Padres opt to show Towers the door

Leave a comment

Kevin Towers, the longest tenured GM in baseball, will be let go after 14 years running the show in San Diego, Padres CEO Jeff Moorad confimed Friday night.
The long rumored move will come following a second straight losing season. The Padres have improved from 63-99 in 2008 to 74-85 so far this year, but the second-half surge did Towers no good. The writing had been on the wall since the moment Moorad took control of the team earlier this season.
Despite typically modest payrolls, the Padres won four division titles during Towers’ stay. However, they also finished in fourth or fifth place nine times and lost 95 games on three occasions.
Towers should still be remembered rather fondly in San Diego for the Adrian Gonzalez/Chris Young fleecing of the Rangers. His trades for Phil Nevin, Ryan Klesko and Woody Williams were also big successes, though those teams at the beginning of the decade were failures anyway. His ability to put together quality bullpens, that were always very cheap outside of Trevor Hoffman, had to be one factor that gave Moores pause before he decided to let him go.
But, in the end, player development problems doomed Towers. In my Restoring the Rosters series in August, I ranked the Padres 28th in talent signed. Of the 28 first- and supplemental first-round picks to come on board during Towers’ tenure, only one, Khalil Greene, has turned into a quality major leaguer. Now, it’s still too early to judge those last 10, all of whom have been drafted since 2007, and Tim Stauffer is recently showing signs of life, but that’s an abysmal track record.
The Padres need some new blood, so they’ll look outside of the organization for a successor. Jerry DiPoto and Peter Woodfork, both of whom worked with Moorad in Arizona, seem like logical choices. DiPoto has been a hot name the last couple of years anyway, and he should be considered the favorite for the job,

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
1 Comment

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

Harry How/Getty Images
6 Comments

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.