Talks between Jeter and Yankees already looking problematic

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When it comes to matters of Derek Jeter, the Yankees and free agency, everyone seems to agree on one thing: it’s best that the negotiations do not turn ugly.  Unfortunately, that may no longer be possible.

Yankees managing partner Hal Steinbrenner told a New York-based radio station Tuesday that Jeter is wanted back, but also that he’s running a “business” and that the Yanks aren’t simply going to hand the 36-year-old shortstop a blank check because he’s loved and revered.  It was a sensible comment, given that Jeter has fallen off considerably both on offense and defense and finished the 2010 season with an OPS of 710 — a good 127 points below his career average of 837.

Jeter knows that he’s not the player he once was and his agent, Casey Close, knows that just as well.  But Close also knows that the Yankees will face a PR nightmare if they let their “captain” walk this winter and go with Eduardo Nunez at shortstop instead.  There’s no denying that Jeter has major leverage in this situation and it certainly sounds like he plans to use it.

SI.com’s Jon Heyman heard from industry sources Wednesday that Jeter could be seeking a six-year contract that would take him into age 42.  And now Jeter’s agent is telling AOL Fanhouse that his client’s value to the Yankees “cannot be overstated” and that “no athlete embodies the spirit of a champion more.”

Contract talks probably haven’t even started yet and the two sides are already battling it out publicly. Jeter wants to end his career in New York, the Yankees want him to end his career in New York, but there’s a clear disagreement as to how much he deserves to be paid over these final few years.  And for how long he deserves to be paid.

Jeter isn’t going anywhere.  He will be back with the Yankees in 2011 and for a few years beyond that, but the path toward a peaceful pact this winter looks to be a rocky one.

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.