World Cup Rosters Projection: Pool Three

This is Baseball America’s take on what the starting lineups will
look like for the 16 teams expected to be involved in the World
Baseball Classic next spring, and how each of the teams can be expected
to perform. Teams will be divided into four pools, with two teams
advancing from round-robin play out of each pool. The eight remaining
teams will play another set of round-robin competition, with four teams
advancing to a winner-take-all semifinal and final. Rosters were
determined by the staff of Baseball America with the help of our
correspondents. The organizations of players who are in the American
major or minor leagues are listed in parentheses.


C’"Pete LaForest (Devil Rays)

1B’"Justin Morneau (Twins)

2B’"Pete Orr (Braves)

3B’"Cory Koskie (Blue Jays)

SS’"Danny Klassen (Astros)

LF’"Jason Bay (Pirates)

CF’"Aaron Guiel (Royals)

RF’"Larry Walker (Cardinals)

DH’"Matt Stairs (Royals)

SP’"Rich Harden (Athletics)

SP’"Erik Bedard (Orioles)

SP’"Jeff Francis (Rockies)

SP’"Ryan Dempster (Cubs)

RP’"Eric Gagne (Dodgers)

Manager: Ernie Whitt (Blue Jays)

Skinny: While the United States will be a clear favorite
in this pool, Canada and Mexico should battle toe-to-toe for the second
bid. Team Canada made its first Olympic appearance in 2004 and was
disappointed to finish fourth, but the infusion of major league talent
makes this team significantly better than the ‘™04 model. Depth might be
a problem, but the starting lineup stacks up against most of the other
teams in the tournament.


C’"Miguel Ojeda (Padres)

1B’"Guillermo Velasquez

2B’"Jorge Cantu (Devil Rays)

3B’"Vinny Castilla (Nationals)

SS’"Alfredo Amezaga (Pirates)

LF’"Mario Valenzuela

CF’"Luis Garcia

RF’"Karim Garcia

DH’"Erubiel Durazo (Athletics)

SP’"Esteban Loiaza (Nationals)

SP’"Oliver Perez (Pirates)

SP’"Rodrigo Lopez (Orioles)

SP’"Elmer Dessens (Dodgers)

RP’"Luis Ayala (Nationals)

Manager: Fernando Valenzuela

Skinny: Mexico has several options for its team, which
likely will be a mélange of Mexican Leaguers, big leaguers and minor
leaguers. The team has some upside on the mound, especially if Pirates
lefthander Oliver Perez shows his 2004 form. Mexico has had little
success on the international stage and is best known for Rigo Beltran’™s
victory against Team USA in the 2003 Olympic qualifier that eliminated
the Americans from the 2004 Olympics.


C’"Willem Kemp

1B’"Nick Dempsey

2B’"Paul Bell

3B’"Jonathan Phillips

SS’"Brett Willemberg

LF’"Jason Jonathan

CF’"Jason Cook

RF’"Ian Holness

DH’"Adrian Langeveldt

SP’"Barry Armitage (Royals)

SP’"Bruce McCleland (Royals)

SP’"Tyrone Lamont (Mariners)

SP’"Carl Michaels

RP’"Darryn Smith

Manager: Raymond Tew

Skinny: South Africa’™s greatest moment in international
history was its 3-2 victory against the Netherlands in the 2000
Olympics, which kept the Dutch from making the medal round. It was
South Africa’™s first (and only) win in Olympic history, and the team
was barely competitive in February 2004 in a qualifying tournament
against Australia. They’ll absorb three poundings before bowing from
the international stage this time around. Their standout will be Royals
minor leaguer Barry Armitage, who is at Double-A Wichita.


C’"Jason Varitek (Red Sox)

1B’"Todd Helton (Rockies)

2B’"Jeff Kent (Dodgers)

3B’"Scott Rolen (Cardinals)

SS’"Alex Rodriguez (Yankees)

LF’"Lance Berkman (Astros)

CF’"Jim Edmonds (Cardinals)

RF’"Gary Sheffield (Yankees)

DH’"Barry Bonds (Giants)

SP’"Roger Clemens (Astros)

SP’"Mark Prior (Cubs)

SP’"Ben Sheets (Brewers)

SP’"Mark Mulder (Cardinals)

RP’"Billy Wagner (Phillies)

Manager: Bobby Cox (Braves)

Skinny: USA Baseball has been one of the major players on
the international scene in the last 40 years, as it should be, and is
the only nation other than Cuba to win an Olympic gold medal. The
United States will be the favorite at the World Baseball Classic,
though its biggest advantage–depth–might not be a major factor in
this tournament. A team of U.S. reserves would have a good chance at
the gold, but it won’t be a cakewalk. Players with previous Team USA
experience, such as Mulder, Prior and Sheets, could get priority.