Adrian Gonzalez, Luis Cruz, Hanley Ramirez among WBC selections.

Eight Dodgers will participate in the World Baseball Classic, according to preliminary rosters announced today.World Baseball Classic

Mexico: 1B Adrian Gonzalez, 3B Luis Cruz, SS Alfredo Amezaga.

Venezuela: RP Ronald Belisario

Dominican Republic: SS Hanley Ramirez

Spain: RP Paco Rodriguez

Australia: RP Peter Moylan

Italy: INF Nick Punto

Moylan and Amezaga signed minor-league deals with an invitation to spring training. The other six players are currently on the 40-man roster.

Dodgers Spanish-language color commentator Fernando Valenzuela will be the pitching coach for Team Mexico, a Dodgers spokesperson confirmed, even though he isn’t listed on Mexico’s roster online.

Former Dodgers outfielder Karim Garcia is listed on Mexico’s roster. Former Dodger Andruw Jones, a native of Curaçao, is playing for The Netherlands. Adrian Gonzalez’s brother, who finished last season in Japan, is also playing for Team Mexico.

Rosters must be finalized on Feb. 20.

Daily Distractions: United States WBC roster announced, sexy players, tattoos, and more gossip.

The United States roster for the World Baseball Classic was announced today. Have a look:

United States World Baseball Classic roster

Obviously there are no Dodgers on the roster, but that could change. Think of this roster as a rough draft; teams must submit their final roster on Feb. 20, and all non-WBC players must report to spring training by then.

“Rough” is also a good way of describing the United States’ preliminary starting rotation. Beyond veterans R.A. Dickey and Ryan Vogelsong, who were both excellent in 2012 (and rarely so before 2010), Team USA would have to roll out Derek Holland and Kris Medlen if the tournament started today. Fortunately it doesn’t start today. It starts with three games in three days March 8, 9 and 10 – and possibly a fourth game on March 12 if they can place first or second in a four-team pool that includes Canada, Mexico and Italy. Can Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke sneak in one start? What about Justin Verlander, David Price, Jered Weaver or Matt Cain? Seems like the star power is falling short.

Of course, that didn’t stop the WBC from posting the headline “Stars Align on U.S. Roster for Classic” on its website today. Some feel that headline doesn’t tell the story. Count me in that group.

Some links, *some* of which actually relate to baseball …
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Daily Distractions: Possible beer shortage, new rules for MLB and WBC.

One Dodger fan has begun a crusade to get his beer.

The fan, Thomas Nagano, claims that he was charged for 24 ounces of beer but received less than that at Dodger Stadium when he attended a game this season. The video, which had about 500 views on YouTube when I checked it out this morning, explains the mix-up fairly clearly:

Nagano has already taken up his case with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs. An isolated incident, or a sudsy scam on a seismic scale? Feel free to add your comment below.

On to the links …

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Daily Distractions: How long does it take to rebuild a farm system?

Baseball America is expected to bestow the St. Louis Cardinals with the mantle of Best System in Baseball, eight years after BA had St. Louis ranked dead-last, 30th among the 30 teams. (BA doesn’t typically announce its rankings until late March/early April, but that article explains what to expect and why.)

Folks who spend more time thinking about prospects than major-league players — you know who you are – tend to forget that organizational rankings are nothing more than opinion polls. Titles such as “top organizational prospect” are opinions, not facts.

But I think there’s some significance to the Cardinals’ turnaround to the Dodgers, who ranked sixth, 23rd, 21st, 11th and 24th the last five years (in order) in BA’s annual list. Last March, BA wrote: “If OF Alfredo Silverio hadn’t had a breakout season in 2011, it would be hard to pinpoint a Los Angeles position prospect with much upside—and he could miss the first two months of the season after an offseason auto accident. [Frank] McCourt hasn’t spent on the draft or the international market, severely weakening the system.”

Guggenheim Baseball Management has spent liberally on the major-league product, but team president Stan Kasten has gone out of his way to state the importance of rebuilding the Dodgers’ farm system. That can’t be done overnight, but how long will it take? Eight years might be reasonable in an age of international signing restrictions and draft restrictions that favor lower-revenue teams.

That’s a topic for a longer story on a different day, but definitely good food for thought.

Some links to start your work week:

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Joc Pederson reflects on WBC qualifier with Team Israel.

Dodgers prospect Joc Pederson was playing meaningful games last week, perhaps more meaningful than any the big-league club will play anytime soon.

They were the first — and so far, last — World Baseball Classic games for Team Israel. Pederson, who was at Dodger Stadium on Friday to receive his Branch Rickey Award as the organizational hitter of the year, couldn’t say enough about the three games in Jupiter, Florida.

“It was a great experience, something I’ll never forget,” he said. “We were only together for I think it was maybe 10 days, and I’ve never seen a group of guys have so much team chemistry. It was an unforgettable experience.”
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How the World Baseball Classic helped Ted Lilly.

Here’s one side effect of the World Baseball Classic its founders didn’t foresee:

When California native Ted Lilly was chosen to pitch for the United States in the 2009 WBC, he had to begin his off-season throwing regimen earlier out of necessity. The first games were March 5 — roughly the same time most spring training games begin. His stats in the tournament (2 start, 6 1/3 IP, 4 ER) were nothing special but the season that followed was, especially in comparison to the year before:

Record Pct ERA G GS IP Hits HR BB K
2008 17 - 9 .654 4.09 34 34 204.2 187 32 64 184
2009 12 - 9 .571 3.10 27 27 177.0 151 22 36 151

So the left-hander began throwing earlier every off-season since.

“I’ve started to throw more off the mound, but I throw lighter in terms of effort,” Lilly said, noting he had two throwing sessions before he arrived at Camelback Ranch this year.

Lilly tossed three shutout innings Sunday against his former team, the Cubs, a marked improvement compared to his rocky first outing against the Giants.

One stat that you may have noticed above: Lilly made seven fewer starts in 2009 than he did in 2008. He bounced back to make 30 starts in 2010 and 33 in 2011, his first full season with the Dodgers.

“I take pride in answering the bell every five days,” he said, “but I want to be more effective coming out of the gate.”