WBC Weekend Recap….

The World Baseball Classic was in full swing this weekend with upsets, great performances and had 1 game that was as intense as any playoff game. Let’s take a look at what has happened so far in the WBC.

Moving On

Japan, Korea & USA

Going Home

Chinese Taipei & China

No surprises here. All 3 teams were expected to advance and all 3 looked strong. Korea, led by Tae Kyun Kim and Hyun-Soo Kim look especially strong. Though they only have one major league player on their roster (Shin-soo Choo), this team can run, hit and field with anyone in the tournament.

Top Performers

Jose Lopez – Ven. 6-7, 4 runs, 11 total bases and a healthy .857 avg. in 2 games

Adam Dunn – USA. 3-4, 2 hr, 3 rbi, 5 runs, 4 bb, .750 avg. and a ridiculous 2.250 slugging percentage in 2 wins for the USA.

Trent Oeltjen – Aus. 4-5, 1 BB, 2 SB, .800 avg. and was the catalyst in Australia’s upset over Mexico

Jung Keun Bong – Kor. 1-0, 5 hits, 0 bb, 0.00 era in 8.1 innings pitched

Yu Darvish – Jap. 1-0, 1 hit, 2 bb, 6 K, 0.00 era in 5 innings. Darvish, with a good performance in the WBC can earn himself a major league contract if he chooses to come over. Should be interesting when he faces Team USA. Looking forward to it

Norge Vera – Cub. 1-0, 2 hits, 1 bb, 6 K, 0.00 era in 6 innings pitched for Cuba

The Upsets

Australia 17 – Mexico 7. It was good to see Mets LHP Oliver Perez in mid-season form. Perez in 2 innings threw 63 pitches, only 38 strikes and gave up 7 hits and 4 runs. He has to be the most frustrating pitcher to watch in baseball. The star of this game believe it or not, was the Australia bullpen. 6 hits, 1 run and 6 K’s in 7 innings pitched. Not too shabby. By the way, this game was actually played in Mexico

Netherland 3 – Domican Republic 2. The biggest upset of the weekend and maybe one of the biggest upsets in baseball history. I watched this whole game and what surprised me the most was how uninspired the Dominican team was. They were so sloppy in first inning when the Netherlands scored 3 unearned runs that it almost looked like they had no interested in being there. After the first inning, the Dominicans settled down and played well but just couldn’t push any runs across. They left an astounding 21 men on base. There is no way this team should lose to a team who’s 2 best players are Randall Simon and Sidney Ponson. Yes, Sidney Ponson.

The Auditions

Martinez pitched like it was 1999

Martinez pitched like it was 1999

Pedro Martinez – Dom. I will always have a soft spot for Pedro and I was really glad to see him pitch well on Saturday. Pedro had the same look in his eye that he had when he strolled out of the bullpen in Game 5 of the 1999 NLDS against Cleveland. That “It doesn’t matter who is up there, they will not hit me today” look. Pedro, in 3 innings gave 1 hit and struck out 4.

Ivan Rodriguez – PR. After Rodriguez flopped with the Yankees last year (.219/2/3 in 33 games), I thought he looked more washed up than Mickey Rouke at the end of The Wrestler. But playing for a contract has inspired Rodriguez, at least for 1 game. Rodriguez really put on a show in front of the home crowd. “Pudge” went 4-4 with 2 hr, 4 rbi and 3 runs scored.

Why MLB Teams Hate The WBC Moment

Roy Oswalt – USA. Roy Oswalt has been the Astros best pitcher since 2002 and been one of the best pitchers in all of baseball during that period as well. So I am sure the Astros front office was thrilled when after looking spent after 3 innings of work, Oswalt was inexcusably sent out to the mound to start the 4th. Oswalt threw 65 pitches last night and the last 25 he looked like he had thrown 125. It will be interesting to see if this affects Oswalt during the season.

Game Of The Weekend

USA 6 – Canada 5. This game offered one of the rare moments when watching a sporting event on TV. You could feel the electricity of the stadium and the intensity of the players through the TV. That is very rare. Maybe you get that from a Duke/UNC basketball game at Cameron Indoor or a Red Sox/Yankee game at Fenway in September, but not from a baseball exhibition game in March.

The 42,000+ Canadian fans were into the game from the very first pitch and you could see the look of intensity on the players faces which only ended after Jason Bay flew out to Shane Victorino to end the game. Brian McCann hugged JJ Putz like they had just won the Word Series together, Adam Dunn could finally relax (more on him in a bit) and Team USA got over it’s initial hurdle after the 2006 disaster. What a great game.

I wanted to wrap this up by saying something about Adam Dunn. Last year Toronto Blue Jays, GM JP Ricciardi made some unpleasant remarks about Dunn on his radio show. In a nutshell, Ricciardi said that Dunn didn’t have a passion for the game of baseball. After watching Dunn this weekend, I can honestly say Ricciardi was dead wrong. Dunn has been Team USA’s best player so far in this tournament. He has hustled and played with a passion and intensity that has been unmatched.

When evaluating talent a GM will look at arm strength, speed, power and other physical tools. But what separates a great GM from your average GM is the ability to look into a players heart. The ability to look at a player and see whether or not he is a gamer, a winner, a guy who will get his uniform dirty. The tools that can’t be measured by a computer. Clearly, JP Ricciardi has not mastered this ability yet.

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