World Baseball Classic rosters announced for all countries

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All of the rosters for the World Baseball Classic have been released. They are subject to change, but they can all be read here by clicking on each country’s flag.  The highlights, per MLB’s press release:

Venezuela’s roster currently features 11 All-Stars, including Triple Crown-winning 2012 A.L. MVP Miguel Cabrera, 2012 World Series Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet Pablo Sandoval, 2010 A.L. Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and 2012 N.L. All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.  The Dominican Republic’s roster is highlighted by 10 All-Stars, including infielders Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and 2002 A.L. MVP Miguel Tejada.  Also participating is 2006 A.L. MVP Justin Morneau of Canada.

Seven-time All-Star Carlos Beltran and two-time World Series Champion Yadier Molina, both of Team Puerto Rico, will participate in their third World Baseball Classic.  Another third-time participant is Adrian Gonzalez of Team Mexico, which will have All-Star right-hander Yovani Gallardo.  Free agent right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will represent Chinese Taipei for the first time in the World Baseball Classic, while left-hander Bruce Chen will become the first Major Leaguer to represent China in the event.

So I guess Bruce Chen got his grandparents’ Chinese birth certificate issue figured out.

The WBC begins March 2 and goes through March 19. The pools:

  • Pool A:  Brazil, China, Cuba and Japan, playing at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome
  • Pool B: Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands, playing at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan
  • Pool C: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela, playing at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Pool D: Canada, Italy, Mexico and the United States, playing at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in ArizonaSalt River Fields at Talking Stick in Arizona.

The First Round will feature a round-robin format with the top two teams at each venue advancing to one of two Second Round pools. The Second Round, which will be a modified double-elimination format, will be played at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan and Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The Championship Round at AT&T Park in San Francisco from Sunday, March 17th–Tuesday, March 19th.

Gentlemen, start your international baseball.

Ramón Laureano made an absolutely ridiculous play yesterday

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I talked about it in the recaps, but dear lord does Oakland A’s outfielder Ramón Laureano’s play in yesterday’s game against the Blue Jays deserve it’s own post.

Jays first baseman Justin Smoak led off the second with a single Then Teoscar Hernández then came up and hit a long drive to center. In what, in and of itself, would’ve lead the highlight reels yesterday, Laureano ranged back to the wall and reached over to rob Hernández of a homer.

Laureano is known best for his arm, though, and that’s when he unleashed that hose, attempting to double off Smoak at first base all the way from the warning track. The throw was not on target — indeed, it sailed way past first base — but that was itself impressive as all get-out. As A’s pitcher Brett Anderson said after the game, he’s pretty sure the throw went farther than Hernández hit the ball in the first place. The arm strength on display there was simply phenomenal. But it was also lucky.

Lucky because the throw went so far into foul territory that it gave Smoak the courage to break for second base. Laureano was not the only one playing great defense on the play, though: A’s catcher Nick Hundley backed up the play, got Laureano’s errant throw and fired it down to second, nailing Smoak. And heck, Hundley’s throw was nothing to sneeze at either:

That did not go as an outfield assist for Lauerano, obviously, as his bad throw — which would’ve been an error had Smoak managed to advance, we must admit — broke that up. So, in the books it goes as an F7 and then a separate 2-4 putout. Still, it just shows Laueano’s incredible defensive abilities, both with the leather and with that cannon he has for an arm.

An arm that, this play not withstanding, gets him plenty of assists. Indeed, he has has five assists this season already and has 14 assists in just 70 games, which is a lot. To put it in perspective, it usually takes somewhere between 12-18 to lead the league in a full season with 20 being an outlier of sorts, only seen once every five years or so.

So, if you’re gonna hit it to center against the A’s, make sure you hit it all the way out. And if Laureano gets to it, for god’s sake, don’t run on him.