The Dominican Republic, like the USA and Venezuela, has yet to live up to it’s baseball pedigree when it comes to the WBC. They went down in the semifinals in 2006, and were embarrassed by the Netherlands twice in 2009. Can they do better this time around?
Well, that remains to be seen. For one thing, the roster for Team DR that was released is only 23-men strong, probably due to the fact some players (most notably Albert Pujols) are still of an uncertain status due to various issues, such as insurance clearance. For another, they will be in a group of death, as Pool C also has Venezuela, Puerto Rico and (to a much, much lesser degree) Spain.
So, how’s it look? Go after the jump to find out:
Face of the team: Either Hanley Ramirez or Jose Reyes, unless Pujols gets his insurance issues out of the way and is able to play.
Strengths: Like Team USA, the Dominicans have a lot of diversity and depth to their roster. They have sluggers, they have pure hit-for-average guys, they have speedy players, etc. They have both youthful players and seasoned veterans like Miguel Tejada. This is especially true for the lineup.
Weaknesses: …But the starting rotation is a bit less amazing. While Edinson Volquez is playing, the starting rotation for the Dominicans could be better, and is hurt by the fact that Johnny Cueto- at least of of now- isn’t on the roster. The bullpen looks a bit better, with Fernando Rodney acting as it’s anchor, but the starting pitching is definitely a concern.
Who to watch: Although it will be interesting to see Melky Cabrera for the first time since his suspension, the player to watch is instead Jose Reyes, because he’s, well, Jose Reyes.
Outlook: Good but perilous. The starting pitching deficit could doom the Dominican, especially in their tough group. However, their lineup and good back-of-the-bullpen should make them one of the tournament favorites. That said, I’d feel a lot better with them if they get some more top names to join once insurance problems are dealt with.