December 12, 2004

The Ex-Phils Global Report


After scouring the pages of the 2005 Baseball America Almanac, our writer reports on the global pursuits of ex-Phillies.

Reported by Will Travel, BPF Writer
It's that time of year where there are no box scores to scrutinize, and the only news revolves around possible blockbuster trades at the Winter Meetings. The only actual baseball being played is in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

With spring training still months away, it's tough to be a baseball junkie. Fortunately, my copy of the Baseball America Almanac 2005 arrived last week. After scouring its pages for familiar names, here's a report on the global pursuits of ex-Phillies.

Japan
By far the best place to play abroad, where sluggers Tuffy Rhodes and Benny Agbayani are paid millions (dollars, not yen). The Fukuoka Daiei Hawks paid Hector Mercado (PHL 02-03) the measly salary of $484,000. Hector did not retire a batter in his only appearance and finished with an ERA of infinity.

Taiwan
Ben Rivera (92-94), who's been a relief pitcher around the world since 1997 having pitched in Japan, Korea, Mexico and previously in Taiwan, finished 2-1 with a 1.54 ERA. He also picked up a paycheck in Mexico in 2004, going 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA between two clubs, Laguna and Mexico City. Ben, part of the NL championship team in 1993, had records of 7-3 in 1992 and 13-9 in 1993.


Ben Rivera

Korea
Ex Reading Phil Israel "Izzy" Alcantara (RDG 98), best known for kicking a catcher in the chest to start a AAA brawl in Pawtucket, hit a meager .231 for Doosan. Izzy, like Ben, was also a double dipper, heading to Korea after winning the HR title with 27 at Laguna in the Mexican League.

Former Red Sox slugger Troy O'Leary also didn’t fare too well in Korea. He limped home with a .265 BA.

Holland
Former hurler Calvin Maduro led team HCAW to a first-place finish. Calvin pitched for the Phils in 1996-97, having arrived in a trade from the Orioles in exchange for Pete Incaviglia and Todd Zeile.


Calvin Maduro

Italy
Two former Reading Phils had good years in the Italian professional league. David Francia (RDG 98-00) finished 5th in the league by hitting with .345 for first-place Grosseto.

Another former R-Phil Rusty McNamara (RDG 99-01) also did well with San Marino, finishing with a .383 BA in 120 AB.

When the season ended, Rusty joined the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, where teammate Matt Beech (RDG 95-96; PHL 96-98) helped pitch his team to the league title. Beech’s claim to fame for the Phils was a surprise win over Greg Maddux back when Maddux was in his prime. Also on that Long Island squad, ex-prospect Wendell Magee (RDG 95-96; PHL 96-99) hit a decent .294. Wendell, however, left the team on the eve of the playoffs when he reportedly "had a vision" that told him to go home to Hattiesburg, Mississippi. No lie.

Mexico
Always a great place to play, just ask former pitching great Sal Maglie. Well, unfortunately he's dead, but it's close to home and you get a paycheck.

I touched on Izzy's great year, but let us not forget … Pete Rose, Jr. (RDG 00-01) who hit .266 at Aquascalicates.

Jeff Inglin (RDG 03), the Eastern League home run king in 2003, was hitting .313 after 25 games at Yucatan when he was released.


Jeff Inglin

And how can we forget Manny Martinez, who played 13 games with the Phils in 1996. He found a new home a prospered in Mexico City, hitting .351.

The best story
The biggest and best globe trotter of all, Julio Franco (RDG 81; PHL 82), will play again in 2005. Julio, the ageless wonder, signed a 1-year guaranteed contract for $1 million with the Braves. Julio, who hit .309 in 2004 and has 2457 career hits (90th all time) played five full seasons in Japan, Korea and Mexico.

He can flat-out hit. His career major league average in 2269 games is .300; in 720 minor league games, .343, and in 593 foreign games, his average is .349.

I hope Julio can play for many more years to come, and in addition to his 1992 induction in the Reading Phillies Hall of Fame, perhaps Cooperstown might also give him a call.


Ageless wonder Julio Franco

Will Travel, an avid globe trotter himself, writes for BPF from time to time.

3 Comments:

At 5:33 PM, Blogger el123chico said...

JULIO!!! JULIO!!! JULIO!!!

 
At 8:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to be a jerk, but how desperate do you have to be to play baseball in Holland? Are the cleats wooden?

Tom G

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Kneel said...

Will Travel... does that come from an age-old Julio reference? "Have Bat, Will Travel" hmmm...

 

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