Still "nothing" between the Red Sox and Victor Martinez

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Victor Martinez.jpgNothing particularly new here, but with the recent extension handed out to Joe Mauer and the start of the season just one day away, there’s a very good chance that Victor Martinez will be the premiere catcher on the free agent market this winter.

Consistent with what he has said all spring, Martinez told Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald on Friday that he doesn’t want to negotiate a contract extension during the season.

“During the season, I really have enough to worry about, just playing
the game,” Martinez said. “I don’t want any distraction.”

It would appear that the Red Sox should have a sense of urgency to re-sign Martinez, but Lauber does a pretty good job of playing devil’s advocate. Martinez isn’t viewed as a particularly strong defensive catcher — Driveline Mechanics has him somewhere in the middle of the pack — as he threw out just 13.8 percent of baserunners last season.

Also, although Martinez is expected to be the primary backstop in Boston this season, remember that he’ll turn 32 in December, meaning that his future is likely at first base or designated hitter. Translate his offensive output behind the plate to first base and while he’s still very good, he’s not nearly as impressive as say, Ryan Howard, who will be a free agent after the 2011 season. 

In turn, Martinez told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that he doesn’t need assurances of staying behind the plate as part of his next contract:

“I don’t think I’m going to have to say that,” Martinez said. “I’ll just
play where they need me to play. I just want to help my team win every
night. If my body lets me catch, I’ll be more than happy to do it. I
really like the position and I prepare myself to catch every day.”

Martinez has repeatedly said that he doesn’t want to switch teams yet again — being traded from Cleveland left the man in tears — but interest in a contract extension shouldn’t be a foregone conclusion, even from the Red Sox perspective.
      

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.