The Miami Marlins' roster to start the 2013 season may be quite weak, but that does not mean that it will not boast some talent worthy of recognition on the world's stage. This year's World Baseball Classic will feature three Marlins playing on team rosters this season, as Giancarlo Stanton, Steve Cishek, and Henderson Alvarez will play during the Classic. Stanton and Cishek are members of Team USA, while Alvarez will pitch for Team Venezuela.
For the Marlins, it has been some time since they have had a representative for Team USA, let alone two players. The Marlins will be represented on the USA squad for the first time since the 2006 season that had Dontrelle Willis pitch for the team. Stanton, of course, will be coming in almost as decorated as Willis did in 2006; recall that Willis was coming off of a Cy Young runner-up season and was a former Rookie of the Year and World Series winner. Stanton is one of the game's elite young players and should make Miami fans proud in representing Team USA.
Cishek is one of three relievers selected who are heading into the 2013 season as "closers" for their respective teams; the other two are Chris Perez of the Cleveland Indians and Craig Kimbrel of the Atlanta Braves. Along with those names are a number of solid or better relievers and one interesting train wreck of a player in former Marlins closer Heath Bell, who was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks in late October and will now be rejoining Cishek in a bullpen. For Team USA's sake, they had better find a nice, limited niche for Bell so as to not hurt themselves int he future.
The rest of Team USA looks like a decent club, primarily featuring a lineup with David Wright, Mark Teixeira, and a bevy of strong outfielders including Stanton and Ryan Braun. The pitching staff is headlined by R.A. Dickey and Kris Medlen, two of only four starters on the team. It seems as though the added rest between games has allowed Team USA to run fewer starting pitchers in favor of specialization out of the bullpen. The team can lean on a strong offense to carry them through the tournament.
Elsewhere, Henderson Alvarez will get a shot to contribute to a starting rotation for Team Venezuela led by Felix Hernandez and manned also by a pair of former Marlins. Two-fifths of last year's Opening Day rotation will also pitch for Team Venezuela, as Anibal Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano are also on the team. In addition, no Marlins corollary from this team would be complete without mention of Miguel Cabrera making yet another appearance in the games for his native country. The rest of the team is filled out by a decent starting lineup with Asdrubal Cabrera, Elvis Andrus, and Pablo Sandoval in the infield and Carlos Gonzalez, Gerardo Parra, and Martin Prado in the outfield.
Team USA is considered the better squad and is one of the favorites in the tournament, but despite the poor ranking of Team Venezuela, I believe they have a very competitive club. And while the Marlins may not have much to which to look forward in 2013, at least their representatives in the World Baseball Classic should do their team name proud.