Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Team Building 1999

Business hours are over, bay-beeehh-heyyyy

I know the corpse is still warm, and I understand the number of available, competent bodies that are both willing AND able bodies was pretty low. But any team that knows it has pitching problems; knows that getting outs is going to be more difficult than creating runs must put a little bit of thought into fielding a better defensive club.

Sure, this is a short tournament in which anything can happen. But the little Italian club that could put the value of defensive on display. No team that trots Matt Stairs out in right field and Jason Bay out in center has defense in mind. The alternatives might have been few, but did Matt Stairs's bat really bring that much to the table?

The whole "we'll out slug them and win every game 11-10" went out in, oh, 1999 didn't it? One need only look at the 2006 US squad in this very tournament to realize building a "team" is paramount to lining sluggers from post to post. This year's edition of Team America featured Shane Victorino in right and Curtis Granderson in center at the close of the opening game. Sluggers they are not, but (all together now) speed doesn't slump. Hell, consider the lengths "dream teams" like USA Basketball and Hockey Canada have gone to ensure a balanced team (hello Tyson Chandler, Bruce Bowen, and Chris fucking Draper.)

Obviously I'm taking this a little far. Most of tonight's hits fell into holes that no fielder could close up. Never the less, the contrast between the two teams was too great to go unnoticed. Second guessing Ernie Whitt is easy because he looks go desperately overmatched, hopefully Baseball Canada will take a more complete approach to building their team next time rather than filling the roster with enough recognizable names to facilitate ticket sales. The sea of blue seats told me that didn't work long before the scoreboard did.


  1. Defence: One of the best reasons why the Jays need to keep Scott Rolen.

    Still can't believe we're out. And at the hands of Italy no less. I was hoping I'd wake up this morning and it would all be an alcohol-induced nightmare. No dice.

    What a waste of WBC tickets.

  2. No matter how it played out, live baseball in March is better than tanktastic hockey. By a lot.

  3. Touche. I'm just glad that I had the chance to watch live baseball (on TV) at the Rogers Centre in March. 2013, here we come baby!

  4. "Defense gets girls" = new best tag ever?

    Or does "we're fucked" still claim that title?

  5. I was thinking of a slogan for our defensive leanings a couple weekends ago. "Forget chicks, pitchers dig defense" was my favourite.

  6. Lyle Overbay once told me "chicks dig digs"

  7. I have to disagree.

    While it's true that America has Granderson and Victorino in the outfield at the end of the game, it was only after they'd built a lead with the bats of iron-gloved Ryan Braun and Adam Dunn patrolling the corners of the Rogers Centre.

    I'd've loved the Canadians to roll out a more defensive lineup as well, but who specifically are you talking about? There just isn't enough depth for that to be feasible.

    I love defence as much as the next, but there's not a player you can name that I would've put into that lineup over Martin-Votto-Morneau-Bay-Stairs.

    Ok, maybe Stairs, but the only guy on the bench that could've filled would have been Adam Stern. I'll take an MLB-quality hitter fresh off winning a World Series over a never-was that struggled to hit .220 in the minors.

  8. You are certainly correct in some respects, mostly as it relates to Canada's bare cupboard of options. The American team certainly didn't have the pitching concerns that Canada did, most notably in their well assembled bullpen of major league relievers.

    Just last night I made a note on Walkoff Walk about the tough task ahead of Victorino in that large ballpark with those two fielders in the corners. Then, with the game still very much in doubt, Braun and Dunn gave bases and runs away on subsequent plays. Contrasting them with the PR team with Beltran, Rios, and a warm body in left was pretty striking.

    There was no reason for Stairs to be out there, especially against Italy. I don't have a problem with Stern in center if it moves Bay to a corner and Stairs, a guy notorious for his lack of off season training, to the bench.

  9. You're right for sure about Stairsy against the Italians. Bay is a much improved option in the corner and Stern could have at worst provided a spark and some baserunning ability to Stairs' spot in the lineup. At the very least, with his performance in the last WBC, he deserved the chance to field a few innings in centre.


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