A year ago the Marlins hype was hard to avoid. A new ballpark, new uniforms, a bunch of high-profile signings. Yesterday was the Marlins Winter Warm Up event — formerly known as Fan Fest — and things are … different. From Joe Capozzi in the Palm Beach Post:
And while there was a festive atmosphere today at Marlins Park, the number of fans who attended the annual pre-season event was low. There were just three people in line at the main ticket window at 9:35 a.m. — 25 minutes before single-game tickets went on sale … And at least three people wore protest gear — two fans with anti-Loria shirts and a man who wore a Blue Jays cap to show his opposition to the trade.
Three people wearing protest gear is not the end of the world, obviously. And a lack of fans clamoring for Marlins tickets is not exactly a new phenomenon. But it’s hard to escape the fact that the events of the past year haven’t soured locals on the team more than they already were.
CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Phillies outfielder Nick Williams has been working out daily with free agent starter Jake Arrieta in Austin. The right-hander, who won the 2015 National League Cy Young Award, still remains teamless with spring training less than a month away. Williams has been trying to sell Arrieta on joining the Phillies.
Williams said of Arrieta, “He loves it here [Austin]. He has told me he likes working with young guys. I’m like, ‘All right, come on up.’ But I’m not writing the check. I don’t know what he wants. I don’t really dig into that because I’m not really in his position.”
On GM Matt Klentak’s hunt for pitching help, new manager Gabe Kapler said, “The pursuit is very real. I have a lot of trust that we’ll either go in [to spring training] with a new toy or we will pass on the opportunity because we’re better off giving this collection of pitchers a really healthy look because we thought that we could go acquire that piece a little bit later on this season or in the offseason next year.”
Arrieta, who turns 32 years old in March, went 14-10 with a 3.53 ERA and a 163/55 K/BB ratio in 168 1/3 innings last season with the Cubs. The Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers have been linked to Arrieta this month.
Presently, the Phillies’ starting rotation figures to include Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, and Vince Velasquez along with some combination of Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, Mark Leiter, and Jake Thompson. Arrieta would certainly amount to a big upgrade in the starting rotation and could make the Phillies a more attractive landing spot for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, who become free agents after the 2018 campaign. The Phillies are expected to be in the mix for either or both players.