Who's the next manager of the Blue Jays?

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This is not exactly the most pressing question in the baseball blabosphere these days. While we obsess about La Russa and Torre and Mattingly and Ryne Sandberg, while we wonder who the next Mets’ boss will be (“I’m standing right here!” Jerry Manuel says, “I haven’t been fired yet!”) and while Bobby Valentine is shuttled off to every possible job opening, no one seems to care much about the Jays.

Even in a big (and very good) article about the outgoing Jays’ manager — Cito Gaston — there is only passing mention of his possible successor, and then no names are named. Maybe because, beyond a brief mention of wanting someone with MLB experience, the GM doesn’t know himself:

“I don’t have a criteria,” Anthopoulos said. “There are certain traits I
think anybody would agree that everyone looks for in a successful
manager. But I’m really not tied down to any style, whether it’s a
first-time manager or an experienced guy, or it’s age or background, I’m
really not limiting myself at all. I’m being incredibly open-minded.”

I don’t know who the perfect choice is for Toronto — the only candidate I’ve seen mentioned recently is Pat Listach — as they’re sort of a tweener when it comes to the success cycle. They have some older offensive pieces but young pitching. I’ll cop to not following the Jays as much as I follow a lot of other teams, but logic dictates that the future is really in the arms, so you want a guy who can handle a pitching staff.

Any ideas? None of the usual suspects out there really strike me as good fits.  I’d say a minor league guy might be best, assuming he’s had some experience with helping a smart organization work with young pitching.  Really, though, I’m kind of lost on this one and would like some of you guys to help me out.

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.