Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Leones' Season to Begin Despite Financial Questions

Juan Jose and Erick Arellano Hernandez

The financial troubles of brothers Juan Jose and Erick Arellano Hernandez do not appear to have had an impact on either the Leones de Yucatan or the Vaqueros Union Laguna as the two teams owned by the brothers prepare for the 2017 season of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol.

Grupo ArHe, owned and operated by the brothers purchased the Leones in 2014 and a controlling interest in the Vaqueros following the 2016 season.

Grupo ArHe had their assets frozen in 2015 and then again in March of 2016 by the Commission National Banking and Securities (CNBV) at the request of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit (SHCP) on suspicion of money laundering.

Although the FIU has reportedly not discovered any link to money laundering by the Hernandez brothers or Grupo ArHe, there has been no indication that funds have been in frozen.

Grupo ArHe is a very large entity, based in Mazatlán and run by the Hernandez brothers, has a wide range of business divisions. Their consulting division, UPC has 6 offices in Mexico and an office in San Diego, California. The financial sector is home to CL Capital. In sports, The Grupo owns the Leones and the Vaqueros of the LMB.

The group's automotive branch owns Alamo Car Rental in Mexico (thus the Parque Kukulcan - Alamo). Another Grupo ArHe is Grupo Immobiliario Arellano the real estate and construction arm of the company. They also own 5 Pemex gas stations with the "Hit" brand of convenience stores.

In other news related to the LMB, the league has announced that drug testing of ball players before, during and after the 2017 season will be  conducted by the Havana Anti Doping Laboratory in Havana, Cuba.

Havana Anti Doping Laboraty
Previously, testing was conducted by CONADE, the Comision Nacional de Cultura Fisica y Deporte here in Mexico. The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) suspended the laboratory in November of 2016 for its mishandling and false positive reading on a sample by Olympian Paola Pliego that caused him to miss the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The LMB had this to say about the new facility in Cuba. "The Havana Anti Doping Laboratory has high resolution, double quadruple equipment as well as isotope ratios (IRMS) for sample testing" They further stated "We have the utmost confidence in our new testing agency"

5 LMP players were given suspensions following the 2106 season for drug use including Albino Contreras of the Leones who was given a 100 game suspension for a second violation of the rules.

Friday, March 24, 2017

6 "Extranjeros" Hope to Bring the LMB Championship to Merida


Willie Romero

The Leones de Yucatan, under the 2016 Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) Manager of the Year Willie Romero’s leadership, hope to make 2017 the year the Serie del Rey returns to Merida.

Romero led the Leones to a 77-33 record in 2016. The team beat the Piratas de Campeche in the 1st round of the Zona Sur Playoffs but lost 4 games to 2 to the eventual league champion Pericos de Puebla in the division finals.

Yoanner Negrin
Leading the push for the championship this LMB season will be 6 “extranjeros” or foreign born players. Headlining this list is Yoanner Negrin, last year’s LMB Pitcher of the Year. Born in Havana Cuba, Negrin went 18-1 a year ago with 4 complete games and 3 shutouts. Negrin set a Leones record with a 38 ⅓ inning scoreless streak. Yoanner struck out 92 batters while walking just 37. A return to this form will go a long way towards the Leones’ championship hopes.

Jairo Asencio
33 year old pitcher Jairo Asencio, from the Dominican Republic, adds depth to the Leones starting rotation. Asencio has played in the “Liga Grande” (Major League Baseball) for the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs and the Baltimore Orioles.

Ronald Belisario
Ronald Belisario, the 34 year old from Maracay Venezuela compiled a 3.85 Earned Run Average (ERA) in 341 games in the big leagues for the LA Dodgers, Chicago White Sox and the Tampa Bay Rays. He also tallied 12 saves and struckout 273 batters in his career.

Jordany Valdespin
Outfielder Jordany Valdespin, hailing from San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican republic, has played for the NY Mets and the Miami Marlins in his big league career. In 10 years as a pro, Valdespin amassed 950 hits, 79 home runs, 505 runs scored and 416 RBIs.

Yuniesky Betancourt
Yuniesky Betancourt, from Villa Clara Cuba played for the Seattle Mariners from 2006-2009, hitting .289 with 9 HRs and 67 RBIs in 2007. Traded to the KC Royals in 2009, Betancourt hit .269 with 16 home runs and 74 RBIs. Yuniesky finished his major league career in “the bigs” with 1057 hits in 1156 games with 80 HRs while driving in 457 runs. Betancourt ended his MLB career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013. Betancourt helped the Aguilas de Mexicali of the Liga Mexicana del Pacifico (LMP) to the league crown and a spot in the Serie Caribe where Mexico finished 2nd to a strong Puerto Rican team.

Jesus "Cacao" Valdez
This brings us to Jesus “Cacao” Valdez, possibly the most popular of the Leones extranjeros. The Dominican from San Cristobal turns 32 this year. In his 1st season in Merida, Valdez won the LMB batting title with a .353 average. He also won the winter league Liga Mexicana del Pacifico’s batting crown in 2015-16 with a .347 average. Cacao began his MLB career in 2003 with the Chicago Cubs. He was in the Cub’s organization until 2007. In 2012 Valdez played in for the Washington Nationals where he hit .263 with 6 home runs and 31 RBIs for the Nationals Triple A affiliate. Cacao took his game worldwide when he played for the Shinano Grandseros of the Japanese major league.

The Leones said goodbye to a very popular extranjero from the 2016 tem...Corey “The Flow” Wimberly.

In 139 games over two years, Wimberly had 174 hits, 40 for extra bases, 129 runs scored and 44 stolen bases. Corey was exciting to watch and contributed mightily to the success of the 2016 season.

If one is interested in the mundane aspect of baseball, such as salaries, the LMB rules for player salaries states that non-US extranjeros be payed a maximum of 150,000 pesos, paid in moneda nacional per month.

The outlook for a repeat of the 2016 season for the Leones is very good. The defending champion Pericos de Puebla should be strong although their manager from a year ago, Cory Snyder, has departed to manage in the Taiwanese Professional League. His replacement, Von Hayes, fired after 25 games from the Pericos in 2015, will have a solid core of players. The Piratas de Campeche are still a couple of players away from the top although they will contend throughout the year and, as always, the Tigres de Quintana Roo will pose a threat to the Leones’ aspirations.

My prediction is that the Leones will finish 75-36, advance to the LMB finals and bring the league trophy back to Merida.       

Friday, February 24, 2017

La Asamblea de Presidentes de LMB en la Reunión Final


La Asamblea de Presidentes
La Asamblea de Presidentes del 16 equipo Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) se reunió el 24 de febrero para ocuparse de los temas finales de la agenda para la temporada 2017.

La aprobación de la venta de los Tigres de Quintana Roo fue el primer y más anticipado tema de la agenda. La liga aprobó la venta de los Tigres al icono de béisbol mexicano Fernando Valenzuela. Valenzuela será el Presidente del Consejo de Administración, el Presidente Ejecutivo, el Presidente Ejecutivo Adjunto y el Director General del equipo. No hubo mención del precio de venta en el anuncio, pero el costo se ha estimado en 50 millones de pesos.
Nuevo propietario de la Tigres

La asamblea también aprobó la venta de los Broncos de Reynosa a Arturo Blanco quien será el Presidente del Consejo de Administración de los Bravos de León. El Sr. Mauricio Martínez fue nombrado Presidente Ejecutivo de los Bravos.

También se aprobó la venta del 50% de los Sultanes de Monterrey al Grupo Multimedia. Como no había una lista de propietarios del otro 50% de los Sultanes, sólo se puede suponer que al menos un 1% de los socios restantes votaría con Grupo Multimedia para evitar conflictos en las decisiones de gestión. Adicionalmente, la asamblea aprobó la venta de los Acereros de Monclova a LIC. Gerardo Benavides Pape.

Pilino Escalante
De acuerdo con los deseos de Minor League Baseball (MiLB), la organización que sanciona al LMB, los presidentes de la liga aprobaron por unanimidad el regreso de Pilino Escalante al cargo de Presidente del LMB. Escalante había sido destituido por la mayoría de los dueños del equipo en diciembre.

La asamblea también estuvo de acuerdo con la decisión de Pat O. Connor, Presidente de la MiLB, de que no habría límites en el número de jugadores de doble nacionalidad en cualquier equipo. Esos jugadores de doble nacionalidad son mexicanos nacidos en el extranjero.

El uso de la repetición se aprobó para la temporada 2017 si los equipos cumplen con las reglas de la liga en la transmisión de televisión para los partidos de la liga.

Los últimos temas de la agenda a ratificar tenían que ver con la programación. La liga comenzará, con una pizarra completa de juegos, el 31 de marzo. Tres juegos se jugarán en esa primera serie con un día fuera el lunes el 4 de abril.

El Juego de Estrellas, originalmente programado para el 16 de junio se trasladó a la 18 ª. La liga abandonó la regla que tenía el ganador del Juego de Estrellas que determinaba la ventaja del campo casero en la ronda del campeonato. Ahora el campo de casa se basará en el récord de victorias / pérdidas solo. Liga Mayor de Béisbol (MLB) debe tomar nota de esto y hacer lo mismo en la Liga Grande.

El Día de Apertura, los Acereros de Monclova tocarán los Diablos Rojos del México en la Ciudad de México. Los Saraperos de Saltillo comenzarán la temporada en el camino contra los Toros de Tijuana. Los Generales de Durango (antes Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen) visitarán los Rieleros de Aguascalientes. Los Sultanes de Monterrey estarán en casa contra los Vaqueros de Laguna, al igual que los Guerreros de Oaxaca cuando acojan a las Aguilas Rojas de Veracruz a la ciudad. El campeón 2016 LMB Pericos de Puebla se enfrentan a los Bravos de León (antiguamente los Broncos de Reynosa) en Puebla. Los Olmecas de Tabasco visitan Campeche para tomar las Piratas y los Tigres de Quintana Roo viajan a Mérida para luchar contra los Leones de Yucatan.

La liga ha determinado que los Bravos de León y los Generales de Durango deben jugar las dos primeras series del año como equipo visitante para permitir más tiempo para que se realicen mejoras en sus campos de origen.

The LMB Assembly of Presidents in Final Meeting Prior to the 2017 Season


LMB Assembly of Presidents
The Assembly of Presidents of the 16 team Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) met on the 24th of February to take care of the final items on the agenda for the 2017 season.

Approval of the sale of the Tigres de Quintana Roo was the first and most anticipated item on the agenda. The league approved the sale of the Tigres to Mexican baseball icon Fernando Valenzuela. Valenzuela will be the Chairman of the Board of Directors, the Executive President, the Deputy Executive Chairman and the General Manager of the team. There was no mention of the sale price in the announcement but the cost has been estimated at 50 Million Pesos.
Fernando Approved as Owner of Tigres

The assembly also approved the sale of the Broncos de Reynosa to Arturo Blanco who will be the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Bravos de Leon. Mr. Mauricio Martinez was named as the Executive President of the Bravos.

Also approved was the sale of 50% of the Sultanes de Monterrey to the Grupo Multimedia. As there was not a list of owners of the other 50% of the Sultanes, one can only assume that at least 1 % of the remaining partners would vote with Grupo Multimedia to avoid conflicts in management decisions. Additionally, the assembly approved the sale of the Acereros de Monclova to LIC. Gerardo Benavides Pape.

Pilino Escalante
In accordance with the wishes of Minor League Baseball (MiLB), the organization that sanctions the LMB, the league presidents unanimously approved the return of Pilino Escalante to the position as President of the LMB. Escalante had been ousted by a majority of the team owners in December.

The assembly also concurred with the decision of Pat O;Connor, President of the MiLB, that there would be no limits on the number of dual nationality players on any team. Those dual nationality players are Mexican players born abroad.

The use of replay was approved for the 2017 season if the teams comply with the league rules on television transmission for league games.

The last items on the agenda to ratify had to do with scheduling. The league will begin, with a full slate of games, on the 31st of March. Three games will be played in that first series with an off day on Monday the3rd on April.

The All Star game, originally scheduled for the 16th of June was moved to the 18th. The league abandoned the rule that had the winner of the All Star game determining home field advantage in the Championship round. Home field will now be based on won/loss record alone. Major League Baseball (MLB) should take note of this and do the same in the Liga Grande.

On Opening Day, the Acereros de Monclova will play the Diablos Rojos del Mexico in Mexico City. The Saraperos de Saltillo will begin the season on the road against the Toros de Tijuana. The Generales de Durango (formerly the Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen) will visit the Rieleros de Aguascalientes. The Sultanes de Monterrey will be at home against the Vaqueros de Laguna as will the Guerreros de Oaxaca when they welcome the Aguilas Rojas de Veracruz to town. The 2016 LMB Champion Pericos de Puebla face the Bravos de Leon (formerly the Broncos de Reynosa) in Puebla. The Olmecas de Tabasco visit Campeche to take on the Piratas and the Tigres de Quintana Roo travel to Merida to battle the Leones de Yucatan.

The league has determined that the Bravos de Leon and the Generales de Durango must play the first two series of the year as the away team to allow more time for improvements to be completed on their home fields.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Tigres de Quintana Roo Sold To Investors Headed By Fernando Valenzuela


Carlos Peralta, the former owner of the Tigres de Quintana Roo, has announced the sale of the team to a consortium of investors, including former LA Dodger and Mexican baseball superstar, Fernando Valenzuela.
Fernando Valenzuela with the LA Dodgers

Peralta earlier this year had petitioned the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) to be allowed to leave the league based on the league's decision to allow an unlimited number of dual nationality players on the leagues teams. These dual nationality players, who some team owners have said would ruin Mexican baseball, were in the minority when the President of the US Minor League's (MiLB) Pat O'Connor ruled there would be no limits on these Mexican-Americans.

The MiLB sanctions the LMB as a US equivalent Triple A league.

This move lead Peralta to place the team for sale. He initially said that the Tigres name, images and colors would not be sold. Peralta is quoted as saying "(t)he position taken by the league will bring negative consequences, both for the players born and trained in Mexico and for the league itself". He further stated that he sold the team to "a regional group of investors with proven moral quality".

The fiery owner, whose father founded the Tigres 62 years ago, has said he will "disappear" and have nothing to say about the running of the Tigres under the new administration. As a concession to the new owners, Peralta has allowed the use of all things Tigres.

Tigres News Conference
In a news conference held in Cancun on the 19th of February, Valenzuela, standing alongside Peralta and the Governor of Quintana Roo, Carlos Joaquin, said " (b)aseball is still in Cancun." he added that "I would never have imagined being in charge of an organization, more than anything a team such as the Tigres." It is rumored that Valenzuela's wife, Linda Margarita Burgos will be named as the legal head of the purchasing consortium on Monday the 20th of February.

The LMB guidelines require that team owners need to be investigated and approved by the league and the other 15 teams in the league. A league meeting that had been scheduled for the 17th of February was put off until the 24th so that any ownership change in Cancun could be approved and the Tigres able to begin the 2017 LMB season as scheduled on the 31st of March.

The selling price of the Tigres is rumored to be in the range of 50 million Pesos (roughly $2.5 million dollars US at today's exchange rate). The government of Quintana Roo subsidized the Tigres in 2016 in an amount near 19.1 million Pesos, a number that has dropped steadily over the past 6 years. There was no indication from Governor Jaoquin on whether or not, and in what amount, any future subsidy might be.

The press conference also made no mention of any potential roster changes that might happen nor if the 2016 manager and coaches would be retained.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Managerial Faces in the LMB for 2017

AT LEAST 6 NEW MANAGERS in the LMB for 2017

Cory Snyder
Cory Snyder, who coached the Pericos de Puebla to the 2016 LMB Championship has left Puebla to coach the ChinaTrust Brothers of the Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan for the 2017. He will be replaced by Von Hayes who coached the Pericos in 2015.

Snyder led the Pericos to their first LMB Championship in 30 years in 2016. Hayes was fired as manager of the Pericos after just 25 games in 2015, a direct result of a losing record and a drop in attendance.
Von Hayes

Both Snyder (Cleveland Indians) and Hayes (Philadelphia Phillies) had good careers in the Liga Grande (Major Leagues) and both coached in Triple A affiliates for major league clubs.

Wally Backman
Following the 2016 season, the Acereros fired their manager, Homar Rojas, as the Acereros were swept 4 games to none in the first round of the Zona Norte Playoffs. Rojas will be replaced as manager by Wally Backman, formerly the manager of the NY Mets Triple A affiliate Las Vegas 51s. Backman will be remembered as the second baseman on the 1986 NY Mets World Championship team. Rojas has taken over the Rieleros de Aguascalientes for 2017.

The Vaqueros de Laguna will be piloted by Ramon Orantes who spent 20 years playing in the LMB and the Mexican winter league, the LMP. Orantes finished his career as the 5th best batsman in the LMB, posting a .315 batting average in 4,578 at bats.
Ramon Orantes

Francisco “Paquin” Estrada takes over the helm of the Bravos de Leon. The Bravos are the reincarnation of the Broncos de Reynosa. Estrada coached the Seraperos de Saltillo in 2016 and hopes to have the Bravos playing at a high level quickly to develop the dedicated fan base required to sustain a baseball franchise in Mexico.
Francisco Estrada

Taking over the reins in Saltillo will be Orlando Sanchez. A former Major League catcher, Sanchez played for the Cardinals, Royals and Orioles in his career. Born in Puerto Rico, Sanchez was the manager for the Vaqueros de Laguna in 2016.
Orlando Sanchez

As of the time of this article, the Generales de Durango, formerly the Delfines de Ciudad del Carmen have not named a manager. As part of the agreement of the move to Durango, the team owners agreed to make improvements to Estadio Francisco Villa to the tune of 35 Million Pesos. These improvements are to be accomplished by the 15th of March 2017.

Follow me for weekly updates on the Leones de Yucatan at: www.yucatanliving.com

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Olmo Rosario Signs with the Somerset Patriots of the Atlantic League for the 2107 Season


The Somerset Patriots announced on their website that they had signed utility player Olmo Rosario to play for them in 2017.

Patriots manager Brett Jodie says "It is great to have Olmo on our team this year. We have seen him in the league before and he was always a tough out for us." Jodie added that "(h)e will also be a huge addition to our offense."

This will be Rosario's third season in the Atlantic League. In 2013 he hit .287 with 13 HRs and 74 RBIs for the Lancaster Barnstormers and was selected to the Atlantic League All Star squad.

In 2016, for the Toros de Tijuana of the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) Rosario hit .313 with 6 HRs and 73 RBIs in 109 games.

The fact that Rosario is a good hitter is indisputable. He has proven over his 12 year professional baseball career that he can hit a baseball. He can also field. Under normal circumstances he would be an asset to any baseball team anywhere in the world. His talent is undeniable.

I write this article because Olmo Rosario has been suspended by the LMB for the first 50 games of the 2017 season after amphetamines were discovered in a urine test conducted following the 2016 LMB season.

The Somerset Patriots must have been aware of Rosario's suspension. The same Minor League Baseball (MiLB) that sanctions the Patriots, and the Atlantic League, sanctions operations in the LMB. If the Patriots didn't know about the suspension because they didn't do their "due diligence" then shame on them. If the MiLB establishment didn't pass on the information of a player who failed a drug test and was suspended, shame on them. But, if Rosario or his agent failed to inform the Patriots of his suspension, Rosario should be banned for life from professional baseball.

In the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball's mission statement the league bills itself as "...winning baseball games and showcasing the talent of top-caliber players...".

If hiring drug users banned for 50 games in a Triple A sanctioned MiLB league is "showcasing top-caliber players" then the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball should rethink it's mission statement.

Monday, February 13, 2017

5 LMB Jugadores Suspendido Para Partes de la Temporada 2017

Dos mas jugadores revision medica de prueba positiva

La Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB) ha dado a conocer los nombres de 5 jugadores que dieron positivo. Después de la temporada 2016, para sustancias prohibidas y será suspendido para partes de la temporada 2017. Además, para estos jugadores, no se les permitirá participar en la postemporada si su equipo llega a los playoffs.

Carlos Valencia, Olmo Rosario y Miguel Ángel González de los Toros de Tijuana tuvieron anfetaminas descubiertas en sus pruebas de drogas.

El gerente de Toros, Pedro Mere, ha sido citado diciendo que se mantiene al lado de sus jugadores "... dando pleno apoyo en su 'supuesto dopaje' 'Aunque no está de acuerdo con los resultados, dice que" espera los resultados de la prueba " B"
Cada uno de los jugadores de Toros fueron suspendidos por 50 juegos.

Olmo Rosario, quien bateó .313 con 6 HRs y 73 impulsadas para los Toros en 2016, ha firmado para jugar en la Liga Atlántica para los Patriotas de Somerset en 2017.

Carlos Valencia bateó .244 con 7 HR y 46 RBIs, mientras que el lanzador derecho Miguel González tuvo una efectividad de 5.89 en 18 entradas de,, dando 28 hits, ponchando 15 y caminando 10.

Hassan Pena, descubierto con marihuana en su prueba fue suspendido por 50 juegos. Jugó para los Sultanes de Monterrey en 2016. Primero un relevista, Pena tuvo un récord de 5-1 con 5 salvamentos. Lanzó 30 entradas de,, eliminando a 22 y caminando sólo 2.

Albino Contreras, de los Leones de Yucatán, ha sido suspendido por 100 juegos para el análisis positivo de anfetaminas. Esta fue la segunda prueba positiva de Contreras. En 2016, Contresas bateó .208 sin jonrones y 8 remolcadas en tiempo de juego limitado para los Leones.
Además de estos 5 jugadores.

Cyle Hankerd y Travis Blackley tendrán sus resultados positivos, para un producto no especificado, revisado por una comisión basada en una exención medicinal solicitada. La comisión tiene el poder de permitir los resultados o rechazar la solicitud de medicamentos y suspender a los jugadores.

La firma de pruebas de drogas usada por el LMB previamente, CONADE, ya no realiza pruebas de drogas para la liga y por lo tanto la liga se ve obligada a encontrar una instalación de prueba alternativa. Con el fin de mantener un acuerdo de trabajo con la Liga Mayor, que le da a la LMB una calificación Triple A League, una fuente de prueba adecuada debe encontrarse al principio de la temporada.
Actualmente la liga está explorando opciones como la Universidad de California y laboratorios tanto en Cuba como en México.

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