The ESPN big three of baseball analysts, Buster Olney, Jim Bodwen, and Keith Law (Insider Required), ranked all 30 teams across five different categories in trying to gauge how well each MLB franchise is expected to succeed over the next five seasons.
The Marlins are the youngest team in the Major League at exactly 26 years old and have the second lowest average salary per player in the Majors at $1.135 million per player . This is not a coincidence, the 2014 Marlins even more so than the 2013 edition is a team on the crossroads.
On a night in which Panama and the New York Yankees paid tribute to retired closer Mariano Rivera in his home country, the Marlins spoiled the party by no-hitting the Bronx Bombers. Brad Hand and three relievers -- Steve Cishek, A.J. Ramos and Arquimedes Caminero -- combined on the no-hitter as the Marlins won 5-0. "You never want to be no-hit," Yankees manager Joe Girardi told MLB.com. "I don't care what game it is or what level. You never want to see that."
Brett Butler is trying to turn the Marlins into thieves. But Butler, who stole 558 bases as a player and was hired to help put a little more giddy-up in the Marlins’ running game, said improvement will require baby steps. "All I can do is take what I have and try to mold this clay into effective baserunners, those who can steal bases and those who can run the bases properly," he said.
The hamstring strain that forced Ed Lucas out of Thursday’s game in Lakeland is mainly a pain in his battle for a job as Marlins utility infielder. Lucas said Friday the injury is minor. Test showed no tear, and he doesn’t expect to be sidelined for long.
For the second time in a week, second baseman Rafael Furcal departed a Grapefruit League game because of a hamstring issue. Furcal in the bottom of the third inning of Saturday's 2-1 loss to the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium departed for a pinch-runner. Before the bottom of the fourth, he left the dugout with athletic trainer Sean Cunningham.
Since 1995, it's happened about once every 3,300 games. A player gets hit by a pitch in three or more plate appearances. It doesn't seem that rare to Reed Johnson, considering it's happened to him three times – all since 2005 -- during his 11 big league seasons. A non-roster outfielder vying for a job with the Marlins, Johnson has grown accustomed to taking one for the team. He's taken a combined 125 for his four major league employers.
At some point, it was inevitable Jose Fernandez would struggle in an outing and actually give up a run. It happened in the third inning on Saturday afternoon in the Marlins' 2-1 loss to the Nationals at Roger Dean Stadium.
The cheers flowed easily once more for Mariano Rivera, but the best performance of the afternoon belonged to CC Sabathia, who hurled five hitless innings in the Yankees' 7-0 victory over the Marlins on Sunday at Rod Carew Stadium. Sabathia retired 15 of the 16 batters he faced in an efficient outing, striking out five. It was a solid bounceback start for Sabathia, who had been displeased by his previous outing of the spring; this time the only baserunner against him reached on an error in the fifth inning.
The game started with a battle of two starting pitchers each facing his former team, as the Twins sent Ricky Nolasco to the mound and Miami turned to Kevin Slowey, though neither factored into the decision. Each pitcher tossed five innings and departed with the game tied at 2. In his five innings, Slowey limited his former club to two runs on four hits, while striking out one and walking another. Nolasco, meanwhile, allowed two runs on seven hits and struck out three in his first start since being named Minnesota's Opening Day starter.
On Sunday, one day after tightness in his left hamstring cut short his return, shortstop Rafael Furcal was set to meet with the doctor at the team's facilities in Jupiter, Fla., to determine the extent of his most recent setback. Making the setback even more troublesome is the fact that Furcal is attempting to get back in the swing of game action after missing all of last season following Tommy John surgery. Ideally, the Marlins would like to get him somewhere between 50 and 70 at-bats this spring. He currently has just 18.
Around The League
The Mets' rotation situation became a lot less clear on Sunday when projected Opening Day starter Jon Niese was pulled from his start against the Marlins with a tender elbow. The left-hander is set for an MRI in New York on Monday.
Manager Brad Ausmus hasn't announced his Opening Day starter, and he wasn't inclined to take Justin Verlander's hint and do so Sunday. The current pitching schedule puts Verlander on track to be on regular rest for March 31, while Max Scherzer could start that day with an extra day's rest.
Remember all the questions and concerns about how Masahiro Tanaka would handle the transition from Japan to America? About how he'd deal with all the pressure and attention, much less the Major League lineups? So far, the Yankees say, he's made all that look easy.
At Fish Stripes
The Miami Marlins signed Jarrod Saltalamacchia in large part for his offensive contributions and power bat, but there may be a hidden benefit for his work behind the plate that can help the Marlins' young pitchers continue to develop well and post go
The Miami Marlins will look to Henderson Alvarez to continue riding the wave of success following his season-ending no-hitter and put on a complete season on the mound.
Miami Marlins' reiever Carter Capps, who was acquired from Seattle at the Winter Meetings, is working on improving his delivery before the start of the season.