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rumors on who plays 2nd, left field and other ramblings


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What's the situation at second base? And who will play left field now that Miguel Cabrera will be moved to third base?

-- Manuel M., Miami


For now -- and, as you've seen, the wheeling and dealing isn't done -- untested Josh Wilson and Alfredo Amezaga are probable candidates. Robert Andino may see work there in Spring Training, but Andino is expected to compete with Hanley Ramirez for the shortstop spot. Andino is a natural shortstop, and a switch to second has not been determined. Wilson, a shortstop at Triple-A, went to the Arizona Fall League to work at second, and he is progressing.


Expect more trades and signings, however, before the start of Spring Training. A name to keep an eye on at second base is Jamey Carroll of the Nationals. Carroll and Ryan Church have been mentioned in trade talks with Arizona for Javier Vazquez.


Left field is wide open. Chris Aguila and Reggie Abercrombie are possibilities. My personal sleeper choice for left field is Bernie Williams. The longtime Yankees great was offered salary arbritration by the club and could end up back in New York, but if the Yankees can't work out a contract with Williams by Jan. 8, he could end up as a free agent. Maybe his connections to Joe Girardi, and the possible willingness to sign a reasonable contract (with deferred payments if necessary) would make Florida attractive. He's already won championships, and perhaps the prospect of helping groom a young team in a market like Miami -- which is a short flight from his native Puerto Rico -- would appeal to him.


Are the odds in South Florida's favor to keep the Marlins?

-- Loren E., Sunrise, Fla.


Based on the fact that no new stadium plan has worked thus far, you'd have to say no. That said, from talking to numerous people at the Winter Meetings, one thing is very clear: team owner Jeffrey Loria absolutely wants to keep the team in South Florida. The prospect of the team possibly leaving hurts him deeply. As passionate as he is in trying to keep the Marlins where they were intended to be, there is a belief that the team may indeed have to move because a local deal won't get done.


Team president David Samson says the process of visiting other markets will take about three to five months. In the meantime, the club continues to talk with Wayne Huizenga and Miami-Dade County officials about a retractable-roof park next to Dolphins Stadium. That seems to be the most likely place for a new building, but a sizable funding gap -- perhaps as much as $100 million -- remains. What's encouraging for South Florida's chances is there is a desire by the Marlins to continuing negotiating.


What cities are the Marlins considering moving to?

-- David S., New York


These days, a majority of the mailbag e-mails address the stadium search and relocation in general. At the Winter Meetings in Dallas last week, Samson and other team officials made the three-hour trip to San Antonio for the first of about seven visits to other markets. Trips to Portland, Ore., northern New Jersey and Las Vegas are expected, and there are rumblings about Nashville and Charlotte.


San Antonio is definitely a serious contender, for a number of reasons that have already been reported. First off, the market is growing, and there is strong local support to bring in another major professional sport to join the Spurs of the NBA. A plus for San Antonio is the climate, which is such that a retractable roof wouldn't necessarily be needed. So the cost of a building a stadium there wouldn't be as high as some other places.


Do you think trading for Joey Gathright is realistic?

-- Carlos L., Lakeland, Fla.



There is definite interest in the Tampa Bay speedster, who is available because Rocco Baldelli is signed to a long-term contract. Gathright is faster than Juan Pierre, and having speed in center is very important in spacious Dolphins Stadium. Gathright is attracting attention from other teams as well.


The Marlins, however, do have a number of prospects they can use to lure in a player like Gathright. Tampa Bay is looking for young pitching, and Florida is suddenly loaded with that. A name floated around for Gathright is lefty Scott Olsen, who picked up his first Major League win by beating Tampa Bay.


It's been exciting to read about all the transactions. Who I haven't seen or heard about is Jason Stokes. He sort of disappeared, and then we never heard any more about him. What's up with him?

-- George D., Florence, Ala.


A few years ago, it looked as if Stokes would be the first baseman of the future. The slugger posted big power numbers, but the past few seasons, he has been bothered by nagging injuries. The same wrist problem that has ailed him in the past acted up again, and not long ago, he had his wrist scoped. While Stokes should be ready to go in Spring Training, his injuries have certainly slowed his progress. That said, with the team expected to be so young, if he is healthy and productive, he may have a shot to contribute. But for now, it looks as though Mike Jacobs will be the everyday first baseman.




I dont really want to give up Olsen at this stage, I want to see him in our rotation next year

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