DOMINICAN WINTER LEAGUE CHAMPS!!!
The Tigres del Licey took five straight to sweep the Gigantes del Cibao and win the Dominican Winter League Championship Series on Sunday, two straight up, one by forfeit, one shortened by rain and finally a 4-3 extra inning affair which was delayed in the eighth, again by weather, and ended up lasting twelve long innings before Tigres' and Nationals' second baseman Anderson Hernandez brought his DC and Licey teammate Ronnie Belliard around to score the winning run after Belliard had singled to start the bottom of the frame.
Hernandez ends the DWL Playoffs hitting .344 after going 2 for 7 with two RBI's in the deciding game. Ronnie Belliard ends the night 2 for 6 with a double and the winning run scored. The double is Belliard's third of a postseason in which he hit for a .243 AVG, after hitting in 22 of 66 at bats in 18 regular season games with Licey. Hernandez finished the DWL Regular season with the second-best batting average in the league, 20 doubles, 6 triples and 29 RBI's in 50 games.
All reports have Belliard going to the bench with Anderson Hernandez starting at second for DC in 2009, but what if the veteran infielder comes into Spring Training and hits .327 with 18 hits, 3 doubles, 3 HR's and 8 RBI's in 55 at bats like he did last season with Washington and Anderson Hernandez hits .264 with 2 doubles and 8 RBI's as he did for New York?
Why Is The Globe and Mail Talking About The Nationals?
The Globe and Mail is a Toronto, Ontario, Canada-based newspaper, and one of its writers, Jeff Blair, took a moment in the "Garbage Time" segment of his Sunday night article entitled, "Another Bettman Botch Job", (which was about the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman handing out ill-advised suspensions to two Detroit Red Wings who chose not to take part in this weekend's All-Star festivities), to take a swipe at your Washington Nationals from way up north of the border amongst the leaf-obsessed masses:
"Every day another person tells me they've heard that Stan Kasten's the guy who will eventually replace Paul Beeston as the chief executive officer of the Blue Jays. What's taking so long? Kasten was hired as the president of the Washington Nationals by the Lerner family at the, um, “suggestion” of commissioner Bud Selig. The Nationals are a Milburian mess and Kasten could be forgiven if he's trying to come up with a politically correct exit plan..."
(ed. note - "Mr. Blair's reference to a "Milburian mess" is a jab at former Boston Bruins' and New York Islanders' GM and current Hockey Night in Canada punching bag Mike Milbury, just thought i'd translate for those who don't get the CBC or HNIC...Mr Blair also uses the fun term "Milburification" earlier in the article...Oh, and the Blue Jays are an American League team that plays in Canada. Yes, they play baseball and not hockey. Seriously.")
This Stan Kasten to Toronto rumor also appeared in New York Daily News' writer Bill Madden's 1/11/09 article, "A tale of two stoves: While Yankees break bank, Red Sox hit bargain bin", where Mr. Madden wrote, "It's only a matter of time before respected Stan Kasten whose talents have been wasted by the Lerners, leaves to take the Toronto Blue Jays’ presidency."
According to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, however, in a post entitled, "Natsfest, over and out", about Sunday's NatsFest celebrations, Mr. Kasten dominated a panel discussion that also included GM Jim Bowden, Asst. GM Mike Rizzo and Manager Manny Acta, to deliver, as Mr. Harlan describes it, "a State of the Nationals Address," at one point even addressing the rumors of his departure directly, acknowledging that the stories have been around for some time, but declaring:
"...you can't believe everything you read. I came here because I love this city; I love it more now than when I got here. And I really love the people I've met here. And I also came to accomplish something here: To make this a winner. If I am ever unhappy it's because we are not winning yet. You can bet that makes me unhappy."
More important than his rebuke of the rumors the Globe and Mail has been spreading, in my opinion, is Mr. Kasten's admission, as Mr. Harlan reports it, that when it comes to the 2009 Washington Nationals, "I don't know that the team will be much different between now and Opening Day -- but we all want it to be.'"
Ryan Zimmerman + Long Term Deal = Happy Fans Who Also Want The Team To Be "Much Different" Than Last Year's 102-Loss Edition...
As of Sunday night, MLB.com's Bill Ladson was still reporting that Ryan Zimmerman and the Washington Nationals were likely headed to the "arbitration table" if they can't agree to a long-term deal within the next month. In case the Nationals wanted a little help deciding what to do with Zimmerman from the federalbaseball.com readers, I thought i'd include our current poll below...