Projected Team Venezuela

Batting Order

SS Elvis Andrus:  The speedy lead-off hitter for the Rangers won’t hit many home runs (14 HRs in 601 games) but his defense and speed on the base paths are a must have in the lineup.

2B Marco Scutaro: Grew into his role with the Giants this year and won the 2012 NLCS MVP.  He hit .362 with 44 RBIs in the final 61 games of the season.

1B Miguel Cabrera: The triple crown winner is an offensive powerhouse and will be the biggest threat on the team. He won’t have Prince at first so he will be able to move back to his best position. He is a career .318 hitter with over 1100 RBIs.

3B Pablo Sandoval: The Kung-Fu Panda is a two-time World Series winner and won the World Series MVP this year. He hit .364 with 6 HR in the playoffs and is a career .303 hitter. Pablo’s big game experience will help them, especially if they can make it to the semis that will be played in San Francisco.

OF Carlos Gonzalez: CarGo had another solid year for a terrible Rockies team hitting .303 with 22 HR and 85 RBI.

DH Asdrubal Cabrera: Had somewhat of a set-back year only hitting 16 HR with 68 RBI but his overall talent will keep him in the lineup. Cabrera and Elvis Andrus will alternate playing shortstop.

OF Martin Prado: A skilled outfielder for the Atlanta Braves, he hit .301 with 10 HR and 70 RBI while appearing in 156 games.

C Miguel Montero:  This offensive catcher hit .286 with 15 home runs and 88 RBIs. He will most likely split time with Torrealba.

OF Gregor Blanco: Was his first full season in the big league and he only hit .244 but his defense in the outfield and speed on the base paths will hide his weak bat in this powerful offensive lineup.

Pitching

SP Felix Hernandez: King Felix had an ERA of 3.06 while winning 13 games. He also had his first career perfect game. He will be the ace of the staff which is huge in a tournament like this. He will most likely get the start against the mighty Dominicans.

SP Felix Doubront: Had an up and down year, his first as a starter. The token lefty in the rotation. He went 11-10 on a bad Red Sox team this year.

SP Anibal Sanchez: Had a very good playoffs where he posted a 1.77 ERA. Will be a good number 2 starter behind Hernandez.

RP Rafael Betancourt: Posted a 2.81 ERA while saving 31 games for the woeful Rockies. Will most likely serve as the set-up man for K-Rod.

RP Jose Mijares: A tough lefty who posted a 2.68 ERA this season with the Royals. He will come in for lefty matchups for the Venezuelan team.

RP Franklin Morales: Appeared in 37 games for the Red Sox this season, starting 9 of them. He will provide some long relief if a starter can only go 3 or 4 innings.

RP Edward Mujica: Split the year with Miami and St. Louis posting a 3.03 ERA. Once getting to the Cardinals he posted a 1.01 ERA while holding 18 games. Could be used as a 7th inning man in the WBC.

RP Francisco Rodriguez: A natural closer has been used as a set-up man since coming to Milwaukee. Has a career 294 saves and has been the closer for Venezuela in the past.

RP Henry Rodriguez: Struggled a bit with the Nationals this season posting a 5.83 ERA. The flame throwing righty could be used to get that big strike out when they really need it.

RP Carlos Zambrano: The colourful righty will be there mostly for moral support but can supply some decent mop up innings or a couple of innings of relief.

Bench

C Yorvit Torrealba: .227AVG, 4HR, 14RBI with Texas, Toronto and Milwaukee.

2B Jose Altuve: .290AVG, 7HR, 37RBI with the Houston Astros.

OF Endy Chavez: .203AVG, 2RBI, 12RBI with the Baltimore Orioles.

OF Gerardo Parra: .273AVG, 7HR, 36RBI with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

INF Alberto Callaspo: .252AVG, 10HR, 53RBI with the Anaheim Angles.

OF Avisail Garcia: .319AVG, 0HR, 3RBI with the Detroit Tigers.

Hopefuls

SP Johan Santana: After King Felix the starting pitching is unreliable. Having Santana as a number two starter would be a great boost for Venezuela. Santana has a career record of 139-78 with a 3.20 ERA.

C Victor Martinez: After missing the entire 2012 season due to injury it in unlikely Martinez will play. It will be huge for the Venezuelans to have an all star catcher behind the dish. Martinez has a career average of .303 and over 700RBIs.

Projection

Venezuela has one of the strongest team coming into this Classic. The offense will certainly be there with well-rounded power, average and speed. The problem can come with pitching. After Felix Hernandez the pitching is hit or miss. Both Doubront and Sanchez can have great games, or poor games so some of their games may be high scoring. The Venezuelans will be in a pool with Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and an upstart Brazilian squad. Venezuela should have no problem with Brazil, although that is what Panama thought, but the games versus Puerto Rico and the Dominicans will be tough. Venezuela should be playing Dominican Republic for first place out of their pool. I believe that the Venezuelans have the depth to make a run at their first WBC title.

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