2013 WBC Group D Preview
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Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
By Sam Evans (Baseball Writer): Follow @RJA206
Group D of the 2013 World Baseball Classic will be the division most closely followed by North Americans. The USA will attempt to do something they have never done; win the WBC championship. However, teams like Mexico and Canada won’t go down easily. The USA, Canada, Mexico, and Italy make up this year’s Group D of the WBC. With games starting as soon as Thursday, here is the final installation in my series of WBC previews.
As a proud American, the U.S. team will captivate my strongest rooting interest in this year’s WBC. While the U.S. might not have the most exciting or intriguing team, they probably have the most talented. The American starting pitchers include R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, and Ryan Vogelsong. Pitching out of the bullpen will be Craig Kimbrel and Luke Gregerson, among others. Calling the game from behind home plate will be Joe Mauer, with J.P. Arencibia and Jonathan Lucroy getting some playing time as well.
The U.S.A. infield is probably the best in the 2013 WBC, and it might be the best in the history of the WBC. Brandon Phillips, Mark Teixeira, Jimmy Rollins, and David Wright will likely be the starters. One important thing to keep in mind is the age of these players. I would be surprised if Manager Joe Torre doesn’t rest these veterans whenever he gets the chance. Assisting Joe Torre on the coaching staff will be Greg Maddux, Willie Randolph, Dale Murphy, and a few other former MLB heroes.
Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones, and Ryan Braun will round out the American outfield. The U.S.A. team has no excuses this year. The U.S.A. team is expected to finally win the WBC Championship in 2013. It won’t be easy, but with the experience of the players on this roster, America should be the favorite to win it all. The weakness for this team might be their starting pitching, but looking at the other teams, their still won’t be many teams that can match up with the U.S., in terms of pitching. 2013 will be the year that the Americans finally beat the odds and win the World Baseball Classic Championship.
Canada had a rough go at the 2009 WBC, failing to advance out of their pool. This year, Canada appears much more prepared win a few more games. Their starting pitching is very weak, but it will be awesome to watch highly touted prospect Jameson Taillon compete on an international stage. Shawn Hill and Chris Leroux will also start for the Canadians. In the bullpen, John Axford and Phillipe Aumont will need to step up in a big way, probably pitching more than they are used to. Overall, Canada’s pitching staff has a lot of holes and they would be much better off with Canadian natives Erik Bedard, James Paxton, and Ryan Dempster.
Behind the plate, Chris Robinson and John Suomi will share duties. One of these guys will need to lead the team and call great games for the pitchers. The Canadian infield will consist of Justin Morneau, Joey Votto, Brett Lawrie, and Taylor Green. Roaming the outfield will be Tyson Gillies, Adam Loewen, and Michael Saunders. This is a very athletic and speedy trio of outfielders that will be chasing down a lot of balls with the current condition of Canada’s pitching staff. Overall, Canada should be able to win a game or two this year but they won’t be able to keep up with the U.S. or Mexico.
Mexico is the team in Group D that will pose as the biggest threat to the U.S. With a starting pitching staff featuring Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, and Oliver Perez. The Mexican bullpen includes Sergio Romo, Fernando Salas, Alfredo Aceves, Francisco Rodriguez, Rodrigo Lopez, and one or two other Major Leaguers. Their bullpen is most definitely the strongest part of the Mexican roster.
Sebastian Valle, the 22-year-old Phillies prospect, will do the majority of the catching for Mexico. In the infield, Jorge Cantu, Luis Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez, and Gil Velasquez will see most of the playing time. Karim Garcia is the only notable outfielder for Mexico. Managing the Mexican team will be Rick Renteria. Former Dodgers great Fernando Valenzuela, will serve as an assistant coach. Overall, Mexico has a talented group of pitchers and a solid enough lineup to get them to the next round.
Italy has a talented lineup, but almost no pitching. Their pitching staff will feature Jason Grilli, Brian Sweeney, and Pat Venditte, among others. These three are the most talented pitchers on the roster, and none of them are starters. The strength of the Italian ballclub is definitely their infield. Drew Butera, Jeff Bianchi, Anthony Rizzo, Nick Punto, and Alex Liddi don’t make for a terrible group of infielders. These players will need to hit for Italy to win. Overall, Italy isn’t a traditional baseball country and while their growth rate of players in the Majors may be promising, they still have a long way to go before they can compete with the traditional powerhouses.
Group D will take place in Phoenix and Scottsdale. Chase Field and Salt River Field at Talking Stick are two great place to go watch a baseball game, so if you’re in the area and are feeling patriotic, head out to a game! If I had to predict favorites out of this division right now, I’d say the U.S.A. and Mexico look like the top two teams that will advance to the next round. However, as with all WBC games, it is impossible to predict exactly how factors will work themselves out.
(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)
Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter Follow @RJA206
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Posted on March 1, 2013, in The Rest: Everything Baseball, World Baseball Classic and tagged 2013 world baseball classic, anthony rizzo, baseball, Canada WBC, Canada World Baseball Classic, craig kimbrel, david wright, fernando valenzuela, Greg Maddux, Italy baseball, Italy World Baseball Classic, jameson taillon, Joe Torre, Mexico baseball, Mexico WBC, mlb, rick renteria, sebastian valle, USA, USA WBC, USA world baseball classic, wbc 2013, world baseball classic, yovani gallardo. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.