With just nine days remaining until Opening Day, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on around the baseball world throughout the day today:
1. WBC Update
The World Baseball Classic final is today. After a 6-5 walk off win in the bottom of the ninth against Team Mexico, the undefeated Team Japan moves on to the final round to face Team USA. Japan, of course, sports two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, as USA counters with not only Ohtani’s teammate Mike Trout, but also Phillies shortstop Trea Turner, who leads all WBC players with four home runs in just 19 at bats. With the game set to air at 6pm CT tonight on FS1, the biggest question remaining is: Will Ohtani pitch? The team has left the answer up in the air publicly, naming lefty Shota Imanaga as the starter for tonight’s game even as Ohtani admits that it would be difficult to get warm in the bullpen while also batting in the heart of the order.
2. When will Profar be made official?
Jurickson Profar, the last top-50 free agent on the market this offseason, recently signed a one-year pact with the Rockies, though Colorado has yet to make the deal official. While the Rockies have a full 40-man roster, making the Profar signing official likely will not be impacted by that, as players such as Brendan Rodgers and Lucas Gilbreath are already ticketed for the 60-day IL. Still, with Profar expected to arrive in camp sometime this week, it seems reasonable to expect the signing to be made official in the coming days as Profar prepares to be the everyday left fielder in Colorado. The timing of the move is also notable given the simple fact that Opening Day is just over a week away. Profar got 16 plate appearances in with the Netherlands during the WBC and went 3-for-13 with a homer and three walks, but he’d still benefit from as many spring at-bats as possible.
3. MLBTR Chats Today
In conjunction with the Padres edition of our Offseason in Review series, MLBTR’s Darragh McDonald will be hosting a Padres-centric live chat with readers later today at 10am CT. You can click here to leave a question in advance, and that same link will take you to the chat when it begins or allow you to read the transcript afterwards. In addition, MLBTR’s Steve Adams will be hosting his weekly chat with an MLB-wide focus at 1pm CT. You can click here to leave a question, participate live, or read the transcript of Steve’s chat.
“The team has left the answer up in the air publicly, naming lefty Shota Imanaga as the starter…
Is naming another started leaving it up in the air?
What’s left in the air is whether Ohtani will pitch or not, they know he won’t start since they named Imanaga the starter, but if he comes in in relief is still up in the air, it’s basic reading comprehension
If you left off the last 4 words of your reply you would have cleared up LordDgg’s misunderstanding without sounding so condescending. It’s basic manners.
Why be a jerk? It was a legit question.
Discussion boards and keyboard tough guys. Yah.
Try mixing in some complete sentences. It’s basic grammar.
I look forward to Imanaga’s second no-hitter of his career.
A few days ago it was announced that Yu Darvish would be the starter.
That was a few days ago. Now it’s Imanaga.
When Ken Rosenthal asked if there would be possibility that he pitch, Ohtani hinted that could if Japan gets a large early lead.
That was a really, really fun game to watch between Japan and Mexico last night.
Extremely fun. And it took nearly 4 hours. We need a pitch clock why?
So what? Did you have some place to go?
We don’t need a pitch clock. We need to shorten the season and contract the number of teams we have in the league. Far too many non-competitive teams in the league as it is, even before the start of the season. That’s why people complain about 3 or 4 hour baseball games. Baseball doesn’t want to admit this so instead, they implement these ridiculous gimmicks to make it more palatable to the casual fan.
It was a fun game. Was rooting for Mexico as the underdog, but mostly was rooting for a fun game, which they delivered.
Interest level in the WBC has been on the rise, so it wouldn’t shock me if they eventually move this to a midsummer showcase event every few years. Not there yet, but it’s trending that way.
Trending how? The logistics of having a tournament of this degree in the middle of a MLB season seems unfathomable.
Money. Nearly 70 million people watched South Korea vs. Japan, vs. 12 million for the 2022 World Series. Each WBC the interest level increases. Once MLB figures a path to increased money through sponsorships and global TV contracts, it becomes more of a reality. We’re already hearing more people discussing the idea.
Do I think it’s imminent? No. For the first time, however, I can now see a path to get there.
China needs to step it up, put their geopolitics aside, and really tap into and develop their massive talent pool. They can be big players in future WBCs should they decide to do so.
Manfred said that it will continue to be held prior to the MLB, NPB, and KBO seasons.
Padres must be apoplectic that the Japanese team has not kept Darvish on his regular pitching schedule.
He might pitch in the middle innings depending on matchups. Remember, 65 pitch limit.
They might be slightly displeased if he’s off schedule, but doesn’t seem like something they’d be apoplectic over.
Fred McGriff HR
Remember, most US baseball scribes said the WBC is “meaningless”, and that they are “exhibition games”. Mexico v Japan was one of the better games of ball that I’ve seen, and it might be right up there when 2023 is concluded. Seeing Ukyo Shuto run the bases after Murakami drilled it to left centre and making it from 1st to home in about 10.28 secs is elite.
The WBC is meaningless in the context of making the playoffs and winning a WS in MLB. It does nothing to further this agenda. It is meaningful in terms of promoting the game and obviously to those that participate. The context of these opinions are not mutually exclusive.
Yes. Japan has a really good fundamentally sound team. Another great play was when they executed a perfect sac bunt with man on first and second and no outs. Mexico knew it was coming.
Generally speaking, unless you’re a fan of the Rockies, there won’t be too many people keeping an eye on anything over there until the trade deadline. That organization is in tatters with little to no direction. I’ll root for anyone to have a good year, and I understand you think his power will play well there, but I’d be more expectant that he’ll hit along the lines of 215/.269/.429. Prove me wrong Profar!
We fantasy players will be closely watching the Rockies. And the other 29 teams as well.
deGrom Texas Ranger
The US has an easy win against Japan, after fending off the tough half of the bracket. They won already. Let’s not even bother playing.
Doom & Bloom
I hope this is sarcasm.
The quality of play in the WBC makes me wonder if there’s a TV market in the U.S. for games played in international leagues, even if those games would obviously not include MLB players. Remember those Korean games televised in the early A. M. in the early stages of the pandemic?
I’d be all over a KBO and/or NPB channel. Heck, just slap ’em on MLBTV as bonus coverage or whatever, I’ll stream/tune in!
I am so excited for the championship game tonight. It was bound to happen with USA vs Japan. Probably the 2 best and most consistent teams. As long as the bats show up tonight for USA then I think we win. Can’t expect the pitching to win it for you. And of course…I hope to see Ohtani pitch to Trout with the game on the line at the end. Can you imagine Trout hitting a game and championship winning bomb against Shotime? Or the opposite…Shohei striking out Trout to save the game? It’s a win win for the WBC and the fans. And bragging rights for the season. Let’s go USA!
Munetaka Murakami is cracked. Can’t wait for that dude to come over.
Doom & Bloom
I’m glad USA got this far and I think they have a decent chance of winning but Japan is very, very good. I would not be surprised one bit if they beat us at our own game. Japan lives and breathes this game and are probably better fundamentally.
I’m hoping to be entertained by an intense, closely contested game. How else to cap off the best run of baseball we’ve seen in six years!?!
Fred McGriff HR
Where is the guy that said “Japanese baseball and its players are inferior to USA”?