1. United States (1)- What’s the reasoning for splitting innings between Derek Jeter and Jimmy Rollins? I’d personally go with Rollins. They’re both similar hitters except he adds more speed and a significant upgrade in the field. Doesn’t seem to be having a negative effect on either though, Rollins is hitting .600 and Jeter is at .400.
2. Japan (4) – Daisuke Matsuzaka is now 4-0 all-time in the WBC, look for 22-year-old Yu Darvish to follow in his footsteps and become the next big Japanese pitcher.
3. Cuba (5) – Six homers in an easy win over South Africa.
4. Venezuela (3) – Not much pitching depth after Carlos Silva, Armando Galarraga, King Felix and K-Rod as shown by Team USA’s 13 runs off their bullpen.
5. Korea (6) – Dangerous team looking to get back to the semi-finals.
6. Puerto Rico (8) – Carlos Delgado (.917 OBP, 1 HR) and Ivan Rodriguez (.545 AVG, 2 HR) are tearing the cover off the ball.
7. Dominican Republic (2) – No comment other than Pedro looks good.
8. Mexico (7) – Hairston Brothers (Scott and Jerry Jr.) were a huge aide in advancing Mexico out of the first round.
9. Canada (9) – Seattle Mariners pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont is absolutely dirty.
10. Netherlands (12) – I’m sure the win means the everything back in Europe but don’t buy into this team. They are hitting .151 as a group, ranking dead last in the WBC and the Dominicans got 30 base runners as opposed to their 11 in the two games. They got lucky, very lucky. A hit here and a hit there mixed in with fewer than the six errors they made and D-R is obviously in Miami instead.
11. Australia (14) – Chris Snelling leads a team much improved from ’06 Classic when they ranked 13th in pitching (6.85 ERA) and dead last in hitting (.113 AVG).
12. Italy (11) – Upset Canada but not much else to show for ’09 Classic.
13. Panama (10) – Never had a chance, two and done without one run to show for it.
14. China (15) – They got their first victory, maybe this is the first stride in the development of Chinese baseball.
15. Taiwan (13) – 7.31 ERA would’ve been helped a bit if Chien-Ming Wang had been available.
16. South Africa (16) – Join Panama as the only countries yet to win a game, haha, country.
With Manny Ramirez and Orlando Cabrera officially signed, I take a look at what’s availible in the Unsigned Players Dept.
Top Remaining Free Agents
1. Ben Sheets
2. Ivan Rodriguez
3. Ray Durham
4. Jim Edmonds
5. Paul Byrd
6. Mark Grudzielanek
7. Joe Beimel
8. Pedro Martinez
9. Will Ohman
10. Kenny Rogers
11. Moises Alou
12. Frank Thomas
13. Emil Brown
14. Chad Cordero
15. Curt Schilling
16. Richie Sexson
17. Rudy Seanez
18. Luis Gonzalez
19. Keith Foulke
20. Sidney Ponson
21. Mark Mulder
22. Julian Tavarez
23. Damion Easily
24. Dave Roberts
25. Ben Brousard
Ben Sheets gets the top spot only because of his dominant 2008 season and I don’t think anyone else on this list deserves it. A torn flexor in his elbow will keep him out of action until at least July. If he signs on with a team before the June draft then the Brewers will receive a compensation pick so don’t expect any offers until then…Ivan Rodriguez will use the World Baseball Classic to showcase all he has left. The Mets, Astros and possibly Marlins have shown interest…There are reports that Moises Alou and Kenny Rogers may have unofficially retired…Paul Byrd will take at least early 2008 off to spend time with his family, but could get back into action by the All-Star break…Look for Mark Grudzielanek to get a look at third base in the Bronx should A-Rod need surgery…Pedro Martinez‘ velocity and stamina are both way down and he’s had trouble finding work for this season. The Cardinals may bring him on and try him in the closer’s role…Former All-Stars Chad Cordero and Curt Schilling are off injuries costing them both the 2008 seasons but are still trying to find work.