Skip to content

And this is why Team USA won’t ever win a WBC

Mar 8, 2013, 11:35 PM EDT

J.P. Arencibia Getty Images

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.

Latest Posts
  1. And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 30, 2014, 7:24 AM EDT

    90s

    The Yankees and Rangers gave us a retro night in Arlington.

  2. Dodgers announce Vin Scully will return for 2015 season

    Jul 29, 2014, 11:17 PM EDT

    vin scully getty Getty Images

    Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times passes along the fantastic news that Vin Scully will return to the Dodgers’ broadcast booth for the 2015 season. It will be his 65th season calling Dodgers baseball.

  3. Jon Lester scratched Wednesday amid trade speculation

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:50 PM EDT

    jon lester getty Getty Images

    Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan wrote Tuesday afternoon that “sentiment among competing executives is unanimous” that the Red Sox will trade left-hander Jon Lester before Thursday’s July 31 deadline. And this news will only add to that thought.

  4. Video: Jose Abreu slugs MLB-leading 31st home run

    Jul 29, 2014, 10:21 PM EDT

    jose abreu getty Getty Images

    Watch as White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu slugs a two-run seventh-inning shot off new Tigers reliever Joakim Soria on Tuesday night at Comerica Park in Detroit …

  5. Rays are “talking and willing” to trade ace lefty David Price; Cardinals and Dodgers interested

    Jul 29, 2014, 9:34 PM EDT

    david price getty Getty Images

    CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman heard from a Rays-connected source Tuesday that the Rays are “talking and willing” to trade ace left-hander David Price and the Cardinals and Dodgers are known to have interest.

  6. Cubs shift setup man Neil Ramirez from Triple-A Iowa to the major league disabled list

    Jul 29, 2014, 8:41 PM EDT

    neil ramirez getty Getty Images

    The Cubs made the curious decision to option reliever Neil Ramirez to Triple-A Iowa on Saturday despite his 0.96 ERA in 28 innings, but that option has now been voided and Ramirez has been transferred to the 15-day major league disabled list with a sore triceps.

  7. Michael Pineda ready for rehab assignment

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:58 PM EDT

    michael pineda getty Getty Images

    MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that right-hander Michael Pineda threw a successful simulated game on Tuesday afternoon in front of manager Joe Girardi and has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment later this week.

  8. Phillies wanted Joc Pederson, Corey Seager, and Julio Urias from Dodgers for Cole Hamels

    Jul 29, 2014, 7:03 PM EDT

    cole hamels getty Getty Images

    FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reported Monday that the Phillies have made ace left-hander Cole Hamels available ahead of Thursday’s July 31 trade deadline, but the asking price on him is apparently sky-high.

  9. Padres activate Everth Cabrera from the disabled list

    Jul 29, 2014, 6:20 PM EDT

    everth cabrera getty Getty Images

    Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera is back with the Padres for Tuesday’s series-opener against the Cardinals after missing nearly four weeks with a left hamstring strain.

  10. Matt Cain is going to pay a visit to Dr. Andrews

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:31 PM EDT

    Miami Marlins v San Francisco Giants Getty Images

    No ballplayer wants to fly to Birmingham, Alabama during the season for a very, very good reason.

  11. Rockies activate Justin Morneau from the disabled list

    Jul 29, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    Justin Morneau Rockies AP

    A strained neck put Justin Morneau’s comeback season on hold, but the Rockies have activated the first baseman from the disabled list for tonight’s game against the Cubs.

  12. The Nationals and Orioles dispute over TV money is about to explode

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:58 PM EDT

    MLB Commissioner Bud Selig speaks during a news conference in New York

    And Bud Selig’s years-long effort to manage a quiet resolution of it is apparently a failure.

  13. Red Sox have a fallback plan for Wednesday’s start in case Jon Lester is traded

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT

    World Series - St Louis Cardinals v Boston Red Sox - Game Two Getty Images

    Maybe this happens all the time and we just don’t hear about it, but Red Sox manager John Farrell admitted just now that the team has Brandon Workman lined up to start Wednesday’s game in case scheduled starter Jon Lester is traded before then.

  14. Foot injury knocks Marlon Byrd out of the Phillies’ lineup

    Jul 29, 2014, 4:22 PM EDT

    Marlon Byrd Marlon Byrd

    In what could throw a wrench into the Phillies’ plans to trade Marlon Byrd before Thursday’s deadline, the 36-year-old outfielder is out of tonight’s lineup after fouling a ball off his foot yesterday.

  15. “Caucasians” t-shirts are hot sellers on Canadian Indian reservations

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    Caucasians

    But . . . I was told Wahoo outrage was nothing but liberal white guilt . . .

  16. Pirates looking into “mental component” of Pedro Alvarez’s throwing problems

    Jul 29, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT

    Pedro Alvarez AP AP

    Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez’s throwing issues have gotten so bad–including an MLB-leading 21 of his 23 errors on throws–that Jenn Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports the team is starting to look into “the mental component to find the root of the problem.”

  17. HBT Daily: the Sox are shopping Lester . . . and Lackey too?

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    HBT Daily Logo

    The Sox are in last place and are going nowhere. Time to deal starters?

  18. Watch Clayton Kershaw play William Tell with Jimmy Kimmel

    Jul 29, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    Clayton Kershaw Clayton Kershaw

    He’s a braver man than I am. By that I mean Kershaw for going on Kimmel’s show.

  19. Gerrit Cole throws five shutout innings in rehab start

    Jul 29, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT

    Gerrit Cole Gerrit Cole

    On the disabled list with a strained lat muscle, Pirates right-hander Gerrit Cole tossed five shutout innings Monday in a minor-league rehab start at Triple-A.

Featured video

Red Sox shopping Lester and Lackey
Top 10 MLB Player Searches