USA announces WBC Roster
Once again I am underwhelmed by who was assembled. Here are who are projected to be starters...
C: Joe Mauer
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Brandon Phillips
3B: David Wright
SS: Jimmy Rollins
LF: Ryan Braun
CF Adam Jones
RF: Giancarlo Stanton
Shane Victorino is the extra outfielder with Ben Zobrist and Willie Bloomquist our back up infielders. This lineup doesn't suck but it also is certainly far from the best the USA had to offer.
There is very little need for starting pitching and only 4 were selected. RA Dickey, Ryan Vogelsong, Derek Holland and Kris Medlen. Again, not impressive but the starters won't be in games long. The real strength in this tournament needs to be in the pen. Craig Kimbrel, Heath Bell, Chris Perez, Vinnie Pestano, Luke Gregerson, Glen Perkins, Steve Cishek, Jeremy Affeldt, Tim Collins & Mitchell Boggs. Again, there are better American relievers out there (like Sergio Romo who was born in the US but thanks to the very lax WBC rules can play for Mexico if he wanted to). But this bunch is not exactly chop liver. It is possible this team could go all the way. The Domincan has had virtual all star teams in the past and have crashed and burned in both WBC's thus far. So I guess you never know.
Make no mistake, in spite of the following rant, I absolutely love this tournament and am pleased it is even happening. There are just some things that ought to be tweaked...
I just wish to bring up two subjects here. First, I am floored at the lack of enthusiasm for this event from the American players. After watching the previous two WBC's, it seems that every country that participates in this has more enthusiasm for the event among both fans and players. Puerto Ricans are jumping over each other for a chance to play for their island nation. To Americans, it's an emphatic "meh...". I think enthusiasm for the event is one of the reasons Japan has won this thing twice while the Americans have mustered one semi-final visit at best. Not only does Japan have quality players, they WANT to play in this. I think attitude is huge in this. The American's who do take part may not be among the best, but at least they want to be there. Personally I find a player who opts out of the tournament who isn't injured or nursing a recent injury has no excuse and comes across as monumentally selfish. I mean you Joel Hanrahan, Josh Hamilton, Andrew McCutchen, etc. As far as I know, none of you are nursing current or recent injuries. There just is no excuse beyond selfishness.
The other rant I want to make is the extremely lax rules on who a player can play for. I understand an attempt to "share the wealth" if you will. Like letting Mike Piazza play for Italy 7 years ago. Yes, it would be nice to let some of the countries with less baseball talent to pull from a practically invisible link to themselves. Players from Curacao playing for the Netherlands is one thing. But players like Anthony Rizzo (Cubs) who is playing for Italy because his great-grandfather is from Sicily is something that just shouldn't happen anymore. I mean, Shawn Green (yes, he's retired) played for Isreal in the qualifiers last year. He's not from Isreal. He's just Jewish. And then there is the Alex Rodriguez situation from the last two Classics. The first one he plays for the US. The 2nd one he announces (but did not play due to injury) he was going to play for the Dominican. What the hell? That kind of country jumping just shouldn't happen. So here is my solution given the lax rules on who can play for who. Once a player makes a pick on who he wants to represent, he is stuck with that decision for some agreed upon time frame from 10 years to life. Swapping countries just shouldn't happen.
I could go into the tournament format here too. Not a huge fan of that but I'll save that one for another day.