Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Beisbol Clasic Del Mundo

Group B: Games Played in the US (Arizona or Florida)


CF Johnny Damon
3B Alex Rodriguez (Hank Blalock)
1B Derrek Lee
LF Barry Bonds
DH Mark Teixeira
RF Gary Sheffield (Ken Griffey, Jr.)
C Jason Varitek
SS Michael Young
2B Brian Roberts

First of all, let me start by saying that I based the US team largely on this year's performances to date. So, you may disagree with a few picks here, but so be it. You may notice a few names in parentheses in this lineup. A-Rod (would rather play for the Dominican) and Shef (doesn't want to play in something "made up" unless he's getting paid) are out. In their place are two capable replacements: Blalock and Griffey. Once again, Morgan Ensberg gets screwed over. As for Griffey, he's one of those locks. I'm batting Damon leadoff because Young and Roberts have more ability to drive in runs. One the US has been through the lineup a few times, they'll basically have three leadoff guys hitting before the heart of the order, anyways. Derrek Lee and Mark Teixeira are both having big years; Lee's Gold Gloves put him in the field and Teixeira at DH. Bonds hits cleanup (duh), and the veteran Varitek rounds out a powerful offense.

C Mike Piazza
IF Jeff Kent
OF Carl Crawford
DH Travis Hafner

Piazza's another absolute lock to make this team. Jeff Kent can play first, second, and third, so he's the utility infielder (screw you, Jeter). I'm taking Crawford's speed on the bases (and higher average) over Torii Hunter's defense. Finally, since I can, Travis Hafner is my power lefty off the bench. I can afford to take Hafner, who can only play DH and 1B, because Teixeira has had experience at first, second, third, and the corner outfield spots.

SP Roger Clemens
SP John Smoltz
SP Roy Oswalt
SP Roy Halladay
SP Dontrelle Willis

The rotation is a bit righty-heavy (Willis is the lone southpaw), but I don't think anyone will complain. Clemens is a lock, and I'm going to say Smoltz is, too. Theoretically, you may want to see Glavine and/or Maddox out there, but you can't take away from the success Oswalt and Halladay are currently enjoying. Willis, meanwhile, is very fired up about the prospect of making this team, so we'll give him the nod.

RP Chris Carpenter
RP Billy Wagner
RP Brad Lidge
RP Huston Street
RP BJ Ryan
RP Joe Nathan
CP Jason Isringhausen

I originally had Chris Carpenter in the rotation with Smoltz as another member of the firing squad of closers. But, instead I decided to go with Carpenter as the long man. The vastly underrated Jason Isringhausen will close. Wagner and Lidge were foregone conclusions. The last three spots came down to Street, Ryan, Nathan, and Dustin Hermanson. I went with Street for the Gammonsesque factor (he's easily this year's Brad Lidge), Ryan to add another lefty to the pen, and Nathan as a hat-tip to the quiet dominance he's been enjoying in Minnesota.


SS Jorge Cantu
2B Juan Castro
3B Vinny Castilla
1B Erubiel Durazo
LF Karim Garcia
DH Alfredo Amezaga
C Geronimo Gil
LF Luis Garcia
CF Benji Gil

Mexico's lineup looks line Pinch-Hitter's Anonymous. Jorge Cantu is quietly having a very good rookie season for Tampa Bay. Castro has been a valuable part of the Twins' defense this year, and Vinny Castilla has continued to produce for Washington. (Did you know: Castilla's backup at third for the Nationals is none other than Carlos Baerga. You can't make this up.) Oriole backup catcher and the cup-of-coffee Luis Garcia are surrounded by a pair of former Angels utility infielders to round out the bottom of the lineup.

C Miguel Ojeda
C Humberto Cota

Well, at least Mexico won't have any trouble finding people to warm up pitchers in the bullpen.

SP Ismael Valdez
SP Rodrigo Lopez
SP Oliver Perez
SP Juan Acevedo
SP Esteban Loaiza

I can't tell whether or not I'm intimidated by this rotation. It's probably good enough for a Major League team contending in a crappy division, but it's definitely not good enough to face a US all-star squad.

RP Luis Ayala
RP Elmer Dessens
RP Oscar Villareal
RP Rigo Beltran
RP Dennys Reyes
RP Ricardo Rincon
CP Antonio Osuna

Again, not a great bullpen, but not all that bad. Reyes, Rincon, and Osuna are definitely Major League quality, as are Ayala and Dessens to some extent. Osuna gets the closer's spot by virtue of his 21 career saves.


LF Aaron Guiel
RF Larry Walker
CF Jason Bay
1B Justin Morneau
SS Corey Koskie
DH Matt Stairs
2B Danny Klassen
3B Cody McKay
C Pete LaForest

This is a very scary lineup in any pool except this one. Then again, if the US falls asleep, look out. Aaron Guiel has had a very quiet career in Kansas City, but he does have leadoff experience, so that's where he'll bat. He's just the start of a very lefty-heavy lineup (only Bay and McKay bat right handed). The talented Larry Walker will take his familiar position batting second and playing right. Why is Jason Bay batting third? Well, as the sponsor of his Baseball Reference page puts it, "he'll make us [Pirates fans] forget about Giles and Bonds." Three slugging lefties follow in the forms of Morneau, the Twin first baseman, Koskie, currently with Toronto, and DH Matt Stairs of the Royals. Former Devil Rays super-prospect Danny Klassen will bat seventh, followed by cup-of-coffee guys Cody McKay and Pete LaForest.

OF Simon Pond

Another cup-of-coffee, Pond will be the lone Major Leaguer (or former Major Leaguer) on Canada's bench.

SP Rich Harden
SP Eric Bedard
SP Jeff Francis
SP Ryan Dempster
SP Adam Loewen

This rotation gets the official Peter Gammons seal of approval. Rich Harden is starting to make the leap from Gammonsesque name to household name. The young Eric Bedard was having an All-Star quality, breakout season for Baltimore before the injury bug bit. Jeff Francis has all the makings of a star, if he can just find a way out of Colorado. At 28, Dempster is the old man of this rotation. Finally, as if having Bedard and Rodrigo Lopez (above) wasn't enough for the Orioles, their prized prospect (a Baseball America Top 100 guy, of course), is perhaps the best pitcher in the minors right now. That would be the young Adam Loewen.

RP Rheal Cormier
RP Jesse Crain
RP Eric Cyr
RP Chris Mears
RP Shawn Hill
RP Aaron Myette
CP Eric Gagne

Not a very deep bullpen, but it does have some strong points. Cormier is an established veteran who can get the job done. Gagne, when healthy, can be the best closer in baseball. And Jesse Crain, currently a set up man with the Twins, is said to have all the tools to become a star closer some day. You know, between that lineup, the good young rotation, and the few bullpen studs, this is a team that can really challenge in this pool if the Americans take things too lightly.

South Africa

No active Major Leaguers. Well, at least they can enjoy the free trip and a chance to play against the world's best while they're still in the tournament.