So, that was not very pleasant for me. I mean, it stinks to not go through on a 2-1 record. It also kind of stinks to (partially) get beaten by the behind-the-scenes brilliance of Ryan Sadowski...but, it's true, we lost to the Netherlands, and it was totally fair. But now who do I root for? Let's look at my options:
These teams have lots of people we've already heard of! Which actually makes this preview kind of useless, but whatever.
Pools C is Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Spain, while Pool D is USA, Mexico, Italy, and Canada
Venezuela will have awesome hitting. Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Pablo Sandoval, etc. etc. Also, Miguel Montero and Salvador Perez catching is impressive. The pitching will be sketchier. On the other hand, "The pitching will be sketchier" could also be the tagline for this year's WBC.Venezuela also has former Red Ramons: Hernandez and Ramirez. And yes, I did check - this is our Ramon Ramirez, and not that other Ramon Ramirez.
Puerto Rico is like quite a few WBC teams in that it features a few pretty good MLB players, and the roster is filled out by capable minor leaguers - whether up and coming prospects, and organizational warriors. Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran are probably the biggest names here, accompanied by Mike Aviles, Angel Pagan, and Alex Rios. PR also has maybe the youngest player - Jose Barrios, the 32nd draft pick of 2012 - he's just 18.
Not having Johnny Cueto does make a big difference to the DR, as like everyone, they need more pitching. But, hey look, it's our good friend Alfredo Simon! And our old friend, Edinson Volquez. And our other old friend, Edwin Encarnacion! Yaaay! Oh, look, and Carlos Santana, Robinson Cano.
I didn't think that Spain looked particularly impressive at the Qualifier, but they won, so they'll do pretty much ok. Their team is a largely similar to that qualifier team. Very few of these players were born in Spain, incidentally, but that's cool. The Reds' Chris Manno will also be joining them - the former Duke closer who we got from the Nationals in the Johnny Gomes trade.
USA! USA! USA! USA! Maybe I will just root for the States this year. Tommy LaSorda finally got to me. Not that I agree with the idea that the US has to win, or that it's embarrassing that the US hasn't won it all yet. We've done pretty well thus far, and I don't think we have anything to prove. Plus, this year, we have awesome lineup + R.A. Dickey. I like it. I like it a lot. Plus, the Reds have Brandon Phillips on the team. And former Reds pitcher Jeremy Affeldt! Hurrah!
Sadly, the Hairston brothers will not be with Team Mexico in 2013. But the Gonzalez brothers will. And they (ok, one of them) are a little bit better. Also, Karim Garcia will be back, which is just right. I don't care, Karim Garcia should play for Team Mexico in the next 10 WBCs. Also on the roster is former Red, Jorge...uh, Jorge - oh, I can't remember his name.
Remember when Italy beat Canada in 2009? That was fun. Thanks, Chris Cooper, who has since been playing for Grosseto in the Italian Baseball League, Dan Serafini (former Red!) and Jason Grilli, who mysteriously got super good last year. You might also recognize the names Chris Denorfia, Tim Crabbe, and Luca Panerati. If you don't actually recognize the name Luca Panerati, it's ok - he used to pitch in the Reds systems, but never moved above Dayton.
Joey Votto! Joey Votto! That's almost enough to make Team Canada my new team going forward. I'm not sure that this year's Canada doesn't look a little worse than in 2009 (other than Joey Votto, of course), but hey, whatever. Jameson Taillon, a top Pirates pitching prospect, will definitely be worth watching, though.
So that's it! Who are you rooting for? How much do you hate the WBC? Is Dennys Reyes really only 35? Should the US...have a break-dancing competition with three-toed sloths?