Phillies acquire Ben Revere from Twins for Vance Worley and Trevor May

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When the Twins traded Denard Span last week the assumption was that they did so in part because Ben Revere was ready to step in as their new center fielder and leadoff man, but now they’ve traded Revere to the Phillies.

Todd Zolecki of MLB.com broke the news and Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com says the Twins are getting right-hander Vance Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May in return.

Minnesota has an incredible lack of quality pitching throughout the organization and one area where the Twins have good depth is the outfield, where former first-round pick Aaron Hicks could be ready to become the starting center fielder at some point in 2013. Revere is very fast and very good defensively, but he has zero power and a fairly limited overall upside, so if the Twins feel Hicks will be ready soon anyway it makes some sense.

Revere has tremendous range in center field that more than makes up for perhaps the worst arm in baseball and he’s capable of swiping 50 bases at a good clip, but he may never hit an over-the-fence homer and through age 24 he’s hit .278 with a .319 on-base percentage and .323 slugging percentage. For years he’s been compared to Juan Pierre, for better or worse.

Worley missed the final month of the season with an elbow injury that required minor surgery, but when healthy the 24-year-old right-hander has a 3.50 ERA in 278 career innings with a solid strikeout rate of 7.7 per nine frames. Long term Worley is a mid-rotation guy, but on the Twins right now he immediately becomes their best starter. Barring more trades, of course.

May is a 22-year-old former fourth-round pick who spent this year at Double-A, posting a 4.87 ERA while racking up 151 strikeouts in 149 innings. He has control issues, but May was a top-100 prospect coming into the season and has 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings for his pro career. Minnesota wanted young pitching and they definitely got it.

(Note: I also wrote a much lengthier, Twins-centric analysis of the Revere trade.)

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.