Tuesday, January 17, 2005
Today, I am going to be very brief. For those in the Warroad, MN, area, don't forget that the Twins will be in town in one day. Lew Ford, Jason Bartlett, Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson will be representing the Twins on the Twins Winter Caravan. It will be Day 3 of the Northwest Leg of the Caravan. MLB.com's Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier is along with the group, and she is keeping us updated of the events of each day on the Twins Official website. She answered her Monday Mailbag from the bus on the way to the first stop in Aberdeen, SD.
So, what else is going on? Not a whole lot. I'm not sure how everyone here feels about the World Baseball Classic. As a matter of fact, I'm not really sure how I feel about it. In theory, it is a fun concept. However, I do happen to agree with the baseball people (GMs, managers, etc.) who worry a little more about the regular season than this tournament. Many are saying that it is huge for the Dominican Republic and Venezuela and that the USA will treat it like an exhibition. Well, I disagree with that. Once they are on the field, they all have enough pride in themselves and their country to give it their all. However, I personally would prefer it be more of an exhibition. Really, the pitch limits and inning limits make it a little less real and more exhibition. But then again, you can't keep everyone healthy all the time anyway. So, I will just enjoy it. I'll watch it and probably even write about it. But I will likely write about it from the Twins perspective rather than USA versus The World. But, who knows?
Anyway, Team USA announced 42 players on their roster. They will likely add up to 18 more before tomorrow's deadline when they have to reach 60 on their roster. Of course, for the tournament, they can only have 30 on their active roster. However, between rounds, some changes can be made. First things first, both Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan were named to the USA roster. I think we all knew that Mauer would be on the list, but I was happy to hear that Joe Nathan was too. He is a top-notch closer and it is good to see that people notice.
But those two are not the only players in the Twins organization that will be playing in the WBC. Here is a list of current and former Twins and which roster they will be on:
Puerto Rico - JC Romero, Javier Valentin, Angel Garcia, Andres Torres
Australia - Glenn Williams (I have to believe that a number of Twins minor leaguers could compete on this team)
Canada - Justin Morneau, Jesse Crain, Corey Koskie
Dominican Republic - David Ortiz
Italy - Tony Fiore
Mexico - Juan Castro, Dennys Reyes
Venezuela - Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Henry Blanco
The most interesting name on the list is obviously Jesse Crain. He is playing for Team Canada, but remember he pitched for Team USA in the Olympic qualifying tournament in the fall of 2003. I have read some places that playing for Canada means that he will never be able to play for a Team USA team again. I can not verify that though.
So many think that Team USA will not be as strong as Team Dominican or even Venezuela. However, look at these positional dilemmas:
Catcher - Mauer, Jason Varitek, Paul Lo Duca, Michael Barrett, Brian Schneider and Chad Moeller
The team will likely drop to three catchers for their 30 man roster. Obviously Mauer is the best catcher available and Varitek will make it for political reasons. I would guess that Lo Duca or Barrett will be Catcher #3 because the last two are not good.
First Base - Derrek Lee and Mark Teixeira
How good does the depth have to be for Todd Helton not to even be on this list?
Second Base - Chase Utley
Utley is vastly underrated. However, rumor has it that Jimmy Rollins may be moved to 2B for the tournament.
Third Base - Chipper Jones, Morgan Ensberg and David Wright
Wright is obviously the top player here. Ensberg had a huge 2005, and Chipper Jones has just been so consistently good for a dozen years!
Shortstop - Derek Jeter, Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins
Young is probably the most underrated player in baseball. I guess he could be moved to 2B again for this tournament
Utility Infielders - Craig Counsell, Bill Hall
I have heard Buck Martinez (Manager of Team USA) say a number of times that he would like to have at least one utility guy, a guy who will be happy to just be on the team. Hall has potential. Counsell is what he is.
Outfield - Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Jr., Lance Berkman, Johnny Damon, Carl Crawford, Vernon Wells.
Now, that is an impressive list.
Starting Pitchers - Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy, Dontrelle Willis, CC Sabathia, Jeremy Bonderman and Al Leiter
In a word "WOW!" What incredible depth! I don't know why Al Leiter is on there, and CC Sabathia is vastly overrated, but the rest are all incredible!
Relief Pitchers - Billy Wagner, Brad Lidge, Joe Nathan, Huston Street, Chad Cordero, Todd Jones, Mike Timlin, Scot Shields, Dan Wheeler, Brian Fuentes
Those first five closers are as good as it gets. Timlin and Shields are top level set up men!
Sure, the Dominican Republic has a lineup that features David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Vlad Guerrero, Albert Pujols and maybe more! Sure, the Venezuelan pitching staff includes Johan Santana, Carlos Zambrano, Freddy Garcia and Carlos Silva with Francisco Rodriguez closing things out after Juan Rincon sets things up for him. But, Team USA has incredible talent and incredible depth. They should be able to compete with any team. If not, it will affect my opinion none!
Do you have any thoughts on the WBC? E-mail me, or leave comments.
Have you ever played MVP Baseball 2005 on PlayStation 2? I have now played a few games here and there. Last night, I was the Twins and played against the Yankees in Yankees Stadium. It was Johan Santana against Randy Johnson, and they didn't disappoint. The Twins were able to get a single run in the 5th inning. Johan Santana had a no-hitter into the 8th. However, I hung a change up to Hideki Matsui and he unloaded a long homer to break up the no-hitter and the shutout as well as tie the game. Santana went 9 innings. Johnson went eight. The Yankees decided to throw Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning, and the 10th and the 11th inning. Why? Because Joe Nathan came in for the 10th and 11th and was perfect, striking out four for the win. Justin Morneau hit a Mariano Rivera pitch deep into the night to give the Twins a 2-1 win! What a game!
For those that have played the game, have you noticed that Lew Ford is unstoppable!? Also, Michael Cuddyer has the worst stance either. I'm amazed by how life-like the animation is, at least in terms of batting stances and some mannerisms, but Cuddyer's is just weird. Also, they have very strong similarities in facial features. Morneau looks almost like himself. However, has anyone else noticed the Joe Mauer looks identical to Randy Bush!?
On that note, I have to call it a day. I hope you have a good one! If you have any comments, opinions, or ideas for future articles, please e-mail me.
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