Ricky Nolasco and the Marlins haven't made progress on a contract extension

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Ricky Nolasco has been shut down for the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his right knee and Juan C. Rodriguez of the Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that his contract extension talks with the Marlins are also “going nowhere.”
According to Rodriguez “a significant gulf exists between the two sides” and “don’t hold your breath for a celebratory press conference.”
Nolasco is represented by agent Matt Sosick, who after some initial problems was able to work out a four-year, $39 million deal for Florida ace Josh Johnson, but with Nolasco already under team control through 2012 and age 29 as an arbitration eligible player the Marlins don’t have a ton of reason to commit guaranteed money to him.
Plus, because his ERAs have typically been much worse than his secondary numbers Nolasco should be relatively affordable via the arbitration process. He finishes with a 4.51 ERA this season after posting a 5.06 mark last season, although his strong win-loss records could help balance that out when the panel decides on his value.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”