Tag Archive | "New York Mets"

Carlos Martinez could follow Shelby Miller path to starting rotation

St. Louis Cardinals righthanded starting pitcher Shelby Miller had to beat out Joe Kelly for the fifth and final spot in the rotation through somewhat of a spring training-long duel between the two pitchers in 2013, and Kelly faces a similar challenge that could produce a similar result in 2014.

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Miller has a lock on a starting job for the 2014 season, so righthanded pitcher Carlos Martinez has taken his spot as the rookie on the verge of a spot in the rotation and in competition with Kelly, who could easily fall victim to another young Cardinals pitching sensation.

Martinez has done plenty to impress through roughly the first half of camp. He is 1-0 after a four-inning, two-hit performance Wednesday in a 6-4 victory over the New York Mets. That was his third start of the spring, and he lowered his earned-run average to 1.80 to go with five strikeouts.

Kelly, meanwhile, struggled his first two starts of the spring. He allowed seven runs and walked four batters in a combined four innings before he settled down for a 5.1-inning winning performance Saturday in a 6-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves when he allowed one run on four hits with no walks and three strikeouts.

Kelly did not pitch particularly poorly during the 2013 spring training camp, but Cardinals management obviously thought Miller was capable of a strong rookie season that started with him in the rotation on Opening Day, even though Kelly ended up in the rotation in the postseason while Miller sat in the bullpen unused aside from one inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League Division Series.

Miller still set the bar high for Martinez or any of the other young Cardinals pitchers after he went 15-9 with a 3.06 earned-run average and finished third in the 2013 National League Rookie of the Year voting, but Martinez has the talent to have a comparable first full season in Major League Baseball.

Martinez pitched in 21 games for the Cardinals in 2013 and became the eighth-inning setup reliever toward the end of the regular season and in the postseason, where he posted a 3.55 ERA in 12.2 innings.

Still, the Cardinals were cautious in how much they used Martinez in 2013. They first called him up from the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds in May but sent him back to the minor leagues in June and late July to try to keep his arm fresh, as well as let him start at Memphis to maintain his endurance in case an injury befell one of the other starting pitchers with the big-league club.

They would obviously take care of Martinez again in the upcoming season, and he could very well move start the season back in the eighth-inning role because the Cardinals have few options for that spot, particularly if righthanded reliever Jason Motte is not yet fully recovered from the elbow injury he suffered at the beginning of spring training a year ago.

Martinez has all but guaranteed himself a roster spot for when the team opens the season March 31 against the Cincinnati Reds in Cincinnati, but he has pitched so well in his first three starts of the spring that he will await his first appearance from the dugout rather than the bullpen, just the way Miller did the year before.

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Despite record, St. Louis Cardinals have excellent start to spring training

The St. Louis Cardinals won just twice in the opening week of their 2014 spring training exhibition schedule, but wins and losses matter little in spring training, and the Cardinals, with a 2-4-2 record, have excelled in the aspects of camp that truly matter.

Trevor Rosenthal - photo from FoxSportsMidwest

Trevor Rosenthal – photo from FoxSportsMidwest

Through seven games, the Cardinals players who know they’ll be with the big club on Opening Day have played well, with few exceptions, and those who drew mild concerns have already had a couple of positive moments to potentially give them a comfort level through the balance of March.

As with the regular season, the first week of the spring training schedule typically draws much more scrutiny than any other because people pay more attention since they are excited to have baseball back before the monotony of the season begins and games start to blend together in memory.

The Cardinals have survived with extremely few problems. Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia’s shoulder injury flared up again in the opening week of camp in February, but otherwise the Cardinals have been injury-free with the exception of closer Trevor Rosenthal, who pitched his first inning Saturday and held the Washington Nationals scoreless after he suffered a minor groin injury early in camp.

Elsewhere, the Cardinals have only players who are at or near the end of their rehab from more serious injuries.

Relief pitcher Jason Motte continues to make progress in his return from Tommy John surgery to repair his injured right elbow in 2013, and outfield prospect Oscar Taveras made his much-anticipated first start of the spring Friday against the New York Mets in his return from right ankle surgery, and he promptly doubled on a ball to deep right-centerfield.

Rookie second baseman Kolten Wong also alleviated some fears about his offensive potential with a 3-for-4 day Friday in a 5-5 tie with the Mets.

The Cardinals vaunted young pitching staff has also made it through the first week with only minor road bumps.

Possible No. 5 starter Joe Kelly walked two Detroit Tigers hitters and allowed two runs in 1.2 innings Tuesday, but he also had two strikeouts and figures to be a stable pitcher for the Cardinals in 2014 no matter how they use him, whether as a starter or out of the bullpen.

Probable No. 4 starter Lance Lynn allowed five runs in 1.1 innings Friday in a split-squad game against the Miami Marlins, but any other Cardinals pitchers who allowed more than two runs total through the first week have been minor leaguers or non-roster invitees.

At this point, there is not much drama in Cardinals camp at all. All of the core players have performed well, especially Matt Holliday with his eight hits in nine at-bats, and newly signed shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who hit two homeruns Tuesday against the Tigers.

Those types of performances gives Cardinals management to focus more on the players on the fringe of a spot on the 25-man roster and those who it expects to remain in the minor leagues for at least the 2014 season, if not more.

But that situation also gives those minor leaguers an opportunity to play earlier in games and they therefore get more innings against opposing players who are already established in Major League Baseball.

The Cardinals have built an incredibly strong foundation that is now able to help the group of future Cardinals develop more quickly and maintain the level of excellence the organization has now sustained for four years.

It’s a cycle that builds upon itself, and the Cardinals currently have it as finely tuned as any team in the game.

They can’t get comfortable with what they’ve built, of course, but right now the only storms in Jupiter, Fla., come when the traditional mid-afternoon rain clouds pass over.

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Pirates Gear Up For Playoff Run

A day after major changes for both franchises, the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Mets completed a trade that alters the remainder of the season for both.

Marlon Byrd

The Mets were told their ace pitcher, Matt Harvey, would miss the remainder of the season due to a UCL tear.  Meanwhile, the Pirates fell out of first place when the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds in dramatic fashion.  The events of yesterday got the gears turning for both clubs and an agreement was reached.

The news was first reported by Anthony DiComo, the Mets beat writer for MLB.com.

The Pirates have acquired Marlon Byrd and John Buck from the Mets in exchange for second base prospect Dilson Herrera and a player to be named later.

Byrd is the notable piece of the deal for the Pirates as his stellar play this season shores up an outfield that has struggled for consistency.  His bat plugs nicely into the heart of the Pirates order and he brings with him 21 home runs and 71 runs batted in.  He has continued to produce in a season that was all but written off before it started.  Byrd was not expected to be a key piece at his age but he has provided a consistent bat and above-average defense to Pittsburgh and, more than likely, play right field alongside Andrew McCutchen while Starling Marte continues to recover from hand issues.

Buck, meanwhile, is a depth move that adds veteran leadership, solid defense, and a inconsistent bat to the bench.  He continues to throw out 30 percent of would-be base stealers and can drive in runs from time to time when he is playing well.

The Pirates part ways with a minor league second baseman who projects to be a decent hitter when he arrives at the big league level.  Herrera is only 19 years old and ranks just outside of the top ten prospects in the Pirates organization.  He benefits well from above average speed and surprising power, according to Baseball America, who ranked him 20th among Pirates prospects prior to this season.

The Pirates added two veteran pieces and a solid bat to their lineup as they enter the final push of a playoff run.  It is the type of mood that the Cardinals would have made under the Tony LaRussa leadership.

Cardinals fans hope it is not worthy of the same results LaRussa normally found.

Bill Ivie is the founder of i70baseball.
You can find his work on Yahoo!InsideSTL, and here on i70.
Talk baseball with him on Twitter @poisonwilliam

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Matt Harvey Can Find Answers In Adam Wainwright

The following excerpt is from my latest article for Yahoo! Sports on the Yahoo Contributor Network.  You can read the entire article by clicking here.

MattHarvey

COMMENTARY | The New York Mets were delivered a substantial blow to their future when they found out that Matt Harvey has a partial tear of his UCL, an injury that may require the infamous Tommy John surgery. Surgery could put Harvey on the shelf for the entirety of the 2014 season and impact his effectiveness for even longer. The St. Louis Cardinals and Adam Wainwright can provide a solid road map for Harvey and the Mets to follow.

Wainwright has been down the road that Harvey now faces. A partial tear of the UCL does not ensure that Tommy John surgery is necessary. It can be handled through rehabilitation and surgery can be delayed. It is a slippery slope, but one that Wainwright’s career is familiar with.

The partial tear
Wainwright suffered a partial tear of the UCL very early on in his career. He was able to continue pitching at a very productive level for over five years from the initial diagnosis. Other pitchers have tried to go the route of rehab with little-to-no success but Adam Wainwright proves that it is not impossible. Harvey may not see any significant time lost beyond the 2013 season.

Recovery time varies
It was early 2011 when Wainwright realized he did not feel right and was headed for surgery. The typical diagnosis can project almost a year-and-a-half recovery time for most pitchers. Wainwright surprised everyone when his rehabilitation from surgery was moving forward at a pace that had him throwing from a mound by the end of 2011. He showed up to spring training in 2012 ready to go and opened the season as a member of the rotation, just over 12 months removed from surgery.

That first season back is different
Once Wainwright was back on the mound, expectations were high and Cardinal fans were convinced that their ace had returned. While Wainwright’s first season back was successful by most accounts, it was not the season he is capable of that we are seeing in 2013. In 2012, Wainwright was able to throw over 198 innings and strikeout hitters at a pace similar to his career numbers before the surgery. He walked more hitters than normal, did not work as deep into games, and struggled with his command occasionally. He was back on the mound but he wasn’t completely back to normal.

Finish reading how the Wainwright Road Map can help Mets fans know what’s ahead by clicking here.

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Biogenesis: Is ACES To Blame?

By now baseball fans are very familiar with the word “Biogenesis” and the subsequent suspensions being handed down to players as a result of their involvement with the company.  A shocking similarity is starting to form when looking at the players being suspended and the agency that has represented them.

NelsonCruz

As of this morning, MLBTradeRumors is sharing reports from various sources claiming twelve players have accepted suspensions handed down by Major League Baseball for their involvement with Biogenesis.

The list currently: Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers, Jhonny Peralta – Detroit Tigers, Everth Cabrera – San Diego Padres, Antonio Bastardo – Philadelphia Phillies, Jordany Valdespin – New York Mets, Sergio Escalona – Houston Astros, Francisco Cervelli – New York Yankees, Jesus Montero – Seattle Mariners, Cesar Puello – New York Mets (Minor Leaguer), Fautino De Los Santos – San Diego Padres (Minor Leaguer), Fernando Martinez – Houston Astros, Jordan Norberto – Oakland Athletics

Nelson Cruz announced this morning that he had changed agencies from ACES to Wasserman Media Group, a move that is not uncommon and normally does not raise any flags.

However, that agency – ACES – has been popping up a lot lately.

They were the agency that represented, and were accused of assisting in a cover-up for, Melky Cabrera.  They are also connected to Gio Gonzalez, who has been linked to Biogenesis but not named in the suspension list as of yet.  Add to those two names Jhonny Peralta, Jesus Montero, Fautino De Los Santos, Jordany Valdespin, Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona and Cesar Puello and you’ve got a staggering number of clients being accused of using performance enhancing drugs.

What does all of this mean?  It may not mean anything at all.  ACES is a large agency with a fairly large amount of clients (107 baseball players are listed in MLBTR’s Agency Database as represented by ACES).  Maybe it suggests that the clients were brought together by a common event.  Maybe it suggests that someone at ACES has planted the seed that Biogenesis could help their clients.

Either way, I would guess that Major League Baseball may further investigate the agency before all the smoke clears.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can talk baseball with him on Twitter or read more of his St. Louis Cardinals analysis on Yahoo!.

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St. Louis Cardinals give nod to future by sending Michael Wacha back to minors

Major League Baseball teams typically generate significant interest in which minor-league player they are about to bring up to the big leagues, but the St. Louis Cardinals had similar intrigue related to which player they sent down to the minor leagues Friday.

MichaelWacha3

So goes life as the best team in the game.

Right-handed starter Jake Westbrook returned from the disabled list Friday to go five innings while allowing three earned runs to the Miami Marlins in a 5-4 loss, but his return forced the Cardinals to send one of their rookie starters back to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds.

Left-handed starter Tyler Lyons and right-handed starter Michael Wacha were the two pitchers on the bubble, along with right-handed reliever Keith Butler, and the Cardinals decided to send the Wacha back to Memphis while the Lyons remained with the team and will start Sunday against the Marlins.

The move was somewhat surprising since Cardinals management had previously said the 21-year-old phenom would not be a player they wanted to shuffle between Memphis and St. Louis and that he would be in the big leagues for good once he first came up.

Wacha even proclaimed, “I’m here to stay,” when he first arrived at Busch Stadium after the Cardinals called him up to start May 30 against the Kansas City Royals.

But reality intersected everybody’s dreams. The Cardinals brought Wacha to the majors before they really wanted to after starters Westbrook, Jaime Garcia and John Gast all suffered injuries in May, and he then didn’t excel as much as people expected/hoped.

Wacha pitched great in his first start, striking out six while allowing one run on two hits in seven innings against the Royals, but in every other start he looked more similar to a 21-year-old rookie who was barely a full year removed from college.

He gave up six runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings June 4 to the Arizona Diamondbacks and allowed two runs in the first inning Wednesday against the New York Mets before settling in for six innings to get his first career victory as the Cardinals won 9-2.

Lyons, meanwhile, won his first two career starts, giving up one run in each, and then lost his next two as he allowed four runs each to two 2012 playoff teams, the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds.

However, Lyons doesn’t career the immense Wacha-type expectations with him. Lyons throws in the low-90s rather than Wacha’s 97 mph fastball, and he doesn’t have Wacha’s devastating change-up. Lyons was drafted in the ninth round of the 2010 MLB draft while the Cardinals took Wacha 19th overall in the 2012 draft.

All of that means Wacha is a prized prospect, and Lyons is just another pitcher the team hopes will contribute solid innings for years, rather than a top-of-the-rotation ace.

So the top-rated prospect went back to the minors to continue to develop. The Cardinals have a lot of pitching depth, but no team can afford to mess up the development of its first-round picks, and Wacha ran into some obstacles in two of his three starts.

Perhaps those experiences will benefit him in the long run. He now knows what to expect at the big-league level, but the Cardinals have also seen the ugly side of rushing prospects to the majors as much as any team when Rick Ankiel exploded with five wild pitches against the Atlanta Braves in the 2000 playoffs as a 20-year-old.

Ankiel, of course, ran into numerous other issues that ultimately derailed his pitching career, but he remains the prime example of what can happen when rushing a player to the big leagues goes bad.

The Cardinals also have plenty of cushion right now. They have the best record in baseball and plenty of other lesser prospects that can fill temporary voids.

Lyons could certainly develop into a solid pitcher who has a long career with the Cardinals, but the team has pinned its long-term hopes to Wacha.

Although Wacha wasn’t “here to stay,” he will be soon enough.

The restraint the Cardinals show in pushing Wacha now will pay off in the future, and that’s why he was the correct choice to send to the minors to open a spot for Westbrook.

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St. Louis Cardinals face much tougher schedule to begin June

The St. Louis Cardinals have rolled through the second month of the season with a 20-6 record heading into the final two days of May, but they’ll face much stiffer competition as the calendar turns to June.

ShelbyMillerYadierMolina

The Cardinals played just four games in May against teams that have a winning record. They opened the month with a win in the final game of a three-game series against the second-place Cincinnati Reds and took two of three from the second-place Colorado Rockies a week-and-a-half later.

Other than that, the Cardinals played 22 games against teams with losing records and won all but five of them.

June, however, presents a much different challenge. The Cardinals will play 15 games against five teams that have winning records. The first two weeks are the most difficult, as the Cardinals face the San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks and Reds in consecutive series.

They then get a respite against the New York Mets, Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs, but series against the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics surround a two-game set with the Houston Astros to finish the month.

So hopefully the Cardinals have all of their pitching injuries out of the way. The team thrived in May even though it had to use rookie starters John Gast and Tyler Lyons as Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia went on the disabled list. It also had to rely on rookie relievers Seth Maness and Carlos Martinez when it sent Mitchell Boggs and Marc Rzepczynski to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds because of ineffectiveness.

Those issues didn’t disrupt the team at all. In fact, it played five games better in May with the injuries than it did in April when everybody was healthy.

But that was also against some of the worst teams in Major League Baseball. Now the Cardinals will find out how good they really are as they face a run of playoff-caliber teams.

The pitching staff will be tested against better lineups, but the Cardinals hitters will also face superior pitching staffs. The Diamondbacks (3.38), Reds (3.28) and Rangers (3.48) are all ranked in the top six in earned-run average, while the A’s and Giants are 16th and 17th, respectively, but are teams built around their pitching staffs.

That means the Cardinals will spend the month facing more pitchers such as Patrick Corbin, who is 8-0 with a 1.71 ERA for the Diamondbacks, and fewer pitchers such as Dillon Gee, who is 2-6 with a 6.34 ERA for the Mets.

Thankfully, the Cardinals established the best record in baseball during their recent stretch against sub-.500 teams, so they have some insurance in the bank if they struggle against some of the better teams ahead on the schedule.

However, these are the types of teams the Cardinals will have to eventually beat to reach the playoffs and then win meaningful games in October.

If the Cardinals post a winning record in the next two weeks, especially considering the injuries they’re battling, they could be poised to put together a season-long record that would rival some of the best in franchise history.

It’s been nice to watch the Cardinals consistently win in the past month, but they are now headed into an important part of the schedule that should give us a good idea about how tough this team will be late into the season.

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Rick Ankiel Returns To St. Louis

Rick Ankiel began the 2013 season as a member of the Houston Astros.  After a month of the season, he was given his release and found himself a free agent.

RickAnkiel

Until today.

Ankiel is on his way to St. Louis and is expected to be in the starting lineup tonight when the New York Mets take the field against Ankiel’s former team.

The story of Ankiel and his journey through baseball from starting pitcher to slugging outfielder is well documented.  His time in St. Louis developed a near cult following, thanks in large part to the love Aaron Hooks and Cards Diaspora shows him on a regular basis.

Tonight Ankiel returns to Busch Stadium, once again as a member of the opposition.  He has spent limited time in the visitor’s dugout of Busch Stadium, having played only six games against the team that drafted him.  In those six games, he is hitting .250 with no home runs and a single run batted in.  He does boast a .260 average with 24 home runs and 83 runs batted in over the course of 489 at bats during his career at the current version of Busch Stadium.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at i70baseball.
You can follow him on Twitter by 
clicking here.

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Adam Wainwright back in domination mode

This is the Adam Wainwright the St. Louis Cardinals think is worth $97.5 million for the next five years.

a-Wainwright

In his second season after Tommy John surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament, Wainwright has returned to the Cy Young award-caliber pitcher he was before the injury.

He simply dominated the Washington Nationals on Tuesday and now has a 4-1 record and a 1.93 earned-run average with 37 strikeouts against one walk in five starts. He’s established himself once again as the Cardinals’ ace, and that’s a huge relief for everybody involved.

Wainwright had put together a 64-34 record with a 2.99 earned-run average in four seasons as a starter before he suffered the elbow injury at the beginning of spring training in 2011. He also possessed a fastball that reached 96 mph and one of the most devastating curveballs in Major League Baseball.

But that was gone for much of 2012. Wainwright had a winning record, 14-13, but he also had the highest ERA of his career, 3.94, and rarely had the dominating games he did before the injury. His fastball wasn’t as fast, his curveball didn’t break as sharply and too many of his pitches were up in the strike zone, which allowed hitters to often drive balls they hit for extra base hits.

He did have a few standout games, including a four-hit, complete-game shutout May 22 against the San Diego Padres, but he also had several poor stretches such as back-to-back games against the Nationals and New York Mets in late August and early September when he gave up a combined 11 runs in just 7.2 innings.

Wainwright said he was sure his good stuff would come back, but he hadn’t proved it until that complete game against the Padres.

“It’s a huge sense of relief; it’s a huge sense of feeling blessed,” he said after the shutout against San Diego. “Mentally, tonight, I was so much better than I had been. I’ve worked very hard to get back to where I am.”

However, not every game went so well, and the Cardinals had an important decision to make as the 2013 season approached. Wainwright was about to enter the final year of his contract, and the Cardinals had to figure out if they were going to keep him beyond this season.

Overall, his career track showed he could be as good a pitcher as there is the game, but his performances after the injury caused plenty of concern.

Yes, most pitchers come back from Tommy John surgery and pitch as well as they did beforehand, but successful surgery is never a guarantee, and Wainwright’s 2012 season offered no certainties that he would ever be the type of pitcher he was beforehand.

But the Cardinals signed him to the long-term deal March 28, just days before the season started. Now, it is a fairly big risk to give a five-year contract to a 31-year-old pitcher who had major elbow surgery, but so far Wainwright has made the Cardinals’ management look pretty smart.

And the best could be yet to come. Wainwright sliced through the Nationals on Tuesday for 8.1 shutout innings with nine strikeouts and his first walk of the season after 34.2 innings, which was fewer than six innings from the franchise record.

He threw a fastball at 94 mph, his curveball buckled Nationals hitters’ knees throughout the night and his control was as precise as ever.

Wainwright is back to the form Cardinals officials hoped they would see when they signed him to the contract extension, and now they can sit back and watch their investment dominate opposing hitters as if its 2010 again.

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Team USA Optimistic About WBC

When the marriage between Major League Baseball and USA Baseball (the national governing body for the sport) took place in 1999, a New Jersey native and former college soccer player named Paul Seiler was second in command of the USAB operation, behind long-time MLB executive Dan O’Brien Sr.

Joe Torre and Tommy Lasorda discuss strategy

Joe Torre and Tommy Lasorda discuss strategy

Seiler and O’Brien worked together to introduce the two organizations to one another, and help the MLB executives that were chosen to guide USA Baseball through the player selection process for the first-ever professional Team USA, that would represent the country at the 1999 Pan Am Games. That event would serve as the qualifying event for the 2000 Olympics.

One year later, after Team USA had successfully qualified for the Olympic Games in Sydney, O’Brien stepped down, and the USAB Board of Directors gave the job of CEO to Seiler, on an interim basis. They wanted to see his leadership ability, as the 2000 Olympic Team was being put together.

With the help of current New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson, former New York Yankees GM Bob Watson, Hall of Fame Manager Tommy Lasorda and a host of many other talented individuals throughout various MLB club front offices, Seiler guided the organization to their finest moment – a gold medal victory at the 2000 Olympic Games.

He has been the Chief Operating Officer ever since – now going on 13 years – and yet he still is looking for that next crowning achievement in the organization’s history.

“What that group of players in 2000 did for USA Baseball as an organization, was give us that world championship that we could hang our hat on,” said Seiler.  “In the history of Olympic baseball, it would have been a shame had the United States not won a Gold Medal at least once.  With our victory in 2000, we can always say that we climbed to the top of the mountain and got it done, that we were the very best baseball team in the world for one moment in time.” (as quoted in the book Miracle on Grass).

Seiler is fully aware of how difficult it can be to get back to the top of the international baseball mountain. In the 12 professional level major international baseball events that have taken place since 2000 – all of which USA Baseball and MLB collaborated on the roster selection process – Team USA has won exactly……….twice.

Although they have had success getting deep into the events and having chances to win, it just hasn’t happened often enough. They were able to win the low-profile, IBAF World Cup in back-to-back attempts in 2007 & 2009, beating Cuba both times. But three losses in gold medal games, and three other third place finishes (including the 2008 Olympics and the 2009 WBC), have added up to it being over 12 years now, since Team USA has won it all on the biggest stage, with the spotlight on the game.

Here are the results of the 14 professional USA Baseball teams that have taken the field.

1999 Pan Am Games 2nd place Silver Medal
2000 Olympic Games 1st place Gold Medal
2001 World Cup 2nd place Silver Medal
2003 Olympic Qualifier Lost in Qtrfinals
2006 World Baseball Classic Lost in 2nd Round
2006 Olympic Qualifier Qualified for 2008 Olympics
2007 Pan Am Games 2nd Place Silver Medal
2008 Olympic Games 3rd place Bronze Medal
2009 World Baseball Classic 3rd Place
2010 Pan Am Qualifier 3rd Place Bronze Medal
2011 Pan Am Games 2nd Place Silver Medal

Seiler saw first-hand the unique brand of motivational speak that the legendary Lasorda used on a group of unheralded minor-league players at the time. But finding the right blend of talent on the field, personalities in the locker room, and a coaching staff that can drum up the same level of success as Lasorda did, with a roster full of proven, veteran big-leaguers, has proven to be much more daunting than he would have originally thought.

For obvious reasons, Seiler is hoping that his manager this time around – Joe Torre here at the 2013 World Baseball Classic – can find that magic in a bottle, and carry the Red, White and Blue to a championship in San Francisco. As MLB.com writer Barry Bloom suggested in his column on Sunday, Lasorda’s Olympic gold has set an example for Torre, and that a WBC triumph for Team USA would get USA Baseball back to the top of the mountain, where Seiler knows they belong.

David Fanucchi is the author of “Miracle on Grass” – How Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda led Team USA to a shocking upset over Cuba, capturing the only Olympic gold medal in USA Baseball history. He was the official Team USA Press Officer for both the 2000 USA Baseball Olympic Team and the 2006 USA World Baseball Classic Team. More information about Fanucchi and Miracle on Grass can be found on his website at www.davidfanucchi.com.  You can follow him on Twitter at @miracleongrass.

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