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Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Experience from Marlins Spring Training

By David

Today epitomized what Florida weather is like. The skies were clear, there was an abundance of sun and the highs reached the low 80's. It was the quintessential day to watch baseball and what better team is there to see workout than the young and energetic Marlins?

Young and energetic might be an understatement when describing the Fish because as they were stretching they are laughing, cracking jobs, high fiving each other and having a grand old time. To the contrary, Cardinals camp is conducted in a professional business like manner and you could never tell that these two teams share the same stadium.

I was fortunate to meet one of my buddies from school while watching Florida practice and we proceeded to spend the next few hours talking, comparing autographs and going from field t0 field in search of new autographs.

Taylor had told me that up at Nationals camp it is very easy to receive autographs and he happened to receive the signature of Barry Larkin. Likewise, Dodgers camp up in Vero Beach is a great place to snag autographs of veterans and many up and coming players.

He went onto say that it was simple to acquire the autographs of Nomar, Jeff Kent, Jason Schmidt, Luis Gonzalez and many of the bright young stars on L.A's roster. That was a nice thing t0 hear as next year I look forward to visiting these camps.

While at Marlins camp, I acquired the autograph of slugger Miguel Cabrera. Miggy is a very nice young man and on numerous occasions while walking from field to field he would stop to sign. He even took a picture with my friend. It was a great experience to watch the great Dontrelle Willis pitch off of a mound. Finally, I was only feet away from electric left-hander and you could see why he's regarded as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.

Unfortunately, shortstop Hanley Ramirez was not as receptive as the other players and he refused to sign. I even walked along side of him from one practice field to another, and while he talked to us he did not sign. I was surprised, but I still discovered that he was an overall nice guy.

Lastly, I was bummed out that I did not receive the autograph of Hall of Famer Tony Perez. While I was walking along side Ramirez I could have been meeting the great Tony Perez. Luckily there is always next year, and I can't wait to go back to Roger Dean Stadium next February to watch the Marlins and World Champion Cardinals workout.

Do The Tigers Have The Best Starting Pitching In Baseball?

By David

After guiding their team to a World Series berth, what will the Tigers starting pitchers do for an encore? Will their young pitchers continue to improve and can Kenny Rogers still lead the staff at 42 years young?

After leading the league in ERA [4.00] last season I believe that there will be a slight drop in performance for the starter's, but that fall will only be marginal. Still, one of the main things going for Detroit is age. Four out of their five starters are 29 or younger. Currently, the AL Champion Tigers have the second best starting rotation in all of baseball.

42-year old Kenny Rogers continues to shock the baseball world as he improves with age. Since turning 39, Rogers has won 49 games. This is more wins than he had in his first five seasons in Texas combined. If Rogers can win another 15 games this year the Tigers will be in excellent shape.

Justin Verlander, last years Rookie of the Year, is a star in the making and will pitch better than he did last season. Likewise, right-hander Jeremy Bonderman continues to improve season after season. He has won at least 14 games the last two years and struck out over 200 batters for the first time in his career last season. The 24-year old is also coming off of a very impressive postseason.

Lefty Nate Robertson is coming off of his best season in the majors. He posted 13 wins and had a stellar 3.84 ERA. He is a pitcher who possess great talent and fits in nicely in the Tigers starting rotation.

Mike Maroth will be slatted in as Detroit's fifth starter this season. The Orlando native is coming off of a disappointing 2006 campaign where he suffered from elbow pain. He only won five games last year and will be counted on heavily in the back end of the rotation. If he can remain healthy the Tigers will be able to capitalize on their 2006 success.

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