World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Sydney (Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Africa)

The first qualifier for the World Baseball Classic will feature an eclectic group of three “Commonwealth” nations in addition to the Philippines, and while it’s likely that the host Australians will come out on top, it will be interesting to see how the others do, especially New Zealand, which arguably has the fastest-growing baseball program in the world.

Go below the jump for the more:

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World Baseball Classic Update for February 9, 2016

As we barrel towards the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, here’s the latest news:


The Run-Up to the Sydney Qualifiers:

First off, the most important news for all of us is how we’ll be able to watch it. And good news! In the USA and Canada, all games will be on the World Baseball Classic website! Go to the link to see how else you can watch it, as select games will be on TV on MLB Network and all games will be on ESPN in the Pacific Rim area, although some games will be tape-delayed.

There have been some changes to rosters since they were first announced. Perhaps the most notable addition has been that infielder Gift Ngoepe has been added to South Africa. Probably the best African baseball player in history, Gift is now on the Pirates’ 40-man roster, which probably delayed it being official.

Various teams have been playing informal warm-up games in the run-up to the qualifiers. You can see pictures and info on some of New Zealand’s play on their Facebook page, for example.

The New Zealanders will be wearing #37 on their uniforms in memory of Lincoln Holdzkom, who died in a car accident last year.

In other WBC news:

Tickets are now on sale for the Panama City portion of the Qualifiers.

Attention Britons and people with fairly close British ancestry: the United Kingdom’s baseball team is holding open tryouts on Sunday, March 6th!

Athletics catching prospect Bruce Maxwell, who was born in Germany, will be part of the German team in their qualifying tournament.

There are a few other stories I’ve missed, but I’m hard at work on the WBC Qualifier preview for Sydney, so those other stories will have to wait until next time!



World Baseball Classic News for 12-17-2015: Catching Up

It’s time to catch up on some World Baseball Classic news!


Lincoln Holdzkom passes away

First off, though, there is tragic news out of California, where New Zealander-American pitcher Lincoln Holdzkom has passed away after a car accident. Holdzkom, the brother of John Holdzkom of the Pirates organization, was expected to be the team captain for New Zealand in the WBC Qualifiers. Our thoughts are with him and his family and friends.

Mexico’s roster starts to take shape

Jon Morosi has an article on the Mexican National Team that has begun to take shape. Edgar Gonzalez will be the manager for Team Mexico in the WBC Qualifiers and presumably the main tournament as well if they qualify. His younger brother, Adrian Gonzalez, will be on the roster. The team could be pretty deep in pitching, Morosi writes:

Mexico’s preliminary roster will be especially deep in pitching, with Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Roberto Osuna, Aaron Sanchez, Miguel Gonzalez and Dodgers prospect Julio Urias among the notable arms certain to be included on it. Pitchers Jorge De La Rosa, Joakim Soria and Olivez Perez also are eligible to play for Mexico, as is Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, who is Mexican-American.

However, there are some problems that could trip up Mexico. For one thing, while MLB teams are very strongly encouraged to allow players to participate in the qualifiers, they are not required (unlike the main rounds of the WBC, where they are only allowed to officially block player participation if they are coming off an injury or there are too many players being picked from their roster). In addition, there is an ongoing feud between the Mexican League and Mexico’s national baseball federation that will make the participation of Mexican Leaguers iffy.

Edwin Rodriguez will begin recruiting for Team Puerto Rico

In a Spanish-language article on, there is the news that Edwin Rodriguez will soon begin to recruit for Team Puerto Rico. While the article mentions how he will try to make an effort to get players of Puerto Rican descent (like Jake Arrieta) to take part, I personally think it’s more likely they’ll have to rely upon native-born Puerto Ricans like Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran, Angel Pagan, Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, and the like. All of them are mentioned in the article. Puerto Rico came in a surprising second in the 2013 WBC.

Other Notes:

So, until next time, this has been a WBC update!

World Baseball Classic News for 9-17-2015: Qualifier Pools Announced!

Well, I told you that more news was probably coming, and today it was confirmed, as the World Baseball Classic qualifying pools have been announced! They are (all qualifiers in 2016):


Qualifier 1 (Sydney, Australia on February 11-14th):


New Zealand


South Africa

Qualifier 2 (Mexicali, Mexico on March 17-20th):


Czech Republic



Qualifier 3 (Panama City on March 17-20th):





Qualifier 4 (Brooklyn on Sept. 22-25th):


Great Britain



As you can see, they’ve mixed up the locations (only Panama is a return qualifying host), the pools (no pool has more than two teams that were in the same individual pool last time), and also teams (Pakistan has replaced Thailand). Some things to note here:

  • MLB players will be able to participate in Qualifiers 1-3, but not Qualifier 4.
  • It is again a modified double-elimination, meaning it’s double elimination until there are only two, at which point it’s a winner-take-all championship game. I’ve always had a problem with this format and feel a straight-up double-elimination would be better, but I understand how the organizers would like the drama of a winner-take-all game.
  • Qualifier 4, in Brooklyn, is clearly meant to be a pool of teams that don’t have pro-worthy stadiums in their countries. It’s likely Brooklyn was picked due to New York’s diverse nature, with MLB and the other WBC organizers no doubt hoping that the city’s large Jewish population will turn up for Israel games.
  • Looking at this right now, I’d say that Qualifier 2 will probably have the highest level of talent, Qualifier 3 will be the hardest for any one team to get out of, and Qualifier 4 will be the hardest to predict. Qualifier 1, by contrast, looks like it should be a fairly easy draw for Australia.
  • I’m somewhat surprised that the Philippines is in Qualifier 1. I had a feeling they might make it an All-Commonwealth pool and have the Philippines be in New York City. At least, that’s what I thought after reading Jon Paul Morosi’s original post before it was official.


So, look in the coming days and no doubt more news will come out and I’ll take a look at some of the teams and other aspects of the qualifying tournament- like Pakistan’s baseball program.


WBC News for September 8, 2015: Managers/Coaches for Teams Nicaragua, Panama, New Zealand, and Israel, possible reveal of when qualifiers will be?

Yes, it’s been awhile, but it’s time to start up the ole’ World Baseball Classic news machine, as over the past few weeks we got some of the first news about the 2017 WBC and it’s 2016 qualifiers!

First off, Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron will have some sort of coaching position on the Israeli national team. Narron’s daughter lives in Israel and all of this apparently was set into motion when she off-handedly remarked about her father’s baseball pedigree to the Israeli Baseball Association’s president. The manager for Team Israel, meanwhile, will be Jerry Weinstein, a coach in the Rockies system. Shawn Green will also be a member of the coaching staff. It’s mentioned that the heads of Israeli baseball hope that it’s qualifying round will take place during the off-season- in 2012 (for the 2013 Classic), it took place during the season.

Meanwhile, former Giant Marvin Benard, now a coach in the Padres organization, has been named manager for Team Nicaragua for the qualifying round for the 2017 Classic. According to the article (or at least my Middle School Spanish and a google translation), the qualifying tournament that Nicaragua will be in will be held in Panama in March of 2016, in the same bracket as Panama, Brazil and Colombia (in other words, the same four that were in this bracket in the previous WBC qualifiers). I haven’t seen any confirmation either way whether this is true, but at the very least the teams in the group sound about right.

New Zealand has also named it’s coaching staff.  Chris Woodward, a coach for the Mariners, will be the skipper in the qualifier. Ron Roenicke will be a bench coach, Josh Bard will be a hitting coach, NPB veteran Naoyuki Shimizu will be the pitching coach, and Chris Prieto and D.J. Carrasco will also help coach.

Finally, Carlos Lee will be managing Team Panama.

So, that’s your first news update on the 2017 World Baseball Classic. If you know any news that I don’t have here, let me know by e-mailing me at or on Twitter (@DanJGlickman).

Until next time!

Famous for Something Else (sort of): Mark Gilbert

The Obama administration’s nominee for new ambassador to New Zealand is Mark Gilbert. While his role at Barclays Wealth (banking and management) and his previous roles in fundraising for the 2012 campaign are likely the main reasons he was nominated, Gilbert is also a former MLB player, having had a cup of coffee with the White Sox in 1985:

1985 28 CHW AL 7 26 22 3 6 1 0 0 3 0 0 4 5 .273 .385 .318 .703 93 7 1 0 0 0 0 /879
1 Yr 7 26 22 3 6 1 0 0 3 0 0 4 5 .273 .385 .318 .703 93 7 1 0 0 0 0
162 Game Avg. 162 602 509 69 139 23 0 0 69 0 0 93 116 .273 .385 .318 .703 93 162 23 0 0 0 0
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/30/2013.

In addition, here are his minor league stats:

1978 21 Geneva NYPL A- CHC 65 319 263 83 89 14 2 0 37 35 7 48 36 .338 .444 .407 .851 107 3 4 1
1979 22 Quad Cities MIDW A CHC 117 487 407 80 128 12 7 0 55 50 22 65 51 .314 .416 .378 .795 154 8 4 3
1980 23 Waterbury EL AA CIN 49 172 154 12 31 2 0 0 6 3 4 14 13 .201 .276 .214 .491 33 2 2 0
1981 24 Waterbury EL AA CIN 105 442 360 60 89 15 5 5 31 26 8 71 47 .247 .374 .358 .732 129 3 6 2 5
1982 25 Waterbury EL AA CIN 109 453 380 65 114 17 1 5 41 41 10 64 78 .300 .403 .389 .793 148 3 4 2 1
1983 26 Indianapolis AA AAA CIN 117 509 445 73 124 16 1 1 62 18 5 55 57 .279 .362 .326 .688 145 3 6 0 2
1984 27 Wichita AA AAA CIN 137 572 486 84 136 18 7 6 46 55 18 77 86 .280 .382 .383 .765 186 4 4 1 3
1985 28 Buffalo AA AAA CHW 119 498 428 67 114 20 5 3 33 14 8 54 78 .266 .350 .357 .708 153 4 7 5 3
8 Seasons 818 3452 2923 524 825 114 28 20 311 242 82 448 446 .282 .382 .361 .742 1055 30 37 14 14
A- (1 season) A- 65 319 263 83 89 14 2 0 37 35 7 48 36 .338 .444 .407 .851 107 3 4 1
A (1 season) A 117 487 407 80 128 12 7 0 55 50 22 65 51 .314 .416 .378 .795 154 8 4 3
AA (3 seasons) AA 263 1067 894 137 234 34 6 10 78 70 22 149 138 .262 .371 .347 .717 310 8 12 4 6
AAA (3 seasons) AAA 373 1579 1359 224 374 54 13 10 141 87 31 186 221 .275 .366 .356 .722 484 11 17 6 8
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/30/2013.

Early Look at the Panama City and Taipei pools of the WBC

Okay, now the other two qualifying pools for the WBC don’t get started until November (as opposed to the first two, which are coming up THIS VERY WEEK), but I think it’s a good idea to do an early look at them:

The PANAMA CITY pool features Panama, Brazil, Nicaragua and Colombia. This is, by far, the best qualifying group. All four of these countries had at least one MLB player active this season, three of them have professional leagues (although admittedly the Panamanian, Nicaraguan and Colombian leagues are often in a financially fragile position), and the fact the group is in November means MLB players will be able to take part. It is also, in international sports parlance, a “group of death”. A “group of death” is a group that is so talented or evenly-matched that there is almost no margin for error. This is the group that has the best worst team (Brazil, which has produced more minor leaguers than you’d think) and a best team (Panama) that, while the favorite, is definitely beatable. I did projections for Panama earlier this year, so you can look there to get an idea of who they will be sending in. Colombia will likely have the Solano brothers of Donovan (a 2B/Utility with the Marlins this season) and Jhonathan (a catcher with the Nationals, although injuries may sideline him), as well as pitchers like Ernesto Frieri, Jose Quintana, Julio Teheran and perhaps a coming-out-of-retirement-for-his-country Edgar Renteria. Nicaragua could have young Mariners organization pitcher Erasmo Ramirez joined by the Padres’ 25-year-old SS Everth Cabrera and veteran pitchers Wilton Lopez and Vicente Padilla. Even Brazil could have a MLB-experienced player in Yan Gomes, who became the first Brazil-born MLB player earlier this year when he made his debut with the Blue Jays. It should be a highly competitive and entertaining pool, and although I think either Panama or Colombia will emerge from it, there are plenty of question marks around it and I wouldn’t be that surprised if any of the teams involved got through (okay, I would be pretty surprised if Brazil got through, but it wouldn’t be as surprising as, say, France or the Czech Republic getting through).

On the other hand, though, the TAIPEI pool of Taipei, New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines will be the most lopsided of all of the pool. Chinese Taipei (not called Taiwan in international competition due to political considerations) will win this group. Even if New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines were to pool their resources and throw out a combined team against Taipei, Taipei would win. The only reason Taipei is even having to qualify is because in 2009 they had a game against China in which they played their worst game and China played it’s best. However, Taipei shouldn’t have that problem against their pool, even if the other three get substantial help from passport players.

More detailed previews will be in the future.