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.
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.