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Thursday, August 09, 2018

15 ex-major leaguers who are kicking ass in a different country

Carlos Zambrano has made six starts for the Leones de Yucatan of the Mexican League this year. There are a lot of words below this, but none of them are as important as the ones in that sentence. Somewhere, on this continent, Zambrano is living the alternate reality we deserve, the one where pitchers don’t float away when they’re 31 because the human body hates baseball. He could have been another CC Sabathia, dang it.

Also, Zambrano’s six starts haven’t been very good, but it’s important that you know that he’s still pitching.

This post is a roundup of players like Zambrano, former major leaguers who are playing somewhere other than Canada or the United States, except there’s one major difference: These players are thriving.

Are there any Eric Thameses or Miles Mikolases here? Probably not, but I’m not going to rule it out. At the very least, it’s worth taking a look at the players who are having awesome seasons in a different country, such as ...

Moses Taylor, aka Hambone Fakenameington Posted: August 09, 2018 at 01:52 PM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: where are they now, where in the world is

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   1. Voodoo Posted: August 09, 2018 at 02:11 PM (#5724172)
Carlos Zambrano was my favorite baseball player until ... well, until we wasn't. His antics and peculiar personal idiosyncrasies were kinda fun when he was putting up 5-6 WAR a year and finishing top 5 in CYA voting. They became a drag real quick when his performance took a dive, however. Nevertheless, I'm glad to hear he's still flinging it. I wonder if he gets a chance to hit down in Mexico. He slashed .337/.337/.554 in 83 at bats in 2008!
   2. Batman Posted: August 09, 2018 at 02:21 PM (#5724186)
It's not overseas, but Lorenzo Barcelo, who was a big part of the White Flag Trade 21 years ago and last pitched in the major leagues 16 years ago, picked up a win for the Long Island Ducks this week.
   3. Rally Posted: August 09, 2018 at 02:35 PM (#5724202)
I wonder if he gets a chance to hit down in Mexico. He slashed .337/.337/.554 in 83 at bats in 2008!


Sadly, not a single AB for him. The DH is a deadly disease of cultural imperialism. His ERA is 6, but the league ERA is 5.48 so he seems to be doing enough to keep a job.
   4. Batman Posted: August 09, 2018 at 02:50 PM (#5724220)
Chad Gaudin is the closer for Zambrano's team. He's given up one run in 9 innings.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: August 09, 2018 at 03:16 PM (#5724243)
I liked this article.


Daric Barton
What he’s doing: .283/.473/.478 for the Pericos de Puebla of the Mexican League.

How could this not be Daric Barton’s line in the Mexican League?


Ruben Rivera
What he’s doing: .256/.407/.406 for the Acereros de Monclova of the Mexican League.

Finally, we get to the best one. Ruben Rivera is 44. He’s still playing. And he’s still helping his team win. Hell yes.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: August 09, 2018 at 03:17 PM (#5724245)
How much money do you make playing in the Mexican league? Is that Daric Barton's best financial option? Does he believe he'll get back to the bigs? Or does he just love it?
   7. RJ in TO Posted: August 09, 2018 at 03:30 PM (#5724258)
How much money do you make playing in the Mexican league? Is that Daric Barton's best financial option? Does he believe he'll get back to the bigs? Or does he just love it?


A quick search seems to indicate the upper salary is about $8K a month, which is pretty good money if your list of employable skills begins and ends with "can hit a baseball."
   8. Voodoo Posted: August 09, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5724268)
A quick search seems to indicate the upper salary is about $8K a month, which is pretty good money if your list of employable skills begins and ends with "can hit a baseball."


And you can live pretty damn well in Mexico on that, too, though I doubt money is why any of these former big leaguers is why they are there.
   9. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 09, 2018 at 03:45 PM (#5724271)
You missed the best part, PF:

Will any of these players make it back? If we’re lucky, Rivera will, and he’ll play for the Marlins.

DEREK JETER: What the ...

DEREK JETER: My fountain pen was just here.
   10. PreservedFish Posted: August 09, 2018 at 03:50 PM (#5724279)
A quick search seems to indicate the upper salary is about $8K a month, which is pretty good money if your list of employable skills begins and ends with "can hit a baseball."


Yeah, that's solid. Nice lifestyle too. I'd take it!
   11. Zonk was SHOCKED by #6! Posted: August 09, 2018 at 04:13 PM (#5724292)
A quick search seems to indicate the upper salary is about $8K a month, which is pretty good money if your list of employable skills begins and ends with "can hit a baseball."


Based on the BA vs OBP disparities - I think it's also "can recognize a non-strike and not swing at it"... or maybe "can be hit by pitched baseballs".
   12. Batman Posted: August 09, 2018 at 04:21 PM (#5724303)
Based on the BA vs OBP disparities - I think it's also "can recognize a non-strike and not swing at it"
In Mexico, swinging through a pitch right down the middle may still not be a strike.
   13. Voodoo Posted: August 09, 2018 at 04:33 PM (#5724317)
In Mexico, swinging through a pitch right down the middle may still not be a strike.


I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean. An attempt at humor, I suppose?
   14. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: August 09, 2018 at 04:36 PM (#5724322)
BA vs OBP disparity was Drederic Barton's only notable skill during his major league career (.247 / .356 / .365) too.

Ruben Rivera too: .216/.307/.393 - a little more slugging
   15. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 09, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5724332)
I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean. An attempt at humor, I suppose?


It's a reference to this thread from a couple of weeks ago, where a pitch in the Mexican League that was a) right down the middle, and b) which the batter took a full swing at, was called a ball by home plate umpire, and the first base umpire upheld the call on appeal. Both umps got suspended for the rest of the season.

   16. Batman Posted: August 09, 2018 at 04:45 PM (#5724333)
I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean. An attempt at humor, I suppose?
A reference to this.
   17. cardsfanboy Posted: August 09, 2018 at 04:50 PM (#5724336)
I'm not really sure what this is supposed to mean. An attempt at humor, I suppose?


See previous two posts above.
   18. PreservedFish Posted: August 09, 2018 at 05:25 PM (#5724348)
Dude, just check the three posts above mine.
   19. Voodoo Posted: August 09, 2018 at 05:44 PM (#5724352)
Ah, got it.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2018 at 07:47 PM (#5724403)
"can hit a baseball."

As noted, not exactly a skill that Daric Barton was ever accused of ... very good at not hitting baseballs however.

Yeah, that's solid.

But it's only for a few months. Still better off getting a permanent, full-time PE gig in some high school (if such positions still exist).

What I hadn't encountered before moving overseas is the phenomenon where sometimes a star (sometimes foreign) player just swans in for a month or two. This happens sometimes in NZ rugby where an All Black will show up for the last month of the season and the playoffs, saving himself for his real paying job with some European club. And it happens in the Australian "Big Bash" 20/20 cricket league where some foreign cricketer comes in for a month during his offseason. I think it happens in the soccer A-League here as well but I pay even less attention to that than to cricket.

So I wonder if in fact somebody like Daric Barton is a high school baseball coach who spends a couple months of his summer, but not the full season, playing in Mexico and maybe squeezes in some DR winter league time as well.
   21. Best Dressed Chicken in Town Posted: August 09, 2018 at 07:55 PM (#5724412)
BA vs OBP disparity was Drederic Barton's only notable skill during his major league career (.247 / .356 / .365) too.

Ruben Rivera too: .216/.307/.393 - a little more slugging


I think Rivera was considered a very good defender for a few years.
   22. Hysterical & Useless Posted: August 09, 2018 at 08:08 PM (#5724424)
What I hadn't encountered before moving overseas is the phenomenon where sometimes a star (sometimes foreign) player just swans in for a month or two.


This is similar to the music/show business, where a "star" tours and plays with whatever local pick-up band/cast can get put together. Chuck Berry did a lot of this, I believe (after all, everybody who ever played any rock 'n roll knew all of his songs). I used to have a live album by Del Shannon from one such tour. Not common any more in theater I don't think, but people like Burton and Ty Guthrie would do Shakespeare like this.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: August 09, 2018 at 09:41 PM (#5724484)
#22: sorta but that's a bit closer to a barnstorming baseball team ... that happens too, especially for soccer, I think one of the English teams is coming to town soon to thrash the locals, but just for one game. And those are exhibitions or friendlies. The difference in my examples is that these are games that count in the season standings, etc. and, cuz we're lucky in America, it strikes me as really odd that this sort of stuff happens. The closest I can think of in US major sports are those seasons when Clemens wouldn't begin the season until June ... but he was 45 or whatever. I suppose part of it is also that US athletes are paid more than enough they don't need to add a month overseas to make due. It's not like Ben Simmons is gonna come down for a month of play in the NBL.

I suppose we do see this with a handful of last-ditch baseball players sometimes coming down here for the winter and I'm not sure they're staying for the whole season or not. Was it Lars Anderson we were discussing this offseason?
   24. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 09, 2018 at 09:43 PM (#5724486)
This is similar to the music/show business, where a "star" tours and plays with whatever local pick-up band/cast can get put together.

Hey! I resemble that remark, having just performed last night as part of a Dallas-based horn section backing The O'Jays on a tour stop. Been playing dates with them for about 7 years now. Their rhythm section is permanent, but they pick up horns wherever they are. Pretty sweet gig from my POV, although I can see how it would be "just another gig" when you do it 100 times a year for 30 years.
   25. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 09, 2018 at 10:41 PM (#5724511)
I enjoyed this article a lot and got a particularly big LOL out of the Jeter line cited in #9.

Re: Zambrano, I suddenly became aware that he was pitching in the Mexican League a couple of weeks ago, when I was scanning the list of active win leaders for potential 300-win candidates (Rick Porcello's my pick) and saw his face. At first I thought it must be a mistake, then I discovered that he "un-retired" after not playing anywhere since 2013.
   26. Hysterical & Useless Posted: August 10, 2018 at 10:01 AM (#5724595)
in my examples is that these are games that count in the season standings, etc.


Pretty sure the IRS felt that Chuck Berry's barnstorming counted in his season standings too :-)

Not disputing your point, but I did say "similar to" not "the same as." Was seeking just to conversate, expanding your interesting reference to other fascinating things in this wide, wide world. IOW, talking out my ess, the way we do here.
   27. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: August 10, 2018 at 02:32 PM (#5724773)
Voodoo - Check out posts 15-18.
   28. Khrushin it bro Posted: August 10, 2018 at 03:01 PM (#5724797)
Also, Zambrano’s six starts haven’t been very good, but it’s important that you know that he’s still pitching.


It's actually not that important.
   29. Voodoo Posted: August 10, 2018 at 03:04 PM (#5724803)
Voodoo - Check out posts 15-18.


Yup, I saw (and acknowledged in #19).

Baseball in Mexico is pretty fun. I had a chance to catch a couple Mexican Pacific League games last winter and it was a great atmosphere and some solid baseball was played. Sadly I missed seeing former Cubs/Marlins pitcher Sergio Mitre's start for the Tomateros de Culiacan.
   30. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 10, 2018 at 03:10 PM (#5724814)
I've always wanted to go to a game when I visit Mexico City, but the scheduling has never worked out yet. Definitely on my to-do list.
   31. Gch exhales the vast drunken folly of Epicurus Posted: August 10, 2018 at 11:39 PM (#5725039)
This is beyond under the radar, but former Padres reliever Frank Garcés is also kicking ass in a different country: Canada. Pitching for the Barrie Baycats of the semi-pro Intercounty Baseball League, he went 7-0 in the regular season (7 starts, 47 IP, 2 ER, 0.38 ERA, 58 K, 3 BB, 21 hits, 0.51 WHIP) and just threw a 9 inning shutout (12 K, 2 BB, 4 H) to start the playoffs. I'm not sure I want to know how he went from AAA to a 60,000,000 Yen contract to pitch in Japan to the IBL in two years, but it's been a lot of fun to watch him pitch.
   32. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: August 11, 2018 at 04:57 AM (#5725056)
Best Chicken, #21:
Ruben Rivera too: .216/.307/.393 - a little more slugging

I think Rivera was considered a very good defender for a few years.

He did have a great glove for a little while.
   33. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: August 11, 2018 at 09:29 AM (#5725100)
I think the lesson of this is probably that the level of play in Mexico is not hight.

But I've wondered about the guys who go off to Japan and play well and just sorta stay there. One wonders if an MLB team might not have room for a flyer on Wladamir Balantin. It worked with Eric Thames, sort of.
   34. Jay Seaver Posted: August 11, 2018 at 09:51 AM (#5725103)
I suppose we do see this with a handful of last-ditch baseball players sometimes coming down here for the winter and I'm not sure they're staying for the whole season or not. Was it Lars Anderson we were discussing this offseason?


Probably; Anderson talked about how his time in Australia initially involved him waiting for a slot to open up because some other import left his ABL team (or was pulled by their MLB organization). According to his last dispatch, he's playing club baseball in Germany this summer, which may be pretty close to the last of the last ditches.

(I must admit, though, I hope like heck that Anderson makes a couple more stops before he finally decides it's time to settle down and coach his hometown's high-school team or something. There's got to be a neat book or documentary in an ex-major leaguer playing baseball around the world.)
   35. Swoboda is freedom Posted: August 11, 2018 at 10:23 AM (#5725108)
15 ex-major leaguers who are kicking ass in a different country

I thought they might include Ugeuth Urbina in this but he seems less kick ass rather than attack with machete and set on fire.
   36. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 11, 2018 at 12:37 PM (#5725132)
Hey! I resemble that remark, having just performed last night as part of a Dallas-based horn section backing The O'Jays on a tour stop. Been playing dates with them for about 7 years now.
By the way, this is pretty damn cool, assuming at least a couple of the real O’Jays are still in the touring group.
   37. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: August 11, 2018 at 12:59 PM (#5725141)
He did have a great glove for a little while.
Well, certainly one that was never used, anyway.
   38. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: August 11, 2018 at 03:42 PM (#5725162)

I thought they might include Ugeuth Urbina in this but he seems less kick ass rather than attack with machete and set on fire.

Hey, Urbina only *attempted* to set people on fire...and he was actually still a major leaguer at that point -- at least, it happened 2 weeks after his final MLB appearance, and he almost certainly would have gotten an offer to pitch the following season if he hadn't been in prison.
   39. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: August 11, 2018 at 11:06 PM (#5725280)
Balentien might want a promise of PT and decent money - he's making $3m this year and likely decent endorsements.
---
Nice job, Brisbee...

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