Archive for February, 2008

The New Architecture In Miami

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2008 Florida Marlins:

Florida Marlins

Okay — well it’s not that bad, but with Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis gone to Detroit (a salary dump, in essence, that saved the team $18 million), whatever the Marlins have left will probably cost them a decent season. And just to make it clear, here’s what they have left.

The Marlins project Ramirez at shortstop and the newly acquired Dallas McPherson at third (maybe), with Mike Jacobs at first and Dan Uggla at second. I hate Jacobs — he’s just the kind of grating “pepperpot” player that I can’t stand. The newly acquired Cameron Maybin is the great hope in center (he has to be at least a year away — at least), with Josh Willingham (who I think is actually one heck of a player), in left and Jeremy Hermida in right (Hermida is also a year away, come to think of it, though he’s been in the majors now for three seasons). At catcher, the Marlins have inserted a former Tiger, Mike Rabelo, who has played in 52 major league games. To help the kids, the front office has brought in Luis Gonzalez — who is 40.

Yikes.

Everyone raves about Ramirez, of course, and dubs him the next superstar, a future hall of famer. Maybe, but he reminds me of George Bell — which is, come to think of it, saying a lot. Bell was a hell of a hitter back in the ’80s for Toronto (he once hit 47 home runs), but he tailed off quickly and could never keep his wind. He was relentlessly booed by the Blue Jays fans (they’re Canadians) and he responded by telling the press: “They can kiss my purple butt.” Watching him run the bases that last season for the White Sox wore me out (he was traded there by the Cubs, for Sammy Sosa). Bell and Ramirez are built almost exactly alike and have a similar swing, something I noticed about Ramirez last year, when I had to suffer through three, count em, three Marlins’ games at RFK. (I got three this year too — after going into my draft with only one goal: no Marlins games.)

But the Marlins less-than-mediocre team will surely be offset by a stellar pitching staff of Mark Hendrickson, Sergio Mitre (Sergio Meat Tray), Scott Olsen and Andrew Miller.

Who?

The good news is the Marlins will soon have a new stadium, which will cost them all of $480 million — tops. Here’s what it looks like:

Marlins Stadium

I told my friend Tom: “It must be made out of wood.” Nope: it’s made out of concrete, and glass, and “stucco.” No kidding. It looks like it’s made out of bubble gum. There’s this description: “The stadium breaks the trend started by Camden Yards of the ‘old time’ or retro look. It features a sleek 21st century design meant to capture the architecture in South Florida.” We have no idea what that means. It might mean this:

Stadium

In truth, it’s about mid-range in cost for a stadium of that size and it will keep the Marlins in Florida, where they will soon be known as the Miami Marlins. About time. There is this: in all of the years that the Marlins have been playing this game, they have only been good twice — and both years they’ve won the World Series. But not this year. Compared to them, the Nats look like the ’27 Yankees.

Projected Finish: Dead Last.

Why the River Dogz?

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Well, as Mark said the other day, “because Tom liked it.” True, but it was not some random notion on my part. It’s a bit of a rip-off of a Red Sox blog called Boston Dirt Dogs. The original idea for that site was to pay homage to the good, solid players who regularly get their uniform dirty. ‘Gritty’ would be a good description of these types of guys. Sox catcher Jason Varitek and third baseman Mike Lowell fit the mold. Former Indians outfielder Trot Nixon and former Brewer Gabe Kaplan do as well. They’re the type of player I love to watch. They may not be future Hall of Famers, but you know they leave it on the field.

I want to see that type of play out of the Nationals too. And given the new stadium’s proximity to the Anacostia, I thought the name River Dogs would be perfect. Of course, the Charleston, South Carolina minor league baseball team is called the River Dogs so we used the ‘Z’ so as to not get sued. Plus, Z is one of the most kick-ass letters in the alphabet. ‘X’ and ‘K’ are in that gang too. All elbows and knees. Tough. Really. You could look it up.

We want to hear who you think are River Dogz or when someone makes a play worth of the moniker. If you see a player dive into the third row for a foul pop, for instance, let us know and we’ll tout the effort. This team isn’t filled with superstars so we’ll have to outplay everyone else in order to win. Go Dogz!

How do you say “punked” in Japanese?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Phillies’ second-year pitcher Kyle Kendrick (10 – 4; 3.87 e.r.a. in ’07) was informed on Saturday that he was being traded to Japan’s Nomura Giants. Given his impressive rookie season, and the fact that he’s listed on the Phils’ depth chart as their number three starter, he probably figured he’d be with the team as least through the first week of spring training. His reaction, as you might expect, was pure “deer in the headlights.” The only problem was, it was a joke in which the manager, traveling secretary, assistant G.M. and Kendrick’s own agent were in on. Talk about piling on the kid. I guess pepper spray in the jock has gone out of style. He might have gotten a hint about the prank if he knew his Japanese teams better. It’s the “Yomiuri” Giants. But at that point the Texas native was probably trying to figure out where he could get his last meal of beef ribs before going to the airport. When the Phils come to D.C. in May he should be greeted with signs saying, “Sayonara Kyle!”

Welcome

Thursday, February 7th, 2008

Welcome to River-Dogz.com, a blog about the Washington Nationals and baseball. We’re modest: you might see some sabremetric commentaries here, but probably not. The three of us (Tom, Dave and Mark — to be official) are baseball fanatics — to be sure — but we’re not baseball empiricists. We love baseball stats, argue about them, and study them. But their importance, we all agree, cannot compare the baseball’s intangibles. And that’ll be our focus. We like to write, talk about, and endlessly agonize over the Washington Nationals (your Washington Nationals); then too (like all of you) we have day jobs. And each of us is haunted, no less, by the ghosts of the teams we love — for Tom and Dave that means the Red Sox and for Mark, the Cubs. But for all of us the Nats are number one.

So why river-dogz? Because Tom liked it, that’s why. We’re going to have a little Nats mascot that will act as our logo (a bulldog with a curly-W hat), eventually, as well as a number of other features — a surprise that will come in time. It will probably get us sued. We’ll just dangle that out there and let you guess. And we’ll have a couple of other features, humorous and poignant and even, we hope, insightful. Our pledge is that we’ll be entertaining. We know a lot of you already have Nats blogs and we read them and admire them. We hope you like ours.