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Pros & Cons: The World Baseball Classic

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I know that there is certainly controversy surrounding the World Baseball Classic. We are just beginning spring training, and the WBC will not be complete until March 19.

As a result, many players are going to be representing their countries rather than working with their current teams. Obviously they are preparing and getting in shape wherever they are playing baseball, but there is something to be said about being in spring training with the rest of the team and developing that chemistry that is so vital for sustained success over such a long season.

At the same time, I am the guy who wrote an article a long time ago on this website advocating the return of baseball to the Olympics. I am all about international competition, and I certainly love the concept behind the WBC.

However, is there a possible downside? For instance, we all know that spring training is a pretty low-key environment. Players are given time to get back into the swing of playing baseball. Certainly, if a player is on the edge of making the roster, there is quite a bit more intensity, but, in general, winning and losing does not matter quite so much, and it is all about preparation.

The WBC actually has competitive intentions. Players are there to win just like they are during the regular season. That is where a potential problem lies.

Baseball season is incredibly long to begin with. No other sport plays anywhere near 162 game season. While baseball does become more intense near the end of the season, each player understands that a win in April is just as important as a victory in September. That means that these players need to maintain a high level of intensity for a very long period of time.

Is it possible that extending that time that players need to remain at that mentally intense level could have potentially harmful side effects? Essentially, I’m talking about mental exhaustion.

I know that near the end of the season, players get tired already. Adding another month of competitive play on top of that might lead to decreased performance at the end of the season which is ultimately not good for Major League Baseball.

Again, I love the idea of international competition, but I do recognize that there are certain problems that I just could arise based on an especially long competitive season.

Grandy Goes Down

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As most of you have probably heard by now, New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson will miss 10 weeks thanks to a broken arm. Obviously, we all wish him a speedy recovery, but, at the moment, it is also interesting to think about how the Yankees will replace him for the beginning of the season.

Last season, Granderson hit 43 home runs with 106 RBI. Of course, his batting average dropped down to .232, but when you’re producing that kind of power, a low average is somewhat more acceptable.

Obviously then, this is a rather large hole to fill. They need a centerfielder, but they also need a run producer. However, Granderson will be back eventually, so it is not necessarily worth going after a superstar replacement. If they pursue that course of action, Granderson’s eventual return would lead to a bottleneck.

Now that we have set the scene, what options might be out there?

One that immediately comes to mind is Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano. He is also a high power, low average hitter who has played in New York before.

Would the Cubs be willing to trade him?

It is quite possible. Chicago is looking towards the future right now with a younger class featuring Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro, so I would be willing to bet that a 37-year-old would not fit into those plans. This would not be a bad pairing.

Another interesting option could be Vernon Wells of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

He is not going to have a lot of room to contribute with the Angels this year, so I am sure that they would like to get rid of at least a portion of his large salary.

He would probably not be nearly as productive as Soriano, but he does provide a little bit of power for what would probably be a very low price. For about a month and a half of regular season service, that might be all that the Yankees need.

Whatever they do, losing Granderson for 10 weeks is going to hurt. He is an All-Star centerfielder who has carried their offense right from the top of the lineup.
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