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Marlins making Winter ball adjustments

In case you didn't hear, winter ball has been cancelled in Puerto Rico.

The Puerto Rican winter baseball league, where the likes of Roberto Clemente, Ivan Rodriguez and Juan Gonzalez once starred, canceled its upcoming season Thursday because of financial problems.

The league was supposed to start its 70th season in three months. Instead, it suspended operations and planned to spend the next year trying to reorganize.


"Today is a day of mourning for Puerto Rican sport," said former St. Louis pitcher Mike Perez, president of the players' association on the island. "We knew the league was in a crisis but we didn't think this day would come."

The owners of the six teams voted unanimously to shut down a league that has seen a steady decline in attendance for the past decade, league president Jose Andreu Garcia said.

The announcement has left the Marlins scrambling for places for the players to participate in the winter.

With no winter ball available in Puerto Rico, the Marlins could have between 10-20 players with no place to play, according Jim Fleming, vice president for player development and scouting.

"We usually sent players there from Double-A and up," Fleming said. "We were huge participants. If we have a player recovering from an injury or hoping to move up a level, it was a good place for them. Most of our players down there were minor league guys."

Fleming believes baseball will lose a significant number of jobs. He doesn't think the Dominican Republic, Venezuela or Mexico are options. He indicated Nicaragua and Colombia have leagues that might be alternatives.

The teams in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Mexico are probably already full.  I have no idea about the Nicaraguan league, but I do know the Colombian league is trying to regain its former status as one of the top winter leagues.  They were initially a participant in the Caribbean Series until political unrest took its toll.  But that is in the past and it is probably a pretty good place to explore.