S

pring Training, cialis the curious little pilgrimage to Florida and Arizona that all major league teams make each year, treatment kicked off at the beginning of the March and as usual it has offered the baseball world a chance to see all the changes and shakeups of the offseason out on the diamond for the first time. This year in particular has seen some big changes, cialis from superstar foreign imports and managerial changes to identity change and a playoff restructuring.

Most significant of the identity changes comes from the Sunshine state where the former Florida Marlins are adopting a new name to go along with their shiny new stadium this year. Just nineteen years after the birth of the Florida Marlins they’ve decided to ditch the ambiguity and go with the alliterative Miami Marlins moniker.

To go with it they have a new logo and a new Super Nintendo colour scheme. In terms of personnel, they have filled their vacant manager role with a man who last year called Sean Penn “a loser,” Ozzie Guillen.

The opinionated Venezuelan joins a number of high profile player signings including the injury riddled former Met, Jose Reyes, and ace pitcher Mark Buehrle. Whether these changes prove to be a real solution to the Marlins recent failures or merely some cheap cosmetic surgery is still to be seen.

Perhaps the biggest winners this offseason have been the L.A. Angels who picked up three time National League MVP Albert Pujols. The slugger has consistently been amongst the leaders in all offensive stat categories over his eleven seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals and despite having a down year, partly due to injury, last year he still was instrumental in leading his team to their second World Series win in five years.

The Angels are looking to reassert their dominance in the American League West where they have seen the Texas Rangers usurp them in recent years. By signing C.J. Wilson, the ace of last year’s Rangers pitching staff, they are certainly looking to inflict a direct blow in that particular head to head.

The Rangers themselves have attempted to counter this move by signing Yu Darvish from the Japanese leagues. Yu had been one of Japan’s biggest superstars before putting himself up for offers from American teams and subsequently being swallowed up by the Rangers. Whether his skills translate to the American game is still in question particularly considering the fortunes of the last big pitching prospect from Japan to make the switch, Daisuke Matsuzaka, who has underwhelmed following the initial hype.

Speaking of hype, the Washington Nationals are poised to see the fruits of their recent number one draft picks come to maturity this season. Pitcher Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper have been churned through the hype machine, hailed as possible saviours for the luckless Washington D.C. franchise and while Strasburg has been on the big league roster since 2010, his 2011 season was truncated by injury.

Harper on the other hand will be making his Major League debut this season where his oft mythologized power will be put to the test.

In terms of league structure a couple of big changes came out of the offseason including an extra wildcard playoff spot for the coming season meaning the total number of playoff spots is now ten. The big question now is whether this significantly changes anything. The dramatic scenes which occurred on the last day of the season last year as two playoff places changed hands at the last minute, one on the last pitch of the season would never have happened under the new system for instance.

All the changes though mean that baseball fans are in for a season of unknowns and that alone is a source of intrigue.

Whether new dynasties are born or old dynasties reborn it’s likely that the coming season will not be short on story lines. Sure, the Cubs might even break their curse and make the World Series for the first time in 104 years.

Patrick Fleming

admin