Holliday wants to play for the New York Yankees

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SI’s Jon Heyman hears from one of Matt Holliday’s friends that Holliday has the Yankees at the top of his list.

Which is interesting.  On the one hand, Holliday thrived in (a) the N.L.; and (b) in small markets, and there is this sense out there, justified or not, that he’s not the sort of player you could just plug into New York and expect him to shine.  On the other hand, the Yankees (a) will have an opening in left field if they let Damon walk and Holliday would fit it well; and (b) they almost always always always go after the top free agent in a given year.  As Heyman himself notes, the last time they didn’t do that was when Carlos Beltran was dangling in the winter of 2004-05.

Heyman handicaps the Holliday field as well, and I more or less agree with his comments on all of the contenders.  Not sure if it’s a ranking or just a listing, but if it’s a ranking he has the Dodgers way too high at number 2, because I really can’t see Manny not exercising his option.  The Braves at number 8 are an intriguing option, simply because they fit what seems like the Holliday mold (N.L., less-intense market) and because they have a glaring need and the ability to spend a little money, assuming they don’t sign Hudson or if they manage to somehow trade off Derek Lowe.

While all of that is interesting, I’m trying to figure out how that sourcing for this story works from a practical angle.  Does Heyman stalk Holliday, figure out who his friends are and then secretly get quotes from them without Holliday’s knowledge, or does Holliday and/or his agent orchestrate this, putting a “friend” with Heyman so it doesn’t look like Holliday is out lobbying the Yankees directly?  Probably doesn’t matter, but I’m going to assume that this is Holliday and his people planting this in an effort to dispel the notion that Holliday is an N.L. only, small market-only kind of guy, and to make the Yankees a credible bargaining tool as he enters the market.

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.