March 21, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Nationals' pitching staff

The Washington Nationals reluctantly decided to release Shawn Hill, who was once regarded as one of their most promising pitchers, but kept having physical ailments. In his stead, they signed Joe Beimel to a one-year contract that's worth $2 million. Beimel is a veteran with an up-and-down career, playing for the Dodgers last year. He will serve as the (eighth-inning) "setup man," which used to be Jesus Colome's job. I'm sorry, but every time Colome came to the mound I got nervous, and usually my fears were well-founded. I hope he has better luck elsewhere. Joel Hanrahan is the designated closer. See See The Nationals are planning to use John Lannan as their starting pitcher for their first game, on April 6, in Miami.

World Baseball Classic

In the World Baseball Classic, Korea plays Venezuela this evening, and the United States plays Japan tomorrow night, in Dodger Stadium.

Heart surgery for Boone

First baseman Aaron Boone of the Houston Astros announced he will have open heart surgery to replace an aortic valve. It's a condition he's had for a long time, and taking care of the problem may mean the end of his career. Boone has played for the Reds, the Yankees, the Indians, the Marlins, and (last year) the Nationals. See USA Today. His career-defining moment was hitting the 11-inning game-winning home run against the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS, which was the last time the Yankees made it to the World Series.

Ballpark news

Here are the latest news updates from Mike Zurawski: The grass at the "old" Yankee Stadium is in the process of being removed. You can get a helicopter view at Gee, I wonder why? Maybe because they're going to sell it to nostalgia-obsessed fans! See the New York Times. I assume they will put new sod in the outfield prior to making the movie at old Yankee Stadium this summer. Maybe they will even raise the field level, restore the outfield walls to the Classic Era layout, and add a fake roof with the old-style arched frieze. Man, I'd pay $50 to get to see Yankee Stadium the way it used to be...

The City of Miami has approved the new Marlins stadium, and the Miami-Dade County Board will vote on it this Monday. Council member Michelle Spence-Jones, who had been regarded as the "swing vote" (see Feb. 14), lived up to hear billing, tipping the balance in baseball's favor. (Whether she received $500,000 in return for her vote is not yet clear.) See