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):

Australia

New Zealand

Philippines

South Africa

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

Mexico

Czech Republic

Germany

Nicaragua

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

Colombia

France

Panama

Spain

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

Brazil

Great Britain

Israel

Pakistan

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 djgwriter@yahoo.com or on Twitter (@DanJGlickman).

Until next time!

First References in “The Sporting News”: The Caribbean

One of the great perks of SABR membership is access online to The Sporting News’ archives. While it now is dedicated to all sports, for a good chunk of it’s earlier history it was almost entirely focused on baseball. This allows us to see how players, ideas, teams and even countries first got the attention of the baseball press. So, similar to my article on the first references to Japanese baseball, here’s a look at the first references to baseball in the Caribbean in the Sporting News archives…. just in time for the Caribbean World Series in February!

(go below the jump for the article)

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Headlines from around the Continuum: November 17, 2012

Baseball headlines from around the world, courtesy of The Newseum

Story: Melky Cabrera signs with Toronto Blue Jays

Saturday (Toronto) Star: Here’s to a good year- Reported signing of Melky Cabrera caps week of impact moves for Jays

Toronto Sun: JAYS JUICED- New York who? Good luck in Boston Farrell. Orioles, Rays… meet the Jays, the new BEASTS of the East!

Story: World Baseball Classic Qualifiers Continue

La Estrella de Panama: Canaleros no pueden perder otro juego (Translation: The Canal-Men cannot lose another game)

La Prensa (Panama City, Panama): Panamá se juega la vida (Panama is playing for their lives)

La Prensa (Managua, Nicaragua): Colombia gana con autoridad (Colombia wins with authority)

(The headline I could find from Colombia was very generic, essentially saying the score, who they beat, and what the event they were taking part in was. Therefore, I’m not including it)

World Baseball Classic Qualifier Preview: Panama City (Panama, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia)

It’s time for more qualifiers for the World Baseball Classic, as pools in Taipei and Panama are about to get started on November 15 (although, technically, the first game of the Taipei bracket will be on November 14 on the East Coast of the USA, thanks to time differences). These pools will be different from the two earlier brackets in Florida and Germany for a major reason: there will be MLB players in these qualifiers. They won’t be a majority of them (after all, there is a reason why these teams have to qualify to begin with), but there will be some, particularly at the plate (some pitchers won’t be available because, well, their arms hurt after a season of throwing).

The more interesting of the two, and the most interesting of the four qualifiers period, will be the one in Panama City. Go below the jump for my preview of that one:

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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.

2012-2013 WBC Projections: Panama

Of all the teams that have failed to win any games over the first two WBCs, the Panamanians probably are the best of the bunch. So it isn’t really a surprise that they will be hosting a qualifying pool in November. That pool is going to be brutal: Panama will be joined by Nicaragua, Colombia and Brazil. All four teams have at least one player active in MLB this season. Thankfully for Panama, their qualifying tournament will be in November and not September, meaning they will be able to call upon some of their major leaguers (as opposed to Canada, which will have to try to qualify without the aid of Joey Votto, Brett Lawrie and friends).

So, anyway, with all of this in mind and after much research, I’ve put together a possible roster for the Panamanians 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.

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