Rosters are finally set for the WBC, although I’ve covered it before, I figured everyone might want a final update. Turns out I was a little off on my last update – it was more of a list of those who said they wanted to play. Here is the actual list of guys on the roster, whittled down from the last list:
C – Brian McCann / Chris Iannetta
1B – Kevin Youkilis
2B – Dustin Pedroia
3B – David Wright / Chipper Jones
SS – Derek Jeter / Jimmy Rollins
LF – Ryan Braun
CF – Grady Sizemore / Curtis Granderson
RF – Brad Hawpe
UTIL – Mark DeRosa
SP – Jake Peavy
SP – Roy Oswalt
SP – Ted Lilly
SP – Jeremy Guthrie
RP – J.P. Howell
RP – Brad Ziegler
RP – Matt Lindstrom
RP – Scot Shields
RP - Brian Fuentes
RP – Matt Thornton
RP – Jonathan Broxton
RP - BJ Ryan
RP – JJ Putz
RP – Joe Nathan
Still looks pretty good. The outfield is a little small, but it certainly isn’t lacking in talent. And I have no problem with that bullpen, there isn’t gonna be one better. They may have the 2 best center fielders in the game, or at least 2 out of the top 3 or 4, and their infield is incredible. LF is no slouch either. The only issue may be getting playing time to Jeter and Chipper, who are great, but may be the second best players at their positions on the team. I’d recommend playing Chipper at first, but that’s just me.
As for the other teams, what I said before still pretty much stands. The rosters have changed a little (no Johan on Venezuela for instance) but here is what I had written, with some modifications:
It’s much harder for me to evaluate team Cuba or Japan, because so many of those players aren’t MLB players, but they play very well together. Here are some of the highlights on the other teams (including the few names you should recognize on Japan’s roster):
Japan – Dice-K, Hideki Okajima, Kenji Johjima, Fukudome, and, of course, Ichiro
Canada – Jeff Francis and Rich Harden lead the staff, while the lineup is bolstered by Justin Morneau, Russell Martin, Joey Votto, Mark Teahan, Jason Bay and Matt Stairs. The pitching may be an issue here
Dominican – in addition to all the great hitters named above, they have Pedro Martinez, Fausto Carmona, Francisco Cordero, Johnny Cueto, Liriano, Ervin Santana, Valverde and a slew of other major leaguers pitching for them. The hitters I had named in the earlier entry include Big Papi, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, ARod, Adrian Beltre, Willy Tavares and Jose Guillen.
Korea – they’re actually considered one of the best teams in the competition, but the only guys you’ve probably heard of are Shin Soo Choo of the Indians and Derek Jeter’s favorite pitcher – Byung Hyun Kim.
Venezuela – Hugo’s boys have some really talented major leaguers as well including Felix Hernandez, Johan Santana and Carlos Zambrano as starters. Crediting their bullpen is K-Rod and Rafael Betancourt, while Jorge Julio may be debting it. Their lineup is formidable too: Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, Melvin Mora, Dioner Navarro, Ramon Hernandez, and Juan Rivera. On top of that, they have some really slick fielders with Cesar Izturis, Maicer Izturis, Omar Vizquel and Marco Scutaro. They might not be picked to win, but you should keep your eye on them. Losing Johan is a big blow, but they still have two Aces.
Mexico – A few major leaguers dot this roster. Four Two One youngsters: Alfredo Aceves, Jorge Campillo, Yovani Gallardo and Matt Garza will be there with Oliver Perez. In the bullpen, there is perhaps the most underrated closer of ‘08, Joakim Soria. The lineup has Adrian Gonzalez, Scott and Jerry Hairston, Rod Barajas, and Jorge Cantu.
Puerto Rico – As you could imagine, they have some impressive players as well. Their pitching staff includes Javier Vazquez, Ian Snell, JC Romero, Joel Pinero and Pedro Feliciano. The lineup a slew of catching talent – Ivan Rodriguez, Benji Molina, Yadier Molina, and Giovanni Soto. The rest of their lineup isn’t too bad either, with Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rios, Ramon Vazquez, and, of course, Felipe Lopez.
Panama, I mean Panama – Rounding out the teams with names you might recognize, Panama has a few MLB stars themselves, at least in their own country. Pitchers include Manny Acosta and Manny Corpas. There hitters are lead by Carlos Lee, throw in catcher Carlos Ruiz and that’s pretty much it with top guys, but there are a slew of MLB players.
Looking over that talent, it’s hard to rank Japan, Korea and Cuba, but they are all supposed to be good. The other teams, besides those 3, are going to be topped by the US and the Dominican. Venezuela has a shot of making a run as well, and I wouldn’t count out Puerto Rico, although I don’t think they can win the whole thing.
Don’t forget, the World Baseball Classic kicks off in just a few days, on March 5th. Team USA starts against Team Canada on March 7th at 2 pm eastern time. Games are on the MLB network.
Speaking of the MLB network, they are doing a program called “30 Clubs in 30 Days” which is a half hour preview of each team. They will be previewing the Nationals this Saturday, Feb 28th, at 8 pm. I’ll be checking it out, if there is interesting stuff, I’ll be sure to let you know.