GM: Freese may be Cards' third baseman in 2010

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Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said yesterday that David Freese will have a legitimate opportunity to become the team’s starting third baseman next season:

We have to look at the make-up of our club and how everything comes together between now and next spring. But given the second half that he had in Triple-A and how he played up here, it’s my preference to give David a chance to win the job.



I think we would like to give him a shot to play every day. If we need to ramp up the offense in another way, we have plenty of time. But given what he accomplished this year, I definitely think he deserves that chance.

Mozeliak’s comments are interesting not only because of what they mean for Freese but because of what they may mean for impending free agent Mark DeRosa, who started 58 games at third base after coming over in a midseason trade with the Indians. Mozeliak made it clear that the Cardinals “still have interest” in re-signing DeRosa, but added that it “depends on what other pieces fall into place for us.”
DeRosa struggled in St. Louis, hitting just .228/.291/.405 in 262 plate appearances while spending time on the disabled list with a wrist injury that may require offseason surgery, and handing out a multi-year contract to a 35-year-old career .275/.343/.424 hitter rarely makes sense if there’s a younger, cheaper player ready to take over the position. Freese fits that description.
Acquired from the Padres in the 2007 trade for Jim Edmonds, Freese hit .304/.363/.542 in 187 games at Triple-A over the past two seasons, showing good power with 36 homers and 44 doubles. However, he’ll be 27 years old next season, has mediocre plate discipline and a relatively high strikeout rate, and isn’t considered a great defender at third base, although Mozeliak describes him as “no worse than average” with the glove.
I’m generally in favor of giving a chance to non-elite prospects who’ve consistently produced in the minors, because far too often risk-averse teams simply fall back on overpriced veteran mediocrity rather than taking a risk with a relative unknown. Freese is a perfect example and would likely be 90 percent as good as DeRosa at 10 percent the cost, with a chance of being significantly better than the veteran.

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.