Flags Fly Forever Pt. One

The World Baseball Classic will kick off within the next few weeks, and in a few days preliminary rosters are due. At this point ,the United States team has 24 players listed, a few shy of their 2006 roster. Of course 2006’s results weren’t quite what the country had envisioned, and as we approach the second tournament, is the 2009 team better equipped to take home the trophy than in 2006?

2006: Jason Varitek, Michael Barrett, Brian Schneider
2009: Brian McCann, Chris Ianetta

This seems more lopsided than it is. Nowadays Varitek is a shell of his former self, Barrett signed on a minor league deal, and Schneider is nothing special. Meanwhile McCann and Ianetta were two of the best offensive catchers in the National League last season. Using three-years wins values (so, for 2006’s team we’re talking 2003-2005, and for 2009 we’re talking 2006-2008) the 2006 catching staff combines for 8.3 wins on average. 2009’s team is at a bit of a disadvantage at the moment, but nonetheless combines for 6.3 wins. McCann figures to get most of the playing time, and he’s better than any catcher the 2006 American team could offer. Odds are another catcher will be added at some point.

Overall advantage: 2006
Individual advantage: 2009

Corner Infield

2006: Derrek Lee, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Chipper Jones
2009: Kevin Youkilis, Chipper Jones, David Wright

Much like with the catcher situation, the looks of things would suggest 2006 runs away, but not so fast. Again, we’re talking about one less player – although I suppose you could throw Ryan Braun into a reserve role, but whatever. Despite having A-Rod, a young Teixeira, and a fresh off 2005 Lee, the 2006 team only has a three win advantage over the 2009 grouping; 20.5 to 17.1. No player on this year’s team compares to Alex Rodriguez at the time, although David Wright comes closest.

Overall advantage: 2006
Individual advantage: 2006.

Middle Infield

2006: Derek Jeter, Michael Young, Chase Utley
2009: Dustin Pedroia, Jimmy Rollins, Derek Jeter, Mark DeRosa

I have the sneaking suspicion that Jeter will receive most of the playing time, despite Rollins being the better player at this point. Whether you classify DeRosa as an outfielder, corner infielder, or middle infielder, the 2009 team is still seeing an upgrade up the middle. Jeter has declined by a tenth of a win, Pedroia is a win better than Young, and Rollins is a better player than the young Utley. Throw DeRosa in and the 2009 staff has a 16.4 to 9.6 win.

Overall advantage: 2009
Individual advantage: 2009


2006: Ken Griffey Jr., Matt Holliday, Vernon Wells, Randy Winn, Johnny Damon, Jeff Francoeur
2009: Ryan Braun, Curtis Granderson, Grady Sizemore, Brad Hawpe

The 2006 outfield looks loaded, but yet again looks are deceiving. Sizemore has averaged 6.6 wins, or as many as Griffey Jr., Holliday, and Francoeur combined. Hawpe is an odd choice, and as a bit of a Rays homer, I wouldn’t mind seeing a Carl Crawford/Grady Sizemore/Curtis Granderson outfield at some point with a flyball pitcher on the mound. Despite the difference in size, the 2009 quartet holds up favorably at 15.65 wins, but the 2006 team has the edge for now at 16.8.

Overall advantage: 2006
Individual advantage: 2009

Tomorrow we’ll look at the pitching staffs and reach a conclusion.

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Ryan Glass
Ryan Glass

Ughh. I understand the Yankees need to parade Jeter around at SS, but why does he have to represent us in the WBC. How good would a Youks, DP, Wright, and Rollins infield look with an outfield of Braun/Crawford, Granderson, Sizemore. Adding up the projected defensive runs from CHONE, and they’d be +42.5 runs. That would be awesome to watch (not to mention pitch in front of).