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Yankees in the World Baseball Classic

By: Nick Marro

As the rosters for the World Baseball Classic near completion, many players have made commitments. Among these are nine Yankees who will likely make a large impact on the team next season. While everyone knows the WBC is great for the sport of baseball and further expanding its world market, it is also a great opportunity to help the Yankees reach greater success in 2009; despite the obvious risk of injury.

Alfredo Aceves
(Mexico): Aceves excelled as a September call-up last season posting a 2.40 ERA in six appearances. At the age of 26 Aceves has been considered by some scouts as a potential four-slot starting pitcher. The WBC should be constructive for Aceves not only in terms of pitching but also for exposure which would increase trade value if the Yankees ever needed to make him expendable

Melky Cabrera (Dominican Republic): Cabrera is coming off a disappointing season which has led to talk of him loosing his starting centerfield position to Bret Gardner for 2009. Despite success in the Winter League this off-season, Cabrera has faced constant criticism for his attitude and inconsistent play. This means that the WBC will give Cabrera an opportunity to prove critics wrong and help solidify a spot in the opening day line-up.

Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic): Cano, who got hot at the end of last season (as always), has lost weight and has the organization excited for 2009. The World Baseball classic will provide Cano some much needed at bats after posting only mediocre numbers in winter ball. The WBC should also help Cano gain some momentum going into spring training and opening day.

Francisco Cervelli (Italy): Cervelli who is currently third on the Yankees depth chart for catchers struggled in his call-up last September as well as his stint in the Winter League this off-season. Any professional experience will help Cervelli to further develop and make a potential impact on the team.

Derek Jeter (USA): While you can pretty much count on Jeter to be productive come opening day, it is exciting for team USA to have Jeter on the roster considering the number all-star caliber players turning down invitations. Jeter will bring leadership qualities to team USA as they try to erase their round two collapse of 2006.

Damaso Marte (Dominican Republic): Marte finished the 2008 season strong allowing only one run in the month of September. Following the season the Yankees declined Marté's option only to re-sign him to a three year deal. Marte will likely see a lot of action in 2009 setting up Rivera in hold situations. The WBC along with spring training will used to test if Marte is the right pitcher for the primary set-up role.

Edwar Ramirez
(Dominican Republic): Ramirez surpassed expectations in 2008 despite finishing the season with some shaky appearances. It will be interesting to see how Ramirez performs on an international level and if he can further develop as he turns 28 the end of March

Alex Rodriguez (Dominican Republic): A-Rod has faced constant criticism for his “inability to perform in the clutch.” The WBC may provide Rodriguez some meaningful at bats on an international level. This could be encouraging for some fans and critics, regardless of whether or not he plays for team USA.

Jose Veras (Dominican Republic): At 28 Veras has emerged as a vital part of the Yankees bullpen. However, giving up a hit in each of his last six relief appearances is not very reassuring. Fans should pay close attention to how Veras performs in the WBC as he will receive a lot of appearances in 2009 and any success at all will be reassuring.

Others to note:

Jorge Posada (Puerto Rico): The Yankees are expected to keep Posada from playing in the WBC as he is still rehabbing from surgery. If Posada does play in this years WBC it will be interesting to see how he performs considering he hasn’t played since July 2008.

Bernie Williams (Puerto Rico): Williams hasn’t played professional baseball in more than two years but he has been named to Team Puerto Rico’s provisional roster for 2009. Interviews are showing an excited Williams who isn’t ruling out a return to the MLB barring success in the WBC.

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