Tagged: Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Sign Roy Oswalt

HELLO! Who else forgot Oswalt was still a functioning member of the MLB society? This move–signing the veteran to a minor league deal and sending him to extended spring training–came out of nowhere. Here’s the tweet that made it official, as far as we know:

So what does this mean for the Rockies and the rest of the NL West? Not much…yet.

Our own Brian Boynton can attest to Oswalt’s crapiness in his last stint, which was with the Texas Rangers in 2012. Oswalt posted a 5.80 ERA in that time, but still had pretty good splits otherwise.

For a team that has relied on its destructive offense and had a surprisingly competent rotation thus far, the Rockies may have scored with this move. Chances are their current, inexperienced rotation will be looking a lot more like the bruised and battered 2012 unit (last in the NL in team ERA, by a mile) after a couple more rounds.

So when Oswalt is ready, if he can pitch even half as well as he used to before going to Texas, he could conceivably be their number two starter. And if one or two of the young guns continues to produce this year, the Rockies are no longer a laughing stock; rather, a team to be reckoned with.

Luckily for Oswalt, pitching expectations in Colorado are generally low, so he won’t be as subjected to scrutiny as he was in Texas. And while I highly doubt we will see a Clemens or Pettitte-esque return for Oswalt, you can never have enough pitching.

Then again, Oswalt could be worse than the starter the Rockies already passed on once. And being worse than Aaron Harang is usually a sign to hang up the cleats for good.

What do you think about the move? Tweet us @3u3d to discuss!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

Advertisements

Another Entry for Best Baseball Picture of the Year!

A couple weeks ago, we presented you with an early favorite for MLB picture of the year. And even though the one we are presenting this time around isn’t an awesome action shot worthy of a segment on Time Warp, it’s a whole new level of absurdity.

The only baseball-related activity in this picture, besides it taking place at Dodger Stadium, is that Tommy Lasorda is involved. It hails from Hyun-Jin Ryu’s last start for the Dodgers (he struck out 12 Rockies that night…coincidence?) at which Korean sensation “Psy” showed up for the game and went all Gangnam Style on the big crowd.

Personally, I thought that song was uncool about 398 parodies ago, but I’ve gotta give mad props to the stank face and those hip glasses Psy is rocking. And the fact that Lasorda is the only person not standing–in fact, he looks downright terrified–just reinforces the theory that he is every person’s angry grandfather.

Psy Tommy

The Dodgers took this game against Colorado, the only one they’d win in the three-game series. Maybe Psy is good luck and should return more often!

“Oh, hell no!” – Tommy Lasorda

“Oh, hell yes! Give me more, give me more!” – Guy to Tommy’s right

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all your 2013 MLB news!

Toss-Up: Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez?

Giancarlo StantonAccording to MLBTradeRumors.com, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News has information that the New York Mets’ front office may be looking seriously at trying to swing a trade for either Miami Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton or Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies.

We don’t need to tell you that the Mets’ outfield is a mess (the two highest-paid outfielders on the team aren’t actually on the team), or what kind of impact either one of those bats would have on a young lineup struggling to keep pace with the monster of the NL East. But, that’s what we’re here for. So…

…it’s this writer’s opinion that trading for Stanton is the best hypothetical move for the Mets. I prefer Gonzalez as an all-around player, but he’s more expensive to maintain in the long run than the 23-year-old Stanton would be and allows them a lot less financial flexibility to bring in free agent replacements for the pitching staff.

Though the Mets front office has indicated they are willing to increase the payroll (contrary to popular belief, it is not so they can pay Bobby Bonilla even more interest), the 27-year-old Gonzalez would bring over a contract that owes him nearly $65 million over four years, whereas Stanton will be under team control through 2016.

But as Mets’ superfan and MLBFanCave Dweller Travis Miller (@AtTravisMiller) mentions: “I’d go with CarGo. Even though he’s a few years older, he’s a proven .300 hitter who can swipe bags, and is gold glove-caliber in the outfield. A 500-foot bomb is pretty to look at from time to time, but I’ll go with the five-tool player every single time.”

It’s a tough choice, knowing that either trade would likely cost the Mets their top two prospects in Zack Wheeler and Travis d’Arnaud, as well as a hefty financial investment. But the opportunity to improve the heart of the order and complement David Wright may be too good to pass up.

CarGo

Stanton brings massive home run potential and has been improving his batting average every year in the big leagues (career high .290 in 2012), but Gonzalez has won a batting title and two Gold Gloves, and sports an average slash line of .299/28/97 with about 25 steals.

Would CarGo struggle away from the thin air of Coors Field? Would Stanton continue to blossom into a premier all-around hitter? Nobody knows for sure, but it seems the Mets may be willing to pay in order to find out.

Vote in our poll below–who would be the better hypothetical pick up for the Mets? And comment with who YOU would prefer if your team was in the same situation.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for all of your 2013 MLB news!

Top 5 Moments of Opening Day

Opening DayThis is no April Fools prank: Baseball. Is. Back!

After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.

Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.

There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!

5. Justin Jacks One

Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.

4. Brewers Bailed Out

One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.

3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice

If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year. 

2. Stan the Man MUSIAL PATCH

The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.

1. Kershaw Goes Krazy

Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence  but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.

Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook! The best baseball coverage, coming at you from five different states and five different fan bases.

3U3D Break It Down: The N.L. West

On one hand, the San Francisco Giants are the defending world champions and can look forward to having a full season of Hunter Pence in the middle of their lineup. On the other hand, the Los Angeles Dodgers went out and spent about 500 Houston Astros to acquire the most powerful lineup in the league and add a second ace to the rotation. And don’t forget about the Arizona Diamondbacks, who this writer believes is a dark horse to win the West with a more balanced lineup and a ridiculously underrated pitching staff. Sorry Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres fans…your teams just won’t cut it this year. Let’s break down the N.L. West:

Predicted Order of Finish: Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies

A.J. Ellis, Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Mark Ellis

Why the Dodgers could win the N.L. West: There’s a difference between what the Yankees used to be hated for doing every off-season and what the Dodgers did this winter. Rather than just throwing the most money at every ego maniacal  overage player on the market, Los Angeles actually went out and acquired new corner infielders, a leadoff man, and a top of the rotation pitcher who they believed would mesh into an already-tight clubhouse and contribute on the field. Taking a chance on Carl Crawford might pay off huge for the Dodgers, who can use him as an invaluable trading chip at the deadline if he’s playing well (remember, Yasiel Puig should be nearly ready by then). With Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke at the top, it’s easy to overlook the fantastic spring from Hyun-Jin Ryu, too. But with a strong rotation, good bullpen and explosive lineup, a lot of things will have to go wrong for the Dodgers to not at least be in the hunt down the stretch.

Why the Dodgers wouldn’t win the N.L. West: I’m not buying into the whole “team chemistry” issue, and not just because I root for the team. The Dodgers in the preseason seem to have become a fraternity of sorts, without the cheap beer and piles of laundry. Anyway, there is something to be said for the injury history of key players on this team. The entire starting outfield has had recent issues, both middle infielders have encountered some bad luck lately, and three-fifths of the starting rotation either had problems throughout the 2012 season or during this spring. If the injury bug doesn’t hit Southern California, there is always the possibility that Greinke bombs and the Dodgers are left leaning on Kershaw as the lone stud pitcher, which could mean big time trouble.

SF Giants

Why the Giants could win the N.L. West: The Giants won the World Series last year, god forbid Angelo or I forget it. And they’ve been one of the models of consistency throughout the regular season over the last few years. It’s scary that this 2013 team, on paper, is their best in years. We know the pitching staff is dominant, even with Tim Lincecum struggling, and Sergio Romo anchors a very good bullpen. But the biggest reason you might see the Giants make another run at defending their division and world titles is because their offense is going to be MUCH better than people are expecting. Angel Pagan is in his prime, and we know what Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey and Pence can do in full seasons. Additionally, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford seem to be getting better with the bat every week.

Why the Giants wouldn’t win the N.L. West: At the rate the Dodgers improved their roster and the ease with which they gelled in spring, it might just be bad timing for the Giants. They could still be just as good or better than last year and miss out on the division title. But the two guys who could really end their dreams are the city’s newest hero and the city’s oldest. Lincecum looked awful again in the spring, and could cost the Giants in the long run–Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong are all either good or great pitchers, but nobody ever had the consistency that Lincecum had during his glory years. And Marco Scutaro is bound to come down to earth. As a 37-year-old middle infielder, chances are his .362 average with the Giants in 2012 drops back to around his career average of .275.

Diamondbacks

Why the Diamondbacks could win the N.L. West: As I mentioned in the intro, this is the most dangerous team in the league that nobody is talking about. When you have to send Tyler Skaggs, one of the better rookie performers of last season, to the bullpen because your rotation is already too stacked, you are pretty set for pitching. And the level of talent in the lineup can’t be understated. Miguel Montero, Paul Goldschmidt, and Martin Prado are all signed for the long run, and are complemented by a strong outfield group and a powerful second baseman in Aaron Hill. This team loves playing together and now that it cut out the cancer of Justin Upton, manager Kirk Gibson can take control and mold the team as he pleases.

Why the Diamondbacks wouldn’t win the N.L. West: Not only are the two teams that finished above Arizona last year improved, but questions do linger in the D’Backs starting rotation. As high-potential as it might be, you never know what you’re going to get from Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill, and Brandon McCarthy is always on the DL. Furthermore, how will the offense respond without long-time outfielders Chris Young and Upton no longer in the clubhouse or lineup? I have faith in Jason Kubel and new addition Cody Ross, but I’m not sure if either will be reliable enough over the course of an entire year.

Padres

Why the Padres could win the N.L. West: Because you never know. Who in their right mind would have thought the Orioles or A’s would have represented the American League in the playoffs last season? The Padres do have a scrappy team of mostly unknown players who proved they can play some good ball. Down the stretch in 2012, they played spoiler and looked like a legitimate dark horse playoff team. If they can carry some of that momentum over and get a full season out of closer Huston Street and slugger Carlos Quentin, San Diego will turn some heads. They have some solid young hitters like Yonder Alonso and Cameron Maybin who could completely turn around the team’s fortunes if they continue to progress, too.

Why the Padres wouldn’t win the N.L. West: They just don’t have enough. The pitching rotation is not deep and it’s very inexperienced. The bullpen has some fire, but it isn’t on par with the three teams ahead of them. And the facts that Yasmani Grandal will be suspended for 25 games and Chase Headley, far and away their best player, will be nursing an injury and start the season on the DL, make a death sentence. I truly think the Friars are close to contending (give it two more seasons), but this is a year they focus on building some of the young talent.

Dexter Fowler

Why the Rockies could win the N.L. West: Let’s put it this way: Most players in the Colorado lineup know how to hit baseballs very far. Last year, they were the most prolific offense in the National League, and they didn’t even have Troy Tulowitzki around, or Michael Cuddyer for much of the year. The fact that both of those guys will be back (at least to start the year) is a terrifying proposition for opposing pitchers. In 2012, the Rockies scored 758 runs and hit .274 without their two stars. Those numbers could go up, believe it or not, in 2013.

Why the Rockies wouldn’t win the N.L. West: Is it possible the Rockies score 10 runs per game? Sure! But if they give up 11, it doesn’t matter. The pitching staff, on the other end of the spectrum, was god awful. The worst in baseball by a comfortable margin. And the Rockies really didn’t do much to improve that particular aspect of the team over the winter. There is some promising young talent in the farm system, but nowhere near the level they need to be competitive. And even some of the best potential has been wasted once their fastballs start sailing through the thin Rocky Mountain air in Denver.

Awards Watch

N.L. MVP

Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez – Los Angeles Dodgers

Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval – San Francisco Giants

Martin Prado – Arizona Diamondbacks

Chase Headley – San Diego Padres

Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez – Colorado Rockies

Cy Young

Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers

Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants

Brandon McCarthy – Arizona Diamondbacks

Rookie of the Year

Hyun-Jin Ryu – Los Angeles Dodgers

Adam Eaton – Arizona Diamondbacks

Jedd Gyorko – San Diego Padres

So will the Dodgers steal the division away from the defending champs? Do the D’Backs sneak up and surprise everybody? Can Colorado or San Diego battle for the cellar or make spoiler runs? Comment below!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Ranking the World Baseball Classic Rosters

World-Baseball-Classic-2013In about six weeks, the World Baseball Classic will be upon us again and Team USA will look to win its first title in the competition’s history. They’ve got a good shot — manager Joe Torre released his roster on Thursday, and they are absolutely loaded.

Unfortunately for fans of Team USA, one glance at a few competing rosters will stop the celebration in its tracks. Can someone unseat two-time defending champions, Team Japan? Will Team USA improve upon their 4th-place finish in 2009?

We can’t predict the results down to the wire, but we’re here to do what we do best at Three Up, Three Down. We rank the rosters! So strap in, baseball fans, and see if your favorite team stands a chance:

**The “Stick to Soccer” Group**

Brazil hat wbc

#16: BRAZIL

Notable player(s): Barry Larkin, Manager (and Hall of Fame Reds SS)

International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Ranking: 20

Breakdown: Good thing for their dominance on the international soccer scene, because Brazil isn’t going anywhere in the Classic. Yan Gomes was the first Brazilian player to ever reach the big leagues, and the country itself only has 14 players signed to Major League contracts. How they will win: They won’t. Why they won’t: See “How they will win.”  

china wbc cap

#15: CHINA

Notable player(s): Bruce Chen, SP, Royals 

IBAF Ranking: 18

Breakdown: The Chinese baseball team is a decade away from being a serious contender, but they are headed in the right direction. They’ve made steady improvements over international tournaments since a decent showing at the 2009 WBC, in which they eliminated Chinese Taipei. How they will win: Hustle, starting pitching. Why they won’t: Not enough of either.

Spain wbc cap

#14: SPAIN

Notable player(s): Paco Rodriguez, RP, Dodgers/Engel Beltre, OF, Rangers

IBAF Ranking: 16

Breakdown: I’m not sure what to think about Spain. They lack star power, but did knock off Israel and South Africa in qualifiers. The roster is dotted with promising Major League prospects, but I don’t foresee Spain winning more than a game, maybe two in the WBC. How they will win: Breakout tourney from Beltre. Why they won’t: Their Pool C competition is stacked (Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic).

italy wbc cap

#13: ITALY

Notable player(s): Jason Grilli, RP, Pirates/Francisco Cervelli, C, Yankees/Nick Punto, IF, Dodgers/Anthony Rizzo, 1B, Cubs/Chris Denorfia, OF, Padres

IBAF Ranking: 9

Breakdown: Not only did we miss out on a Hall of Fame induction for Mike Piazza, but he won’t be participating on Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic either. Props to the Italians for back-to-back Euro Championships, but the competition is pretty weak over there right now. I think they will be humbled in the WBC. How they will win: Play with a chip on their shoulder. Why they won’t: Even the MLB-level hitters are thin.

kingdom of netherlands wbc cap

#12: KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS

Notable Player(s): Jair Jurrjens, SP, MLB Free Agent/Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox/Jurickson Profar, 2B, Rangers/Jonathan Schoop, 3B, Orioles/Andrelton Simmons, SS, Braves/Roger Bernadina, OF, Nationals/Andruw Jones, OF, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 7

Breakdown: The Dutch soccer team is one of my favorites to watch. And for the first time in recent memory, so will their baseball team. They just missed my “dark horse” cut, due to sheer overall talent of the rest of the field. But the Major League potential of some youngsters on this roster is extremely intriguing. They’ve won 20 of 32 Euro Championships ever played. How they will win: Infield of dreams breaks out. Why they won’t: Not all the youngsters will perform.

**The Dark Horses**

south korea wbc cap

#11: SOUTH KOREA

Notable player(s): Jae Seo, SP, former Met, Dodger, Ray in MLB

IBAF Ranking: 4

Breakdown: I feel ridiculous ranking Korea this low, considering their past successes in the WBC. But, it’s the third time this tournament has been played and each team has scouting on the opposition now. I don’t think South Korea will sneak up on anyone this time around. How they will win: High on-base percentage, good defense. Why they won’t: Too much good competition.

Australia-WBC-hat

#10: AUSTRALIA

Notable player(s): Peter Moylan, RP, Dodgers

IBAF Ranking: 10

Breakdown: There’s a handful of good Major League players (like A’s closer Grant Balfour) who hail from the land down under, but there isn’t a whole lot of MLB experience on this roster. Team Australia still has a shot at advancing, but they may have more trouble than in years past. How they will win: Pure grit. Why they won’t: Not enough runs, upstart opposition in Pool B.

canada wbc cap

#9: CANADA

Notable player(s): Jesse Crain, RP, White Sox/John Axford, RP, Brewers/Jameson Taillon, SP, Pirates/Russell Martin, C, Pirates/Brett Lawrie, 3B, Blue Jays/Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins

IBAF Ranking: 6

Breakdown: We all know that Canada produces some bona fide stars in MLB (Joey Votto, anyone?), but not all are present and accounted for on this roster, similar to Team Australia. They still have the talent to make a run with Lawrie, Morneau and Martin in the middle of the lineup though. How they will win: Dominant bullpen, good middle of the lineup. Why they won’t: Too much youth in the rotation.

taipei wbc cap

#8: CHINESE TAIPEI

Notable player(s): Chien-Ming Wang, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 5

Breakdown: There’s a reason that Team Chinese Taipei is a top-five ranked country right now. But their proudest current professional representative (Orioles pitcher Wei-Yin Chen) is not on the team yet. This team is still legit, and has a very winnable pool group. How they will win: Small ball. Why they won’t: Overall talent is lacking.

**The “Justtttt A Bit Outside” Group**

puerto rico wbc cap

#7: PUERTO RICO

Notable player(s): Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals/Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals/Angel Pagan, OF, Giants/Mike Aviles, IF, Indians/Javier Vasquez, SP, MLB Free Agent

IBAF Ranking: 12

Breakdown: There may be no more high-ceiling-yet-average team in the WBC this year. Team Puerto Rico has finished fifth at both tournaments preceding this, and killed Team USA in 2009 before being ousted by them two games later on a walk-off hit. Even with players such as Molina, Beltran and Pagan, they won’t even be favorites in their own pool. How they will win: The Major League talent they have is relentlessly good. Why they won’t: Lack of depth in the rotation.

mexico 2013 wbc cap

#6: MEXICO

Notable player(s): Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Dodgers/Luis Cruz, 3B, Dodgers/Yovani Gallardo, SP, Brewers/Danny Espinosa, 2B, Nationals/Sergio Romo, RP, Giants

IBAF Ranking: 11

Breakdown: In their pool, Team Mexico will have to deal with Team USA, but other than that they should be favored to top Team Canada and Team Italy to move on. They have a decent infield, top-of-the-line ace, and one of the best closers in baseball. How they will win: Adrian Gonzalez goes off, Gallardo is dominant. Why they won’t: Romo is neutralized unless they have a lead late.

cuba wbc cap

#5: CUBA

Notable player(s): None 

IBAF Ranking: 1

Breakdown: Don’t let the lack of notable players deceive you — this team is good. Really good. They have played in the IBAF World Cup 29 times and won 25 gold medals, finishing second the other four times. In the WBC, Team Cuba has finished second and fourth (which, at the time, was their lowest finish ever in international competition). They just can’t legally have players like Aroldis Chapman or Yoenis Cespedes on their squad, otherwise they might be even better. How they will win: Hard-throwing starters, handful of five-tool prospects. Why they won’t: The top four teams are just too stacked.

**The Favorites**

japan wbc hat

#4: JAPAN

Notable player(s): None

IBAF Ranking: 3

Breakdown: Again, don’t let the lack of Major League firepower fool you. Much like Cuba, Team Japan has been a hotbed for MLB stars over the years (Daisuke Matsuzaka, Yu Darvish). Even though none of them joined the fray in 2013, this team is stacked. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple of future MLB players come off this roster after good WBC performances. After all, they are two-for-two in WBC titles up to this point. How they will win: Ichiro-style on-base scavengers, deceptive pitching. Why they won’t: Not having Ichiro and Darvish, among others, will end up costing Team Japan.

dominican republic wbc hat

#3: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Notable player(s): Santiago Casilla, RP, Giants/Octavio Dotel, RP, Tigers/Alexi Ogando, RP, Rangers/Fernando Rodney, RP, Rays/Wandy Rodriguez, SP, Pirates/Edinson Volquez, SP, Reds/Carlos Santana, C, Indians/Adrian Beltre, 3B, Rangers/Robinson Cano, 2B, Yankees/Edwin Encarnacion, DH/OF, Blue Jays/Hanley Ramirez, IF, Dodgers/Jose Reyes, SS, Blue Jays/Nelson Cruz, OF, Rangers/Melky Cabrera, OF, Blue Jays

IBAF Ranking: 13

Breakdown: The only reason Team Dominica is ranked so low by the IBAF is because all those notable players are stars in the big leagues, and don’t regularly compete internationally for their country. But now that the WBC has rolled around again, this is one unbelievably good team. My only concern is their starting pitching depth. How they will win: Scoring 15 runs per game (no…really). Why they won’t: Like I said, starting pitching depth. Will Volquez and Rodriguez be enough?

USA wbc hat

#2: UNITED STATES

Notable player(s):  Jeremy Affeldt, RP, Giants/R.A. Dickey, SP, Blue Jays/Craig Kimbrel, RP, Braves/Kris Medlen, SP, Braves/Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants/Chris Perez, RP, Indians/Joe Mauer, C, Twins/Brandon Phillips, 2B, Reds/Jimmy Rollins, SS, Phillies/David Wright, 3B, Mets/Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees/Ryan Braun, OF, Brewers/Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Marlins/Adam Jones, OF, Orioles/Joe Torre, Manager

IBAF Ranking: 2

Breakdown: I didn’t even pick all the “notable players” I could have for this team. It’s Team USA’s equivalent of the MLB Dream Team, and Justin Verlander still is undecided as to whether he’ll join the rotation. This team is already a favorite with a balanced lineup and very strong pitching staff, but adding JV would be a coup. Check out fellow Three Up, Three Down host Bryan Mapes’ grades-by-position for Team USAHow they will win: Veteran experience, explosive pitching. Why they won’t: The bane of their existence, Team Japan, will come along eventually.

venezuela wbc cap

#1: VENEZUELA

Notable player(s): Anibal Sanchez, SP, Tigers/Felix Hernandez, SP, Mariners/Francisco Rodriguez, RP, MLB Free Agent/Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers/Miguel Montero, C, Diamondbacks/Salvador Perez, C, Royals/Elvis Andrus, SS, Rangers/Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians/Miguel Cabrera, 3B/1B, Tigers/Pablo Sandoval, 3B, Giants/Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants/Carols Gonzalez, OF, Rockies/Gerardo Parra, OF, Diamondbacks

IBAF Ranking: 8

Breakdown: The quantity of star power on Team Venezuela might not match up to Team USA or Team Dominica, but the quality is far and beyond. When you start your rotation with Hernandez and stack the middle of your lineup with the reigning Triple Crown winner between Gonzalez and Sandoval, you are a very, very scary team. Even though their WBC pool is very tough, it would be a momentous upset to not see Team Venezuela make moves in the 2013 tournament. How they will win: A large margin of victory. Against anyone. Why they won’t: Slumping hitters or being outplayed by one of the other favorites.

And that’s a wrap. This writer believes Team Venezuela is the team to beat, with Team USA, Team Dominica and Team Japan not far behind. But in all honesty, there are about 10-11 teams who could potentially take home the title in 2013. Root for your team and country to take home top honors, and stay tuned to Three Up, Three Down because we’ll have all your World Baseball Classic coverage.

Like what you see? Follow @3u3d on Twitter and like Three Up, Three Down on Facebook for more WBC and MLB news and analysis.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Everyone Loves Mike Aviles Edition

Less than two weeks after trading their manager John Farrell to the Boston Red Sox for Mike Aviles, the Toronto Blue Jays have turned and shipped Aviles off again, in return for some bullpen help.

As far as the hot stove is concerned, this move is luke warm; but when all is said and done in 2013, we could see the players involved paying big dividends for their new teams.

In what will undoubtedly be the trade with the coolest names involved this off-season, the Cleveland Indians are trying to add a little young punch to their lineup. Let’s break it down:

Indians Get:

C/IF/OF Yan Gomes

IF Mike Aviles

Blue Jays Get:

RP Esmil Rogers

Both Gomes and Aviles are right-handed hitters, something the Indians sorely lacked in 2012. Both are relatively young and promising, with the ability to play multiple positions. With the exception of pitching, you can pretty much cover the entire diamond defensively with Gomes and Aviles.

In Rogers, the Blue Jays get a promising, young, right-handed reliever to add to the ‘pen. With multiple starters going down with injuries in 2012, this blogger wonders if Rogers will get a shot to start a little bit in Toronto? In his second full season in Colorado, Rogers started 13 times – since then he’s been used strictly out of the ‘pen.

Last season with Cleveland, Rogers had the most impressive portion of his pro career. In 44 appearances, he held a 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and a nifty 4.5 K to BB ratio. Rogers struck out over a batter per inning, but his past performance is questionable.

For someone with as much talent as the 27-year-old Rogers, his career numbers don’t reflect what he’s capable of. In 185 innings as a reliever in Colorado, his ERA was nearly 7.00 and his WHIP hovered around 1.82. Then again, that’s in Colorado, where pitching stats go to die.

A quick glance at his home/road splits tell me that his numbers away from Coors Field were better, indicating that he may have been a victim of that crazy mountain air in Denver. I doubt Rogers will actually be considered for a set-up or closing role, but if he continues to improve in a normal atmosphere like he did in Cleveland, you never know.

The Indians land a couple young bats that I personally like a lot. Yan Gomes (pronounced: “Yawn”) is more than just an awesome name. He only got a taste in the bigs last year, compiling a .204 average with four home runs and 13 RBI in 98 at-bats for the Jays.

But, he started 24 games, appeared in 41, and split time at all the following positions: first base, catcher, third base, DH, and two outfield spots. He seems to be a good defender regardless of where he’s placed, and only made one error in 119 innings at first base.

Before being promoted, Gomes hit .328 with 13 homers and 59 RBI in 79 games at Triple-A, and tossed in a nice .380 on-base percentage to complement a .938 OPS. Clearly, the kid can hit. If the coaches in Cleveland can get him used to playing every day at the Major League level, they may have a very good player on their hands by the time he hits his prime.

We all know Aviles, too. He’s been around for five seasons now, and finished fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting as a Kansas City Royal back in 2008. Though he’s always been considered a role-playing utility man, his career average is .277 and he has started multiple games at shortstop, second base, and third base.

Even though Aviles is likely in Cleveland to play that utility role again, he can provide some pop and is a guy that plays the game the right way. Personally, I’m a big fan of Aviles and think he’s a very good spark guy, much in the mold of Nick Punto or David Eckstein.

It’s a tough call, but I think I’m going to give the slight edge to the Indians in this trade, because they acquired two bats that can make immediate impacts. While Rogers has all the tools to become a good bullpen arm in Toronto, it remains to be seen if he can continue to improve.

If you like hot stoves, and we don’t mean the ones you cook on, follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)