Little action at GM conclave
Overall, there wasn't much "hot stove" news from last week's meeting of baseball general managers in Orlando. One interesting thing is that MLB will explore ways of using instant replay cameras for plays at the fence. See MLB.com. As in past years, I will try to refrain from rumor-mongering. It appears that both Andy Pettitte and Mike Lowell would just as soon stay with their current teams (the Yankees and the Red Sox) next year, and the free agency filings are just pro forma. The Yankees need some continuity in the midst of the new manager and new stadium built built, so I hope Pettitte stays in the Bronx for the final years of his career. Roger Clemens is expected to work for the Astros as a coach or in some equivalent staff position next year, but who knows? The Marlins' Miguel Cabrera is the hottest free agent property right now.
Meanwhile, the Nationals are putting out feelers to Andruw Jones, but Stan Kasten denies his recent get-together with him involved any negotiating. Kasten used to work for the Braves, which would facilitate trades or acquisitions of Atlanta players, just as GM Jim Bowden's past work with the Reds does for Cincinnati players. After a career-best offensive year in 2006, Jones batted only .222 this year, and therefore may command less than expected on the market for veteran outfielders. See MLB.com. Also, Ryan Zimmerman suffered a minor wrist fracture last week, but it should be healed in plenty of time for spring training.
New home for
The Tampa Bay Rays (note new name) came out with a plan to build a new, much smaller ballpark (35,000 seats) on the St. Petersburg waterfront, where Al Lang Field is presently located. The rigft field fence would be right along the waterline, as at AT&T Park. They may use a retractable canvas roof to keep out the rain, but not in stormy conditions. Sounds pretty reasonable to me. See sptimes.com, which has a great photo showing Al Lang Field and Tropicana Field in the distance; hat tip to Mike Zurawski
Perhaps out of sensitivity to religious folks, the team formerly known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays renamed itself simply the "Rays," exorcising the "demons" of their frustrating first decade in the MLB. They also came up with a new team logo and changed their basic uniform colors from green to blue. See MLB.com. Their marked improvement at the end of the 2007 season, climbing above .400, is a good indication that they are determined to stay competitive, even though they are located in a small market, and even though they are handicapped with a grim home ballpark.
Adios to the Orange Bowl
Further south in the Sunshine State, the University of Miami played its 468th and final game at the Orange Bowl last night, and the University of Virginia Cavaliers rudely spoiled the occasion by whomping the Hurricanes 48-0. It was one of the worst defeats they had ever suffered. Actually, it wasn't the last football game ever played at the Orange Bowl, as Florida International University has a couple more home games there this season. The City of Miami plans to demolish the fabled stadium some time next year. I still think the Marlins should have explored the possibility of incorporating parts of the Orange Bowl into a new baseball stadium on that site, at least as an economical expedient.
The Marlins are reluctantly going along with the Orange Bowl site for their new stadium, but they won't pay as much rent because a ballpark there would generate less revenues than one in downtown Miami. Tense negotiations continue, and continue, and continue... See palmbeachpost.com; hat tip to Mike Zurawski.