THE LATEST PROJECTIONS CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Well, with some players beginning to confirm their inclusion or non-participation in the WBC, here are my latest projections. While Team USA is hurt by the fact that Bryce Harper (who likely wants to spend the spring preparing for what will be just his third year as a professional) and David Price are apparently not going to take part, it is bolstered by the fact that Joe Mauer and David Wright have confirmed that they are in. Starting with this set of projections, players who have confirmed that they are participating will be italicized.
A refresher on my selection rules/assumptions:
- 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.
Now, go after the jump for the full look:
Manager: Joe Torre
Again, this has already been announced, and so has the rest of the coaching staff.
Bench Coach: Larry Bowa
Bullpen Coach: Marcel Lachemann
Hitting Coach: Gerald Perry
Third-Base Coach: Willie Randolph
First-Base Coach: Dale Murphy
Pitching Coach: Greg Maddux
Posey has said he’d “really consider” playing for Team USA, and Mauer has been confirmed by MLB to be on the WBC roster. These are very good bits of news, as it means that even if Matt Wieters were to skip the tournament, Team USA would still be in great shape behind the plate (and at it), with arguably the two best catchers in baseball there. Note that both Posey and Mauer can play first when needed.
Bruce Bochy has said that he’d prefer Posey not play in the WBC, but he wouldn’t stop him if he wanted to. Time will tell whether Posey “wants to”. If he were to not take part, then either AJ Ellis or Jonathan Lucroy would be possible fill-ins.
Paul Goldschmidt isn’t well-known, but the Arizona 1B is in his mid-20s and hit .286 with 20 HR last season and is probably only going to get better. Konerko is a veteran who had some injury problems last season, but apparently is on the provisional roster. Mauer and Posey both can play first-base if needed, as well. If Adam LeRoche resigns with the Nationals, he goes back on these projections.
Pedroia played for the USA in 2009 but had to leave after he got injured. Brandon Phillips of the Reds would be his back-up/alternate.
Pedroia apparently has been invited, but it will depend on how well he has recovered from finger surgery over the off-season.
Third Basemen: David Wright
David Wright is David Wright. He was one of the team leaders in 2009, and had a key hit against Puerto Rico that ensured that Team USA went to the semi-finals. Apparently Chase Headley, who I had for awhile had as the other 3B, hasn’t been asked. This doesn’t mean he won’t be playing (they could still ask), but it makes it far less likely.
Harper may be gone, so for now he’ll be replaced by Ryan Braun. Truly, this is a mortal wound for Team USA. In fact, here’s something I’m going to admit: Harper probably didn’t belong in the Team USA outfield anyway (at least, not yet- in four years he probably will be), and I was just including him because I figured that he is just so potentially marketable that if he wanted in MLB would put him in over other players.
Stanton and Trout need no introduction.
Curtis Granderson, meanwhile, would come along because he could provide some veteran leadership and occasional pop. He also is one of the most supportive of baseball’s international efforts, going overseas during the offseason to run clinics and other events.
Utility: Ben Zobrist
Zobrist could play up the middle or in the outfield, while also providing a good bat off the bench if needed.
Even though pitchers are the most likely to drop out of the WBC, the near-bottomless depth of American baseball allows it to absorb even the heaviest of blows. Oonly Vogelsong has semi-committed yet (he even showed up at the press conference for the WBC in San Francisco). One reason that Vogelsong is on the team (besides the fact that, uh, he’s good and basically already said he’s in) is that he previously spent three years in Japan, so knows a bit more than the average American on how the Asian countries go about their baseball. He might even be familiar with some of their hitters.
Perez, Kimbrel, Clippard, and Hanrahan are traditional closers, each of which could be potential closers for a Team USA. Perez and Hanrahan have pitched in previous WBCs for Team USA. Ryan Cook did some closing as well for the Athletics, but also did plenty of mid-relief and set-up work. The rest of the guys are entirely middle relief and set-up guys, the (usually) no-name pitchers who toil in anonymity but often make the difference between victory or defeat. Darren O’Day proved his worth this season with the Orioles, and shut down the Yankees during his appearances in the ALDS. James Russell of the Cubs is a left-hander who had a 3.25 ERA this season as he pitched in parts of 77 games. Thornton, left-handed reliever for the White Sox, also pitched for Team USA in 2009. Craig Stammen finishes up the roster as a long reliever.
Of the above, Craig Kimbrel has already been confirmed to at least be under consideration and that he will play if picked. Jim Johnson isn’t included now because apparently he was leaning against playing. He’s been replaced by Tyler Clippard, who took over the Nationals closing job last season.
So, whipping up a roster for this:
1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Buster Posey, C
4. Giancarlo Stanton, RF
5. Ryan Braun, LF
6. David Wright, 3B
7. Joe Mauer, DH
8. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
9. Jimmy Rollins, SS
SP: Justin Verlander
Stick around for more WBC projections and analysis in the coming weeks and months.