The provisional roster for the United States team in the World Baseball Classic might not contain the best of the best at every position — as some have called for — but it's still full of elite ballplayers. Enough talent to make the U.S. competitive for the championship in the third edition of Bud Selig's dream international tournament.
"There's two or three potential All-Stars in there," as Lou Brown of "Major League" might say.
Well, more than two or three, Lou. In fact, 15 of the players on the 27-person squad, which was announced Thursday, have been to the All-Star Game already. They include three past MVPs — Ryan Braun of the Brewers, Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies and Joe Mauer of the Twins. R.A. Dickey of the Mets, the N.L.'s Cy Young Award winner in 2012, leads the pitching staff. And he might be joined by another Cy Young winner. From MLB.com:
Team USA manager Joe Torre and general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. will eventually fill out the 28-man roster with 13 position players and 15 pitchers. They announced the 13 position players, but one spot for a starting pitcher is open and that could very well go to the Tigers' Justin Verlander depending on how he feels once he starts throwing at Spring Training next month. Provisional rosters were due on Wednesday, but all 16 teams have until Feb. 20 to file their formal rosters.
C'mon, Verlander. You know you want to. Four others on the squad — Braun, Rollins, David Wright and Shane Victorino — played on the 2009 squad that fell to eventual champion Japan in the semifinals. And let's not forget the return of Mark Teixeira, who played in '06 for Team USA. And, by gosh, he's ready to rep the U.S. again:
"I'm just so excited to be part of this year's team," said Teixeira, who played on Team USA in the inaugural Classic, when he was a member of the Rangers. "In 2006, I was just a kid. I was 25 years old on the first World Baseball Classic team, looking at guys like Roger Clemens and Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez -- some of the greats of the game. I was actually in awe my first time around. Now I'm coming back. I'm the only guy left from the 2006 team. I'm one of the veterans now."
The team might be missing the likes of Jeter and A-Rod (who are, or will be, recuperating from injuries) or Clayton Kershaw or Buster Posey or Mike Trout or Bryce Harper, but we still have enough to hang with the Netherlands. Here's the U.S. roster in full (except, maybe, for Verlander):
Willie Bloomquist is gonna bring it.