Sunday, January 20, 2013

Another WBC, Another Missed Opportunity for US

Last Friday participating teams were required to submit their initial rosters for the 2013 WBC starting in March. A look at the United States roster shows a dearth of quality pitchers. Ryan Vogelsong and R.A. Dickey are the only starting pitchers of note. The pitchers not named are more impressive: Adam Wainwright, Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain, just to name a few. Teams have not been thrilled to let their players participate previously and many players likewise are hesitant to jeopardize their season for the exhibition. Americans don't jump on the nationalistic urge that motivates so many other players and teams. No team wants to have to shell out millions to a player injured in a game that does not enhance their postseason chances and could derail their whole season before Spring Training is over. Excuses mentioned have ranged from the fear of injury, to contract status, to not wanting to modify their offseason training schedules. So why not offer a better solution, minor league players with a sprinkling of major league players.

This would present teams a win win and the players would likely appreciate the opportunity to show off their skills. Teams want to see their players develop and what better way to spur that growth than pitting them against some of the best players in the world. This would spur the players to participate in Winter Ball and then transition over to the WBC instead of showing up for training camp. Teams could also use this as a reason to delay calling up a top prospect and delaying his arbitration clock, potentially saving teams millions. Pitchers are increasingly put on schedules with a set number of innings in a given year and once every four years teams could simply subtract their innings pitched in the WBC from their inning limit, allowing the team to stretch out or shut down a pitcher as needed. The risk of injury would still be there, but the consequences to the major league team are less severe. Fans will appreciate it more than you might think as well. Instead of indifference and lamenting players who did not participate, they will become curious to see what the top American prospects can offer. Fans will watch their teams top prospects and hope for the near future while hoping they keep winning to give them as much experience as possible. If Team USA cannot attract the top talent, they should refashion their roster to highlight rising talent.