last summer, Rodriguez has a .181 average with one homer for the Charros over 19 contests this winter.





Estadio Arturo C.Nahl            The Mexican League's Veracruz Aguilas will face the Puebla Pericos de Puebla in the so-called "Baja Series" between March 31 and April 2 at Arturo C. Nahl Stadium in La Paz, Baja California Sur, prior to the start of the 2023 regular season. The Aguilas will host the event and serve as home team.


            Friday's official presentation of the Baja Series was headlined by Gilberto Garciglia, General Director of La Paz' Instituto Sudcaliforniano del Deporte, representing the Governor of Baja California Sur; Aguilas general director Hector Fitch, Pericos sports manager Enrique Lopez and members of the event's organizing committee, where they gave details of what they hope will become a tradition for the people of Baja California Sur.


            According to a press release from Veracruz, all three games will be of high caliber, as several players will have the opportunity to show their talent to the fullest to seek a place with both the Aguilas and Pericos for the 2023 Mexican Baseball League season. "We are very excited to be able to come and play,” said Fitch. “We have a great rival in the Pericos so what better way to start the preseason with some games in La Paz?


            "The players are very excited to be able to come to La Paz for the preseason, to be able to live with the children and with the people. A big part of being here is seeing the new prospects and making a mark here."


            In addition to a full Veracruz roster headed by stars such as Alexi Amarista and Jesús "Cacao" Valdez, the press release states, Veracruz team mascot Pachi Aguilar will also attend La Baja Series to infect the children of Sudcalifornia with his “jarocha joy.”


            La Paz has a team called the Delfines (“Dolphins”) that competes in the Northern Mexico League during the summer after being awarded a franchise in 2019, becoming the first city in Baja California Sur to field a professional ballclub. However, the LNM's shaky fiancial situation following the withdrawal of formal Mexican League support and the arrival of the Wuhan virus in Mexico led to a two-year hiatus for the loop between 2020 and 2021.


            Play in the Liga Norte resumed this year as the Ensenada Marineros won their fourth pennant since 2012 by defeating San Quintin, 4 games to 1, in the championship series. A second BC Sur team, the Los Cabos Bucaneros, has been added to the LNM. The Delfines and Bucs will open the 2023 season on April 27 in La Paz at Estadio Arturo C. Nahl, a 4,200-seat ballpark opened in 1967 and renovated a number of times over the years.



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