Seventy-nine players filed for free agency yesterday

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Seventy-nine players filed for free agency yesterday. The two teams with the most filers: the Cardinals with seven and the Dodgers with six.

For the Cardinals: Rick Ankiel, Mark DeRosa, Troy Glaus, Khalil Greene, Matt Holliday, Jason LaRue and John Smoltz.  Off the top of my head in terms of “would I sign them-a-bilitiy”: yes, yes, no, no, yes, no and (regretfully) no.  In making that judgment I’m assuming that they’ll get roughly what they’re really worth as opposed to finding someone to overpay them. Ankiel could be useful if he doesn’t demand too much dough. DeRosa isn’t as valuable as everyone likes to think he is, but he’s solid and versatile.  Holliday is a no-brainer at Matt Holliday dollars but not worth the Mark Teixeira bucks his agent is allegedly seeking. 

The Dodgers have the most potential free agents at 16. Six filed yesterday: Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, Eric Milton, Orlando Hudson, Ronnie Belliard and Doug Mientkiewicz. Same exercise: yes, yes, no, yes, maybe, and no. None of the yeses seem like they”ll break the bank, and all of them could prove useful to any number of teams.  Wolf may make some real money, but he’s a lefty, and lefties always seem to make their money.

Upside to all of this: having fewer kids around will make custody and child support negotiations easier for the McCourts.

The Dodgers have ten other potential free agents, nine of whom are Brad Ausmus, Juan Castro, Mark Loretta, Guillermo Mota, Will Ohman, Vicente Padilla, Jason Schmidt, Jim Thome, and Jeff Weaver.  Outside of Padilla, I can’t feature them really making an effort to keep any of those guys. Maybe Weaver. Things are always more fun when a Weaver is involved.  

And then there’s Manny. His decision on his option is due by November 10th. The odds of him not exercising seem extraordinarily long to the point of absurdity. Boras will probably wait until the last minute though so he can tell everyone he had heard informal expressions of interest from a half dozen teams.

Every team had players filing for free agency except the Yankees and the Phillies, who have been otherwise occupied lately, and the Reds and Pirates who, last I checked, don’t have any players above the age of eight, let alone any high profile free agents.

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.