Dominican League Baseball 2010-2011 : AGUILAS CIBAENAS
I’ll begin my review of the 2010-2011 Dominican League baseball season with a look back at one of the two teams that failed to qualify for the round-robin playoffs. The once-mighty Aguilas Cibaenas won an astounding nine Dominican championships in a 13-year span before dropping 12 consecutive post-season games a couple years ago in an unsuccessful attempt to defend their most recent title. The club’s 24-25 mark in 2010-2011 left them a single game shy of qualifying for the playoffs, as they’ve had to watch from home for a second consecutive year.
In late May, longtime Aguilas right-hander Jose Lima suffered a massive heart attack and died at the tragically young age of 37. Just a few weeks ago, Luis Polonia announced his retirement after 27 seasons (!) in Aguilas yellow. “La Hormiga Atomica” (as Polonia is fondly known in the DR) leaves with more hits (923), runs scored (517) and triples (43) than any player in league history. His #22 has been retired. As if there was any doubt considering the team’s on-field struggles, Aguilas baseball is in the midst of a changing of the guard.
Thirty-year-old utilityman Hector Luna –most recently of the Florida Marlins– was undoubtedly the team member most worth watching this season. Luna batted .349 to lead the Dominican League, and his on-base percentage (.447) and totals of 59 hits and 17 doubles also topped the circuit’s leader board. His 32 runs scored and 28 RBIs ranked second.
Veteran Bartolo Colon, the 2005 American League Cy Young winner, posted a 1.45 ERA in seven starts to rekindle interest from big league clubs. The 37-year-old right-hander hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2009, but appears to be on the comeback trail despite getting hit hard so far in the round-robin playoffs since getting picked up by Escogido.
Overall, the Aguilas were undermined by a league-worst .240 batting average. Their pitchers combined for a 3.53 ERA –second best in the circuit– and walked the fewest batters, but surrendered more home runs balls than any other staff.