Inspired by tonight’s World Baseball Classic final, which pits the Puerto Rico against the Dominican Republic, I thought it’d be interesting to see how a Californian team (for once we secede from the union) would look. And, as it turns out, it was very interesting!
Here’s the team:
(Note: To be eligible to play for Team California, a player had to be born and raised [attend high school] in the state.)
Catcher: Travis d’Arnaud (Lakewood, Lakewood)
Catching is not one of our great state’s strengths as d’Arnaud, who has yet to play in a major league game, takes the starting job. But what d’Arnaud lacks in experience, he makes up for in prestige – d’Arnaud is one of the top ranked prospect in baseball and was the key return for the Mets when they traded reigning Cy Young-award winner R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays. And even if d’Arnaud doesn’t pan out, it’s fine because he’s really just a seat filler until San Juan Capistrano-native Austin Hedges is ready.
Alternate: John Jaso (Chula Vista, McKinleyville)
First base: Adrian Gonzalez (San Diego, Chula Vista)
To be fair, if California was its own country and took part in the World Baseball Classic, it’s most likely that Adrian would still choose to play for the Mexican team but as this is purely hypothetical, he’s here. And while he’s lost a step in his old(er) age, Adrian is still one of the best first basemen in baseball and the best that California has to offer.
Alternate: Freddie Freeman (Fountain Valley, Orange)
Second base: Dustin Pedroia (Woodland, Woodland)
What is it about California that makes players want to grow up to become second basemen? Along with Pedroia, alternate Chase Utley and honorable mention Danny Espinosa highlight the depth that this state has to offer at second. Pedroia was an easy selection for the starting job, however, as his track record speaks for itself (+5.6 career WAR per 162 games).
Alternate: Chase Utley (Pasadena, Long Beach)
Third base: Evan Longoria (Downey, Bellflower)
The first of many Long Beach State representatives on Team California, Longoria was another no-brainer. Like, I don’t even need to explain this one, right?
Alternate: Mike Moustakas (Chatsworth, Chatsworth)
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki (Santa Clara, Sunnyvale)
Another former Dirtbag, another no-brainer. Go figure.
Alternate: Jimmy Rollins (Oakland, Alameda)
Left field: Ryan Braun (Granada Hills, Granada Hills)
This article is proving very easy to write. But it’s worth noting that everyone’s favorite delicate left fielder is our alternate. Though I suppose that means I should provide two alternates here.
Alternate: Carlos Quentin (Bellflower, Chula Vista)
Center field: Adam Jones (San Diego, San Diego)
I posted an article similar to this one in 2010 around the time of World Cup (of soccer) and Jones made the team in right after losing out in center to Tony Gwynn, Jr. And while I love AJ – looooove AJ – that’s kind of embarrassing. Fortunately, Jones has picked up his game in the past couple of years and is now the obvious pick in center.
Alternate: Brett Jackson (Berkeley, Orinda)
Right field: Giancarlo Stanton (Panorama City, Tujunga)
You’ll notice that the outfield for Team California looks an awful lot like the outfield for Team USA. On a team packed with superstars, Stanton might be the best and he’s still only 23-years-old. If California does secede, they should consider putting his face on money.
Alternate: Will Venable (Greenbrae, San Francisco)
Starting pitching: Cole Hamels (San Diego, San Diego), Tommy Milone (Saugus, Saugus), CC Sabathia (Vallejo, Vallejo), Stephen Strasburg (San Diego, Santee), Jered Weaver (Northridge, Simi Valley)
Hmm, which pitcher doesn’t seem to fit the? The 26-year-old Milone beat out established guys like James Shields and C.J. Wilson and up-and-comers like Tyler Skaggs and A.J. Griffin to grab the final spot. And really, even in a seven game series, I don’t see this pitching staff leaving much for the fifth starter to do anyway.
Alternate: C.J. Wilson (Fountain Valley, Fountain Valley)
Relief pitching: Sergio Romo (Brawley, Brawley), David Hernandez (Sacramento, Sacramento), Vinnie Pestano (Huntington Beach, Anaheim)
While the bullpen lacks the star power that the rotation has, they’re still more than capable of closing out the game, as Romo and Hernandez are two of the best relievers in baseball and Pestano is a closer in the making (hey, that means something!). And while I only listed three guys, California’s options are deep with names like Heath Bell, Brandon League, Ryan Madison and the chosen alternate waiting in the wings.
Alternate: Addison Reed (Etiwanda, Rancho Cucamonga)
And there you have it. Now, who wants to talk about how the uniforms should look?