Some initial post-trade deadline thoughts

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– I was stunned that the Yankees didn’t make so much as a minor deal, but they definitely stand out as obvious candidates to be busy in August.  Just how busy could hinge on Rafael Soriano’s performance.  Still, whether it’s Wandy Rodriguez — who could clear waivers and again become a possibility to be dealt as soon as Wednesday — or bench help, the Yankees’ ability to take on contracts should make deals relatively easy.

– Incredibly, not one reliever set to become a free agent at season’s end was moved this weekend.  Two of the game’s best setup men were dealt in Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, and the returns were strong largely because they were under control for 2012.  However, no closers were shipped off and there weren’t many trades involving lesser setup men.  I thought it was a lock that the Padres would move Chad Qualls, and it figured that the A’s would subtract at least one or two from the group of Michael Wuertz, Brian Fuentes, Craig Breslow and Grant Balfour.  Colorado’s Rafael Betancourt, Washington’s Todd Coffey and the Mets’ Tim Byrdak also looked like candidates to go.

– I’m not ready to make a call on the winners and losers, other than to say that some of the teams that decided to stand pat look like the real losers here.  The Marlins should have moved Leo Nunez and Omar Infante, and the Cubs were crazy to tell teams they were closing up shop.  I can’t believe that the A’s, with all of their free-agent-to-be hitters and expensive relievers, only ended up moving Brad Ziegler.

I don’t see Erik Bedard as any sort of consolation prize for the Red Sox.  Maybe they wouldn’t have traded for him if the Rich Harden deal hadn’t fallen though, but one never knows with the Red Sox; it is possible Theo Epstein wanted both as insurance policies.  Regardless, Epstein did give up more for Bedard than he was going to for Harden and the fact that it was a three-team, seven-player deal suggests that this wasn’t something that simply came together at the last minute.

– The Nationals will carry their hunt for a long-term center fielder into the winter after declining to give up more than closer Drew Storen in return for Denard Span.  Neither Nationals nor Twins fans seemed enthused by that trade anyway.  B.J. Upton still might be the answer for Washington.  The Nationals couldn’t come up with the pieces to get him now, but he should be cheaper in the offseason, particularly since he’ll have just one arbitration-eligible season left before free agency.  Besides, Desmond Jennings is well on his way to making it obvious that he can be the Rays’ long-term center fielder.

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.