As great as the college basketball season is currently, I think I speak for all of the Grab Bag Sports staff when I say it's time for some baseball. Fortunately this year, in addition to the college baseball season that has already started and the MLB Spring Training that is approaching quickly, we will also get to watch the 2013 World Baseball Classic in March. Over the next few days, I will be posting quick previews of each of the four pools, starting today with Team USA and Pool D.
Pool D Predicted Finish: USA, Italy, Canada, Mexico
Notable players: Mark Teixeira, Joe Mauer, R.A. Dickey, Giancarlo Stanton
Manager: Joe Torre
First game: March 8 vs. Mexico
So I think we all know how I feel about Ryan Braun, but I still have two weeks for that to change. He did hit .381 in 2009, but that was back when he was (probably) juicing. Overall, I don’t know if the USA roster is strong enough to get back to the semifinals, but if this team is healthy, it will be very competitive. Jimmy Rollins returns after hitting .417 and stealing four bases in 2009.
Notable players: Anthony Rizzo, Nick Punto, Chris Denorfia, Jason Grilli
Manager: Marco Mazzieri
First game: March 7 vs. Mexico
Denorfia returns after leading the team in 2009 with a .400 average, while Rizzo will try to bring some power to a squad that failed to hit a home run. Italy should compete for a spot in the second round this year, despite finishing 1-2 last time.
Notable players: Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie, Russell Martin, John Axford
Manager: Ernie Whitt
First game: March 8 vs. Italy
Canada was eliminated by Italy in 2009, losing the only two games they played. They obviously can’t be any worse in 2013, but I don’t think they have enough to defeat both Italy and Mexico to make it into the second round.
Notable players: Adrian Gonzalez, Karim Garcia, Jorge Cantu, Yovani Gallardo
Manager: Rick Renteria
First game: March 7 vs. Italy
Garcia hit .421 with three homers in 2009 to help Mexico reach the second round. However, the team finished just 2-4, and I don’t expect them to be much better in 2013.
For complete 2013 World Baseball Classic rosters, schedules, and more, visit the official site.