Friday, December 28, 2007


How about some real baseball news as we head into this final weekend of 2007?

The winter leagues always give me the feeling a new season will be here in the good old USA before we know it, and this December is no exception.

One non-roster invitee I am going to be keeping my eyes on come March is former All-Star Edgardo Alfonzo, who recently signed with Texas after a summer in the Atlantic League. Now 34 but out of the majors for nearly two seasons (he did play in 30 games between the Dodgers and Blue Jays in 2006), the onetime prized third baseman of the New York Mets, is hitting .343 (59-172) in his native Venezuela. He has a solid .912 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).

Edgardo, who played briefly at Bridgeport, CT in the Atlantic League in '06, was at Long Island, NY all last season, hitting .266 with five homers and 56 RBI in 105 games for the Ducks. He continues to walk about the same amount of times as he strikes out with 16 of each in his first 48 games this winter.

Meanwhile, San Francisco catcher Eliezer Alfonzo, seemingly no relation, is playing virtually daily in the Venezuelan League. He continues to show power, too, with 13 homers in 51 games, while hitting .261. The Sporting News predicted in its December 24 issue that Eliezer and Guillermo Rodriguez "should have an intriguing battle for the backup catcher spot" in 2008. Eliezer, who once played Independent Baseball for St. Paul, MN, was limited to 26 major league games--and 18 in Triple-A--when slowed early by injuries in 2007 while Rodriguez also split time between the parent club and Fresno. They are of similar age and both bat righthanded.

Rightie Cory Bailey, who also has played at Long Island, has a solid 3.19 ERA for 13 starts in Venezuela although his record is only 2-5. In the Dominican Republic, venerable Jose Lima, another former Atlantic Leaguer (Newark, NJ, 2003), is an impressive 3-2, 2.84 for 10 starts, and lefty Derek Lee (Texas) is 2-2, 3.72. He was at Somerset, NJ in the Atlantic a good part of 2005.

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