After declaring the WBC “teetering towards irrelevance”, here are some pre-Spring Training “hot or not” choices from the always-sizzling Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory).

HOT: Billy Beane. He seems untroubled by his two biggest gambles of the winter: first, that Milton Bradley’s on-field skills outweigh his explosive temper, and second, that Frank Thomas was a better investment than Mike Piazza as a DH. Beane was even willing to take on the ever-petulant David Wells before making a wiser choice in Esteban Loaiza. If the experiments all work in Beane’s favor, the A’s will be ready to reclaim the AL West from the Angels.

NOT: Mike Piazza. He had to lower his price to a mere $2 million to join the cash-poor Padres. The fact that Piazza had to literally beg for meaningful work should put retirement on his list of options, although he obviously deserves a chance to hit his 400th home run first.

HOT: Younger players and all capable backups. Remember, this is the first year that amphetamines will be outlawed by Major League Baseball. An army of older players will be dragging, especially during day games after night games. The action on Sunday afternoons will be notably slower, par in 2006.

NOT: Bengie Molina. What was he thinking, turning down $18 million over three years from the Mets?