What they’re saying about the Matt Garza trade…

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The Rays and Cubs agreed to an eight-player trade involving right-hander Matt Garza on Friday afternoon and then completed that trade on Saturday after routine physicals were taken and the correct paperwork was filed.

The Cubs received Garza, outfielder Fernando Perez and left-handed pitching prospect Zach Rossup from Tampa Bay.

The Rays got top pitching prospect Chris Archer, shortstop prospect Hak-Ju Lee, outfield prospect Brandon Guyer, catching prospect Robinson Chirinos and outfielder Sam Fuld from Chicago.

Now, a look at several post-trade reactions from around the baseball media landscape…

* Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times: “Landing Garza is a significant response to upstart Cincinnati’s pitching-driven division title last season and division-rival Milwaukee’s recent trades for Shaun Marcum and Cy Young winner Zack Greinke.  It gives the Cubs a Ryan Dempster-Garza-Carlos Zambrano top three to their starting rotation and makes the back end look stronger.”

* Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times: “As highly regarded as [the Rays’ minor league] system is — ranked third by Baseball America before the trade, second now — the trade provides some needed balance as they were much deeper in pitching prospects than position players.”

* Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB Trade Rumors: “If any team could afford to spare a starter, it was the Rays, who still have David Price, James Shields, Jeff Niemann, Wade Davis and Jeremy Hellickson.”

* Dave Cameron of FanGraphs: “In name value, it’s a big step backwards, and will likely be viewed as just a cost-saving move by the general public. In reality, though, there’s a good chance that the Rays will be better next year by trading Garza away.”

* Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue: “Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster make a very solid top three starters for the 2011 Cubs. Get good years out of #4 and #5 and improved bullpen performance, and the team has a shot at real improvement in 2011.”

* Tommy Rancel of ESPN 1040 Tampa: “This is one of the more complex trades made in the Friedman Era. On the surface, it looks like the team is giving up some ground in 2011, but Hellickson’s transition should ease that pain; especially if it comes with a big-time DH.”

* Keith Law of ESPN.com: “I love this trade for Tampa Bay. They got more for Garza than Kansas City did for Zack Greinke although their package of players is, collectively, further away than what the Royals got. It looks to me like the Rays focused less on position and more on overall value.”

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.