Eric Wedge's job is safe for some reason

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As I mentioned in the recaps this morning, Eric Wedge’s job is safe:

Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro says Indians manager Eric
Wedge’s job is safe for the rest of the season. The Indians, expected
to contend in the AL Central Division, are 33-49, the worst record in
the league. Shapiro says this season’s disappointments are the fault of
players, the manager, coaches and the front office.

Four things listed there. Let’s break them down:

Players: roster assembled by GM
Coaches: hired by the GM
Front Office: run by the GM
Manager: Wedge.

Maybe GM Mark Shapiro is right not to fire Wedge. After all, he’s only 1/4 of the problem . . .

In all seriousness, however, this has to be pretty demoralizing for
Indians’ fans who are very, very tired of team Shapiro-Wedge at this
point. The CW is to point to injuries, but every team suffers injuries.
The job of the GM and the manager is to work through them, and Shapiro
and Wedge have been utterly unable to do that. Shapiro set up a roster
dependent upon too many guys with injury histories staying healthy and
on too many pitchers who would have to have or at least repeat career
years in order to be useful. Meanwhile one can only assume that Wedge
is the one who has insisted on the Tribe carrying a thirteen man
pitching staff while scraping to cover for Sizemore’s absence in center
and while Matt LaPorta rots down in Columbus (not that there’s anything wrong with C-Bus). In light of all of that, how are Shapiro and Wedge still employed?

A fellow who comments at my other blog
believes that the real problem is simple dollars and cents: “Wedge, and
more than likely Shapiro, would have been fired a while back if Larry
Dolan had the money to pay their salaries and the guys who would
replace them.” There may be some truth to that. Shapiro is under
contract through 2012, and likely makes something more than Eric Wedge
— who is under contract through next year — does, at just north of a
million a year. Figure, then, that canning those guys will cause Dolan
to have to pay at least another $5 million to fill their jobs.

None of which makes this any less depressing for Indians’ fans.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.