Mar 8, 2013, 11:35 PM EDT
Of the 223 players with at least 350 plate appearances in 2012, J.P. Arencibia ranked 169th in wOBA. Among those players born in the United States, he’s not one of the top 100 hitters. Maybe he’s in the 100-150 range.
Yet there was Arencibia getting what may well have been the biggest at-bat for Joe Torre’s team in Friday’s game against Mexico. Team USA was down 5-1 with two on and none out in the bottom of the fifth. A right-hander was on the mound for Mexico. Arencibia is right-handed.
The U.S. is carrying three catchers. Joe Mauer was DHing, but there was little danger in batting for Arencibia and putting in Jonathan Lucroy afterwards. That would actually be an upgrade. Lucroy is a better player than Arencibia.
Of course, Buster Posey and Matt Wieters are also better players than Arencibia. They’re not here. A.J. Pierzynski, Alex Avila and John Jaso are better players than Arencibia. I’d probably argue for Chris Iannetta, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and A.J. Ellis, too.
Which is why Team USA is never going to win the World Baseball Classic as its presently constructed. It’s not just that many of the country’s best players don’t want to play. It’s that those in charge do a lousy job of picking the players that do. And then it does an even worse job of employing the players who are picked.
Gio Gonzalez is Team USA’s second best pitcher. He’s not even going to be used in Round 1, since it’s such a given that the team is going to advance to Round 2 (except that’s hardly the case). Eric Hosmer, starting for the ailing Mark Teixeira, is the wrong fallback to the wrong choice to play first base in the first place. Don’t even get me started on Heath Bell.
Willie Bloomquist was on the provisional roster, for crying out loud.
And there was Arencibia. He’s not one of the United States’ five-best catchers. It’s arguable whether he’s in the top 10. Yet there he was starting against Pool D’s toughest opponent in Friday’s opener. Because he’s handled a couple R.A. Dickey bullpen sessions. And then he was left in to take a crucial at-bat in the fifth, even though Dickey had already been pulled.
As I’m writing this, Team USA is still in the game against Mexico. Maybe it will come back. Maybe it will still advance to Round 2.
But winning the tournament? That’s not happening. Team USA wasn’t designed with any thoughts of winning the World Baseball Classic. It’s just there to get taken down by a more interested team.
May 21, 2013, 2:08 AM EDT
Move over Clay Buchholz. Marlins starter Alex Sanabia went old school on Monday, bypassing the sunscreen and rosin and simply hocking a big ol’ loogie on the baseball after giving up a home run to the Phillies’ Domonic Brown. The video isn’t embeddable yet, but here’s the link to it at MLB.com, as well as…
May 20, 2013, 10:36 PM EDT
The Nationals have Bryce Harper back in the starting lineup tonight against the Giants, but it appears that Jayson Werth‘s absence from a hamstring injury will be a little longer than initially expected. Nationals manager Davey Johnson told Amanda Comak of the Washington Times that he received an “alarming” report on Werth today. No word…
May 20, 2013, 9:45 PM EDT
After Jonny Venters underwent Tommy John surgery last week, another Braves’ reliever is headed for the same fate. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, left-hander Eric O’Flaherty will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery tomorrow. It doesn’t come as a big surprise, as he was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his…
May 20, 2013, 9:03 PM EDT
Bryce Harper sat out Saturday and Sunday due to lingering soreness in his left knee caused by his collision with the right field fence at Dodger Stadium last Monday, but Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com reports that he’s back in the starting lineup for tonight’s series opener against the Giants. Harper was all banged up after…
May 20, 2013, 8:15 PM EDT
According to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, right-hander Scott Proctor has decided to retire from baseball. Proctor, now 36, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011 with the Braves and Yankees. After spending last season with the Doosan Bears of the Korean Baseball Organization, he had an 8.59 ERA and 6/10 K/BB…
May 20, 2013, 8:00 PM EDT
UPDATE: Just a quick follow-up from this morning, Dodgers general maanger Ned Colletti told the Associated Press earlier this evening that manager Don Mattingly is “doing fine.” Asked if it was false to say Mattingly would be fired this week, Colletti simply said: “My perspective hasn’t changed. I’m done talking about it.” 8:52 AM ET:…
May 20, 2013, 7:30 PM EDT
Alex Rodriguez isn’t as far along as teammate Mark Teixeira, but he continues to make progress from January hip surgery. According to the Associated Press, Rodriguez began his third week of on-field activity today by fielding grounders and taking 25 swings in an indoor batting cage at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa, Florida.…
May 20, 2013, 6:44 PM EDT
The Phillies placed reliever Mike Adams on the 15-day disabled list this afternoon due to a back injury, but the club is also dealing with some injuries to their everyday lineup. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports that Carlos Ruiz is expected to miss 3-4 weeks after he suffered a Grade 2 strain…
May 20, 2013, 5:55 PM EDT
As of Monday afternoon, the Rangers and Cardinals have baseball’s best records. Not entirely coincidentally they also have the best run differentials of any team in baseball. The Rangers have scored 212 runs and let in 158, putting them at +54. The Cardinals have scored 201 runs and allowed a major league-low 150, which works out…
May 20, 2013, 5:17 PM EDT
Philadelphia has finally placed Mike Adams on the disabled list after the reliever remained on the active roster despite being unavailable with a back injury since May 12. Because he hasn’t pitched for more than a week and the DL stint is backdated Adams is eligible to return Sunday. In the meantime Humberto Quintero replaces…
May 20, 2013, 5:03 PM EDT
I actually don’t believe in teams of destiny. At least not in May. I’ve seen too many teams suck for five months, get hot in September and October and then win it all or at least come close. My 1993 Braves made a giant trade in 1993, heralded by literal flames, and then went on…
May 20, 2013, 4:48 PM EDT
Texas designated Derek Lowe for assignment after the 40-year-old right-hander allowed 13 runs in 13 innings out of the bullpen. Just the other day Lowe was talking about how much he disliked sabermetrics, saying: If you pump my numbers into the system compared to, let’s say, Tanner Scheppers, of course his stuff is going to…
May 20, 2013, 4:16 PM EDT
As expected the Red Sox have activated Andrew Bailey from the disabled list after the right-hander missed the past three weeks with a strained biceps. Before the injury Bailey had taken over as the Red Sox’s closer and he’ll almost surely reclaim ninth-inning duties right away. Joel Hanrahan‘s season-ending elbow surgery means that Bailey doesn’t…
May 20, 2013, 3:41 PM EDT
In yesterday’s Rays-Orioles game, Matt Joyce hit a ball that maybe was a homer or maybe a double or maybe a foul ball. Hard to say on live viewing! It was initially ruled in play and Joyce made it to second for a double. Buck Showalter came out of the dugout and argued that the…
May 20, 2013, 3:15 PM EDT
Caleb Thielbar was pitching for the independent league St. Paul Saints in 2011 and now he’s headed to the majors. Minnesota signed Thielbar after he impressed with the Saints and he’s steadily climbed through the Twins’ farm system, putting together a very impressive stretch at Triple-A this year in which he’s allowed zero earned runs…
May 20, 2013, 3:00 PM EDT
I’m sure it has zero to do with their play, but Pete Abraham of the Globe reports that, unlike in years past, the Red Sox are puttin’ on the ritz this year for road trips: Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, and Jon Lester now dress like hedge fund managers on road trips. Ryan Dempster has custom-made…
May 20, 2013, 2:44 PM EDT
David Aardsma, who was released by the Yankees in early April and opted out of a minor-league deal with the Marlins last week, has agreed to a new minor-league contract with the Mets. This will be Aardsma’s fourth organization since the end of 2011, as he tries to prove that he can be healthy and…
May 20, 2013, 2:20 PM EDT
Mark Teixeira initially said he’d be back by May 1 and then adjusted that to June 1 and now … who knows. But the Yankees first baseman did take a big step in his recovery from a wrist injury by playing in his first extended spring training game today. Stats for those games aren’t really…
May 20, 2013, 2:00 PM EDT
In response to Ken Rosenthal’s column on the possible imminent end to Don Mattingly’s career in Los Angeles, Bill Shaikin reports thusly: The Dodgers have “no plans” to fire Manager Don Mattingly when the team returns home Thursday or any time before then, a club official said late Sunday night. So he’s safe. That is, unless the Dodgers are…
May 20, 2013, 1:30 PM EDT
That state being one in which the team has a lot of injuries but not a lot of help on the farm. Also: how does Cabrera’s prime match up to others’, historically speaking?
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