It really has not happened yet. A team has yet to lose one of their best players to injury as a result of playing in The World Baseball Classic. It is going to happen one of these years and it will change the format of this international tournament.
The first place you are going to see a difference is in player contracts. When a free agent comes to a team, you are going to start noticing lingo stating that a said player must not play in these types of tournaments. I’m sure Donald Fehr and the gang will fight this, but simply put, if I am paying someone $10 million per year, I should be allowed to say whether or not that player can participate in such events. It is already in contracts that players can’t water ski, ride a motorcycle, chop wood, etc.
This tournament hurt almost every pitcher who participated in 2006. It will be interesting to see of this trend continues. In my opinion, it is important for a pitcher to go to spring training and slowly build stamina over 40 days to endure the rigors of an entire MLB season. Historically, pitchers who get hurt in the Spring, rarely have a complete and/or productive season. By pushing a pitcher like Roy Oswalt to throw an extra twenty pitches against Venezuela, you are not doing the Astros any favors.
I love watching these games. It is like a mini all-star game for most teams. Cuba and the Asians have their own talent pool. The Domenicans, Americans, Venezuelans, Canadians, and Puerto Ricans, are loaded with contracted major league talent. The players like to skip school to play in it, the fans love it, but somewhere mid to upper management cringes and loathes what this tournament can potentially ruin for a whole team with one injury. It hasn’t happened yet, but when it does, look for the new format called The World Amateur Baseball Challenge.
The Cleveland Indians just spent plenty to sign Mark DeRosa to be their new third baseman. DeRosa banged a two-out two-run triple in the fourth inning last night putting the USA back in the game. If DeRosa pulls his groin sliding and misses 3-6 weeks, how happy is GM Mark Shapiro with the tournament? Thank goodness that did not happen, but wait for it, it’s going to.