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With the World Baseball Classic fast approaching (and star players dropping out even faster) we here at Umpbump decided it was time to look at the best all-time teams from several countries. Next up in our series: Venezuela.

There’s only one Venezuelan Hall of Famer, Luis Aparicio, and amazingly he didn’t make the cut. How come? Because he was going up against future Hall of Famer Omar Vizquel, that’s why. But you know what? I can’t keep Aparicio on the bench. He’s clearly one of the best Venezuelan ballplayers of all time. So let’s move him to second base even though that wasn’t his natural position (sorry Melvin Mora) and our new roster looks like this:

C Victor Martinez
1B Andres Galarraga
2B Luis Aparicio
SS Omar Vizquel
3B Miguel Cabrera
RF Bobby Abreu
LF Magglio Ordonez
CF Richard Hidalgo

Aparicio and Vizquel combine to form a lights out up-the-middle defensive duo. Other players of note are Andres Galarraga, who had such a casual swing they called him “Big Cat,” and Bobby Abreu and Magglio Ordonez, who will both get a few HOF votes when their times come. Then there are young players like Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera who have been nothing short of brilliant in their brief careers. The only real weak spot in this lineup is center field, where Richard Hidalgo gets the nod over the defensively adept but light hitting Endy Chavez. I didn’t do fantasy baseball when Hidalgo was in his prime, and thank goodness. He would have driven me nuts. His OPS+ from 2000-2003: 147, 102, 87, 143.

That leaves Carlos Guillen, Chavez, Edgardo Alfonzo, Melvin Mora and Tony Armas on the bench.

The pitching staff looks like this:

SP Johan Santana
SP Felix Hernandez
SP Carlos Zambrano
SP Freddy Garcia
SP Kelvim Escobar

It’s a young staff. Johan Santana is an almost certain future Hall of Famer, but beyond him there’s a lot of uncertainty. Felix Hernandez could certainly join the ranks of elite pitchers any season now, but he’s yet to do so. Freddy Garcia had a few good seasons before an injury sapped him of his velocity. Kelvim Escobar won 18 games in 2008 and Zambrano, well, he’d be worth having in the lineup if only for his bat.

The bullpen is kind of a punch line, with the declining but still effective K-Rod followed by the murderous Ugueth Urbina and the gluttonous Richard Garces.

CL K-Rod
RP Ugueth Urbina
RP El Guapo

The Final Verdict: The Venezuelan team is good, but it is young and it will be a few years before we know if some of the kids really belong. Will King Felix blossom into an ace? Will Miguel Cabrera continue his hot hitting? Will Victor Martinez rebound from surgery and remain effective behind the plate? Stay tuned.

6 Responses to “Umpbump Presents: The All-Venezuelan Team”

  1. Antonio says:

    I would take Cesar Tover or Vic Davalillo in Center instead of Hidalgo. They are not power hitters like Hidalgo, but more average and speed… and not to mention their influence on these next generation of outfielders from Venezuela.

    For a true 2B, Manny Trillo would have to be considered for this team. 4 time All-Star and 3 time gold glove.

    Dave Comcepcion, Ozzie Guillen and Bo Diaz must be added to the bench at least.

    Pretty amazing to see how much better these next generation of players are.

  2. Trillo gets points for longevity and solid defense, but he really didn’t do much at the plate. I suppose we can give him a bench spot.

    Tovar was an outfielder with minimal power (he never hit more than 11 home runs) and while he stole a lot of bases he got thrown out anywhere from 25-50% of the time. Pretty much the same holds true of Davalillo.

    Conception? He can have a bench spot, and he gets points for playing his entire 19-year career in Cincy. I didn’t mention this in the post, but Guillen is my manager. And Diaz…he wasn’t that good.

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Coley, I don’t know how I feel about this moving people to different positions stuff. I’m doing the Dominican team post now and it would be much easier if I could, say, move Hanley Ramirez to second base! That feels like a cop-out.

  4. But what is the point of creating an all-Venezuela team if you can’t find a spot for the two best Venezuelan players of all time? Besides, it’s not like we’re putting Aparicio at catcher. He was a SS and we’re moving him to 2B, an easier position that doesn’t demand any more offense.

    If it makes you feel better, we can move Vizquel to second base. He played one game there in 1991.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    I gue-eeeessss…..

  6. Daniel Gamboa says:

    I really don’t know how Richard Hidalgo can be considered a better option than Tony Armas. Armas was an American League leader in homeruns and RBI’s way before the hitters and steroids era. He did that playing most of his games at Fenway Park.
    Also, if The idea is to keep both Vizquel and Aparicio in the lineup, I think that statistically Vizquel played more games out of the short stop. The argument about who was a better player can last very long, but the fact is that Aparicio is a HOF while Vizquel hasn’t earned that merit yet.
    As much as I liked Kelvim Escobar, I must admit that Luis Leal had better career numbers than him.

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