Friday, February 8, 2013
CUBAN BASEBALL IN THE WBC
The Cuban baseball team has named it's final roster for the World Baseball Classic. The Cuban national team starts the tournament March 2-6 in a pool with Japan, China and Brazil. The Cuban team brings with them two veterans, infielder Yulieski Gourriel and outfielder Frederich Cepeda. These two make up a pretty good line-up despite losing two good players, Yoenis Cespedes and Aroldis Chapman, who are now playing in the U.S.
The player to watch on the Cuban team is Alfredo Despaigne, who is a 5'9", 176 pound power hitter. Despaigne is an outfielder for Granma of the Cuban Serie Nacional. Another power hitter is Cienfuegos' 6'3" 240 pound first baseman Jose Dariel Abreu. He was the league MVP in 2010-11.
Cuba has a young 22 year old shortstop, Barbaro Arrebarruena, who is a great defender (MLB take note). The Cubans have a 23 year old hard throwing right-hander, Freddy Alvarez, compliments 32 year old Yulieski Gonzalez to form a decent one-two punch in the pitching. Pitching has been Cuba's weak point in past international play.
Cuba has not fared well in recent international play but they seem to have a real good team for this World Baseball Classic.
The highlight of this team has to be the Cuban manager, Victor Mesa. He is worth the price of admission. He can make Billy Martin, Earl Weaver and Lou Piniella blush with some of his arguments and antics with the umpires. During the Havana-Mantanza's play-off game that we attended, Mesa got so aggravated with his pitcher, he came bolting out of the Matanza's dugout and basically yanked the ball from the pitcher and screamed at him to be gone. Besides his animation as a manager, Mesa is a baseball icon in Cuba.
I was impressed with the talent of the players in the playoff game that we attended and I am looking forward to seeing the talent for the national team.
The Cubans are such a passionate people, watch when one of the Havana Industriales' gets plunked in the back. The shenanigans go on for a while.