Eye of the Hurricane

March 3, 2009

World Baseball Classic

Filed under: Uncategorized — mznrth27 @ 2:18 pm

The World Baseball Classic kicks off March 5 and while it cannot be compared to the prestige or gravity of the World Cup, baseball’s international event is still pretty cool. Die-hard fans will be treated to Japan versus China at 4:30am on Thursday followed by Taipei versus Korea the same time on Friday.

Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and the United States all play on Saturday. These teams all figure to contend for the championship along with Cuba and Japan.

Japan, the defending champion, is coming off of a disappointing showing in Beijing where they failed to medal. Look for them to try and bounce back, but it will be difficult for them to contend with the offensive power of the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The DR can feature a lineup consisting of David Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, A-Rod, and Jose Guillen. Puerto Rico can counter with Pudge Rodriguez or Geovany Soto, Carlos Delgado, Carlos Beltran, and Alex Rios. These two teams probably have the most well-rounded offenses, featuring speed, power, and contact.

The US can post a lineup that includes Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones, David Wright, Adam Dunn, and Ryan Braun to name a few. These guys are great players, but history has shown that the US team does not take international baseball as seriously as the other nations. After all, these guys are pretty much using the WBC as a tune-up for the regular season. On the flip side, this is the biggest stage for Cuba’s players. They are always a dangerous team because international baseball is the only time the world and scouts get the opportunity to see them play.

US pitching will be hard to hit, however. Roy Oswalt and Jake Peavy headline as starters while the pen consists of JJ Putz, Jonathan Broxton, Scott Shields and flame thrower, Matt Lindstrom. The other great staff belongs to the DR. They can trot out Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Pedro Martinez as starters and have guys such as Jose Arredondo, Juan Cruz, Damaso Marte, and Tony Pena slam the door in the later innings.

Because they are the deepest team, look for the Dominican Republic to win the World Baseball Classic with the US and Puerto Rico perhaps giving the DR a run for their money. Cuba is a tough team to quantify because they are a team of unknowns, but they always play terrific, fundamental baseball with plenty of passion. They too can win this. Japan, however, will probably be overmatched by teams that will throw it harder and hit it farther.

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