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Team USA

I am proud to say that I have not, and will not, watch a minute of the Winter Olympics.  All the more so because the Olympics people have banished baseball entirely.

As I've said before in my comments about the Ben Sheets/WBC situation, I'm not thrilled about the World Baseball Classic, but the Team USA roster might sway me.  No Brewers on the team, but...holy cow.  Even without Ben Sheets (who remains an alternate), the starting rotation figures to be Clemens, Dontrelle Willis, Jake Peavy, and CC Sabathia.

But that's just the beginning.  Much has been made of the WBC pitch count limits, which means--especially in earlier rounds--that bullpens will be important.  So how does Team USA shape up?  If I were managing, I'd probably give Billy Wagner the 9th, Brad Lidge the 8th, Joe Nathan the 7th, Huston Street the 6th, and Chad Cordero the 5th.  That leaves Brian Fuentes as your lefty specialist, Scot Shields your long man, and Todd Jones, Mike Timlin and Dan Wheeler on the team for no discernible reason.  I feel sorry for Carlos Lee and Corey Koskie, who may have to face that juggernaut.

Similarly impressive is the infield.  It's no wonder Billy Hall didn't make the cut--in fact, it's a wonder he was even on the 60-man version.  Derrek Lee and Mark Teixeira at first, Chase Utley at second, Jeter and Mike Young and short, A-Rod and Chipper at third.  If the entire outfield came down with food poisoning, just move Jeter into CF and Chipper and Tex into the corners and you've still got an all-star team.  

The outfield is relatively weak: some combination of Damon, Francoeur, Griffey, Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells, and Randy Winn.  As Dave Pinto points out, Team USA might be better off putting Jeter and Chipper in the outfield rather than letting a couple of the all-star infielders sit on the bench.

As competitive baseball goes, this won't be very interesting until Team USA plays Team DR.  But wow--this is better than the all-star game.  Yeah, Brian Schneider is there as a third-string catcher, but the normal Tampa-Bay-had-to-have-a-rep All-Star Game roster filler just isn't here.  I'll be watching.

In the meantime, I think I might run a few simulations of Team USA vs. Team DR.  As artificial as it all is, imagine: the WBC finals pitting Pedro Martinez against Roger Clemens.  It could happen, and that's a heck of a drama, whether it's a ridiculous media concoction or not.