The year 2013 is almost over, and for owner Jeffery Loria and his Miami Marlins, there could be no better news. In 2013, the Marlins lost 100 games, faced criticism for their latest fire sale, and Loria tried his best to steal the most meddlesome owner in sports from Dan Snyder and Jerry Jones.
For the longest time lineups were constructed like this: a fast on-base type leading off, a guy who could move him over next, your masher and basher 3 and 4, your next best power hitter 5 and then the rest hitting 6-9, especially in the National League where the pitcher still hits. The onslaught of advanced analytics and the upturning of the status quo has led to people both in the dugouts, in front offices and the internet to question this orthodoxy.
The flipside to the Marlins' knack for alienating their fans is a concerted effort to contribute to the community through a multipronged philanthropic program. Virginia Jacko, chief executive of the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind, attests to the wide-ranging benefits of being chosen as one of the Marlins' four charity partners in 2013.
The request came too late to save his father, but it set Logan Morrison's resolve to continue the fight against lung cancer. "I remember my dad, one of the last things he said to me was, 'Help me. Help me.' I couldn't do anything to help him," he said recently. Since Tom Morrison's passing in December 2010, the first baseman, who the Marlins traded to Seattle this month, has made it his mission to answer his dad's plea to assist efforts to find a cure..
In the final game, the Marlins' pitcher (Henderson Alvarez) was on-deck to hit when a wild pitch brought in the game-winner. That was the good news. The better news: The season was over.
Casey McGehee's thoughts on joining the Marlins.
It's been a busy month for the Marlins, who signed four free agents -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia (catcher), Garrett Jones (first base), Rafael Furcal (second base) and Casey McGehee (third base) -- in hopes of bringing some life to a stagnant offense. The new additions certainly are a start, but for Miami to make a dramatic turnaround in 2014, the club also will be banking on seeing the Giancarlo Stanton of old. Stanton, the face of the franchise, is coming off his most trying big league season.
Spending so much time away makes Christian Yelich appreciate being home for the holidays. Life in the big leagues requires so much personal sacrifice, and players are constantly on the go, whether they are playing games at home or on the road. Essentially, teammates become family. For Yelich, the opportunity to be with his actual family during the holiday season is a welcome break. And Christmas, followed by New Years, is a reminder that Spring Training is less than two months away.
Around The League
A strong sense of familiarity still surrounds the Braves as they enter 2014. They are anxiously looking forward to building on the success of a new era that was celebrated in September, when the club captured the National League East title. Most of the same players who played a key role in winning the division title will be back to defend it.
Right-hander Guillermo Moscoso has elected to continue his career in Japan, agreeing on Thursday to sign with Nippon Professional Baseball's Yokohama Bay Stars, according to Nikkan Sports.
Terry Francona may have been honored as the 2013 American League Manager of the Year, but any awards were secondary to the Indians' remarkable journey. Cleveland came a long way in 2013, and it started with a manager getting a team to embrace its potential.
The challenge of winning a title is topped only by the quest of repeating. Nobody has done it since the Yanks from 1998-2000, and the Red Sox will be on the clock, trying to show that it can be done. However, manager John Farrell is hopeful his team will attack this challenge in incremental steps, rather than trying to do it all at once.
At Fish Stripes
The Miami Marlins on Friday signed former Mets outfielder Jordany Valdespin to a minor league contract without an invitation to Spring Training. Valdespin was not popular in the New York clubhouse after several different incidents.
The Miami Marlins chose consistency of Garrett Jones over the unknown quality of Logan Morrison. Was that the right idea for this team?
The Miami Marlins have more or less completed their 2013 offseason plan. But how does it compare to the Fish Stripes offseason plan for the franchise?
The Miami Marlins are facing some tough questions going forward, but Joe Frisaro and I will answer a few of them in the latest installment of Fish Stripes Inbox.
The Miami Marlins are happy to have acquired lefty power in free agent pickups Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Garrett Jones, but it shows that the team was shopping for power this year rather than looking at value.