Tuesday, January 20, 2009

World Baseball Classic 2009

So, contrary to what I said in the last post, there are actually
fifteen Sox players on tentative WBC rosters.

Dominican Republic: David Ortiz and Ramon Ramirez
United States: Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia
Japan: Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Okajima
Canada: Jason Bay and George Kottaras*
Puerto Rico: Mike Lowell and Javier Lopez
The Netherlands: Dennis Neuman*
South Africa: Justin Erasmus*
Chinese Taipei: Chih-Hsien Chiang*
Panama: Angel Chavez*
Australia: Mitchell Dening*

* denotes minor league player

Fifteen players from ten countries is pretty impressive.  Also participating from the Red Sox is Jon Deeble, a scout, who will manage for Australia.  However, it is important to note that the more players participate in the Classic, the more disrupted Spring Training could be.  Assuming for a moment that both Mike Lowell and David Ortiz are healthy enough to compete so early [doubtful, especially in Lowell's case], the Sox Spring Training could be short nine contributors from the presumptive Major League roster.  If you believe that such a shortage might adversely affect the team's performance over the season, it might be instrumental to take a look at WBC participation among rival American League teams.

Yankees:  The newly retooled team to the south currently has thirteen players on provisional rosters, representing six countries, but most are minor leaguers.  The participants off of their Major League roster include Derek Jeter [US], Alex Rodriquez, Melky Cabrera, and Robinson Cano [Dominican Republic].  On one hand, this bodes well for the Sox: they have more established star power that will be competing early.  However, it cannot be overlooked that the Yankees will have a more normal Spring Training.

Rays:  The reigning American League champs have eight players in the WBC, all part of the Major League club, and all important contributers.  The Rays represent six countries: Australia [Grant Balfour], Mexico [Matt Garza], Japan [Akinori Iwamura], Venezuela [Dioner Navarro], DR [Carlos Pena], and USA [JP Howell, Scott Kazmir, and Evan Longoria].  This is especially worrisome for the rays, since their offseason has been shorter than both the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Angels:  The AL West Champion Angels have fifteen players representing nine countries.  Major contributers to the Major League Club include Joe Saunders, Scot Shields, and Brian Fuentes [USA].

White Sox:  President Obama's favorite team will send seven players, most notably Carlos Quentin, AJ Pierzynski, Matt Thornton, and John Danks all playing for the United States.

At first glance, the clubs most impacted by the Classic will be Boston and Tampa Bay, coincidentally the two teams that went furthest into the Postseason [Boston losing to Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the ALCS; Tampa Bay bowing out to Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series].  We already knew that the AL East would be the toughest in baseball next year, and the WBC will only make the stories that much more interesting.

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