2013 WBC Projections: Canada (if they qualify)

It’s a little late for Canada Day, but here are some projections for the Canucks. Well, projections for what they’ll be if they qualify, because they have to: they lost both of their games in 2009, falling to Team USA and then being upset by Italy… on home turf. What’s worse, Canada won’t be able to call upon the major leaguers, as their qualifying pool is this September in Germany, when Joey Votto, Brett Lawrie and friends will be busy. Now, admittedly, a team of minor leaguers and semi-pros from Canada should be able to handle the best that Czech Republic, Germany and the UK will send, but you’d have thought that Canada could handle Italy (even with a few Italian-American ringers), and look how that went.

Still, let’s just assume that Canada qualifies and make the tournament proper, allowing them to get a hold of the rapidly-growing amount of Canadians in MLB. Then they become dangerous, a dark horse that could, conceivably, win the tournament if they got a few breaks here and there. They have lots of guys who can play in lots of places, and

So, as usual, a rundown of the rules, and then the roster after the jump:

  • Any player coming off a major injury or who has a history of injuries is unlikely to participate. This is especially true for the pitchers.
  • Players that will be on new teams are less likely to participate, but shouldn’t be completely ignored, with the exception of pitchers.
  • Teams are made up of 28 players, of which 13 of them must be pitchers and two of them catchers.
  • The pitch count rules make relievers extremely important.

Manager: Ernie Whitt

Ernie Whitt, a Michigan-born roving instructor for the Phillies, has been highly involved with Canadian baseball ever since his days as a catcher with the Blue Jays. He’s always the manager of Team Canada, and he’s already been selected to skipper the 2012/13 WBC team.

Catchers: George Kottaras, Chris Robinson

Russell Martin (from Quebec!) isn’t included because he might be on a new team next March, since he becomes a free agency after this season. That said, if he wants in, he’s in.

Vancouver-born Mike Nickeas of the Mets isn’t included because, get this: he’s actually English-American. His father is a former English soccer/football player who played in the North American Soccer League in the 70s and 80s, his mother is American. He’s played for both Team USA and Team UK in past international competitions. What I’m saying is, basically, he’s not playing for Team Canada.

Instead, it’ll fall to Milwaukee’s George Kottaras, backed up by minor leaguer Chris Robinson.

First Basemen: Joey Votto, Justin Morneau

Joey Votto is Joey Votto, and unless his current injury is far more serious than it appears, he’ll presumably be playing for Canada next March (if they qualify). Justin Morneau is more of a open question, due to his concussion worries and the fact he could very well be on a new team by 2013. That said, I’m including him for now.

Second Basemen: Pete Orr

Pete Orr, who usually wears number four (think about it for a second), has been playing for years, never really getting a MLB job but always seeming to get promoted from AAA. He’s played for the Phillies this season. Orr can also play the other infield positions- I’m just putting him down at 2B (even though I have him at short in the lineup) because otherwise Canada would have no devoted second basemen.

Third Basemen: Brett Lawrie, Shawn Bowman

Brett Lawrie is Canadian, plays in Canada, and was on Canada’s 2008 Olympic Team and 2009 WBC team. He also is very good and probably going to get better. He’ll be one of the keystones of Canada’s lineup if they qualify. Bowman is in AA Jacksonville for the Marlins.

Shortstops: Chris Bisson

Bisson, a infielder in the Padres organization, played for Canada last year at the Pan Am Games and World Cup.

Utility: Taylor Green, Mark Teahen, Skyler Stromsmoe, Jimmy Van Ostrand

Taylor Green is a utility-man for the Brewers, playing 1B, 3B and 2B, as well as coming off the bench. Mark Teahen, a naturalized Canadian Citizen, is a MLB veteran who is now on the Syracuse Chiefs (AAA Nationals). Stromsmoe is also a naturalized Canadian, a Giants AAA farmhand who played for Canada during last season’s events. Ostrand was picked up by the Nationals this season after doing well in the Indy leagues, and plays both infield and outfield.

Outfielders: Michael Saunders, Adam Loewen, Rene Tosoni, Tim Smith

Jason Bay isn’t in because he’s been hurt a lot this season, so instead Michael Saunders of the Mariners (and a member of Canada’s 2008 Olympic team) will be the biggest name in the Outfield. Adam Loewen, the former pitcher who has converted to outfield, is now in the Mets system. Tosoni, from the Twins’ system, also has MLB experience. Toronto-born Tim Smith is hitting .317 as of this writing between three levels of the Braves organization this season.

Starting Pitchers: Scott Diamond, Scott Richmond, Kyle Lotzkar, James Paxton

Scott Diamond, the dark-horse Rookie of the Year candidate who is the closest thing the Minnesota Twins now have to an ace, was a member of the 2009 WBC team and would probably be in the discussion for ace of the Canadian staff. Scott Richmond is a reliever for Toronto right now, but is usually a starter.

Kyle Lotzkar is a starter in the Reds organization who has been named to the 2012 Futures Game roster. James Paxton, in the Mariners organization, was rated the 52nd best prospect in baseball before this season by Baseball America. Another name to keep an eye open for is Shawn Hill, the former Big Leaguer who has split time this year between the Indy Leagues and now AAA for Toronto. Maybe if he continues to do well or goes up to the majors I’ll bump him up.

Ryan Dempster isn’t included because he’ll probably be with a new team going into next season. Also, he hasn’t taken part in the past WBCs, for various reasons. I have no idea what Jeff Francis might be doing after this year- he’s now with the Royals- so I’ll just presume he won’t take part, unless he is signed for a multi-year contract by the Royals or has to pitch as an audition. Erik Bedard is another question mark: he’d definitely be a part if he wanted to, but it’s very possible he’ll be on a new team and thus unavailable. Rich Harden is out all year this year with a injury so definitely wouldn’t be taking part in 2013.

Relievers:  John Axford, Scott Mathieson, Phillippe Aumont, Dustin Molleken, Jim Henderson, Jay Johnson, Chris Kissock, Andrew Albers, Jay Johnson

The top reliever for Canada is John Axford, who in 2009 wasn’t even invited to the WBC, I believe, and who hadn’t even played above A-ball with the exception of one game in AAA. Now, however, he’ll definitely get an invite, and if he participates he’ll instantly become Canada’s closer. Setting up for him is Scott Mathieson, who played 15 games in the bigs, is now a reliever for the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB, and he currently has a sub 2.00 ERA.

The other relievers are minor leaguers: Phillippe Aumont is in AAA in the Phillies organization, while Molleken is in AAA for the Rockies organization. Jim Henderson is the third reliever from AAA- he’s with Nashville (AAA for Milwaukee). Jay Johnson is a young lefty in the Phillies organization who has a sub-2.00 ERA between three levels of the minors this season so far. Kissock is also a Philadelphia farmhand, although he has had a decidedly more rough time this season. Andrew Albers is a pitcher for the New Britain Rock Cats (AA Twins), and has been more of a a starter this season, but he’s closed in the past and would make a good long reliever/spot starter for the Canadians. Jay Johnson is a reliever in the Phillies system.

Jesse Crain isn’t included because he’s been having injury problems this season so probably will be taking it safe. However, if he does want in, he’d be in. Interestingly, he’s only Canadian because he was born in Canada- he grew up in the USA. He apparently has pitched for Canada in the past primarily because he likes the challenge.

Blake Hawksworth isn’t included because he’s been injured most of the year and only just recently started to rehab. He’ll have a spot if he’s healthy and able to participate, though. Similarly, Pittsburgh minor league reliever Chris Leroux isn’t included due to injury.

So, what type of lineup might the Canadians send out? Perhaps something like this:

1. Brett Lawrie, 3B

2. Michael Saunders, CF

3. Justin Morneau, DH

4. Joey Votto, 1B

5. Skyler Stromsmoe, RF

6. Mark Teahen, LF

7. George Kottaras, C

8. Taylor Green, 2B

9. Pete Orr, SS

Starting Pitcher: Scott Diamond


9 thoughts on “2013 WBC Projections: Canada (if they qualify)

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  5. Jameson Taillon of the Pirates has Canadian citizenship and has said that he would be interested in playing for Canada in the WBC.

  6. I am an Japanese baseball fan. I think Scott Mathieson will be great asset for Canadian team, because he has good SFF and strong straight. He came Japanese team, Yomiuri Giants in 2012. In Japan, his pitching get stability, and recorded max 160 km/h. In this summer he got injured, but now he is recovered, and he did good pitching in Oct 28th Japanese championship game.
    It is hard for almost all Japanese player to make a hit from him, so he will defeat Asian teams.

  7. I think Scott Mathieson will join the WBC Canadian team.
    Because his team allow Japanese player including the captain to join the WBC games, and he said “Why don’t they join the game for your own country” when the Japanese baseball player association said Japanese team might cancel the WBC games.
    Of course there is no official information yet.
    I hope he will join the WBC games.

    Scott Mathieson 2012
    ERA 1.71428, G 40, IP 42 0/3,
    CG 0, W 2, L 0, PCT 1.000, HLD 8, S 10, H 30, HR 1, K 48, BB 11, HBP 1, WP 2, BK 0, R 9, ER 8,
    Source http://m.sports.yahoo.co.jp/npb/player/1200005/summary

  8. Sadly, It is hard for Scott Mathieson to play as a member of the team Canada, because of a strain.
    I hope he will get well soon.

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