Dodgers get better, worse with Ted Lilly acquisition

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There’s a case to be made that Ted Lilly was worth Blake DeWitt, Brett Wallach and Kyle Smit.
What I don’t get was why Ryan Theriot was a part of these talks, unless he’s about to be spun into another trade. Theriot is hitting just .284/.320/.327 in 388 at-bats this season. If he’s a better defender than DeWitt at second base, he’s still probably below average there. He’s a poor baserunner for someone with above average speed, and he seems to have lost the plate discipline that made him an adequate regular in the first place.
The second baseman the Dodgers should have picked up in the deal was Mike Fontenot. A left-handed hitter, he would have been a fine platoon partner for Jamey Carroll in the Dodger infield. His .281/.328/.394 line this year is nothing special, but it’s been dragged down by pinch-hitting appearances. Plus, since he’s due only a modest raise from his $1 million salary, he should be worth hanging on to in 2011. Theriot is already making $2.6 million, so he’s a definite candidate to be non-tendered in the offseason.
I’m not a big DeWitt fan, so I’m fine with giving him up for Lilly and the possibility of two draft picks this winter. The 24-year-old has outplayed Theriot this year, but he lacks great range at second and he’s probably never going to display the power to play third on a regular basis. He’s a tweener.
Wallach, 21, had a 3.72 ERA and a 92/43 K/BB ratio in 84 2/3 innings for low Single-A Great Lakes. Tim’s son has a chance to be a legitimate major league starter, but he needs to tighten up his slider. He was probably the Dodgers’ fifth- or sixth-best pitching prospect. Smit, a 22-year-old right-hander, is a fringe relief prospect. He had a 2.35 ERA and a 47/10 K/BB ratio in 53 2/3 innings, most of them coming at high-A Inland Empire.
Lilly’s addition should provide a significant boost to the Dodger rotation. He’s been inconsistent, but he’s healthy now and he’s a nice fit in Dodger Stadium with his flyball tendencies. While L.A. is still far from a lock for the postseason, the price paid for the left-hander was worth it. Now if only they can go get themselves a real second baseman before the deadline. They should be after Kelly Johnson.

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.