Roster turnover, conflicts of interest buried team in Series 3
It was a difficult campaign for the Makati Mariners in Baseball Philippines Series 3 after posting a dismal 1-10 win-loss card, thus becoming the only team to miss a spot in the playoffs.
Makati, the Series 1 winners a year ago, had to deal with several changes to its roster in addition to several players missing in action.
But the biggest loss came when left-hander Jonjon Robles, the team’s top hurler and among the premier collegiate products in the nation, was recruited by Arrows Ostrava of the Czech Republic to play abroad.
National team catcher Wilfredo Hidalgo, one of manager Jeffrey Santiago’s coaching assistants with Makati, admitted the team’s disappointing run.
“Bad,” Hidalgo acknowledged. “Chaos ang nangyari sa Makati nung Series 3. Malaking nawalan si Jonjon Robles sa team, yung ibang players gumradwate na at may mga trabaho na, yung iba may mga thesis na ginagawa.”
The loss of Robles dealt a huge blow to the Mariners, which became a factor in losing their first nine games before registering its lone win over the Dumaguete Uni-Bikers and salvaging a draw with the Antipolo Pilgrims to wrap up their season.
“Malaking loss sa amin si Robles. Parang 50 percent siya ng pitching, pati din sa hitting; kung baga sa DVD nga parang 16-in-1 siya nandoon na lahat pero malaking exposure sa kanya iyon,” Hidalgo added.
Despite the struggles, the Mariners were given a boost, albeit briefly, by the addition of the Borromeo brothers, Andres and Carlos, who left after a few weeks of play to return to the United States.
Andres played three games, regularly as shortstop, for the Mariners, hitting at a decent .286 clip with two runs batted in while Carlos, who was used as a third baseman and pitcher, struggled with a .182 average and took a loss on the mound.
“Malaking tulong talaga yung mga Borromeo,” Wilfredo said of the two. “Morale-booster sa amin sila, sa pitching, hitting, at depensa nakatulong talaga. Yung batang Borromeo (Andres) nakatulong siya sa amin at shortstop, nawala yung butas namin sa infield.”
Aside from the two, Hidalgo also believes that the team got a huge boost from Roy Baclay, a national team righty who journeyed between the former Laguna Tigers and Marikina Shoemakers.
“Nung dumating sa amin si Roy Baclay, dati tambakan kami, nung sumali siya sa team nahohold niya yung laban at nawala yung butas ng pitching sa amin,” Hidalgo mentioned of Baclay.
Another new addition was infielder Adrian Balazuela, who hit .280 in nine games with the team.
Hidalgo also praised the performance of the team’s core, which comes from University Athletics Association of the Philippines powerhouse University of Santo Tomas, also skippered by Santiago.
While the Mariners got some solid production from Mark Castillo (.385 batting average in six games), Korean Chun Wang Song (.333 BA with three RBI’s) and UST alumnus Jerby Diego (.333 BA), they had to endure a major dropoff in performance from Alden Lozada (.300, six runs, one RBI), whose production was a far cry from Series 2 when he finished among the league leaders in most offensive categories while leading the circuit with 14 RBI’s.
The veterans also had its moments despite making brief appearances in Hidalgo’s fellow Team RP mainstay Christian Canlas and veteran Edito Justo.
Makati, however, is expected to make a few changes in its roster in hopes of building a strong team but it could take awhile before it returns back to winning form.