A-Rod and the D. Rep batting lineup

Las Vegas is currently welcoming GMs, agents, players and hordes of reporters ready to begin this week’s Winter Meetings.  Most of the attention will be devoted to free agents and possible trades, all looking ahead to how each team will shape up for the 2009 MLB season. 

But before another marathon MLB campaign is launched, the World Baseball Classic (WBC) will dazzle and delight during March.  Yesterday’s announcement that Alex Rodriguez will be representing the Dominican Republic in the tournament has only increased the excitement surrounding the event. 

A-Rod’s decision makes an already fearsome Dominican Republic batting lineup look even more ridiculous.  Back in 2006, his about-turn (first he was playing for the D.R., then for no one, then finally for the U.S.) initially meant that the Cubs’ Aramis Ramirez was handed the third base spot, only for him to withdraw as well.  This left the hot corner open for Adrian Beltre, who promptly smashed four homers and drove in nine runs over six games (the highest totals in both categories for all third baseman in the tournament) while hitting .300/.391/.900. 

Not bad for your third choice.

If you plug A-Rod into third base, with Ramirez, Beltre and the Phillies’ Pedro Felix next in line, you can start to build something special.

First base would ideally go to Albert Pujols.  His recovery from elbow surgery could put his place in doubt (the Cardinals clearly won’t want him to participate unless he is back near 100%), but the Rays’ Carlos Pena isn’t too shoddy a substitute if the reigning NL MVP can’t make it.  David Ortiz will of course be DH-ing once again.

Placido Polanco manned second base for the Dominican Republic back in 2006, although there is talk that he might sit the event out in ’09.  Robinson Cano is the most likely player to take over.  He had a miserable season in ’08 and perhaps joining up with his countrymen, taking a bit of a break from the media attention at the Yankees’ Spring Training camp, could be exactly what he needs to help him bounce back?

Miguel Tejada led the team from shortstop last time and he will be in the running to do so again.  From a pure performance standpoint, either Jose Reyes or Hanley Ramirez should start instead and that’s certainly the way I would go. 

The catching position is the relatively weak point on the roster with only MLB back-ups to choose from such as Ronny Paulino and Miguel Olivo. 

The outfield could be a real upgrade over the roster from 2006.  The position holders then (generally Moises Alou in left, Willy Taveras in centre, and either Juan Encarnacion or Willy Mo Pena in right) didn’t strike fear into the opposing pitchers in the way that the infield did.  Vladimir Guerrero had to withdraw just before the tournament due to a family bereavement and Manny Ramirez eventually decided to stay with the Red Sox (how things change!). 

With Alfonso Soriano now firmly in the outfield rather than butchering balls at second base, you’ve potentially got three lethal weapons to select if Guerrero and Ramirez join in this time around alongside a few other candidates like Jose Guillen and the Twins’ Carlos Gomez (who could either start in centre or be a great impact player coming off the bench).  Much as I would love to see an outfield of Manny, Soriano and Bad Vlad, the pitching staff might not be so enamoured by the idea (‘you score ten, we’ll score fifteen’ sounds like a good plan to me).  However, there has also got to be some doubt as to whether Ramirez, newly signed to a lucrative multi-year deal, would actually turn up.

So, here’s the lineup I would go with:

1. Jose Reyes (SS) – S

2. Robinson Cano (2B) – L

3. Albert Pujols (1B) – R

4. Alex Rodriguez (3B) – R

5. David Ortiz (DH) – L

6. Vladimir Guerrero (RF) – R

7. Alfonso Soriano (LF) – R

8. Carlos Gomez (CF) – R

9. Miguel Olivo (C) – R

This on the assumption that Manny doesn’t take part.  I’ve put Gomez in at eight to put some speed in front of Olivo so that he can bunt him over or benefit from some Carlos-inspired havoc on the bases.  It’s a little right-heavy, so I’ve moved Ortiz down to fifth rather than hit him between Pujols and A-Rod (perhaps Gomez should lead off with the switch-hitting Reyes at eight?).  Options off the bench would include Hanley Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Aramis Ramirez and Jose Guillen.

I think we have ourselves a new ‘Murderers Row’.

As for the pitching staff, the probable pitch-limit may make manager Stan Javier shuffle things around, but he’s got some quality young arms to work with in Edinson Volquez, Johnny Cueto, Fausto Carmona, Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Marmol.  I’m not sure how close they’re going to need to keep the score, but they’ll be tough to hit against anyway.

No doubt there are other names I could have included.  The potential roster really drives home how many great players the Dominican Republic produces.  The other fifteen teams have a big fight on their hands if they are going to stop them from winning the title, after falling at the semi-final stage to Cuba in 2006.  Mind you, several of them who can put together an All-Star calibre lineup as well. 

One thing’s for sure: the 2009 WBC is going to be a fantastic event

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6 Responses to A-Rod and the D. Rep batting lineup

  1. Joe Cooter December 7, 2008 at 1:01 pm #

    Here’s the thing with Arod, I am not exactly sure where he is mentally at this point. He seems to be confused, and I’m not so sure that events in his personal life haven’t effected his performance on the field. He has become a man who is Hated on both sides of the Atlantic, especially if your name is Guy Ritchie.

    I will not make this rant about Madonna, Guy Ritch, Lenny Kravitz or anyone else involved in last summers tabliod gossip. Infact, I really don’t care about his personal life at all, except when it starts to affect his performance on the field and the team he plays for. Although it can not be proven that his affair with Madonna and the press it has garned affected the Yankees performance last season, it can not be said that it helped either.

    As a Yankees fan, I want to see my team do well on the field. I have seen what has happened when my club has had to deal with off the field distractions. In the past, this was mostly due to the meddalsome efforts of an owner who was so driven to win, that he really didn’t think about the long term success of the franchise. Choas also developed because of the Ego’s of players and managers such as Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson and Thurman Munson. There was a reason it was called the Bronx Zoo. In the short term, the Yankees were able to achieve great success, but ultimately the choas in the clubhouse wore them down and soon nobody wanted to play in New York.

    In the ’90’s the team was revived thanks in part to a business like attitude in the clubhouse. There were no big ego’s in the clubhouse and that helped us win 4 World Series and Six Pennants in Eight years. Those teams had strong leadership and to a certain degree that all changed when Arod was aquired in 2004.

    For much of the past few years, there have been rumors that Arod and Derek Jeter haven’t been seeing eye to eye. Bad blood has existed between them since the summer of 2000 when Arod criticised Jeter in an article which appeared in GQ. I don’t believe the rift has completely heel, and this has affected the chemistry of the Yankees. We’ve only won one playoff series since aquiring him. And being that New York is a what have you done for me lately town, a lot of people have gotten on Arod’s case for his post season failures. Arods tendency to press has been largely criticised by members of the media. However, it is not all his falt as Jeter and Posada have been equally bad if not worse over this same stretch.

    I don’t know how this is going to end, but part of me doesn’t believe Arod will hang around to finish out the remaining 9 years of his contract. I believe that, to some extent he is unhappy playing baseball and has becomed disillusioned with celebrity. This could be why he chose to leave his wife Cynthia and start dating Madonna. This could be why he’s started studying Kaballah. At some point, I can easily see Alex retiring from baseball and travelling to Isreal to study biblical archealogy as he searches for a greater spiritual meaning.

  2. Joe Cooter December 7, 2008 at 1:09 pm #

    Here is an article about Alex Rodregez that appeared on Yahoo Sports yesterday.

    http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AhVHTea4dolsu6SznHNVkW0RvLYF?slug=jp-arodwbc120408&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

  3. Matt Smith December 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm #

    A-Rod’s certainly a complex character. Peter Gammons wrote an excellent blog post today on ESPN.com about how the Sizemore’s, Mauers’, David Wright’s and Jeter’s seem to be comfortable with themselves but the Bonds’, Clemens’ and A-Rod’s have seemed to struggle with the weight of being themselves (or the image they think they should portray).

    As Gammons writes:
    “Alex is a very nice person. He’s a great baseball player. It’s hard to imagine that anyone has ever seen him fail to hustle.

    But apparently it isn’t enough. He has to be Brad Pitt, a Hollywood star rather than Alex Rodriguez, forever seeking approval and attention above and beyond the attention and approval for doing all he does so well”.

  4. Joe Cooter December 7, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    It’s really a shame, I think that is the reason why he’s gonna of with Madonna. And allegedly started studying, then quiting Kaballah.

  5. DJ December 12, 2008 at 7:46 am #

    Great post. A few updates. First, Felipe Alou will manage the team, not Stan Javier. (Javier is the general manager.) Second, the L.A. Angels are now warning that Vlad likely won’t be 100% healthy by springtime, which means they won’t let him go to the Classic. That would have to be heartbreaking for Vladimir, who missed the first WBC because of a tragedy in his family. He might not ever get to represent his country now…

  6. Matt Smith December 12, 2008 at 5:33 pm #

    Thanks for the clarification DJ. It would be a real shame if Vlad missed out again. You could understand the Angels’ position, they are paying him $15m in ’09 and won’t want to jeopardize his season by rushing him back for the D Rep. Hopefuly he recovers quickly enough to take part.

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