Last weekend, I made a day-trip down to Miami, Florida to catch the final game of the regional second round of the World Baseball Classic, which ended up being a preview for the Championship game, between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Although it was an exciting game and it felt like a South American winter ball game, with all the horns, drums and noise-makers everywhere, my motive was still driven by the fact that I could get to walk around and see the new-ish Marlins Park.
And truthfully, Marlins Park is a fantastic ballpark. It's very clean, very modern, and you can see that there's a lot of attention to detail in all sorts of aspects, from the color scheme, to the architecture that was designed to create good airflow and an easy breathing kind of venue. Although I will say that the Cuban sandwich I had from a ballpark in Miami, located practically in Little Havana was one of the biggest letdowns on the entire planet. But as it stands, there aren't any bad seats in the house, and when you're sitting and watching a game, you hardly notice the big ugly Loria sculpture, as hard as it is to believe.
But on the outside, Marlins Park sticks out like the sorest thumb in history. It's pretty much smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood, and not a very pleasant looking one too. Walking around the park prior to gates opening, I literally had to watch my feet, due to the constant fear of stepping in dog poo. I'd honestly be a little worried about walking around this place after dark, and I noticed two bail bonds businesses within a two-block radius from the park, if that's any indication. Basically, it's a lot like Turner Field in regard that it's a nice park, but surrounded by some sketchy neighborhood.
Good thing it was a day game. Welcome back to the basement.
Las Vegas seems to really love the Nationals for 2013 - Nationals Journal
Apparently, not only are the Nationals picked to go to the World Series, Stephen Strasburg is the odds-on favorite to win the NL Cy Young Award, and Bryce Harper is a 10-1 shot at winning the NL MVP award, behind only Joey Votto and Ryan Braun. I wonder how much money Bovada.com is going to make from overzealous Washingtonians with money to burn making knee-jerk wagers this early in the game?
Don't forget about Ryan Zimmerman - Citizens of Natstown
While everyone oohs and aahhs over Stephen Strasburg's strikeouts and Bryce Harper's youthful charisma, the quiet but steady rock of the Nationals is still there, as always. A 7+ fWAR player in both 2009 and 2010, a shoulder injury has derailed a lot of his production over the last two years, but Ryan Zimmerman underwent the long-overdue shoulder surgery, and is on the road to recovery. If he bounces back in any fashion like Adam LaRoche did for the Nats this past year, then it might just be scary.
The challenge of keeping the bench fresh - Nats Insider
Davey Johnson's what, 69 years old? So in the words of Bobby Cox, here's what I hope happens: Sunday Lineup. I couldn't tell you about all the day trips I made on Sundays, just so I could squeeze in a Braves road game in another city and still fly back to Atlanta that same day, only to run into the trademark Bobby Cox Sunday lineups, where Omar Infantes and Corky Millers and Diory Hernandezes were all starting. There's a reason the Braves are like 0-8 whenever I see them on the road.
Rafael Soriano hasn't exactly been stellar, also has tooth ache - National Journal
I know it's all relative and there's a lot of psychological concern that goes with any sort of pains, but an achy wisdom tooth is a long way from the arms. I mean I know Soriano is an intense guy, and might be the type to be clamping down and grinding his teeth while on the mound, but still. A problem in a tooth doesn't really give that much justification to why his velocity has been down to around 88-91 mph from a guy I literally once saw hurl a 100 mph fastball back in 2009. And he got a root canal to alleviate him of his woe.
Dan Haren suffers dead-arm syndrome - MASN
Eh, happens to everyone at some point. This isn't really any concern, unless Haren can't snap out of it.
Chris Young the pitcher has a decision to make - Nats Insider
To his credit, Young has pitched well throughout the spring, but everyone knows that the Nationals don't need a sixth starter, unless someone gets hurt. Right now, he has to be asking himself if he wants to be the sixth starter who will spend time waiting in AAA-Syracuse, or if he wants to pitch for the Houston Astros, because with an 84 mph fastball he probably won't get a job anywhere else as a starter, and as a Princeton grad, he should be smart enough to realize that.
Do the Nationals need another lefty reliever? - Nationals Journal
How many times has this question been asked this spring? The Nationals' really only have Zach Duke, and he's almost kind of like the long man, but the Nats technically don't have a specialist or a LOOGY to go to if they run into a Ryan Howard or a Chase Utley. I get that Tyler Clippard, Ryan Mattheus and Craig Stammen all have decent splits against lefties, but this is one of those scenarios where I'm guessing and hoping that this bites the Nats in the rear as the season drags on.
So the Nats go out and sign J.C. Romero - Nats Insider
Romero, the former Phillie who had a pretty good run in the WBC for team Puerto Rico, signs a minor league deal with the Nats. The Nats have all but assured him that he won't start with the big club, but likely in AAA, but it's worth mentioning that Mike Gonzalez essentially did the same thing last year, and then was recalled and stuck with the big club all the way into the playoffs.
Bigot-for-narcissist completes trade - Nats Insider
Okay, sure that's a little hyperbole, but not by much. The PTBNL from the A's to the Nats, during the three-team swap that saw Mike Morse shipped off to Seattle is Oakland's 12th best prospect, LHP Ian Krol. He used to be pretty good until a forearm injury has since derailed his production, not to mention the fact that he had a problem with making homophobic slurs on Twitter.
Gio Gonzalez talking a lot of smack to Clayton Kershaw in video game ad - The Bog
Gio's a good pitcher coming off of a good year and all, but in no reality would I actually take Gio Gonzalez over Clayton Kershaw. 'jus sayin.
Spring is where wishes come true - Nationals Journal
Man, talk about a genuine Nats fan here. Favorite team since he was six years old with pediatric cancer, back in 2006, the Nationals? A six-year old that wasn't influenced by bandwagons, nor undeterred by all the 100-loss seasons, and rosters with Marlon Anderson, Anderson Hernandez, Jose Vidro, Mike Bacsik, Mike Redding and Gary Majewski? I'd say this kid is a legit fan, and it's fitting that Make-A-Wish got to make his wish to have the full Spring Training experience with his family come true.
For some reason, Bryce Harper gets free Chipotle burritos for life - Nats Enquirer
The link doesn't go into detail why this is the case, but I guess he's kind of lucky. I'm more of a Willy's (local burrito chain) fan, but I wouldn't kick free Chipotle burritos whenever I wanted one out of bed, either.
Ian Desmond revokes Tyler Moore's man card - Nats Enquirer
Speaking of cards, Ian Desmond saw fit to strip Tyler Moore of his man card, because he was eating corn on the cob with a fork and knife. Yeah, I have to agree there. Moore is from Mississippi no less, he should know better, and it begs to ask where he picked up such a dainty habit from in the first place?
Captain America officially named Captain of the Mets - NY Times
As if there was ever any question before, the Mets have made it "official," but David Wright is the team captain for the Mets. No, the Mets will not put a C on his jersey. Who was the last guy to wear the C? Jason Varitek?
Jon Niese named Opening Day starter for the Mets - MetsBlog
Is this really any surprise? Considering Santana isn't ready, Shaun Marcum is hurt (see below), Matt Harvey is the kid, and they don't really have a fifth starter yet, who else did they really have to take the hill?
Shaun Marcum dealing with shoulder inpingement - NY Times
Since diagnosis, he hasn't performed any baseball activities, and has gone up to New York to get a coristone shot. Doesn't sound like very good news that their free agent acquisition will likely be trudging through the season in some modicum of pain, even before it's even started.
It would be ironic if it were suffered at one of those Mets team-bonding bowling functions - The Mets Police
Because you know that anyone with one of these Janeane Garofalo Mystery Men bowling balls is a hardcore bowler, as Marcum does.
Matt Harvey has a mountain of expectations in front of him - AA
Imagine just how much bigger it just got with Johan Santana not expected to be ready for Opening Day, and Shaun Marcum already having a setback?
Time for the annual Yankees or Mets? article - NY Daily News
It's funny, because you can kind of tell that the columnist sat down ready to shock the readers in proclaiming that the Mets had the brighter future than the Yankees, due to stuff probably like age, salaries and injuries, but then it's like Mets players started getting hurt left and right while he was writing it. So then he re-jiggers the article to span over five years to make it sound less severe.
Because apparently both Daniel Murphy and David Wright have ribcage injuries - NY Post
Did the Mets have their annual bowling outing this season? I'm telling you if they did, all these injuries are a result of that. It's really the only Mets way to ruin a season before it's actually started. It had to have happened before the WBC, because that's when Wright claims to have had his own ribcage problems emerge.
David Wright exclaims that he will be in the lineup on Opening Day - NY Post
That's especially good news, considering one of the guys that might have been capable of backing up the position had he been out, Justin Turner, has also recently gotten hurt.
Marlon Byrd about a 99.9999999999% chance to be starting for the Mets - MetsBlog
Why don't people ever commit to a solid 100%? It's not like it wouldn't be warranted, Byrd has been one of the best players on the Mets all spring, and just about anyone else still has minor league options. It's a good thing for Byrd, because he was pretty much contemplating retirement if he couldn't find anyone else to play for.
How often are there mediocre teams with good bullpens? - NY Post
Because I feel like this is kind of like a baseball trope or something. It's like when the Nationals used to stink, their bullpens were often still lauded as good. The Padres a few years ago were putrid, but they had Luke Gregerson, Mike Adams and Heath Bell in what was a bulletproof bullpen at the time. I feel like the Mets are headed down that same path this year.
Even more so with Bobby Parnell being slated to be the closer - NY Daily News
They applaud his strong finish to 2012, but the truth is that he's still blown 11 saves out of 24 chances over the last two years of trying to close out games. I have hard time believing this is a position of strength when old Brandon Lyon and maddeningly inconsistent Frank Francisco are the contingency plans. Hey, I hear K-Rod is still looking for work too, why not??
How bad is the 2013 Mets Outfield expected to be? - AA
As much as I'd love to make jokes about how it could be the worst ever, I don't actually think it would be. Considering the fWAR scores they're up against over the last decade, this is one of those situations where you stop and think that if the Mets' outfielders can just stay healthy, they could feasibly just be plain mediocre instead of really bad.
Travis d'Arnaud confident that he'll be the starting catcher by season's end - NY Post
When's the cutoff date for Super-Twos again? June something? No matter, d'Arnaud's setting his sights too low; he should be confident that he'll be the starting catcher by whenever that mid-June date is.
Roy Halladay takes early exit in two straight, this time to "stomach virus" - Phillies Zone
Nobody's ever going to convince me how professional athletes who have way better physical prowess than any blogging nerd is subject to these mysterious stomach viruses that none of us pleibians seem to get. So in other words, Halladay had bad indigestion, and couldn't stand to remain in the game before a disaster occurred.
Despite the fact that we all know it was just gas, it's time to own the concern to save face - Crashburn Alley
Since Roy Halladay is clearly going to miss the entire season with bad indigestion, the Phillies need to know who is going to fill-in for him while he's on the can for 162 games except the lid isn't made out of cocaine. If it gets so bad, the team has some passable internal options like Rodrigo Lopez or Aaron Cook, or they could get younger, or they could pursue available free agents like the surprisingly available Kyle Lohse.
What would Chase Utley be worth on the free agent market? - Beerleaguer
If you weren't aware, 2013 is the final year of Chase Utley's current contract. Obviously, it would be very strange to see Chase Utley somewhere other than Philadelphia, but we've also seen Andruw Jones in pinstripes, John Smoltz in Boston, Michael Jordan as a Wizard, and even Brian Urlacher has decided to ditch the Bears. But if Utley can remain healthy, would it be wise for the Phillies to re-sign an icon with degrading knees, or would he opt to become an AL DH?
The Phillies appear to be utilizing nerdy stuff - Crashburn Alley
Apparently, spotted on a bulletin board in Clearwater was a chart of what appeared to be BABIP based on the at-bat count. It doesn't sound like much to the ordinary nerd, but remember how dark ages Charlie Manuel is, and that the Phillies are a team that has really yet to open their eyes to baseball statistics.
Charlie Manuel has inadvertently secured Domonic Brown's starting role - High Cheese
This shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone, but for the most part, Manuel's not been trying to be too public with his projected lineup. But with Darin Ruf performing putridly and demonstrating that does indeed need more seasoning in the rotisserie oven, while Domonic Brown has been hitting well, everything, it's kind of a no-brainer, solidified when Manuel instructed Brown to stay home and rest, instead of playing in a game.
And Brown is very, very confident in his abilities this season - Phillies Nation
"In my mind I don’t feel like a pitcher can have enough stuff to get me out," Brown told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. "Even if they’re throwing 100 mph, I feel I can turn it around."
So humble, so much humility.
You know who are good hitters? Phillies pitchers - Crashburn Alley
Delmon Young running appears to be newsworthy - Phillies Zone
With a few word changes, and removal of all references that he's a Phillie, this article could be easily be put into Philly.com's Lifestyle section, and be run as an inspiration for fat Philadelphians to go run and lose some weight.
If the Phillies were smart - Phillies Nation
For some reason, the Cardinals are interested in Yuniesky Betancourt. Considering he's -1.6 fWAR over the last four seasons, why the Phillies wouldn't try and move him for something that could be substantially less detrimental, would be beyond me. But as a fan, I'd want Yuni to stay with the Phils.
Betancourt to ask for release if not added to Phillies 25-man roster - Phillies Zone
Well, at least it creates some resolution, one way or the other.
But somehow the Phillies also managed to trade someone for nothing - Phillies Nation
I'm as perplexed at the description and explanation as all the commenters are, but somehow the Phillies "traded" minor leaguer Michael Cisco to the Angels, but received nothing in return. Does this mean he was released, and picked up by the Angels? Or why do they continue to use the explanation "trade?"
Lou Piniella doesn't want to use the R-word but uses it anyways - Buzzfeed
This is all in reference to Sweet Lou's opinion of what he felt the Blue Jays pillaging of the Jeffrey Loria's fire sale was.
If there's any one good thing for the Marlins this spring: Christian Yelich - Palm Beach Post
The 21-year old outfield prospect is currently OPSing 1.269, while tied for the Grapefruit League lead with five home runs, and recently hit a 400-foot bomb that landed into a lake. Naturally, he stands zero chance of starting the season with the major league club, so that the team can milk his service clock to its very most maximum, despite the fact that he has been the most talented and consistent offensive player on the entire team throughout Spring Training.
Wade LeBlanc threatening to take roster spot away from Jacob Turner - Fish Bytes
Here's the situation: Journeyman Wade LeBlanc has no more options left, and has been having a fairly decent spring, and is left-handed to boot. Jacob Turner is the perceived future, but has been getting roughed up lately. Is someone in jeopardy of losing a job?
Chone Figgins cut from Marlins, many LOLs denied - Fish Stripes
And you want to know the sad thing? It's not like Figgins was playing poorly, he was hitting .308 in limited plate appearances, and it's not like anyone ever expected power out of him in the first place. But alas, the Marlins have denied baseball fans to see Chone Figgins on what might be the worst team in baseball this season.
Steve Cishek might be a WBC beneficiary - Marlin Maniac
Most peoples' justifications for not participating in the WBC has always been fear of injury. But in the case of Marlins incumbent closer Steve Cishek, his WBC exposure just might be a blessing in disguise. If other teams' management weren't aware of Cishek before, they are now, and suddenly, he's a commodity that the Marlins might be able to parlay into valuable assets for their rebuilding efforts.
Marlins might have to field CF with a platoon - Fish Bytes
Since Christian Yelich is going to undoubtedly starting in the minors, the Marlins appear that they will utilize a platoon out in CF in the mean time. The lefty would be former ROY Chris Coghlan, and the righty would be former Brave Gorkys Hernandez. Not really in the equasion would be Justin Ruggiano, whom prior to the spring declared himself to be Giancarlo Stanton's protection in the lineup and that "he had this" in regards to starting CF.
Marlins Park draws positive reviews from WBC executives - Sun Sentinel
"If you had the opportunity to pick the right host for this mix of clubs you couldn't imagine a better ballpark in a better city," (Tim) Brosnan said. "Miami, it's just got a real international flavor. That flavor loans itself to the tone and tenor of this being an international, global event."
This is all valid and all, but it is completely based on the fact that two of the four teams that made it to Miami were Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I'd be willing to bet that had the park hosted teams like Brazil, Japan, Italy and the Netherlands, there would be far less of the atmosphere that they had.
Marlins Park may have suffered from the Heat - Fish Stripes
And not the typical sweltering South Florida heat, but the Miami Heat basketball team. Basically, the insinuation is that people would rather go to Heat games to see a winning team, than to see the Marlins, a losing team, when both happened to be playing home games on the same nights.
Doesn't really matter, because suing fans isn't going to win other fans over - Marlin Maniac
Season ticket holders since 1998, voice their displeasure that their front-row seats have a giant billboard in front of it now, ask to be moved. Instead, they get a subpoena. LOLMarlins