Thursday, February 02, 2006

The World Baseball Classic is making an huge splash this off season. With games beginning March 3 and going until March 20 it will be a huge fix for baseball fans who can’t wait for April’s Spring Training. And where exactly do the Braves have their representatives? Well so glad you asked because Atlanta’s stars are making a pretty good showing. And with good old Barry Bonds bowing out there is room for one of the most popular Braves to play for team USA.

For team USA
- Last year’s rookie phenom and NL Rookie of the Year candidate Jeff Francoeur is on the US roster. When he graced the cover of Sports Illustrated last year he was the first Brave to do so since the 1995 Championship team. Did I mention this kid turned 22 in January?
- Chipper Jones is as much an Atlanta staple as Turner Field itself. But he wasn’t going to even get a USA roster spot until Bonds decided to ‘sit this one out’ -- like he did all of last season. Now Jones will be on as a third baseman, but will likely be a back up. Not a starter, not even close. According to a ESPN Sportsnation poll fans pick him third behind Alex Rodriguez and David Wright

Who should start at third base for the United States?
56.4% Alex Rodriguez
28.4% David Wright
12.5% Chipper Jones
2.6% Morgan Ensberg

-And of course Tim Hudson who will pitch well and keep everyone smiling, same Tim, different uniform.

So America isn’t well represented by the Braves, PANAMA, on the other hand has a good grip on Atlanta’s finest. (Or does Atlanta have a good grip on Panama’s finest?)
-Manuel Acosta, Jose Camarena, and Manuel Rodriguez will all rep for the Braves on Panama’s team. Who you ask..... as you should. They are all farm system kids who haven’t made their mark yet. Oh, but if they perform well in the WBC expect Bobby Cox to be giving these kids a few extra minutes in Spring Training.

Three men from the Atlanta Braves roster will be playing for NETHERLANDS but the only one you will have heard of is Andruw Jones. When he scorched up the hitting charts last year and was passed over for MVP (another day, another post) he finally lived up to his potential making him the most prominent name in the Netherlands bench.
But hey lets give one second to Ardley Jansen, ok seconds up.

Peter Orr, Chris Reitsma and Scott Thorman all call Canada home and will play for the Great White North in March. My fear- Reitsman will get hurt and he is our only solid closer candidate. Orr will perform to his usual mediocre standard leaving the question out there- why do we keep him around- we need a real first baseman.

There are other five other Braves representing their countries next month but with the exception of Jorge Sosa they are another group of minor leaguers who have yet to make their mark.
Here is to hoping some of them shine in the WBC and they are able to fill some of the gaping holes in the Braves roster.

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