Florida Marlins: The Latest News and Notes With Spring Training Nearly Upon Us

James Bondman@@james_bondmanCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2011

Florida Marlins: The Latest News and Notes With Spring Training Nearly Upon Us

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    With pitchers and catchers reporting in a couple of weeks and Spring Training a month away, we take a look at a latest signing by the fish and a pair of possible signings the club can make before Opening Day. 

    We will also look at the Interleague series with the Mariners being moved to Seattle and why the Marlins shouldn't worry that much. 

    Additionally, for those who can't wait for the new ballpark, there is a new ballpark update about the latest happenings. 

    Let's begin. 

Marlins Sign Another Reliever

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    According to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, the Florida Marlins have added yet another bullpen arm to their packed offseason shopping cart. The Marlins signed right-hander Shawn Hill to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. 

    Hill, who had an impressive 2.61 ERA in 20 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays last season, would receive $600,000 if he makes the 25-man roster.

    Take: Hill was used primarily as a starter in Toronto and while with San Diego and Washington, making a career total of 44 starts but will more than likely be used as a long reliever if he makes it with the Marlins. 

Marlins Take Another Look at a Cuban Defector

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    In the wake of last offseason's pursuit of Cuban flamethrower Aroldis Chapman, the Marlins are taking a second dip into the Cuban market per say and are interested in outfielder Yasiel Balaguer. 

    Balaguer is only 18 years of age so he would be a work in progress with any team he lands with. Reportedly, the Seattle Mariners and the Chicago Cubs are the other two teams who are interested in him.

    Balaguer has drawn comparisons to current Yankees outfielder Andruw Jones because of his defense and would more than likely be in the minor leagues for a few seasons to develop. 

    As for his major league ability, Jore Erbo of El Nuevo Herald in Miami said he is “a natural leadoff batter and an explosive baserunner” who “is an extraordinary defensive player because of his arm.”

    Take: It looks like the Marlins know the inexperienced Chris Coghlan can't be in center field forever so they are banking on finding their future center fielder to go along with Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton in the corners. 

Why Marlins Shouldn't Be Worried About The U2 Detour To Seattle

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    While U2 may be relocating the Florida Marlins to Seattle for a three-game series (June 24-26), the Marlins shouldn't have to worry much about the move. 

    According to ESPN's Ballpark Factor, Safeco Field ranked 29th, so the Marlins' pitching staff should have quite a series against a team that was last in the Major Leagues in runs scored (513), batting average (.236) and on base percentage (.298).  

    The Mariners didn't do a whole lot to improve their offensive, signing the aging but effective catcher, Miguel Olivo and designated hitter Jack Cust who struck out 127 times while hitting 13 home runs in 112 games for the Athletics in 2010. 

    Take: I predict the Florida Marlins will sweep the Seattle Mariners in the series considering they have the better lineup, all they have to hope for is missing out on King Felix. 

    Another final take on this relocation, the Tampa Bay Rays are playing the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on June 24-26 essentially clearing up Tropicana Field for the Marlins to at least play in the state of Florida.

    It's odd the Marlins didn't at least push for playing at Tropicana (which ranked 30th in Ballpark Factor) where they could get a hometown crowd, but the reason could be the Marlins play the Athletics in Oakland after the Mariners series (giving them a short trip) and the Rays have to play in Tropicana on the 27th. 

Marlins Might Be a Finalist For Eric Chavez's Services

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    While the Marlins haven't publicly expressed interest in gold glover third baseman Eric Chavez, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick answered fans questions as part of the Dodgers mailbag and suggested that while the Dodgers are interested, the Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays and Florida Marlins could offer Chavez more playing time. 

    Other teams who have also been in on Chavez include the New York Yankees, Chicago White Sox and Seattle Mariners. However, those three teams would not be able to give Chavez as much playing time as the Blue Jays, Indians and Marlins. 

    If the Marlins are interested, such a signing would have ensure Chavez gets a major league contract since he is working out for teams. Currently, the Marlins are going into Spring Training with the hopes another potential Gold Glover gets the job in prospect Matt Dominguez. 

    Take: It would be wise for the Marlins to push in signing the six-time Gold Glover considering the fact they've brought aboard Perry Hill, an infield guru. Chavez's signing would be reminiscent of another familiar signing, when they invited Jorge Cantu back in 2008 and he made the club.

    It would also beg this thought. Had Dan Uggla remained a Marlin, then Dominguez, while it seems he would still be candidate to play third base, would have likely remained in the minors and began the season in AAA New Orleans.

    Chavez could be a mentor to Matt Dominguez in Spring Training and would add some power from the left side, something the Marlins lack. 

Marlins Ballpark Update; Will New Digs Set Attendance Record?

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    The Marlins Ballpark is getting close to installing it's first seats, and their hoping to have a season ticket holder come in and install it, therefore making it a special event. 

    "We're not sure in which location the seat will be in, but ideally we'll have the person whose season ticket that is help install that seat," Marlins president David Samson said. "They'd be the first person to actually sit in that seat." 

    The Marlins Ballpark is expected to have its new name around the time the season opens up along with a few other names that will be specific to each area of the ballpark (i.e. Publix Power Zone). 

    Take: Let's hope we have every fan in a seat in 2012. The front office's goal might be to have a sellout crowd for the first time since the team broke in. They are hoping their moves this offseason pave the way for a high turnout in 2012. The Marlins have broken over two million fans only twice (1993 and 1997). They had an average of 37,838 fans in their inaugural season, 32,838 in the strike shortened 1994 season and 29,190 in their championship winning 1997 season. 

    With a capacity of 37,000 in the new ballpark, the Marlins are unlikely to reach their inaugural season numbers (3,064,847), if ever, unless they have standing room and a sellout at every home game, unlikely unless the Marlins make a splash signing to wow the fans (akin to the Miami Heat's 2010 haul of LeBron James and Chris Bosh).