Global Baseball

One man\’s year-long journey through the world of baseball

2007 Caribbean Series Preview

2/1/2007

Greetings from sunny San Juan!

The 2007 Caribbean Series kicks off tomorrow at el Estadio Roberto Clemente Walker in Carolina, PR. For those who don’t know, the Caribbean Series pits the championship teams of the four largest Latin American winter leagues (Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Mexico, and Puerto Rico) against one another. It’s one of the largest baseball events in the world, and with various tv and media deals it will be broadcast to an estimated 70 million people this year. The series is in round robin format. Each team plays 6 games, and the team with the most wins at the end takes home the bragging rights. With any luck, I’ll be live-blogging from the stadium tomorrow, so be sure to check back around 3:00 EST. If there’s no post by then, it means the live blog isn’t happening. In any case, I’ll try to post a recap of series activity in some form or other in the next few days.

Onto the good stuff.

The Teams
Venezuela:

The Tigres de Aragua

Key Players:

Miguel Cabrera (yes, THE Miguel Cabrera), 3B, Marlins

Ronny Cedeño, SS, Cubs

Reynel Pinto, LHP, Marlins

Oswaldo Sosa, RHP, Twins

Alex Romero, OF, Twins

Outlook: Cabrera is the biggest bat in the tournament, and it’s not close. Like most major league stars who play winter ball, he came in for the final few games of the regular season, and then played full-time in the playoffs, hitting .339/.397/.525 to propel the Tigres to the series. Also coming up huge in the playoffs was Cedeno, who hit .345/.406/.724 with 4 home runs in 16 games after a disappointing regular season. On the pitching side, Sosa and Pinto are the biggest names. Their most valuable pitcher, however, was Horacio Estrada, a 31 year old free agent lefty from San Joaquin, Venezuela. Without any marquis arms and with a mediocre supporting cast around their one superstar, the Tigres will be dangerous, but it’s hard to consider them the favorite.

Dominican Republic

Team: Los Águilas Cibaeñas

Key Players:

Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Reds

Wily Mo Pena, OF, Red Sox

Melky Cabrera, OF, Yankees

Tony Abreu, IF, Dodgers

Mendy Lopez, IF, Royals

Héctor Luna, 2B, Indians
Jose Lima

Fausto Carmona, RHP, Indians

Leo Nuñez, RHP, Royals

Jose Arredondo, RHP, Angels

 

Outlook: The Águilas and the Tigres de Licey have long been Dominican baseball’s equivalent of the Yankees and Red Sox. The Águilas play in Santiago, the island nation’s second largest city, while the Tigres call the capital of Santo Domingo home. The teams have spent their way to making the Dominican Winter League a bit of an exercise in futility, as one of the two teams has won the DWL title and represented the DR in the Carribean Series in each of the past 12 years, with the Águilas holding the title advantage 8 to 4. They are by far the deepest team in the series this year, with several major leaguers, top prospects, and Quad-A journeymen contributing to their potent roster. Royals journeyman Mendy Lopez swung the biggest stick for tne Águilas, batting .302/.423/.553 over 159 AB. Jose Lima showed he still had…well, maybe not it, but certainly something, posting a 2.78 ERA while serving as the team’s primary innings eater. Young major leaguers Encarnacion, Cabrera, Carmona, Luna, and Peña along with prospects Jose Arredondo, Johnny Cueto, and Ryan Garko make this a fun team to watch. The Dominican champions are theclear favorite to win the series. No other team matches the Águilas’ combination of depth and impact talent.

 

Mexico

Team: The Naranjeros de Hermosillo

Key Players:
Erubiel Durazo, DH, ?

Vinny Castilla, 3B, Rockies (retired)

Geronimo Gil, C, Orioles

Elmer Dessens, P, Dodgers

Justin Lehr, P, Mariners

Outlook: I was a little bummed the Naranjeros beat the Venados de Mazatlan. Seriously, who wants to root for the Orange Growers over the Reindeer? That being said, they were pretty clearly the LMP’s best team this year. Durazo’s still got a lot to prove upon returning to pro ball in the US next year, but in the LMP, he was gold. The Naranjeros have the firepower to be a spoiler in such a short tournament. More likely they finish third behind the powerhouse Dominican and Venezuelan teams.

Puerto Rico

Team: Gigantes de Carolina

Key Players:

Rubén Gotay, 2B, Mets

Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals

René Rivera, C, Mariners

Ray Navarrete, 3B, Mets

Outlook: A bunch of fringe major leaguers, one decent regular in Molina, an offense carried by Navarrete, a 28-year-old journeyman who spent msot of the last two seasons playing independent league ball, and a pitching staff on which the biggest name is Juan Halama. A good bet to finish last. Now watch them run the table and win the series.

[UPDATE] It slipped my mind last night that Miguel Tejada joined the Águilas roster for the playoffs. Just another factor making them the clear favorite.

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February 2, 2007 - Posted by | Caribbean Series

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