Blue Jays aim for Angels’ Howie Kendrick

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2:32 p.m. EDT update: FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal hears that the Angels are likely to keep Kendrick since they haven’t been offered the kind of starting pitcher they want.

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Residing in last place with a 49-57 record in the AL East, the Blue Jays aren’t looking for any rentals at the trade deadline. However, they do have their eyes on the Angels’ Howie Kendrick, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.cn.

Kendrick could fill the hole at second base that’s been a problem for Toronto this year. The Blue Jays recently tried Brett Lawrie there, only to quickly move him back to third. The 30-year-old Kendrick has hit .301/.344/.446 with 11 homers and 45 RBI in 395 at-bats for the Angels. He’s under control through 2015 and is owed about $22 million over the next 2 1/3 seasons, but he became a bit more expendable last night with the pickup of Grant Green in the Alberto Callaspo deal with Oakland.

In return for Kendrick, the Angels would certainly prefer young, cost-controlled starting pitching. The Jays don’t have a lot to offer, though, not with Brandon Morrow hurt yet again. Chad Jenkins, their most major league-ready pitcher in Triple-A, is also on the DL. They do have intriguing arms further away, but those might not be so tempting to an Angels team that will aim to contend in 2014. Infielder-outfielder Emilio Bonifacio would make sense as a lesser part in a deal, but not as the prime piece.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

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.