The other day, I mentioned that Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano were confirmed for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. The rest of the rosters were just released this afternoon and there are a few additional Indians that will be suiting up for various nations.
Dominican Republic: Carlos Santana. Some of the big names joining Santana on the DR team will be Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, and Miguel Tejada. The Dominican Republic will play their first round in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico: Mike Aviles and minor league LHP Giovanni Soto. This pair will be joined by Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina, and will play their first round in San Juan.
Venezuela: Asdrubal Cabrera. Cabrera will also have good company on the Venezuelan team – Miguel Cabrera, Pablo Sandoval, Felix Hernandez, and Carlos Gonzalez are some of the stars on the roster. They will also play their first round in San Juan.
Catcher Yan Gomes, acquired from Toronto in the Esmil Rogers trade, is reportedly deciding whether or not he will play for Brazil. Last fall, he helped launch Brazil into the tournament, but isn’t currently on the roster. It sounds as if he’d like to focus on the Indians and wants to make a favorable impression on the team this spring. Brazil is scheduled to play their first round in Fukuoka, Japan, along with Japan, China, and Cuba.
South Korea, the Netherlands, Australia, and Chinese Taipei will play their first round in Taichung, Taiwan. As I mentioned the other day, the USA, Canada, Mexico, and Italy will play their first round in the Phoenix area. Spain is the fourth team joining the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela in San Juan. The second rounds will be held in Tokyo, Japan, and Miami, Florida. The teams that advance from Phoenix and San Juan will square off in Miami, while the teams advancing from Fukuoka and Taichung will meet in Tokyo. The finals will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco from March 17-19. Japan won both the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics, defeating Cuba in 2006 and Korea in 2009. Daisuke Matsuzaka was named the MVP of both tournaments. Matsuzaka is currently a free agent, coming off Tommy John surgery. Is this someone the Indians should consider on a low-risk contract? Supposedly he is open to returning to Japan, or remaining in the United States this upcoming season.
I actually enjoy the World Baseball Classic and typically look forward to it. The only downside is if you planned to go see the Indians in spring training this year, several of the big names will most likely be absent for at least some length of time. Some of the games start as early as March 2, and they would be tied up through at least March 10 even if they do not advance to the next round. One bright side is that the teams playing in Phoenix will be playing scrimmages against several of the Major League clubs in March. You may be able to catch some players that you would not see otherwise. Plus, one of the things that makes spring training so special for me is the fact that you get a chance to see so many different players throughout the course of one game. It’s a great opportunity to see a bunch of prospects in one place, without traveling around to the various minor league parks. With players absent at the WBC, you will likely see even more of them.