Author: Matthew Pouliot

Andrelton Simmons

The Netherlands advance to Round 2 of WBC


The Kingdom of the Netherlands held on to defeat Australia 4-1 on Tuesday to advance to the Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic.

The Dutch know they’re moving on because of a tiebreaker advantage; should Chinese Taipei and Korea both join them at 2-1. Chinese Taipei (2-0) will advance if it beats Korea (1-1) or loses by five runs or fewer in the Pool B finale. Korea would have to rout Chinese Taipei in order to get the spot.

Australia went 0-3 in the tourney.

The Netherlands did their scoring early today, getting one run in the first and three in the second. Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop homered for the final two runs.

As they had been all tournament, Australia’s bats were quiet, though the team finally made it interesting in the end by threatening in each of the last three innings. The Aussies got their lone run in the seventh, collected two more hits in the eighth and then barely missed tying it in the ninth when former Phillies prospect Brad Harman’s bid for a three-run homer was hauled in at the warning track. 7-foot-1 closer Loek Van Mil was able to escape afterwards and pick up the save for The Netherlands.

38-year-old Robbie Cordemans, a four-time Olympian and three-time rep for The Netherlands in the WBC, got the win after throwing five scoreless innings.

With scouts watching, Rick Porcello turns in gem

Rick Porcello

At least according to the numbers, Rick Porcello turned in one of the best outings of the spring so far Monday, striking out six in four scoreless innings against the Astros. The watchers were likely pretty impressed, too.

With Porcello rumored to be available in trade talks, today’s performance came in front of a “ton” of scouts, according to’s Ken Rosenthal. said it was “more than a half-dozen.”

The Tigers are weighing whether Drew Smyly’s emergence as a rotation option has made Porcello expendable. The truth is that they don’t get as much from Porcello as another team might; the groundballs he so frequently generates too often skip past Jhonny Peralta, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Give him another set of infielders and he probably would have finished with ERAs in the low-4.00s the last couple of years. Instead, he’s come in at 4.92, 4.75 and 4.59 since a stronger rookie season in 2009.

However, there is a problem in trading Porcello; especially after moving Justin Turner last summer, they’d have very little rotation depth beyond their top five with Porcello gone. Rule 5 pick Kyle Lobstein, veteran Shawn Hill, prospect Casey Crosby and relief candidate Duane Below are their next best options and none inspire much confidence. For that reason, the ideal Porcello trade might be similar to the one the A’s pulled off with the Diamondbacks last year, when they got Jarrod Parker in return for Trevor Cahill.

Alternatively, the Tigers could trade Porcello for a closer candidate. However, there don’t appear to be any teams looking to move established closers at this time. The Cubs’ Carlos Marmol is very much available, but he’s hardly a safe choice to close for a contender these days. Perhaps the best fit would be with Colorado and Rafael Betancourt. The Rockies could certainly use another starter with upside, and while Betancourt isn’t a big name, he’s an excellent reliever.

For now, the Tigers might as well take a wait and see approach and keep their six starters until the end of the spring in case one gets hurt. They’ll also have a better handle on their bullpen by the final week of the month.

Cuba wins opener over Brazil 5-2


Feisty Brazil was able to hang in another game, holding Cuba scoreless until the top of the fifth, only to eventually succumb 5-2 and fall to 0-2 in Pool A play in the World Baseball Classic.

Cuba got 4 2/3 scoreless innings from ace Ismael Jimenez to win its opener. Designated hitter Frederich Cepeda went 2-for-4 with a walk from the cleanup spot, and No. 9 hitter Erisbel Arruebarruena finished 2-for-4 with two RBI.

The Cuban team finally got on the board thanks to a hit and run in the fifth. It looked like Brazilian starter Andre Rienzo would escape a first-and-third jam, but the potential inning-ending double-play grounder he induced was undone by the runner taking off from first. Brazil did get the one out at first, but Cuba took a 1-0 lead. That was the end of the day for Rienzo, who had reached the 65-pitch limit imposed on hurlers. After Rienzo left, Cuba got one more run in the fifth and three in the sixth.

Aided by some shoddy Cuban defense, Brazil was able to rally for two runs in the bottom of the sixth. It might have put together another threat in the seventh, but Juan Carlos Muniz was called out on appeal for failing to touch first on his leadoff double. Replays indicated that he did, in fact, touch the bag on the way by, though it was close. Puerto Rican umpire Carlos Rey made the call.

Cuba is next scheduled to take on China on Monday. Brazil’s next game is also against China. That’s scheduled for Tuesday.

Angels renew Mike Trout for $510,000

Mike Trout

As a pre-arbitration player, 2012 AL MVP runner-up Mike Trout has no negotiating power with the Angels. So, instead of signing for a salary he didn’t like, he had his contract renewed by the team for $510,000 on Saturday.

That figure is just $20,000 above the major league minimum. It’s unclear whether the Angels initially offered him more. Teams will often make pre-arbitration-eligible players offers and then roll them back if they’re not accepted. The Angels other 21 pre-arby players all agreed to contract; Trout was the only one to have get renewed.

Most teams employ a strict scale for pre-arbitration players in which salary is almost entirely determined by service time, with performance figuring very little into it. That the Angels didn’t throw Trout a bone an kick in an extra $100,000-$200,000 likely has far less to do with them being cheap and more about not wanting to mess with their scale. They’ll certainly be willing to make it up to him later.

Trout, on the other hand, may have some hard feelings over the negotiations. Still, it’s strictly business as usual for major league teams. That pre-arbitration players are paid so little allows teams to fork over $15 million, $20 million or even $25 million per year to free agents. Trout will get his eventually; he’ll be eligible for arbitration for the first time after 2014 and he’ll be eligible for free agency following the 2017 season.

David Hernandez moves from Mexico to Team USA for WBC

David Hernandez
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Diamondbacks setup man David Hernandez was expected to pitch for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic, but for reason that aren’t yet clear, he was ruled ineligible. Fortunately for him, a relief spot just happened to open up on Team USA with Chris Perez getting hurt Friday, and Hernandez was named his replacement on Saturday.

Hernandez, 27, had a 2.50 ERA and 98 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings out of the pen for the Diamondbacks last season. The right-hander is a third generation Mexican-American who grew up in Sacramento. He told the Arizona Republic earlier this month that he was looking forward to pitching for Mexico.

“It’s almost like a family reunion,” he said. “That means a lot to me, seeing my family get together for one cause.”

Update:’s Steve Gilbert reports that Hernandez was declared ineligible to pitch for Mexico because it was his great-grandparents who were both in Mexico, not his grandparents.