All the talk this week of “Big Threes” and dream teams combined with Parkes’ best left side in baseball question to get my mind working overtime: what would it take to get Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki on the same team?

Heaven and Earth would have to move and even then it’s a long shot. Until I remember the World Baseball Classic!

The US/Canada game during the 2009 WBC was possibly the finest baseball game I ever attended. Depressing as that may be, it was a legitimately entertaining affair. The lineups were strong and a good time was had by most.

MLB decided to move off the three-year cycle in favor of a quadrennial tournament, meaning we won’t see WBC action until 2013. That doesn’t mean we can’t take this lazy Friday to have some fun with prospective rosters, does it? Of course not!

When acting out this flight of fancy, let us consider all available players. Plenty of top names are sure to opt out to avoid interference with their carefully plotted training regiments but, for our purposes, everybody is fair game.

Let’s start with team USA, creating a 25-man roster sure to break the WAR scale.

Starters Bench Rotation Bullpen
  • C – Brian McCann
  • 1B – Prince Fielder
  • 2B – Dustin Pedroia
  • 3B – Evan Longoria
  • SS – Troy Tulowitzki
  • LF – Matt Kemp
  • CF – Brett Gardner
  • RF – Mike Stanton
  • DH – Ryan Braun
  • Joe Mauer
  • Ben Zobrist
  • Jacoby Ellsbury
  • Curtis Granderson
  • Roy Halladay
  • CC Sabathia
  • Justin Verlander
  • Cliff Lee
  • Tim Lincecum
  • David Roberston
  • Jonny Venters
  • Craig Kimbrel
  • Daniel Bard
  • Sean Marshall
  • Ryan Madson
  • Jonathan Papelbon

Yeah, wow. Let’s tack on a five-man taxi squad just to get a sense of guys who don’t make this team. Clayton Kershaw, Jered Weaver, Cole Hamels, Matt Wieters, Mark Teixeira.

When I put this on Twitter last night, there was much shock and dismay over my inclusion of Brett Gardner. This team still has to play and win games, at which point the defense matters corollary looms large.

Defense is something this infield does so well it makes me want to cry. Ryan Braun is bad enough in left that I bumped him in favor of Matt Kemp. With Tulo and Longoria in front of him and Brett Gardner beside him, Ryan Braun could play left field for this team in a lawn chair and nobody would notice.

Maybe Mike Stanton doesn’t quite belong on this list yet but are you going to tell him?

There is a chance players like Braun, Ian Kinsler and Kevin Youkilis could play for Israel in the next edition of the WBC so I included just one of those players. Only Kinsler was a legit threat to make the team as Joe Mauer can play some first base and Ben Zobrist can play everywhere. Plus, giving Zorilla a chance to play with his older brother Roy Halladay seems like the right thing to do.

The pitching staff is positively ridiculous. There was a tiny temptation to load the bullpen with starters but that suspends belief a little too far. Clayton Kershaw was in the rotation and Tim Lincecum out on my first draft but, c’mon, let’s be serious. There is a very slight chance Timmy plays for the Philippines but that can’t keep him out of the first-run rotation.

The bullpen is pretty much full of the best arms around. Marshall and Venters in as lefties, David Robertson gets in because of all those MVP/Cy Young votes. That exposure really opened my eyes to his greatness.

Let’s make this the first in a series, shall we? The offense is long and this provides fertile ground for discussions that aren’t about Jack Morris’ pitch-to-the-score ability. Just the thing we need in January. Let’s see your ideal American roster in the comments, friends. Don’t forget: defense matters.

Comments (24)

  1. Were you at the Halladay/Burnett game of 2009? That was my finest ever (too young to truly appreciate 1986 through 1993).

    • I wasn’t at that game. I think my favorite Jays game is the Yanks/Jays when Vernon hit a walkoff off Mo in the 11th.

      • Also, Gardner over Ellsbury?

          • From Fangraphs:

            Ellsbury hit like an All-Star level corner player, and did so while playing center field — one of the most demanding defensive positions on the diamond. Ellsbury not only played center field, he played it at a very high level no matter how you measure defense. He made 0 errors on the year for a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and led the AL with 388 putouts. Single year advanced fielding metrics can bounce around some, but Ellsbury 2011 UZR of 15.6 was fourth best in the AL and only the Yankees’ Brett Gardner rated as a better defensive outfielder in 2011.

    • i was at the Burnett-Halladay game – it was good – but i was also at game 6 of the ’93 world series, so . . .

  2. Brett Gardner starting over your boy Curtis Granderson? Really?

  3. i like it, id only make a few minor adjustmentsswitch papelbon and marshall for putz (maybe also a candidate for team israel?) and bailey

    move kemp to CF, joshy goes H.A.Milton in left. defense be damned!

    oh and guys like posey, heyward, strausburg, moore and harper might make a run for this time by the time 2013 comes around.

    • I dunno about that first one. Papelbon and Marshall are 1-2 in fWAR over the last two years. Marshall is amazing and left-handed so he stays for sure.

      Strasburg is a great point. Scary.

      • fWAR can be a tricky stat for closers though. i dont think theres a good enough sample rate to get a good idea of a players true talent. also closers dont have very good records when changing teams, so that scares me off the pitching pappy. ive done my research and i have to agree with you on Marshall, he is better then i thought.

  4. You forgot Jeter, every team needs a captain.

  5. This would be a great series for all the major WBC teams

  6. Where does MVP Michael Young fit?

  7. Is Longoria sporting a mullet there?

  8. How about Strasburg?

  9. Oh, and I was at that WBC game too, the atmosphere was amazing!

  10. I questioned it on Twitter yesterday, but this is a better forum for debate: why McCann over Mauer in the starting line-up?? Unless it’s a durability issue, but if we’re rosterbating I’d assume not, Mauer’s pretty objectively the better player, isn’t he?

    • I think Mauer is marginally a better player but his monster season is getting further and further into the rearview mirror. He has less power and comparable patience to McCann and is arguably not as good defensively. It isn’t as if I left Mauer sitting at home (like poor Mike Napoli) I just like McCann a little more.


  11. Justin Upton is American, right?

  12. doesn’t albert pujols birth certificate say he’s 31 and born in the states?

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