Friday, October 29, 2010
Positional Review: Team Canada
I'm a HUGE fan of the World Baseball Classic (WBC.) I was when they started it, and even more so after I attended the Team Canada loss to the USA at The Rogers Dome. Nationalism and sports seem to be made for each other, and I can't wait for the next one.
That said, I thought that since Jays news is a bit slow (Save for the re-signing of Jose Molina) that I'd take a look at who might be playing for Team Canada at the next WBC.
1B/DH: Who wouldn't want to start here? First base is quickly becoming a position of Canadian Baseball pride. Already with one MVP in Justin Morneau, Joey Votto added his name to the list of stand-out Canadian first-baggers. Hopefully Morneau can get past his concussion issues next year, and play himself into form. Whichever of these two is playing better defensively will start in the field, and the other will likely DH.(Although Votto has some experience in LF, but I doubt that the Reds will risk injury to their MVP candidate) Not only are these guys established all-stars, but they are both young enough that Prospects don't necessarily need to be considered. Of interest however, is that the Blue Jays sent Adam Loewen to the Arizona Fall League to work on playing 1B. Scott Thorman also regained some of his form with the Omaha Red Birds this year, batting .297 with 19 HRs in only 97 games. He could work his way back to the Majors soon, although he was also listed in the Team Canada World Cup Media Guide as an Outfielder. I'll consider him in both roles.
C: Russell Martin is still the incumbent, despite his recent struggles. He is a 2 time all-star, and favorite Joe Torre-Catching-pin-cushion. He calls a good game, and is the premier name as far as Canadian catchers.
It will be interesting to see how the position battle emerges though, as behind Martin, there is a plethora of Catchers in baseball: George Kottaras lost his eligibility when he played for Greece at the most recent Olympics. Max St. Pierre was recently granted a September call-up by the Tigers, as was Mike Nickeas with the Mets. Chris Robinson (Texas Rangers AAA) and Cole Armstrong (White Sox AA) represented Team Canada at the most recent Baseball World Cup, so that may earn them some brownie points. And I still haven't mentioned Kellin Deglan, who was drafted by the Rangers in the first round this year, and will begin playing affiliated ball next season. He could rise quickly through the rankings here depending on his play. Definitely one to watch for the 2015 team.
2B: I'm going to go out on a limb here, and say that as long as he's healthy when the 2012 WBC rolls around, this position belongs to Brett Lawrie. Lawrie will likely make his Brewers debut sometime next season, and although his defence is suspect at this point, his bat will more than make up the difference. He will likely be a household name by the end of next season.
The only other player with any time in the majors is Pete Orr (Syracuse AAA) He's been a minor-league journeyman. The team could also try to talk Stubby Clapp out of retirement.
SS: If you thought that second base was thin, SS will give you a heart murmer. There is very little available Canadian talent available at this position as things stand now. Cale Iorg is likely eligible for the WBC, as he was born in Toronto while his dad played here. He would have to be the top of the depth chart at this point.
Chris Barnwell was the starter in the last WBC, so he'd presumably still be in contention. Other notables would include Jonathan Malo and Emanuele Garcia, botho of whom play in the Mets system. Malo logged some time at AAA this year, but has mostly been shifted to 2nd base.
3B: Mark Teahen of the Chicago White Sox is somehow connected to Canada. Being the incumbent, and the lone major leaguer, he would likely get the nod.
His competition could come from Lawrie, if his defense was considered a liability, or from Shawn Bowman (Blue Jays AA) There's not much in the pipe line for Maple-fed third basemen, so unless someone moves from another position, this is likely it.
OF: The Outfield for team Canada looks VERY promising. There is a large amount of talent to draw from. CF will likely be manned by Michael Saunders. He's young and athletic enough to not be a liability there. Adam Stern would be a better defender, but his bat is less potent at this point. Stern would likely be a 4th OF, and could come in for late game defense. Jason Bay is obviously the big house hold name of the bunch, and he would need to play Left. Right field could go to whoever is hottest/healthiest going into the tournament. Team Canada could choose from: Nick Weglarz (Akron AA, a top prospect for the Indians), Adam Loewen, Scott Thorman, Rene Tosoni (Futures game MVP 2009, top prospect Minnesota) If Tyson Gillies (Reading AA- Phillies prospect) can get his legal problems behind him and realize his potential, he could play RF or CF. He has the talent for either. Marcus Knect and Dylan Pompey are both in the Jays system, and if the play well, could move up quickly.
I'll follow up in the next few days with a profile of Team Canada's potential pitching staff.