Must-Click Link: Is Brady Anderson creating problems in Baltimore?

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Brady Anderson hasn’t played in a big league game since 2002, but he has a locker in the Orioles clubhouse and dresses with the team.

Which would be fine if he were on the coaching staff and reported to Buck Showalter. But he isn’t — not exactly, anyway — and doesn’t. He’s actually the Vice President of Baseball Operations which, theoretically, makes him the second-in-command of the Orioles front office. And he’s a close confidant of Orioles owner Peter Angelos, seemingly answerable only to him.

Today Ken Rosenthal looks into Anderson’s curious role on the Orioles, and reports that it has created some friction in Baltimore. In-house everyone sings Anderson’s praises as a key member of the club, particularly with respect to strength, conditioning and nutrition, areas in which he was always ahead of the curve during his playing career and remains so. Coaches and players who have left Baltimore, however, take issue with Anderson’s alleged interference with the coaching staff and the perception that he is something of a clubhouse spy, reporting to Angelos and inserting himself into contract matters, which is not the sort of thing that people in uniform, in the clubhouse on a day-to-day basis do. Anderson denies that he plays a big role in this regard.

Where the truth lies here is likely contingent upon who is telling the story. The front office/clubhouse divide is a notoriously complicated one, with loyalties and traditions that don’t lend themselves to easy parsing. Given how much more of a role the front office has in on-the-field decisions today than it did even a decade ago, that relationship becomes even more complicated. How much of this is about that traditional divide breaking down and players reacting negatively to it? How much is it about front office overreach? It’s hard for us on the outside to know.

Either way, it’s an interesting read. And not just for what it means for Anderson and the Orioles. It tells us a lot about how clubhouses and front offices operate. Sometimes dysfunctionally.

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.