Tagged: Cuba

World Baseball Classic Fantasy Baseball: Pool A/B Round Two

We couldn’t just stop with the opening round of pools C and D!  Jeremy and Mapes of course had to delve into the 2nd round of pools A and B.  It will give Mapes something more to root for than just saying the word “honkbal” over and over and over.  The first WBC fantasy draft and rules can be found here.

There are only four teams in this round two so the rules change to where we need at least two players from every team and a maximum of four from each team.  The same positions and point scoring system applies!  We’re choosing from Cuba, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and the Royal Kingdom of the Netherlands.  Jeremy had the first pick in the pools C and D draft so, Mapes will take the opening pick in this draft Let’s roll!

Screen Shot 2013-03-06 at 10.59.27 PMPick #1 – Team Mapes: Jose Abreu, 1B (Cuba)

Cuban.  Barry.  Bonds.  Let’s just move on.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.17.59 AM

Pick #2 – Team Jeremy: Shinnosuke Abe, C (Japan)

Did you really have to go the “Barry Bonds” route? Why not the Cuban Babe Ruth? In any case, this guy is the Japanese Buster Posey. No, seriously. He won MVP on the champion team, named the Giants. And he’s just as good with the bat, better with the glove.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.19.49 AM

Pick #3 – Team Jeremy: Alfredo Despaigne, OF (Cuba)

What more do you want? This guy has a 1.636 OPS in the World Baseball Classic so far, which was capped off by an absolute monster three-run homer against Japan in the opening round. Despaigne is en FUEGO right now.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.22.03 AM

Pick #4 – Team Mapes: Chien-Ming Wang, SP (Chinese Taipei)

I really loved what I saw from Wang in his first start of the WBC.  His sinker ball was really working and I expect him to go for a full six innings and contend for a win in this round.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.23.02 AM

Pick #5 – Team Jeremy: Danny Betancourt, SP (Cuba)

My team will be stocked full of Cubans. There’s good reason. Yes, these guys can mash on offense, but if you watched Danny Betancourt’s first round performance (eight strikeouts, by the way), you know this dude is straight filth.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.26.56 AM

Pick #6 – Team Mapes: Andrelton Simmons, SS (Netherlands)

Homer pick!  I wasn’t letting Simba get away from me with my love of the Braves.  He hit over .300 in the first round, plus gets plenty of at-bats atop the Dutch lineup.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.29.24 AM

Pick #7 – Team Jeremy: Diegomar Markwell, SP (Netherlands)

Depending on Markwell’s matchup in the quarterfinals, this could come back to haunt me. But he was downright nasty in the first game of the tournament against a powerful Korea team, so I’m hopeful he’ll score me some big points.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.31.27 AM

Pick #8 – Team Mapes: Jose Fernandez, 2B (Cuba)

I wanted to ensure that I was strong up the middle and also take as much of Cuba’s powerhouse lineup.  I’m doubling down on those with Fernandez, who led Pool A and B in the first round with a .625 batting average.  I hope it carries over to round two.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.32.47 AM

Pick #9 – Team Jeremy: Yoshio Itoi, OF (Japan)

Itoi had a big first round, hitting .300 with four RBI and two stolen bases. He has a unique blend of speed, power and contact hitting abilities, which I hope he will continue to ride into round two for my team.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.36.44 AMPick #10 – Team Mapes: Dai-Kang Yang, OF (Chinese Taipei)

I thought about going symmetry and taking the other “Ching-Ming” on Chinese Taipei, but instead I’ll go with Dai-Kang Yang who played in all three games for Chinese Taipei.  He led the team in total bases in round one, which is what I need to rack up points!

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.39.36 AM

Pick #11 – Team Jeremy: Frederich Cepeda, OF (Cuba)

My outfield is just unfair. Itoi, Despaigne, and now the latter’s Cuban teammate, Cepeda. He tied for the team lead with 9 total bases in their first three games, including two doubles and a triple. The .500 batting average and .615 on-base percentage sealed the deal for me, though.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.35.50 AM

Pick #12 – Team Mapes: Kazuhisa Makita, RP (Japan)

Can’t resist a submarine-throwing closer.  Just can’t do it.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.42.57 AM

Pick #13 – Team Jeremy: Loek Van Mil, RP (Netherlands)

This picture is not photoshopped. Van Mil is 7’1″ and comes at the hitters from seemingly inches away. He got the job done for the Netherlands in the first round, and I expect him to close out any games that they lead in round two.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.45.02 AM

Pick #14 – Team Mapes: Hung-Wen Chen, RP (Chinese Taipei)

I needed to grab another reliever, with Van Mil gone and my strategy of only grabbing Cuban offensive players, that leaves me with Hung-Wen Chen who picked up a save in round one.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.45.54 AM

Pick #15 – Team Jeremy: Curt Smith, 1B (Netherlands)

I think this is a big sleeper pick. I love this guy filling in at first base. If there’s one player who was unknown among other big names on this team’s roster, it was Smith. He only had seven at-bats in the first three games (thanks to four walks), but hit .286 in that span.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.03.27 AM

Pick #16 – Team Mapes: Yulieski Gourriel, 3B (Cuba)

I know, I know.  Gourriel went 1 for 13 in round one, but he still hits in the heart of the Cuban lineup.  I’ll gladly take his upside, when I need a third baseman anyway this late!

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.56.49 AM

Pick #17 – Team Jeremy: Xander Bogaerts, 3B (Netherlands)

You can have your Cuban missile launcher, I’ll take my all-around stud in Red Sox top prospect Bogaerts. If defense counted, he’d be even more valuable. But so far with the bat, Bogaerts has been relatively quiet. That won’t last long for the career .296 minor league hitter. I hope he breaks out when he’s on my team.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.49.08 AM

Pick #18- Team Mapes: Hisayoshi Chono, OF (Japan)

This is where I panicked, but I like Chono’s upside.  I think he bounces back after hitting .200 in round one, but will get all the time in left field for team Japan.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.58.45 AM

Pick #19 – Team Jeremy: Chih-Sheng Lin, SS (Chinese Taipei)

At this point, I’m still in need of two Chinese Taipei representatives. With middle infield to fill, I looked at Lin to provide some offensive pop for my team. He hit .300 in the first round, and also got on base quite frequently (.417 OBP).

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.52.12 AM

Pick #20 – Team Mapes: Andruw Jones, OF (Netherlands)

My other Braves homer pick!  I love that Netherlands has control of Curacao so they can use Simmons and Jones in the WBC.  I can’t resist not having a player I grew up watching in Atlanta on my team and he was even pretty good in round one.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.50.52 AM

Pick #21 – Team Jeremy: Alexei Bell, OF/Util (Cuba)

With my utility pick, I had to go back to the bats of Cuba. I could have closed my eyes and picked any of the hitters, but I settled with Bell because I still can’t get his ridiculous homer the other night out of my memory. Hopefully there’s more where that came from.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.47.44 AM

Pick #22 – Team Mapes: Erisbel Arruebarruena, SS/Util (Cuba)

The guy can hit and I really just took him so I would have more reason to learn how to pronounce his last name.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.02.12 AM
Pick #23 – Team Jeremy: Tadashi Settsu, RP (Japan)

I ruled out the Cuban closer by selecting Bell with my previous pick, but that’s all fine and dandy. I don’t know if Settsu will get me any saves, but he did lock down one of Japan’s two wins in round one. He’s unhittable and could score me a few sneaky points.

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.54.35 AM

Pick #24 – Team Mapes: Dashenko Ricardo, C (Netherlands)

Well I have to take a catcher and Ricardo hit .400 in round one.  Honk if you love honkbal!

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 12.57.55 AM

Pick #25 – Team Jeremy: Yen-Wen Kuo, 2B (Chinese Taipei)

Well, I wasn’t going to leave his double play partner alone on my roster! I fill out the team with a necessary pick of the Taipei second baseman, and can’t complain about his .333 average in round one!

Screen Shot 2013-03-07 at 1.01.03 AM

Pick #26 – Team Mapes: Masahiro Tanaka, SP (Japan)

With Jeremy taking his starting pitchers super early it let me take my choice of Japanese starters to round out my team.  I like Tanaka’s upside, even though Kenta Maeda had the better numbers for Japan in round one.  Plus, this opens me up to plenty of “you have no marbles” jokes like Tanaka from Major League 2.

Now all four pools are represented, even if we showed up a bit late to the party (Can you blame us? We’re still waiting for Jose Abreu’s home run ball to land, okay?). We have our teams and will let fate dictate this the rest of the way. Follow along with us on Twitter at the tags below, and don’t forget to vote for who you think has the best team below!

– Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes) & 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)