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. Juan Lagares’ hamstring injury “not that bad”

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT

    New York Mets v Cincinnati Reds Getty Images

    Two injury stories so far today, two bits of good news.

  2. Mets sticking with Jose Valverde as closer despite homers

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    Jose Valverde Mets Getty Images

    Working in a non-save situation with a five-run lead last night Jose Valverde served up a pair of home runs to the Diamondbacks before eventually finishing up a Mets victory.

  3. Photo Sequence of the Day: Jackwagon fan struts, runs, gets tackled

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    Camera

    I’m guessing 95% of the security guards working in the state of Texas played at least high school football. It’s probably the last place you want to find yourself out on the field. You’re gonna get yourself tackled, dude.

  4. Scott Cousins is a pitcher now

    Apr 17, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

    Scott Cousins Getty Images

    An oufielder, made more famous for injuring someone else than his own hitting, is now trying out pitching.

  5. “They Don’t Know Henry”

    Apr 17, 2014, 8:23 AM EDT

    Image (1) Hank%20Aaron%20AP.jpg for post 4132

    Everyone wants to tell Henry Aaron who he is and what he stands for. But as a great new song tells us, They Don’t Know Henry.

  6. And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

    Apr 17, 2014, 6:06 AM EDT

    Julio Teheran Getty Images

    Lots of shutouts yesterday. Including one that was the Platonic Ideal of a baseball game. At least if you have taste and stuff.

  7. Kirk Gibson, Kevin Towers given votes of confidence

    Apr 16, 2014, 11:32 PM EDT

    diamondbacks logo

    The Diamondbacks lost another game to the Mets on Wednesday afternoon and are now 4-14 on the season with by far the worst run differential (-48) in the major leagues. But the manager and GM are not on the hot seat … yet.

  8. Giants release Dontrelle Willis from AAA Fresno

    Apr 16, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT

    dontrelle willis getty Getty Images

    Dontrelle Willis signed a minor league contract with the Giants in January and was officially added to the roster at Triple-A Fresno on April 12. But the veteran left-hander didn’t even last a week there.

  9. VIDEO: George Springer’s first major league hit

    Apr 16, 2014, 9:39 PM EDT

    george springer getty Getty Images

    Astros outfield prospect George Springer grounded out sharply to shortstop in his first major league at-bat on Wednesday night. In his second trip to the plate, he made it to first base …

  10. Kole Calhoun out 4-6 weeks with ligament sprain in ankle

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:54 PM EDT

    kole calhoun getty Getty Images

    Josh Hamilton is likely to be sidelined through most of May with a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and now beat writer Jeff Fletcher at the Orange County Register reports that Kole Calhoun will miss the next 4-6 weeks with what Angels manager Mike Scioscia called a “bad ligament sprain” in his right ankle.

  11. Taijuan Walker diagnosed with shoulder impingement

    Apr 16, 2014, 8:01 PM EDT

    taijuan walker mariners getty Getty Images

    Mariners right-hander Taijuan Walker had to be scratched from what was supposed to be his final minor league rehab start Tuesday at Triple-A Tacoma and he headed to Seattle on Wednesday for tests. The MRI results are in.

  12. Craig Kimbrel throws, says his shoulder feels “great”

    Apr 16, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    craig kimbrel getty Getty Images

    Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was unavailable to pitch on Monday because of soreness in his right shoulder. But it’s apparently only a minor issue and he expects to be fine going forward.

  13. Bryce Harper scratched Wednesday with quad tightness

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:35 PM EDT

    harper getty Getty Images

    From James Wagner of the Washington Post comes word that Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has been scratched from the club’s starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Marlins because of tightness in his left quadriceps muscle.

  14. Dustin Pedroia returns to Red Sox starting lineup

    Apr 16, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

    pedroia getty Getty Images

    Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia is back in the starting lineup for Wednesday’s game against the White Sox after getting a cortisone shot Monday for the inflammation in his left wrist.

  15. George Springer to hit second in his major league debut

    Apr 16, 2014, 5:04 PM EDT

    George Springer Getty Images

    The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

  16. Joe Kelly leaves start with hamstring injury

    Apr 16, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT

    Joe Kelly Getty Getty Images

    Cardinals right-hander Joe Kelly left today’s start against the Brewers after tweaking his hamstring trying to beat out an infield single in the sixth inning.

  17. Masahiro Tanaka dominates the Cubs

    Apr 16, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT

    Masahiro Tanaka AP

    That’s 28 strikeouts in his first three big league starts.

  18. Johnny Cueto dominates the Pirates

    Apr 16, 2014, 3:34 PM EDT

    Johnny Cueto AP

    Cueto set a career high for strikeouts as he tossed his third career shutout

Featured video

Jackie Robinson Day is bittersweet
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. T. Wood (5119)
  2. S. Kazmir (4801)
  3. J. Kubel (4650)
  4. K. Uehara (4105)
  5. I. Nova (4002)
  1. G. Springer (3225)
  2. T. Walker (3108)
  3. M. Moore (2971)
  4. M. Machado (2932)
  5. J. Chavez (2875)