Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lins Lead Bulls Over Elephants

3/31 - Elephants 1 Bulls 3 (Hsinchu)

Lin Ying-Chieh threw eight innings of one-run ball while Lin Yi-Chuan hit the game winning RBI as the Bulls added to their league lead.

Elephants first baseman Peng Cheng-Min drove in the first run of the game in the third inning with Chen Guan-Ren scoring. Astute base-running by Lin (Y.C.) put the Bulls on the board in the fourth when he scrambled home following a bobbled ball by cut-off man Chen Jiang-He after the second out.

The score remained knotted at one until the bottom of the eighth, when the Brother bullpen let down starter Huang Jia-Ming. The Bulls rallied for three runs thanks to Lin's double and a two run single from Chang Tai-Shan.

Reliever Shingo Takatsu came on in the ninth to finish the game.

Bulls Add Gulin, Release Rleal

The Bulls added lefty Lindsay Gulin to it's pitching staff yesterday, releasing Sendy Rleal.

Originally drafted by the Mets in 1995, Gulin has bounced around five different organizations in his career. He's spent the last three seasons in the Brewers system primarily at the AAA level. He also has some experience in Asia, playing in seventeen games for the Fukuoka Daiei Hawks of the NPB in 2004.

Rleal gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings during his only CPBL start.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bears Come Back to Beat Lions in 12

3/30 - Lions 3 Bears 4 (12) 

Huang Lung-Yi hit a walk-off double in the 12th inning to complete a come from behind victory against the Lions in Kaohsiung.

The Lions were a pitch away from winning the game in nine innings when Zhan Zhi-Hao tied the game with an RBI single off reliever Shen Bai-Cang.

Lin Zhi-Sheng hit a two run homer in the third off starter Wang Jing-Ming for the Bears other runs. Ken Ray had a solid start and the bullpen held the opposition to one run over 6 2/3 innings.

Marshall McDougall went 2-4 with a home run and two RBIs while Lin Zheng-Feng threw three shutout innings in relief for the Lions.

Lions Not So Clean?

Lin Zeng-Xiang was released from his duties as General Manager of the 7-11 Uni-President Lions amid rumors that his name has been mentioned in the ongoing match-fixing investigation. This makes a clean sweep as now all four CPBL teams have different GM's than the ones who finished last season (though not all are suspected criminals).

While some media outlets suggest that Lin was involved with foreign players on the take, he insists that he is innocent and might look into a wrongful dismissal claim.

Minor League Schedule

I finally got a hold of a copy of this season's minor league schedule, and it's even in English. The file I have is an Excel document and too awkward for me to post on here. If you'd like your own copy just email me at:

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Road Warriors

The Lions will be playing their eighth game of the season tomorrow night. They will also be playing in their eighth different stadium of the season. And they will have yet to play in their home city of Tainan. This is one of the quirks of having twelve diamonds for a four-team league. 

The 7-11ers opened the season with a two game "home" stand up north. After that they were the road team in another two game series with the Elephants. They were also the visitors in their last three game series, this time against the Bulls. Tomorrow's match opens a two game road series versus the Bears before the Lions finally play their real home opener on Friday.

Here's how the Lions have started the season:
3/20 vs. Elephants - Tienmu
3/21 vs.Elephants - Taoyuan
3/24 at Elephants - Chiayi
3/25 at Elephants - Douliu
3/26 at Bulls - Taichung
3/27 at Bulls - Hsinchu
3/28 at Bulls - Hsinzhuang
3/30 at Bears - Kaohsiung

Side note: I'm attempting to see a game in all twelve stadiums this year. I'll post a ticket stub from each field above that game's report. I've already got one out of the way.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Standings 3/29

3/28 Results

Lions 6 Bulls 7 (10 innings): A costly throwing error by Wang Zi-Song led to the game winning run for the Bulls in Hsinchu.

The Lions had built up leads of 4-0 and 6-3 but Sinon would not go away, scoring 3 in the bottom of the seventh and then winning it in the tenth.

Bears 10 Elephants 3: La New won their first game of the season, beating the Elephants in Hsinzhuang. Chen Yan-Feng went 3-5 with a home run while starter Huang Qin-Zhi picked up the win.

This ends the Bears longest wait to post their first win of the season (6 games).

3/27 Results

Lions 3 Bulls 1: Liu Fu-Hao came through in the clutch with a two run double in the eighth inning to pull the Lions even with the Bulls at the top of the standings. Lin Cheng-Feng got the win in relief after Jerome Williams gave up a single run over 6 1/3 innings. Closer Lin Yueh-Ping picked up his third save of the season.

Bulls starter Itsuki Shoda struck out ten in six innings while Lin Yi-Chuan went 3 for 4 in the loss.

Bears 3 Elephants 3 (12 innings): Rookie catcher Lin Hong-Yu shocked the crowd at Hsinchu by hitting a solo home run in the top of the ninth off Ryan Cullen to send the game into extra innings.

Elephants starter Lin En-Yu made his long awaited debut with the club, striking out seven over five innings. Cullen only gave up one other hit in his 4 and 2/3 innings of work, striking out nine.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

3/26 Results

Lions 3 Bulls 11: The Bulls beat up on the Lions yesterday in Taichung. Lin Yi-Chuan went 3 for 5 with 5 RBI as the Bulls put up their 24th run in two games. The Lions had their chances but wasted two bases-loaded situations early on (including one with none out). Bulls starter Yang Chien-Fu picked up the win.

Bears 7 Elephants 12: The Bears pitching staff got lit up again as it gave up twelve runs on eight hits and ten walks to the Elephants in Hsinchu. Brother rookie Chang Chih-Hao hit a grand slam in the second inning while outfielder Zhou Si-Qi added a pair of doubles. Starter Jim Magrane got his second win of the season.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Bulls Have a Ton of Ads on Their Shirts

If you've watched any of the Sinon Bulls games this year then you've probably noticed that they've added a few sponsors logos to their uniforms.

And if you were really observant then you might have tried to figure out the exact number of ads.

But you probably haven't, so here's the answer:


There are seventeen ads combined on the Bulls shirts, pants, and hats.

That seems a bit excessive.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

3/25 Results

Bears 3 Bulls 13:  Pitcher Lin Qi-Wei picked up the win with six innings of shutout ball as Sinon trounced the Bears in Taichung. Lin Zong-Nan (3 for 4, 3 RBI) was one of five Bulls with multiple hits.

Bears starter Chris Mason gave up eight runs over five innings in a less than impressive debut. Reliever Tseng Bao-Luo fared even worse, getting tagged for five runs in a single inning of work.

Lions 7 Elephants 4: Rookie Chen Yi-Chen got the win in his first career game, giving up two runs in seven innings at a very wet Douliu stadium. Zhuang Jin-He went 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI to help out offensively.

Minor League News

The 2010 CPBL minor league (CPBL-2) season started up yesterday in Douliu as the Bulls youngsters beat their counterparts from the Bears 2-0.

Each team in the CPBL-2 plays a 60 game season from March to September. The league consists of four teams,  one for each CBPL organization. All games are scheduled to be played at 2pm.

In the past I've had a difficult time digging up information about this league. As of right now, I can tell you where the games will be played, but not the date. When I do find out the full schedule, I'll post it here (or add a link).

The locations for this year's CPBL season are as follows: Douliu (43 games), Taichung (35 games), Kaohsiung (16), Tainan (14), Longtan (8), and Hsinchu (4).

A couple of last season's league 2 players who made the leap to the parent clubs this year are Lions pitcher Wang Jing-Ming and Bulls outfielder Wu Zong-Jun.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

3/24 Result

The Lions beat the Elephants 3-1 in Chiayi due to some strong pitching and clutch hitting. Wang Jing-Ming threw six innings of one run ball to get the win in his CPBL debut. Marshall McDougall hit his second home run of the season while Wang Song-Xian went 3 for 3 with an RBI.

Hurler Orlando Roman picked up the loss in his first CPBL start since 2007, when he was a member of the China Trust Whales.

On a side note, it looks like the Elephants released Ryan Murphy (unconfirmed) to free up a roster spot for Roman. Murphy gave up four runs over 3 1/3 innings in Sunday's loss to the Lions. This was his only CPBL appearance.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

3/23 Result

Bears 1 Bulls 1: The Bears and Bulls played in the first tie game of the season tonight in Taichung. 

Bulls starter Lin Ying-Chieh struck out eight over seven innings while getting tagged for Lin Zhi-Sheng's 98th career homer in the fourth. Shen Yu-Jie led all relievers with 3 1/3 shutout innings.

Import Ken Ray made his league debut with the Bears and looked a little shaky in his five innings of work. Ray got out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the first and managed to leave the game with only one run allowed despite walking four and giving up six hits. Four Bears pitchers combined for seven shutout innings in relief.

Since this was Taichung Stadium's first match of the season the dignitaries were out in full force as the mayor and a Taichung Prosecutors Office rep helped open the game by hitting balls (rather poorly) off a tee.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Locking the Barn Door After the Horses Have Left

More anti-corruption billboards have been popping up on the outfield fences in CPBL stadiums. Unlike the first banner, which was put up by one the teams, the latest editions have been brought out by the government. 

During the league opener in Tienmu fans were treated to a picture on the outfield fence of a man in a suit appearing to watch the field through a pair of binoculars. This, along with their actual physical presence, was how the Shilin District Prosecutors Office chose to let everyone know that they're on top of things regarding this match-fixing mess. The message cost them NT$20,000.

The next day the Tainan Prosecutors Office sponsored a similar billboard at the game in Taoyuan. Not to be outdone, the Taoyuan Prosecutors Office brought eight prosecutors and seventy police officers (including five placed high in the rafters) to watch the game. 

This year's CPBL: Everybody's Watching!

Standings 3/22

Sunday, March 21, 2010

3/21 Results

Bulls 7 - Bears 1: The Bears and Bulls opened their seasons in Kaohsiung with the Bulls running out easy winners. Itsuki Shoda  6 hits in 5 1/3 innings for the win while catcher Cheng Da-Hung had a great day, going 4 for 5 with an RBI and stolen base.

Attendance for Cheng Ching Lake Stadium was down quite a bit from last year's opener. One of the TV news programs I watched speculated that this was due to the young woman who threw the ceremonial first pitch. Apparently (forgive my bluntness) the girl they used last year had much bigger tits, thus bringing in more male fans. Classy.

Elephants 5 - Lions 8: The Lions got revenge for their opening day defeat thanks to a three run homer from Kao Kuo-Ching and a clutch triple from Kao Chi-Kang which also drove in three runs. All eight Lions runs were scored off imported pitchers, with Ryan Murphy and Tracy Thorpe giving up four each. A near capacity crowd of 12000 attended the first ever game at Taoyuan stadium.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It Has Begun

The 21st season of the CPBL got under way this evening  with the Brother Elephants defeating the 7-11 Uni-President Lions 1-0. The Elephants were led by seven innings of shutout pitching from starter Jim Magrane and a strong performance in the field. Tracy Thorpe and Ryan Cullen came on for an inning each, while lead-off hitter Wang Sheng-Wei went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and the game's only RBI. The Lions wasted a good showing from their starter Pan Wei-Lun, and could have done better on the base-paths, especially in the bottom of the eighth inning, when overly aggressive running led to an easy third out at home.

The game was held at the Tienmu stadium in Taipei and the ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Taiwan's president, Ma Ying-Jeou. These two teams go at it again on Sunday, opening the new stadium in Taoyuan. Ryan Murphy and Jerome Williams are the scheduled starters. The Bears and Bulls also play tomorrow in Kaohsiung (Aaron Rakers vs. Shoda Itsuki).


Friday, March 19, 2010

Very Brief Season Preview: Elephants

Last season: Taiwan Series Finalists.

Number of players banned during off-season: 17 (9 pitchers,  2 catchers, 2 infielders, 4 outfielders) 

The Good:  The infield. With the rest of the team collapsing around them, the Elephants infield core of Peng Cheng-Min, Chen Jiang-He, Wang Chin-Yong, and Wang Sheng-Wei kept their noses clean and will assume leadership roles with the club. Two other important returnees are OF Zhou Si-Qi and closer Ryan Cullen.

The Bad: Pitching. Only four of the ten pitchers on this season's staff pitched in the CPBL in 2009, throwing a combined total of 100 1/3 innings (in contrast, Bears workhorse Aaron Rakers pitched 159 1/3 innings last year). The Elephants will be forced to rely heavily on their starting pitching, which will be made up of imports and the injury prone Lin En-Yu, to protect their suspect bullpen.

The Unknown: The Elephants have added 17 new faces to the roster in the off-season. That makes for a whole lot of 'unknown'.

End of Season Prediction: A distant fourth.

Bonus: The Elephants have finally announced which imports will start the season. They are Jim Magrane (Opening Day starter), Tracy Thorpe, Ryan Murphy and Ryan Cullen. Orlando Ramon will remain with the team and step in should anything happen to the first four. Read more about these players here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Very Brief Season Preview: Bears

Last season: Did not make playoffs

Number of players banned during off-season: 10 (6 pitchers,  4 infielders) 2 undetermined

The Good:  In DH Chen Chin-Feng (27 HRs, .320 Avg.) and IF Lin Zhi-Sheng (31HRs-led the league, .332 Avg.) the Bears have the two most potent power hitters in the CPBL. SP Aaron Rakers is returning and will hope to build on the 13  wins he chalked up in the last campaign. The bullpen looks pretty solid, with Geng Bo-Xuan, Xu Min-Jie, Huang Chin-Zhi, and (especially) Tseng Zhao-Hao all having strong seasons in 2009.

The Bad: After losing six pitchers (three starters) in the off-season, the Bears have had to use all of their import allocations to reinforce it's presence on the mound. While this move should solve it's starting pitching problems, the Bears offense would have benefited by bringing in at least one extra bat to the lineup.

The Unknown: Rookie Lin Hong-Yu will get a ton of work behind the plate, especially if last year's starter Chen Feng-Min is found guilty of the charges he's facing. Import pitchers Chris Mason, Zachary Parker and Kenny Ray are all new to the league.

End of Season Prediction: Outside of the playoffs

New Regulations: Please Stop Hurting the Fans

The CPBL announced a few new tweaks to some of their rules the other day. Here's a synopsis:

The league will no longer give out an MVP award for each game. Members of the media are outraged that members of the media no longer get to choose the player of the game.

Small changes on qualifying for the end of season golden glove award have been made.

Relief pitchers now only have to complete a third of an inning as opposed to two thirds to get credit for a "relay".

Players will be fined NT$10,000 and possibly suspended for up to three games if they throw the ball into the grandstand with too much force. Apparently several fans were injured last season from balls thrown at them.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Very Brief Season Preview: Bulls

Last season: Did not make playoffs

Number of players banned during off-season: 2

The Good: Hitting. Led by last year's league MVP Lin Yi Quan(2B), the Bulls should have little trouble against the weakened pitching staffs they will face in most games this season.Third baseman Wilton Veras is coming off another great CPBL season. Zhang Jian-Ming (OF), Zheng Da Hong (C), and veteran Zhang Tai-Shan (DH) will all get their fair share of hits. The starting pitchers (Yang Chien-Fu, three guys named Lin, Itsuki Shoda) should be able to do enough to give the team a chance to win most games. 

The Bad: Not too much. The bullpen might be a cause for concern, especially if new 41 year-old closer Shingo Takatsu fails to live up to fan's expectations (he looked pretty great in the pre-season though).

The Unknown: Rookie Wu Zong-Jun has been penciled in to replace banned Hsieh Chia-Shian in the outfield. Import pitcher Sendy Rleal is also new to the league.

End of Season Prediction: Playoffs

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Very Brief Season Preview: Lions

Last season: Taiwan Series Champions

Players banned during off-season: 0

The Good: The pitching staff will be led by ace Pan Wei-Lun, two time playoff MVP Luther Hackman and closer Lin Yueh-Ping. The offense features three players who hit over .333 last season (OF Pan Wu-Hsiung .367, 1B Kao Kuo-Ching .354, C Kao Chih-Kang .337) while DH Chen Lian-Hong and OF Liu Fu Hao will add some power to the lineup.

The Bad: The Lions were the only team that did not have any players banned for throwing games (it might not be a coincidence that they ended up as champs). This season they may find themselves having to work harder in certain games as none of the players that they face will be purposefully trying to lose to them (I hope). 

The Unknown: Very little. Highly rated rookie pitchers Wang Jing-Ming and Chen Yi-Chen have been added to the squad, while imports Jerome Williams (P) and Marshall McDougall (3B) will also be making their CPBL debuts.

End of Season Prediction: Playoffs

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Wall of Shame

The La New Bears were one of the hardest-hit teams during this off-seasons match-fixing investigations, and they are not about to let anybody forget who got them into this mess. The team has unveiled a banner at it's home field that is dedicated to naming and shaming those who have admitted to throwing games.

Located on the left field wall at the Cheng Ching Lake stadium in Kaohsiung, the sign currently shows a picture of a player whose face and number are blurred out (purportedly Hsu Wen-Hsiung) next to the Chinese character for the word "shame". This blurred banner is meant to serve as some kind of warning to the players involved, as well as to those still on the team.  The Bears are mulling over plans to change the player image occasionally in order to get all 13 of it's banned former players on the wall at some point this season.

Payback's a Bitch

Manny Ramirez went 3 for 4 as the Dodgers spanked the CPBL all-stars 11-1 Sunday night in Kaohsiung. Despite the outcome, the fans were in good spirits throughout and got to enjoy a great performance from Hu Chin-Lung, who also put three hits on the board for the team from L.A. The only real downer was that scheduled starter Kuo Hong-Chih had to withdraw because of a sore elbow. Due to Saturday's rainout in Taipei the series finished up honors even as each team won a game apiece.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Bears Case Closed

In a previous post I mentioned that more players from the La New Bears had come under scrutiny from the authorities over match-fixing allegations. This  investigation has now come to a close with two players being banned from the league and four others set free. Wu Si-Yo and Chen Feng-Min (who were both scheduled to face the Dodgers this weekend) admitted to fixing games while the other four players involved (Lin Zhi-Sheng, Pan Zhong-Wei, Huang Lung-Yi, Huang Qin-Zhi) have all been cleared and are free to continue playing with the team.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Game 1 Went Pretty Damn Well

Backed by excellent pitching and their opponents jet lag, the CPBL all-stars beat the Dodgers 5-2 in game 1 of their exhibition series last night. Starter Lin Ying-Chieh threw four shutout innings while Lin Yueh-Ping picked up the save as the Dodgers were held to just three hits. The offence was led by Pan Wu-Hsiung and Wang Sheng-Wei, with each batting in two runs. Tainan product Hu Chin-Lung finally got the Dodgers on the scoreboard in the eighth inning with a two run single.

With the CPBL winning the game and the local boy coming through for the MLB club, it turned out to be an ideal series start for fans of Taiwan baseball. I just have one question: why the hell were the Dodgers wearing their home whites?

Friday, March 12, 2010

This Ain't the First Time

This isn't the first time that the Dodgers have come to Taiwan. Their last visit was in 1993, when they played three games (all in Taipei) against the then six teams of the CPBL. The Dodgers won the first game 4-2 over a combined team featuring players from the Weichuan Dragons and Jungo Bears. Game two went to the CPBL, who were represented by the President Lions and China Times Eagles. The locals won 1-0, scoring the lone run of the game in the bottom of the 10th inning. The CPBL then went on to take the series, winning game three by a score of 6-5. The Mercury Tigers and Brother Elephants were Taiwan's reps for this one.

The players that the Dodgers brought over here in '93 included many recognizable names. That squad, managed by Tommy Lasorda, featured players such as Orel Hershiser, Tom Candiotti, Mike Piazza, Darryl Strawberry, and a young Pedro Martinez. The team also included two players, Steve Wilson and Jonathan Hurst, who would later come to Taiwan as import players (in the TML and CPBL) and have a significant impact on Taiwanese baseball.

Some of the local players who impressed during this series were Lin Chong-Chiu of the Tigers, Huang Ping-Yang of the Dragons, and the Lions Hsieh Chang-Heng.

Here's a recent news report that shows some clips from these games (fast forward to the 1:30 mark).

Source: CPBL magazine, Issue 335
pic: Tommy Lasorda

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Import Report: Lions

Unless something changes, the Lions will be starting the season with only three of their four import allocations filled.

Here are the players they've signed:

Luther Hackman: Here's a brief bio on Hackman, from a previous post.

Jerome Williams: Starting pitcher Williams began his MLB career in 2003 with the San Francisco Giants. After having two strong years in the bay area he was acquired by the Chicago Cubs, where he spent the 2005 and 2006 seasons. In 2007 he made six starts for the Washington Nationals but had difficulty matching the success he enjoyed earlier in his career. Since then he has spent time in the Independent League and on the AAA teams of the LA Dodgers and Oakland Athletics.

Marshall McDougall: McDougall has spent most of his career in the minor league systems of five different MLB clubs. In 2005, his lone big league season, the infielder appeared in 18 games for the Texas Rangers. Expect to see McDougall playing at third base for the Lions this year.

Note: I posted earlier about the Lions acquiring pitcher Matt White. I first read about the signing back on Jan 3rd in a Mandarin news article and it certainly seemed like it was credible enough to mention. Unfortunately I haven't heard or seen anything about the player during spring training. His wikipedia entry (yes, I know this doesn't mean much) claims he is currently a Lions player. To be honest, I have no idea what's going on with this guy.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Import Report: Bulls

Here are the imports who will take to the field for the Sinon Bulls this season:

Wilton Veras: Veras has the most CPBL experience of any import this season. His first stint in the league came in 2005 with the Macoto Cobras. The third basemen spent the next two seasons in the Independent League before returning to Taiwan and playing for the China Trust Whales in 2008. After the Whales went belly-up, the Bulls became Veras' third CPBL team. He played in every game last season, hitting for a .360 average.

Veras also spent parts of the 1999 and 2000 seasons in the majors, playing for the Boston Red Sox.

Itsuki Shoda : Shoda spent five seasons in his native Japan before joining the Bulls last season. The former Nippon Ham fighter went 14-6 in 2009, posting an ERA of 4.44.

Shingo Takatsu: Takatsu has accomplished quite a bit in his long career as a closer. Known as Mr. Zero in Japan (for not allowing any runs in 11 Japan Series appearances) he has pitched in 15 NPB seasons (Yakult Swallows), 2 seasons in MLB (White Sox and Mets) and one season in Korea's KBO (Woori Heroes). The Bulls clearly feel the 41 year old still has something left in the tank as they've made him one of the league highest paid players.

Sendy Rleal: The high point of Rleal's career came in 2006 when he made 42 appearances out of the bullpen for the Baltimore Orioles. Since then he's spent most of his time in the Independent League, most recently with the Newark Bears.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

CPBL-Dodgers Series Rosters

Here are the rosters for the upcoming series between the CPBL and Los Angeles Dodgers, to be played on March 12th, 13th (in Tienmu), and 14th (in Kaohsiung).

Pitchers- Pan Wei-Lun (Lions), Lin Yue-Ping (Lions), Chen Yi-Chen (Lions), Hsu Ming-Jie (Bears), Keng Po-Hsuan (Bears), Lin En-Yu (Elephants), Ye Yong-Jie (Elephants), Yang Chien-Fu (Bulls), Shen Yu-Jie (Bulls), Lin Ying-Jie (Bulls)

Catchers- Kao Chih-Kang (Lions), Lin Hung-Yu (Bears) (Chen Feng-Min (Bears) was named to the team, but is now suspected of match-fixing)

Infielders- Kao Kuo-Ching (Lions), Lin Chih-Ping (Bears), Lin Chih-Sheng (Bears), Cheng Chao-Hsing (Bulls), Lin Yi-Chuan (Bulls),Wang Sheng-Wei (Elephants) Chen Jiang-He (Elephants) (Peng Cheng-Min (Elephants) has pulled out of the squad due to injury)

Outfielders- Liu Fu-Hao (Lions), Pan Wu-Hsiung (Lions), Chen Chin-Feng (Bears), Chang Chien-Ming (Bulls), Zhou Si-Qi (Elephants), Chen Kuan-Jen (Elephants)

Pitchers- Kuo Hong-Chih, Mario Alvarez, Alberto Bastardo, Robert Boothe, Jesus Castillo, Hyang-Nam Choi, John Ely, Francisco Felix, Charlie Haeger, Kenley Jansen, Josh Lindblom, Jon Link, Juan Perez, Eric Stults, Josh Towers 

Catchers-  J.D. Closser, Gabriel Gutierrez, Lucas May, Jesse Mier

Infielders- Hu Chin-Lung, Ronnie Belliard, Angel Berroa, Jamey Carroll, John Lindsey, James Loney, Russ Mitchell, Ramon Nivar

Outfielders- Manny Ramirez, Brian Barton, Xavier Paul, Prentice Redman, Michael Restovich, Trayvon Robinson

Monday, March 8, 2010

Everybody Dance!

The league took a break from its pre-season schedule so it could head down to Kaohsiung for its annual oath-taking ceremony. This ceremony has extra resonance this year due to the off-season investigations, and the league is trying extremely hard to put on an optimistic face. Held at the Dream Mall on a busy Sunday afternoon, the spectacle involved solemn (awkward) speeches from representatives of each team, players interacting with their fans, and dancing, lots of dancing.

While seeing players strut their stuff on the dance floor may seem a  little weird to the outsider, this sort of thing is not that unusual over here. During the Lions open house last month, there were a few players singing along with KTV machines, and team ace Pan Wei-Lun put on a magic show. These players are far from the aloof, spoiled millionaires you might see in the big leagues, and they clearly have to perform duties the average pro might feel beneath them.

There is little doubt that the CPBL is going to suffer at the gate this season, and some of the people who will suffer the most will be these players. Seeing what they must endure just to play the game they love, it seems a little unfair that the public will be staying away from this season's games because of the actions of last season's (now expelled) players.

Yes, Taiwanese professional baseball has had immense problems with match-fixing in the past and it is probably naive to think that this season will be any different. But if you're a baseball fan here in Taiwan, then this is the league you're stuck with, and maybe (just maybe) they'll get things sorted out.

Or else the CPBL will disappear.

I really hope that doesn't happen.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It Looks Like a Lot of People Got Their Hopes Up

It appears that I was wrong about Manny Ramirez. It looks like he's coming over here after all. But when you look at the rest of the Dodgers lineup for their upcoming games against the CPBL you'll be hard-pressed to recognize too many other names. Many local fans have been none too pleased about the minor leaguers that the Dodgers are sending and are starting to voice their displeasure. There have been calls for ticket refunds and Facebook protest groups. People are calling the team watered-down, and a massive disappointment. It will be interesting to see what kind of reception the boys in blue get when they finally take to the field.

On a side note, I've been thinking about purchasing a Lions season ticket. NT$5400 gets me a seat for the 36 home games they will be playing in Tainan this year. That's only NT$400 more expensive than one top-end ticket to see the handful of starters, the two local heroes, and the gaggle of career minor leaguers that is this edition of the Los Angeles Dodgers (to be fair, the cheap seats to these games are only NT$500, but still.... ).

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions

Taipei Fubon Bank is not making enough money from its sports lottery division. Due to the contract it signed with the federal government a couple of years ago, the bank must pay NT$20.83 billion over the next six years (averaging to NT$3.47 billion each year) to operate the lottery. The total sales from the last two years have been NT$19.1 billion. So despite the fact that it has almost recouped enough money in two years to pay off it's six year contract in total, the bank feels that it is impossible to turn a profit. Last month it asked the government to allow them to cut their payment in half. How is it possible to not turn a profit from a lottery?

What is of most interest to this blog is the bank's main excuse for the predicament it's in. Under the current system, bettors are unable to place single-game bets on the CPBL (to deter match-fixing). This apparently has led to much lower revenues than expected, even though (from what I understand) this set-up has been implemented from the beginning of the lottery.

When it began, the promotion of the new lottery quickly caught the public's eye and interest in gambling increased. However, instead of placing legal bets through Fubon's restricted scheme, punters simply turned to underground bookies for their single game bets. This in turn increased the amount the bookies were taking in, giving them more capital to spend on player bribes. So much for deterring match-fixing.

Basically, an idea that was designed to keep money away from certain criminal elements proved extremely profitable for those same criminal elements.

And totally disastrous to the CPBL.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bears Sign Import Ken Ray

It should come as no surprise to those that have been reading this blog that the Bears have signed another American pitcher. Ken Ray has joined the Kaohsiung-based club and he brings with him an extensive resume.

Ray began his pro career in the Royals system in 1993, finally making it to the show in '99. He went 1-0 in 13 games that season before arm troubles significantly affected his career. After spending the next few seasons in the lower levels of pro ball he staged an impressive comeback 2005, when he made it back up to triple A in the Braves system. The Georgia native completed his resurgence the next season as he was called up to the parent club, racking up 67 2/3 innings in 69 appearances for Atlanta.

That was to be Ray's last stint in the big leagues. He has spent most of his time since then back in AAA for various organizations.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Hey Elephants, Sort Your S**t Out

This season the Elephants have decided to fill in some of the holes of their depleted pitching staff by bringing in foreigners to do the job. This is not unusual in the CPBL, but rarely do teams go to the lengths that Brother has, bringing in six players to battle for four spots.

As the season approaches it is becoming clearer as to which players will make it to the opening day roster (more on that later). But if the 'phants had any plans on using the remaining pre-season games to test out their new players, they better think again. Apparently the team hasn't gotten work permits for their imports. This screw-up has already cost Ryan Murphy a chance at starting against the Lions (in the game that was played this evening), and it looks like there's a chance this problem won't be solved until after the pre-season finishes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

CPBL Players Get No Respect

The upcoming series between the Dodgers and a team of CPBL stars was originally scheduled for two games, to be held in Taipei and Kaohsiung. But due to popular demand a third game was proposed, and negotiations were put in motion to make that happen. There were several hurdles that the independent company promoting the event needed to overcome,  the biggest of which was getting consent of the organizations involved. Appearance fees needed to be agreed on, player unions needed to be consulted, and other extraneous matters needed to be sorted out.

On the MLB side, the Dodgers agreed when their appearance fee of $1 million U.S. per game was met. The MLBPA signed off on the deal when the team agreed to pay the players for their performances, and Manny Ramirez seems to have managed to finagle a personal appearance fee.

On the CPBL side, the four teams agreed to send their players once their appearance fee was raised to NT$ 7 million for the series. The teams then decided to keep this money for themselves, declining to offer their players appearance fees for their performances.

Once the local players got wind of this plan, they justifiably weren't too pleased. Yesterday, players from all four teams issued a joint statement denouncing the blatantly unfair practice of the league using them as free labor. It appears that now the league has gotten rid of the players in its ranks that can be bought off, it is intent on pissing off the remaining players by refusing to pay them for their work.

Personally I fail to see how players are supposed to say no when asked to accept money for losing, when their own team won't even pay them for playing.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Import Report: Bears

The La New Bears currently have three imported players  in camp and they're all American pitchers. Here's a brief summary of their careers.

Aaron Rakers: Rakers joined the Bears last season. He went 13-4 while posting an ERA of 3.54 in 26 starts. He also notched 110 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings. Rakers spent parts of three seasons (between 2004-07) in the majors with the Orioles and (very briefly) the Padres. Here's a nice article about him, though it is five years old.

Chris Mason: Mason has spent the better part of the last five seasons in the Rays and Mets systems, making it as far as AAA with each. He was most recently in Venezuela pitching for Tiburones de La Guaira.

 Zachary Parker: Parker spent most of his career in the Rockies system at the AA level (with one season in AAA). Last season he was a member of the Lancaster Barnstormers of the Independent League.

Monday, March 1, 2010

It Could Be A Long Season For The Elephants

The 2010 season has yet to begin but it already looks like it could be a difficult season for the Brother Elephants. Along with the Bears, the Elephants lost several key players due to the match-fixing scandal, including a large chunk of their pitching staff. This, coupled with the expulsion of two of the team's most popular players (Tsao Chin-Hui and Chen Chih-Yuan) has already caused a notable drop in interest from their fan base. On the field matters have hardly helped things as the team has gone 0-4 so far in spring training (against opposition who are not full- time professionals).

But, it is (very) early in the season and there may be a few bright spots ahead. The acquisition of Lin En-Yu from the NPB in Japan has been seen as a much needed boost to the team. The Elephants will also be using all four of their import allocations to further bolster the pitching staff. Out of necessity, there will also be several new domestic faces on the club this year.The rookies will have to adapt quickly to the pro game in order to avoid 2010 being a lost season for the men in black and yellow.