As you have probably heard, there are nine Giants headed to the World Baseball Classic, and two Giants minor leaguers:

• Pablo Sandoval (Venezuela)

• Marco Scutaro (Venezuela)

• Jose Mijares (Venezuela)

• Ryan Vogelsong (U.S.A.)

• Jeremy Affeldt (U.S.A.)

• Angel Pagan (Puerto Rico)

• Javier Lopez (Puerto Rico)

• Santiago Casilla (Dominican Republic)

• Sergio Romo (Mexico)

In addition, two minor leaguers with Bay Area ties will also be participating.  Pitcher Clayton Tanner, drafted out of Concord’s De La Salle high school in 2006, will be playing for his native Australia.  (Tanner was released in 2011 and was picked up by Cincinnati at the end of the year, but was released by them in mid-2012 and he returned to the Giants.  He’s a free agent now, but I”m including him.)  Meanwhile, Santa Cruz’s pride and joy (and UC Davis grad) Tyler LaTorre will be one of the backstops for Italy.

The real problem, though, is who isn’t on the rosters…Most of the big stars.  The U.S.A. pitching staff includes…um, Mitchell Boggs, and Tim Collins, and Glen Perkins.  Don’t get me wrong, some of these guys have had good years recently, but is this really an All-Star level team?  Even the starters are lackluster…Vogelsong belongs, even if he’s not a big name, after his last couple of years.  And it’s hard to decry the reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, or impressive youngster Craig Kimbrel.  But Derek Holland?  And Kris Medlen, who had one year of good stats in a swing role?

There are some stars, with David Wright, Ryan Braun, and Giancarlo Stanton…but not the star power at every spot you’d expect a U.S. team to field.

And that’s the problem with the World Baseball Classic…the biggest stars avoid it.  How can the fans take it seriously when it doesn’t truly include a lineup of the best and brightest of MLB?

It’s hard not to compare this to the U.S.A. basketball team in the Olympics.  Even without pros playing, the U.S. pretty much won handily every year they participated until 1988, when the U.S. took bronze.  (There was also the 1972 games, when Soviet Russia won, but those were different times.)  Then, the U.S. gets serious, the pros get in, and the U.S. blows the world away.  And eventually, they get bored, the top players stop participating en masse and taking it seriously, and the U.S. gets sent home with Bronze again in 2004, even with a team with Lebron, Carmelo, Duncan, Dwayne and others.  Every one of those players should have had a McKayla Maroney face on the podium.

Obviously, baseball is a different beast.  There’s a big injury possibilities and fatigue issues, and in Spring Training, that’s something no one wants to see.  But even so, there has to be a little bit of a pride issue, considering this is the “American Pasttime”…and the U.S. has yet to even play in the finals!

Maybe two-time winner Japan is going to start taking it easy…there’s no Ichiro this year, or Hiroki Kuroda.  I don’t know who are the best Japanese players, so looking at the incomplete roster doesn’t help me out.  But it may not be a good sign that six of the players is listing are apparently pixies based on size and weight.

Well, at least we’ve found where that skinny-ass pixie Shinjo really came from…